Marist Priest Fr Jimmy McElroy has been bringing students from Ireland for the past 8 years to the Marist Mission in Ranong.
‘Its a great place to bring them for an experience and exposure to Marist’s on mission. The community in Ranong is so welcoming and willing to have the help of the students’.
Their regular two week visit each year coincides with students at St Mary’s Dundalk, Ireland, finishing their school year, and wanting to serve and experience links with the wider Marist world.
They get selected in their final year of school and they prepare for and promote their trip with fundraising and mission awareness throughout the school year.
The students make a great contribution each year by running the ‘English Language Camp’ for hundreds of Thai and Burmese students in partnership with the local Ministry of Education and selected Thai Schools. Learning English is identified as a significant help for their futures.
The Burmese students at the Marist School in Ranong also enjoy the opportunity to be taught by young Irish students, experience fun games and an enjoyable opportunity to have conversations in English outside the classroom programme.
Because of the visit our Burmese migrant students become aware that people from all around the world support them, and want to encourage their learning and education. They are not alone. A wider Marist family supports them.
Fr Kevin Medillo, Director of the Marist Mission in Ranong says it is a very special feeling of support and friendship that has been built up over the years.
During their time with us they visit classrooms, learn about the situation of Burmese Migrants and the fishing industry. As well as the highlight of teaching the English Camp, they get to accompany a student to their home, witness the environment they live in and meet Burmese families. Eyes and hearts are opened in a new way.
Some of the highlights of the experience were shared by the group as they prepared to leave
This was so much fun. There is such a nice spirit here.
I’d encourage everybody to come over here. See the kids learning. See how fast and how much they want to learn.
Before I came over. My biggest worry was what am I going to wear. But now leaving, I’m a completely different person. You see things differently now. Its hard to understand. I have a different perspective
I realise how stupid many of our worries are. The kids here have so much more worries than us, yet they are so happy and so willing to learn.
I’m leaving a different person.
Coming from home where everyone wants to get out of school, here, people are fighting to get into it. Its just opposite.
Its good to see this before we go to College. Its a challenge to us.
I thought it was going to be a lot harder…. The students are so respectful and its great to see how much they enjoyed our company. Coming up afterward getting pictures and autographs. Its nice to see how they live, how they are taught. You don’t want to go to school at home, but here they really want to come to school and learn. Its so nice to see.
As a teacher, the joy and appreciation from the students is overwhelming. At home as a teacher we don’t get that. To see where they live, where they come from. They could easily just not bother. I’m overwhelmed and impressed with the students.
I’d encourage people to come over, experience the way they live, how kind and nice they are.
I’ve learnt that I’d like to help out more. I’d like to travel and help out in more places like this when I’m older or have breaks at college.
We look forward to seeing St Mary’s College students again next year and hope to see them return as future volunteers to help in the education programmes in Ranong.