At school the other day, I had the pleasure of meeting Sally Campbell and her adopted daughter Buakhao. Sally is a principal from a small school in Tasmania, Australia. As with every visitor we have to the school, I took them up to my classroom in order to allow the students to interact with them. The students were interested to hear that not only were there only 15 people in an average class, but also that there were only 70 students in the entire school. Our school has an average of 45 students to a class and 1,800 students in the school.
However, what caught the students attention the most was Sally’s adopted daughter Buakhao. Sally first met Buakhao at Pakkred Babies’ Home in Nonthaburi when she was only five years old. Sally had gone there with her husband to adopt a Thai child. Something that many foreign couples do in Thailand. When Sally took Buakhao back to Australia, she couldn’t speak a word of English. All she knew was her alphabet. But, due to a full immersion into a normal class and the fact that Buakhao was very talkative, meant that within a few months she started to become fluent. When she talked with my students, she spoke with an Australian accent. They were of course intrigued that she had picked up English so quickly and so well. However, what startled them the most was that within the period of four years, she had forgotten all of her Thai.
This was the first time nine year old Buakhao had been back to Thailand since being adopted. Her Australian mother had brought her back to visit her roots and also to meet the people at the orphanage where she had grown up. What I particularly liked was that Sally was trying to encourage Buakhao to become interested in her cultural heritage. She had bought her some bilingual children’s book and we gave her some Thai handwriting exercise books and Thai stickers. Buakhao’s story is not uncommon. We often receive emails from people who have adopted Thai children asking for advice on how to educate their children about Thailand. Of course, we are only too happy to help out in any way we can.