The gift of learning the mother tounge
Walking down the halls of NIST International School in Bangkok, you will hear children speaking languages from all over the world. Spanish, German, Hindi, Thai and Mandarin. And right there, squeezed in between two Mandarin classes, in the room with the slanted, dusty blue walls, in the middle of all the urban chaos, is a small, Danish oasis. An oasis, where the walls are decorated with the Queen of Denmark, Danish words, and the letters Æ, Ø and Å, in which the children can learn and speak Danish, taught by their teacher Catrine Carøe.
Since early Summer 2016, Danes Worldwide are arranging Danish lessons in Bangkok, which are all led by 28-year-old Catrine Carøe. Not only at NIST, but also at the international schools of ISB, ELC and Pattana. The classes usually last for around an hour, during which Catrine and the children discuss any subject that Danes Worldwide have chosen for them. Catrine Carøe explains that being a Danish teacher abroad is very rare, which is why she feels very lucky and thankful for her new job.
“It’s such a small language, so you have to bring a lot of people together to get the finances and actually get a job up and running. It is very special,” she says.
Seven years ago, in 2009, Catrine chose to start studying to become a teacher, because she likes working with children and helping them. She believes that the two most important things you need for a society to work, are health and education. And that to create development in a society, one must hold wisdom and knowledge about the world they live in.
“My goal is to create good human beings who understand that they are a part of a greater consistency, and through that help making the world a better place,” Catrine Carøe says.
For her, the most important thing in the Danish Learning Center, along with teaching Danish language, litterateur and grammar, is to strengthen the Danish culture and community there is in Thailand.
Jimmy Jensen lives in Thailand and has two children attending the Danish language programme. He agrees with Catrine when it comes to maintaining the Danish affiliation through these classes.
“The intentions about this are slightly deeper for us who live out here. And also, if we choose to go back to Denmark at some point, our children have the opportunity to be included in the Danish system faster,” say Jimmy.
Catrine Carøe agrees: “I think that it is very important for the children to be able to follow the conversations when they go to Denmark and talk to their cousins, grandmother and grandfather. That they have a common frame of reference,” Catrine Carøe says and explains that she also finds it very important to help maintaining the children’s Danish language competences, in case they ever want to go back to Denmark to study.
Mai Ellegaard is Danes Worldwide’s representative in Thailand, and also has a boy attending the Danish language programme. For her, it is also about keeping as many doors open as possible.
“I don’t want to slam any doors for my son, so that when he is 16 years old, he will come to me saying; ‘Honestly, mom, what have you done? Why haven’t you talked Danish with me and sent me to a Danish school?’ If he at one point wants to start studying in Denmark,” she says, explaining that this situation would make her feel really bad.
Both Mai Ellegaard and Jimmy Jensen believes in the Danish language programme’s potential to become something greater in time.
“I could easily imagine that this could become truly great at some point. There are many people out there who had not yet heard about it, but are now starting to hear a little about it,” Mai Ellegaard says.
“This could very well become a real school, as you have seen it in other countries,” Jimmy Jensen adds.