Alumni Spotlight: Katherine Walsh


Katherine volunteered with DEPDC/GMS in Mai Sai from April to August 2012 and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Why did you decide to volunteer with DEPDC in Thailand?

I study International Development and in third year it is required that we do a work placement, preferably abroad. My area of interest is children’s rights and my university already had a link with DEPDC/GMS, as previous third year students went there on placement.

I sent an application form to DEPDC/GMS because it is an organisation working in the very important and interesting area of Human Trafficking. Originally I did not know very much about human trafficking but once I researched it I knew that I would find the work at DEPDC/GMS interesting and that I could learn a lot from being there. I also hoped that I could put the skills I had learned from my education into practice to help out as much as I could.

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

All international volunteers work in the International Department with the volunteer coordinator. There is a variety of work to be done in this department. The primary task of the volunteers is teaching. I teach the Half Day School children in the mornings and three days per week I teach staff English for one hour and community English for one and a half hours.

DEPDC/GMS also has its own radio station, and every morning at 9am someone from the international department hosts the Fun English Show for one hour. Volunteers are also responsible for updating the blog, which is usually updated once per week, and for editing the quarterly newsletter.

Volunteers also handle tasks assigned to them by the volunteer coordinator. These include updating the donor spreadsheet on Microsoft excel, sending thank you letters to donors, sending information to potential volunteers, making presentations to visitors informing them of the work that DEPDC/GMS does, researching sources of funding and helping out with current projects.

Each day follows a pattern of teaching and office work, but tasks are extremely varied which makes each day interesting and provides valuable experience.

How has this experience helped you grow personally and professionally?

This is my first time working away from home and my first time working full time for an NGO. The opportunity and experience have been invaluable. On a personal level I have learned a great deal about myself and what I am capable of. The children I teach and the people I have met have also taught me a lot about other cultures and ways of life.

On a professional level, due to the variety of work, I have had the opportunity to put a great deal of what I have learned from my university education into practice and I have learned skills that my degree does not cover.

Overall I feel that, on both a personal and professional level, I learned a great deal more than I could ever give back, but everyone at DEPDC/GMS made me feel appreciated and was thankful for the contribution I made. I will leave with a greater knowledge and understanding of how an NGO, such as DEPDC/GMS, operates and that I can put this knowledge into practice in my future career.