YOU ARE HERE: IVPress HomeCollections

AFS exchange puts Thai teacher in Calexico classroom

September 12, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — If Kusuma Khankasikam is experiencing any culture shock, she isn't letting on.

The 37-year-old Thai school teacher had never been abroad when she decided to participate in the American Field Service teacher exchange program, and yet, standing in front of students at Aurora High School here, Khankasikam gives only the slightest hint she might be nervous.

Khankasikam, or Mrs. K to students, is the first and only AFS teacher exchange participant in the Imperial Valley and so far her experience has been good.

While her primary role during her 10 months in this country is to teach an English-language deficiency class at Calexico High School, Khankasikam also visits other schools and classrooms, like this one at Aurora, to talk about Thailand and its culture.


"I love teaching and I love children," Khankasikam said.

Her biggest goals this year are to improve her English-language speaking, listening and writing, she said.

"I go here so I can practice my skills," Khankasikam said.

Her experience will involve much more than that, however.

The visiting teacher program encourages the exchange of teaching methods and cultural information, said Jane Sharp, Khankasikam's liaison and AFS hosting and support coordinator.

"What better place for them to come than the Imperial Valley?" Sharp said.

Because Khankasikam taught English in Thailand, she is teaching that here as well. For now, she is assisting her mentor teacher, Lupe Serna, until her accent becomes less pronounced and students can better understand her, Sharp said.

Regardless of what classroom instruction she provides, Khankasikam's mere presence is an education in itself for many students.

"Not many even know where Thailand is," Sharp said.

International students and teachers provide local kids and adults alike a "view that the world exists outside of here," Sharp added.

Sharp hopes to continue to expand the visiting teacher program next year. In addition to Khankasikam, AFS is hosting 24 foreign exchange students this year.

In the meantime, local educators interested in inviting Khankasikam to their school to talk about Thailand and her experience teaching in the United States can call Jane Sharp or Lupe Serna at Calexico High School at 768-3980.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles