The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

By Diana Zimmerman
Wah. Co. Eagle 

Thai student brings sens of humor to WHS


April 30, 2014

Dew Noppawat , an exchange student at Wahkiakum High School, has performed in the Mr. Wahkiakum pageant, turned out for basketball and baseball, and made a lot of friends with his quick wit and easy smile, but today this fun 16-year-old from Bangkok, Thailand, is feeling a little shy and a little insecure.

“I’ve never done an interview before,” Noppawat admitted. “My heart is pounding.”

He apologizes for his English, but it is easy to follow him, despite his claim that he has problem with verb tenses and pronunciations. He’s been learning the English alphabet and English grammar rules since elementary school, but there was an intermix of British and American English in his lessons and it has caused a little confusion. For instance, he says aluminum like the British do.

“Al-loo-min-yum,” he repeated. “But I’m going to speak just like an American. People are going to hear me and they are going to think I’m from here!”

Practicing grammar and the alphabet and a bit of conversation were not enough preparation for the instant immersion he experienced when he first set foot in the United States. His response to the problem probably led to some fun and a bit of trouble.

“People would talk so fast,” Noppawat said. “I didn’t understand a word of it, so I just said ‘Yes!’”

That’s probably why he ended up in a dress at the Mr. Wahkiakum pageant.

He likes to play the drums and he loves to draw, but he’s slow to bring attention to it. His favorite subjects are math and science and his favorite teacher is Mrs. Haberlach.

“But,” he added, “every teacher has been so helpful, even outside of class.”

He loves Mr. Rooklidge’s class, where they have worked with robots and are designing race cars.

“It’s so much fun,” he said. “At home we just listen to the lectures and take notes, but it was great to be able to experiment and use our hands.”

Noppawat hopes that some of his new friends will visit him in Thailand one day.

“They have four seasons,” he said. “Summer, summer, summer, summer. If you come, I will be your guide. But I’ll give you a map, because I’m not a very good guide.”

People frequently tell him he’s funny. He has an answer for that too.

“My mother told me, ‘I know why you are silly, Dew. I dropped you when you were very young.’”

You can tell he’s starting to get a handle on this interview thing.

He plans to return home and finish high school and then to go on to study business or engineering. He will also continue his art studies.

Dew is staying with NovaLee and John Knopp of Cathlamet.


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