Why did you pick this program?
Rachael chose ISV because her boyfriend at the University of Calgary received a presentation on the company and together they decided to make it into an adventure.
Both Rachael and Samuel love to travel and being able to travel, eat, sleep and volunteer together in such a tropical country as Thailand was just an amazing opportunity.
Rachael likes to live by a motto that goes something like "If your upset that you didn't do it then you should have done it. No regrets. Live in the moment." There are many different ways to say it.
When Rachael and Samuel looked more into the company, ISV was a very credible, organized and safe company to travel with. They had contact information, travel arrangements, itineraries etc that were all available to the travelers a month before the departure date. There was no smoke an mirrors and it really made the entire process just that much easier!
What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?
DO IT!! Traveling is one of the best things you can do for yourself. You meet many new people, you try new foods, see new things, and who knows maybe inspire yourself to do something you never thought you would do before.
I always tell my friends that being able to travel gives me a greater perspective on the world around me and just opens my mind up even more considering the beauty of nature and people themselves.
Basically I tell anyone I know that if you want to travel, then go and do it. Stop thinking about all the little details. Those will fall in place. You really do only have one life, so you might as well make the most of it and enjoy it.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Make sure to bring some protein bars/small jar of peanut butter etc. Food can be interesting sometimes and your protein intake might not be as much as you are used to. Plus if you ever feel hungry you've got them on hand!
Oh and camera memory chips... bring LOTS of those!
What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?
There are so many I could tell you about!!
Probably one of the best memories for me was horseback riding on the beach in Hua Hin, Thailand. We were just relaxing on the sand when some fellows rode by on horses, me being the horse lover I am ran over and asked to pet the horses.
The conversation then went to the possibility of renting them for an hour to ride on the beach. The next thing I knew I was loping along the Gulf of Thailand on a beautiful palomino mare. The warm salty air blowing in my face, long hair streaming behind me, the soft spray of water kicking up from the horses hooves.
It was absolutely magical, like something out of a James Bond movie. Riding beside me was the love of my life Samuel and a couple other friends that were on the trip. (it was their first time ever riding a horse!) Even now that memory just has me smiling, it was just... SO perfect.
What was the most valuable experience you gathered from your travels abroad?
How really fortunate I am to living in Canada and to have the family, country, friends and support that I have. Being a woman in this world is not an easy thing. However, I have a substantial advantage because I am white, middle class, and educated. Our volunteer project with ISV consisted of 2 weeks in the very northern most part of Thailand, a small village of Lesu.
The majority of the villagers are not considered Thai people. They are refugees that fled Burma and live in the northern mountains of Thailand. The lives these people live are in no way comparable to the way western society lives. Those villagers provided everything they could possibly give to us to make sure our stay was comfortable.
And at the end of our stay they apologized that they couldn't give us more, because that was all they had to give. I was in tears, here these people have fled for their lives, are illegally residing in Thailand, farming the mountain land to stay alive and they are worried that WE the western people were not comfortable enough. I was in tears. Absolute shambles. You never really know how lucky you are until you see and experience the way other people live.