Heineken or Leo? Bursting the (expat) bubble.

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Koh Lipe in the deep south of Thailand, just off the Malaysian border

It has taken me 15 years to discover beer Leo, one of the three top selling beers in Thailand. I tried beer Singha and Chang on numerous occasions but always reverted back to the comfort zone of Heineken. I have always ranked Leo as number 3 if having to choose from the local Thai brews with no particular reason why other than it was the beer that the gappies drank! These are our gap students or as we prefer to call them the gap staff – on a learning and work placement between school and university (I will blog in more detail about the power of a gap staff programme in the near future).

Dan and Smiley - gappies who make a difference

Dan and Smiley – gappies who make a difference

My wife has always challenged me that I am reluctant or not good with change.
I resisted sushi for many years for example but now place it as one of my top five foods.

It is ironic that that after 15 years of living and working in Thailand that only on our final Thai adventures and through lack of choice in the deep south of Thailand that I discover Beer Leo to be both refreshing and non-hangover inducing as incorrectly perceived. Imagine how much money I could have saved – but that is not the point.

Who is teaching who?  Sabrina at the Fountain of Life Children's Centre in Pattaya

Who is teaching who? Sabrina at the Fountain of Life Children’s Centre in Pattaya

This is not a blog about beer the best beer though, both Heineken and Leo are a pleasure to drink when the time is right, this is about trying new things and having a go. It is vitally important in an international school setting to engage with the local community and to collaborate with the amazing local (Thai) teachers and support staff.  Bringing them into the curriculum at all opportunities and making external learning connections to create a culturally stimulating and relevant curriculum and bursting the stereotypical westernised bubble that many international schools I have visited find themselves in.  In my experience parents really appreciate this approach as well and can see the value in having the school that their children learn in as a gateway into a community and culture that, to be honest, most people are not sure how to approach and therefore revert to their comfort zones and what they know and are used to.  Community partnerships and service learning equip students with so many skills and values and also the confidence to use them appropriately, not just for academic success but more importantly for life success – helping our young (and older) people to become genuine citizens of the world.

Break away from the norm and don’t follow the crowd – be prepared to leave your comfort zone and try the local beer! #gooycz

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