Staff Spotlight: Daniel Warden

Daniel Warden grew up in Minnesota and graduated from Luther College in small-town Iowa, with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History. In college, Daniel traveled to Northern Ireland to study the ethno-nationalist conflict known as 'The Troubles' and took a culture course in China. Fascinated by the varying ways that people live, Daniel decided to continue his travels by joining WorldTeach Thailand as a volunteer English teacher. Recently, he assumed the position of Head Teacher and is honored to continue working with the vibrant WorldTeach volunteers in Nakhon Phanom, Thailand.

Teach English in Thailand with WorldTeach

What makes teaching in Thailand with WorldTeach so special and unique?

Daniel: What makes this program truly extraordinary is that WorldTeach Thailand volunteers are submerged in the rural, village lifestyle. Our volunteers are situated in Nakhon Phanom along the Thai-Laos border, which is about as far away as one can get from the busy urban environment of Bangkok. Distant from the country’s renowned beaches, the locals refer to the area as “real” Thailand, and we tend to agree with them. Here, resources are quite limited, so the volunteers must be creative and work in ways that they never have before.

Did you teach abroad? If so, what inspired you to go?

Daniel: This is my first experience teaching abroad. My inspiration to come to Thailand sprouted from my curiosity in how other people live, and I wanted to be proactive while doing so. It is incredible how much one can gain from traveling, working, and sharing knowledge with people of different backgrounds.

What should teachers know about the classroom and workplace culture in Thailand?

Daniel: The teaching culture in Thailand is very hands-on and practical toward their way of life. For instance, each Wednesday my school has “Scout Day.” Students compete in various events and competitions that are centered on teamwork and originality. At first I failed to see the value of Scout Day, as the students are not in the classroom for the majority of the school day. However, I found it remarkable how creative and imaginative my students could be in completing their assignments, and that same creativity carries over into the classroom.

What can you tell us about the current state of education in Thailand? How do you see this changing in the next 10 years?

Daniel: Unfortunately, most of the government funding goes to schools in Thailand’s larger cities, such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Most rural schools receive limited funds and must work with severely limited resources. However, as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a ten country geo-political and economic organization, initiative grows more mature, English, the international language, becomes significantly more important throughout Thailand and Southeast Asia. Thus, WorldTeach Thailand will continue to be productive and play an important role providing English education in rural Thailand.

What is one piece of advice you would offer someone considering teaching abroad in Thailand?

Daniel: Be flexible and learn to expect the unexpected. Like many other things in life, lessons often do not always go according to plan. The students might be unruly, you may be in a foul mood, or some electronic equipment might not work as you had planned. Anything can happen, but that’s what makes teaching abroad so exciting.