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Be like Chris: A Reflection on My Time in Thailand

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I have now spent over two and a half years in Thailand, and while the time here seems to move faster than elsewhere, I am still enchanted by the happy memories I create on an almost daily basis, both personally and professionally.

Early photo with my colleagues in the school office, Buriram, circa November 2021

Early photo with my colleagues in the school office, Buriram, circa November 2021

I first arrived in Thailand in April 2021, and after a slightly inauspicious start to my time teaching here, I was lucky enough to find employment with BFITS. I relocated to a city called Buriram, located about 300 km northeast of the country’s capital, Bangkok. The school I would be teaching in was Buriram Pitthayakhom. The city is probably most well known now for having Thailand preeminent football team, but historically Buriram was part of the Khmer Empire and ruins from that period can stil be found outside the city’s boundaries.

Christopher Whearty teaching with BFITS

A week of activities. This is when you realise how bad you were at school and how talented students can be. It was amazing. I acted as a judge at the speech activity where I gave out some sage advice before hosting my own spelling bee in which some of my own students took part. There are days you look back at and smile. These are those days.

I had taught for approximately four years before beginning my teaching journey with BFITS in August 2021. In that period, I had taught English to mainly high school students in various parts of China. While China was a wonderful experience, the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic meant my days there were numbered.

BFITS Teacher Christopher Whearty with his BP Students

BFITS Teacher Christopher Whearty teaching at BP School

After spending time back home in Ireland during the initial phase of the pandemic, I was eventually able to find myself on the way to Thailand to begin the next phase of my teaching career. This proved to be a wise decision and one I have not regretted for a single minute. 

BFITS Teacher Christopher Whearty together with his students at BP School

I now teach Math to Mathayom 1-3 students and have done so since I first started. I get great satisfaction and enjoyment in doing so. 

Christopher Whearty acting as DJ for a student singing competition.

Acting as DJ for a student singing competition.

There are many festivals to be celebrated in Thailand on an annual basis and one such festival is the Loi Krathong Festival. It is a day when people make decorative baskets of flowers and other aesthetically pleasing alternatives and then, at night, light them and float them on a river. You are supposed to wish all your problems and bad luck away with it as it is a symbol of new beginnings. 

BFITS Thailand Loi Krathong Day with BFITS colleagues and BP students

Loi Krathong Day with colleagues and students.

I have always enjoyed a great sense of camaraderie with all of my colleagues here in Buriram, both fellow teachers and the administration staff of BFITS. I have found them professional, helpful, and welcoming. One of the greatest worries of any overseas teacher is securing a legitimate visa and work permit. I have received great support from different members of BFITS staff with regard to this and have had no issues on this front in all of my time here.

BP Students during Open House 2022 in Roi-Et

Northeastern Thailand Open House 2022

Christopher Whearty receiving recognition for my BFITS students

Receiving recognition for my students great work in Roi-Et has been a particular highlight of my time here.

As mentioned previously, throughout the year we have various different activities and competitions. One one such occasion I travelled with a contingent from our school to Roi-Et where our students took part in competitions in various different disciplines (Math, Science, English Speaking). Here I acted as Math tutor to some of my students who did a fantastic job and made me proud with their Math presentation.

Interview with Prospective BFITS Students

As part of the EP teaching team one of my responsibilities is to interview prospective new students for the program towards the end of each school year.

Christmas is a time we like to celebrate within the EP program. Our students perform songs, dances, and plays and express themselves as we like to encourage. As many of our students intend to either study or live overseas in the future, we deem it important not to ignore this decidedly Western tradition.

Christmas Party with BFITS Thailand and BP Team.jpg

BFITS Thailand Christmas fun with BP from December 2022.jpg

BFITS Thailand Christmas fun from December 2022

Shortly after Christmas is Chinese New Year. Again, we celebrate this in the school with a morning of dressing in red and celebrating Chinese culture.

BP Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year celebrations at school. I’m in there somewhere. Where’s the wally you might say.

As we have already ended 2023, I believe it is a good time for me to reflect on my 2+ years working with BFITS and my time spent in Thailand. I have taught in China and my home country of Ireland, but I believe my most rewarding teaching experiences have come here in the land of smiles. I mean that for both inside and outside the classroom.

I have taught some extraordinary students, some of whom I have no doubt will achieve magical things in life. I enjoy seeing my students engage with the subject, to ask questions and to dig deeper into their understanding of it. This has given me the greatest satisfaction.

Enjoy BFITS Thailand English Camp with BP Students (December 2023)

English camp December 2023

Outside of the classroom, I believe we in the BP BFITS Program, both teachers and students, have developed a great relationship through the various activities and, most importantly, the annual English Camp. This is when we take a trip away for 2 nights and partake in various games and activities. It is always one of the school year’s highlights. 

BFITS Teacher Christopher Whearty

My time in Buriram has been greatly enhanced by the genuine warmth of the people, the ever-tasty food, the good local music scene, and the willingness of everybody to help a foreigner like me with limited Thai speaking skills. I have never felt unwelcome here.

BFITS Teachers Christopher Whearty and Ronan Quinn

So now I will sign off with not much else to say. Of course, new memories are made on an almost weekly basis here and I look forward to providing an update in the coming months. Until then, here’s to more great learning in 2024.

Let’s go, 2024!

About the Author
Christopher Whearty

Christopher Whearty

Chris is a Math teacher from Ireland. After working in China for over 3 years, he moved to Thailand in April 2021 and has been part of the BFITS team since shortly after that. What he likes most about Thailand is the weather, the food, and the genuine warmth of the local people.
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