Volunteer in Thailand
My name is Jessica. I'm 27 and from Miami, Florida!
When I was first presented with the opportunity to come to Thailand, I gave myself thousands of excuses to why I shouldn't go…but they say life begins when you step out of your comfort zone so with great fear I knew it was something I needed to embrace.
As I found myself boarding the plane completely alone heading to a country where I didn't have a clue of the culture, language or customs and for all I knew there was no one even in my
mission/volunteer group-which terrified me. Since I arrived though I have been sharing a home with 11 beautiful strangers from all over the world who have taught me MORE than I could even begin to imagine. We have become family overnight!
As for the learning about the Thai culture, I've found it incredibly inspiring witnessing how others live so happily with only bare essentials; even businesses are operated right out their homes. It's no question why this land is known as "the land of smiles." Even in the toughest situations a smile remains on their faces.
In Thailand, they live off of "Thai-time"-which means going with the flow. Most classrooms take place on the bare floors outside. No rooms, no desks, no pens... Just floor space. For building and repairing their educational facilities, we've utilized sand and hoes to make cement by hand. A task that's taken weeks to do would take hours using machines but this is how they live- happily going with the flow.
If there is one thing I've learned in the past year it's if there's something that scares you, embrace it- it'll probably end up being the best experience of your life!
I could say I had an ‘amazing’ or ‘life-changing’ or ‘absolutely incredible’ experience in Thailand, but those words will never really suffice the wild culture I grew to love and the interesting people I lived amongst. I could honestly say that the past month I was in Thailand was the best month I've ever experienced. I haven't been living for that long, but the memories I made will stay in my heart for an eternity.
Being the youngest volunteer and coming a week after all the others, I suddenly felt very nervous about how they would act when they all met me. I expected to just keep to myself, but they all brought me under their wings like a little sister. They were all so different and from every continent in the world, but they were all so interesting, smart, humble, and down-to-earth. There is not one person I met that I didn't create some sort of bond, some more than others, but I will always remember them, each individually in their special ways. Every day I just sat back and absorbed everything I could - learning so much about the culture of Thailand, proper ways of teaching English, and ultimately about how to be the person I wish to be. You would be surprised how much you can learn about a person on the back of a motorbike, having weird and hilarious conversations drifting through the sandy mountainous road. At home, I was always a big talker, sometimes to a fault, not always stopping to listen to what others had to say. But I listened more than anything when I was on Samui. I listened to the knowledge that these amazing adults were handing down to me. Staring up at the stars, we talked about the universe and the different opportunities the future held for all of us.
Every class we walked into was a challenge and new experience in itself. It was so hard to figure out what they (the children) knew considering they are at all different levels and then having to come up with a lesson plan to make sure that something can get through to them. Some only understood 5% of what we were saying in English, if that even, but we were breaking a wall down so they could start to want to learn English.
My coordinator explained to me how important it is for this generations of students to learn English. Now that borders to Thailand are being opened to allow for easier migration in and out of the country, more people who can speak English are going to be coming into Thailand and may easily take a lot of the native jobs. Volunteers can really make a big difference, even if you are able to open the eyes of one or two kids, those kids will begin to WANT to learn and may eventually learn English fluently one day. The amount of improvements I saw in just 3 weeks was astonishing! They would come to us during lunch just to be able to practice a few of their new vocab words. Their eagerness will come a far way in their future education and I couldn't help but smile each and every day.
My eyes were truthfully opened to the beauties and horrors of the world and I literally could not have asked for a better program and group of people to have been alongside me through that journey. It is interesting to see where life will take me next!
Thank you so much to Love Volunteers for all the support before, throughout, and after my experience. I felt so safe and comfortable and am blessed to have had such an experience!
kop khun ka! THANK YOU! :)
I had an incredible experience in the teaching program in Koh Samui, Thailand. I loved absolutely everything about my program, and I genuinely can't say enough good things about it. I had the pleasure of teaching wonderful children, met so many interesting and inspiring people, and was greeted by such welcoming and kindhearted staff members. Our entire volunteer group was a unique blend of individuals from all around the world of different ages, most of whom had travelled there alone. This created a very interesting group dynamic, but what we shared was a genuine love of giving back, adventure, and a wholesome love for life itself. We quickly grew close to one another at the beginning of our stay, and began our project together.
The teaching program involved planning and preparing our own lesson plans for our classes (with adequate demonstration and support, rest assured) and then delivering said lessons to a class of approximately 30 children between the ages of 5-13. A typical school day was between 8:30am and 3:30pm, and the classes were divided amongst the volunteers with the alternation of main and assistant teacher roles. It was a very well designed system because we were all involved in one another's classes, and had the opportunity to help out in the art classes as well. Moreover, the staff was extremely accommodating and ensured that we were only doing what we were comfortable doing. It was such a pleasure teaching the children; they were all so wonderful and full of excitement, and they loved to greet us with hugs and kisses when we arrived. It was an extremely rewarding experience because I was able to hear the children correctly pronouncing the vocabulary and speaking the dialogues I had given them, in addition to grasping and understanding the delivered concepts.
Koh Samui is a beautiful island with so much to offer. During the evenings, the other volunteers and I would explore the island on our motorbikes, go to the beaches, and all go out for dinner together. Our coordinators kindly offered to take us to viewpoints, temples, and waterfalls around the island as well. There was always so much to do and there was never a dull moment during my entire stay there. The other volunteers and I planned many excursions together, which included trips to Khao Sok and Ang Thong National marine park. Both of these places manifested stunning views and offered numerous activities. In Ang Thong we kayaked around the island and hiked to Emerald Lake, and a handful of us decided to hike to the incredible viewpoint at the very top. There were also the options of hiking to a cave on the island and snorkelling. In Khao Sok we went on a couple of safari adventures in a long tail boat and explored the jungle, in addition to spending the night in tiny bungalows floating on the water. These are only a couple of examples of the many adventures we went on, given that every day held a new adventure and every day so many incredible memories were made.
There's no better way to experience an unfamiliar country than to immerse yourself in such an environment where you can learn about and practice the country's customs, and really gain an understanding and appreciation of the culture itself. I believe this creates a unique experience all on it's own, and as volunteers we had the opportunity to do exactly that - we were even lucky enough to be a part of a Buddhist temple celebration with the school. The NGO in Thailand that LV is partnered with is a reliable network of remarkable individuals, adhering to the founding principle that the work done by volunteers is truthfully required and will make a difference. During my stay there I spoke to the coordinators regarding their work, and the passion entailed in their voices was unmissable. I was honestly moved by their love for what they do, how much they care for the children, and the amount of their own time and energy they've devoted to making a difference in the lives of others. The wonderful thing is that you can feel that energy and passion every step of the way, and in everything that you are contributing to the project. I'd love to go back in the future to revisit the relationships I made with not only the children but the entire staff in Koh Samui. Additionally, in the near future I intend on travelling to a new destination and partaking in another one of the projects that LV has to offer. I've been thoroughly impressed with the level of preparedness and the accessibility of information LV provided me with during the entire process, and I would highly recommend for anyone with a passion for volunteering and adventure to take part in this project. To volunteer in Thailand is to open your mind to a world of compassion, exploration and self-actualization. You'll immediately know that you're a part of something bigger than yourself - go there and be sure to take in every moment of it.
Thank you for everything LV!
I’ve never wanted to travel, nor had the feeling of “wanderlust”. I was only moderately interested in Thailand, but incredibly passionate about gaining teaching experience with younger children. I just so happened to stumble upon Love Volunteers, and their AMAZING teaching program. Traveling out of country for the first time, I wasn’t sure what to expect, Love Volunteers and their local team were there for me every step of the way!
I had gone into this program alone, and am now coming out with friends from all over the world. The local coordinators of this program really care about you, and really want you to enjoy your placement, as well as love Thailand as much as they do! They are always ready and willing to help, and will have the brightest smile when you stop by the office and say hi. I really cannot praise this team highly enough.
My experience as a teacher has been nothing short of rewarding. The teachers and the students here are absolutely beautiful in mind, body, and spirit. At first I was a bit nervous walking into a classroom, but these past two weeks have taught me how to become an effective teacher, with the help of some feedback from the students and teachers. I was able to learn how to classroom manage, lesson plan, and connect to my students even though there was a language barrier.
These people are some of the happiest, generous, and humble people I have met, and have truly made an impact on my life. I would recommend this program to anyone and everyone because, not only do you make a difference, but you come back as a better person as well. Thank you Love Volunteers for this amazing opportunity!!!
I knew I would have a great time in Thailand, but didn't think it would be so much fun and meaningful as well, and both programs I participated in were amazing! This was by far the best experience I have ever had, and I wish I could have stayed forever!
Here is my feedback:
Teaching English to Novice Monks:
These 4 weeks of volunteering in a temple were above and beyond all my expectations. I feel that I’ve been fortunate to take part in a very meaningful project. Additionally, I’m grateful to have left my imprint on novice monks whom I taught and who taught me just as much. My daily visits in the temple made me feel like a member of this huge family of Buddhism, and that is something that no tourist experiences.
In addition, this month was a lot more than just teaching; I’ve had the opportunity to learn about a whole new culture through its language, traditions, tastes, and sceneries. The fact that volunteers have the weekends off allowed me to travel around Chiang Mai and take tours outside of the city. It created even more experiences and memories that I’ll never forget.
For everyone who is looking for an interesting way of traveling, I would recommend that they join one of the projects and get ready for a mind-opening experience.
English Education in a Primary School:
Teaching in a local primary school in Thailand is an experience I will never forget. I am very interested in education in general and as a volunteer I was able to learn about the local culture and how it comes to play in the education that the kids get from the moment they go to kindergarten. The kids were very attentive and grateful, and I was very much surprised by their level of English. The fact that the older kids could understand most of what I said allowed me to contribute a lot more than I thought I would, and I wish I had done it for more than just two weeks.
Thank you again to all the team at Love Volunteers for all your support, and for making this experience possible!
In my stay at the Elephant Camp I gained a real understanding of why these camps are a necessity for the survival of elephants in Thailand today. In 1989 the Thai government outlawed logging, putting thousands of elephants and their mahouts out of work and the only life they had ever known. These working elephants are domesticated and would have no chance of surviving in the wild, even if that were a viable option in Thailand today, which it is not. The population of wild elephants in Thailand is diminishing rapidly, mostly due to loss of habitat.
I spent four weeks at the elephant camp and it was probably the best four weeks of my life! The elephants were amazing and it was so much fun bathing the elephants in the river. It's a once in a lifetime chance and I would recommend everyone to do it! I would love to go back next year to the elephant camp and see how everyone is getting on. I found Thailand a really safe place an all the staff were really friendly.
My experience was great! I learned more than I had thought I would and had an overall terrific time. My favorite parts were being able to interact with the novice monks and hanging out with other volunteers in the program. I was able to meet people from all over the world, not just Thai people or fellow American volunteers.
My biggest piece of advice to future volunteers would be to not go into the program with too many expectations. Let the experience unfold on its own and embrace every situation that you find yourself in. Don't try and make the experience into the idea you have formed in your head.
Thanks so much for all your help throughout this process!!
Hey everyone! My name is Rose and I am currently studying Public Health Studies at Johns Hopkins University in the US. I recently went on the Love Volunteers Program to Chiang Rai, Thailand. It was a truly amazing experience. I was in the outdoor program and I loved it. I made so many new friends (other international volunteers) from Australia and UK and Canada etc.
The entire Thai staff were very friendly and helpful. They patiently answered all of our questions and helped us out with any difficulties. There is also a volunteer office with internet connection so you don't have to worry about losing contact wtih your family back home. We also have extracurricular activities to do at nights such as bonfire, cherades, movie nights etc. It was cold at nights in Chiang Rai so you might want to bring a lot of sweaters. They will provide you with a bed, pillows and blankets and 3 meals everyday. The food was amazing and the cook was very friendly.
I highly recommend anyone out there to go on this program. You will not regret it. Have fun to those who have already signed up!. Rose