On the top floor of a townhouse building in a Bangkok suburb, a group of Thai women are keenly practicing a language spoken by only five million people in a small country far away in northern Europe.
Desire to connect with their loved ones is what has brought them together.
“Most of them have husbands or boyfriends in Denmark; it’s easier to communicate with their men when they speak the same language,” says Clyde Haumann, their Danish teacher.
“Some are hoping to work with Scandinavian companies or study abroad,” he adds.
Clyde Haumann is a fulltime English school teacher in Thailand. Why he speaks Danish is shrouded in mystery. Let’s just say that he does. Actually he is an American citizen. But he was born in Singapore and was sent to Thailand by the military during Vietnam War, and has been here off and on since 1964.
Two years ago, his Danish friend, who is the owner of Thai Integration ApS, asked Clyde to teach his wife Danish. That’s when the idea came up.
“Thai Integration is not a language school,” Clyde explains.
“Our main task is assisting Thais who are about to move to Denmark and the other Scandinavian countries. Our aim is to become like a turn key project where we can deliver a tailor made solution to our clients needs. Language is a major part of the integration process and is therefore an important part of our services. At the moment we have about 20 women taking part in our Danish and Swedish classes”.
“We would also like to help those on their way to Norway, but can’t find a teacher,” he adds
Is it for free??
How much does it cost? Well, surprise! It is free!
“Letting people study our languages for free is our way of telling that we are here, and it has taught us that there really is a need for what we do,” says Clyde.
“We don’t want to go out and put on banners in the newspaper, we are not trying to compete with other language schools. Our main task is as our name indicates integration.
“Danish is not a common language to learn in Thailand, so when people come in and show an interest to in learning Danish or Swedish, we are more than happy to help them.” says Clyde
The women participating in the current class are from 26 to 54 years old and everyone show that they are very keen on learning the language. One of the students has a Danish husband who barely speaks English and neither does she. Since she started at the course, things have been smoother for them. Now their communication has become more meaningful.
“The teacher teaches the basic words we need to know in daily life and we can understand clearly because he can speaks Thai too,” says one of the students.
“I get along better with my husband; we used to fight seven times a day, now it is down to three or four,” says an other student.
To breakdown the communication wall is not an easy task. The students need to dedicate their time to memorize the vocabularies. Some practice their skill by correspondent with their boyfriends in Danish through text on mobile phone and that helps them to improve their Danish day by day.
It takes a huge courage for these women to start a new life in another country. They know that the language, the culture, the people will be different but they are making every effort to make it possible, anything for their love.
“It’s not just the language we’re giving them,” Clyde explains.
“We want to help Thais to understand more about the Danish culture and ways of doing things and to prepare them for a world that in many ways are going to be very different to the one they are living in at the moment before moving there.
Many of our students have very little experience when it comes to learning an other language and showing then that they can is helping them to become stronger and more ready for the new world.