First, tell us a little about yourself and your trip.
Kat: My name is Kat Silvers and I went to Thailand when I was 16-years-old, from 27th of December 2010 to 16th January 2011. I'm a full-time student from Sydney, Australia.
Why did you decide to volunteer with ISV in Thailand?
Kat: It was kind of a spur of the moment decision - my friend and I were at a careers expo and there was a stall promoting International Student Volunteers. It looked really interesting so we checked out the different high school volunteer programs - New Zealand, Costa Rica and Thailand. The motivating force for our decision to volunteer abroad was the opportunity to give something back as we are so privileged living in a developed country and we were drawn to Thailand because it was somewhere neither of us had been, the program looked amazing and it wasn't too far away in comparison to Costa Rica.
Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.
Kat: The activities varied from day to day but it followed the general pattern of a morning session of work, lunch and then an afternoon session. Most of our work was on the orphanage's farm where we were clearing paddocks with hoes and planting new seedlings, it was really hard work but it was so rewarding. We also did a lot of painting - we painted the outside of the orphanage with a fresh coat and also painted mural that stretched down the retaining wall that led up to the home. In addition to this we were given the opportunity to hang out and play with the kids at lunch and generally after the afternoon session was finished. One day was dedicated to just playing with the kids all day - in the morning we rotated playing sport games e.g. soccer, frisbee, hackie sack etc. and arts and craft, and in the afternoon we went to the river with the kids which was so much fun!
Whilst volunteering we were also given days off where we got to go sight seeing with our amazing leader Stef, where we visited sites like the Sunken Temple and the Mon Temples on the other side of town. After working for two weeks at the orphanage we went back to Bangkok and Chiang Mai where we started our adventure tour and got to go zip lining, work at the elephant nature park, have a traditional Thai cooking class and do a lot of sight seeing and immerse ourselves in the culture. Everyday was so amazing and it went way too quickly!
What made this volunteer abroad experience unique and special?
Kat: What made the experience so unique and special was definitely the people on the trip and our ISV leaders Stef and May. I developed friendships with people that will last a lifetime and made incredible memories that we will always share. In addition to this by volunteering abroad you feel part of something larger, although only small I was able to impact the lives of the children at the home and by spending time with them, I realized just how lucky I am and how such a little really does go a long way.
How has this experience impacted your future?
Kat: This experience has really made me reconsider where I want to go in the future - I definitely plan to go back at the end of this year whether it be to Thailand and Baan Unrak or somewhere else in the world and dedicate my time to helping those less fortunate. It has also made me consider going into a field that is concerned with humanitarian work or just dedicating as much time, while i have it to helping others.
Personally this experience certainly made me grow as a person and develop relationships with people that will last a lifetime. It really opens your eyes to the impact you can have on people's lives by doing something so small and really showed me that we take a lot for granted. As a result, I have gotten a lot more involved in charity work and am continually boring my friends with stories nearly two years on of how much I miss everything about the trip! Hopefully by the end of this year I will be sitting back in Thailand re-living the experience :)