Why did you decide to volunteer with Volunteering Solutions in Thailand?
David: I chose Volunteering Solutions based on its good international reputation. What really helped finalise my decision were the posted pictures and feedback from past volunteers. This is partly the reason why I’d love to give back to future volunteers now that I have undertaken my program.
What truly sets Volunteering Solutions apart is the good balance between work and play. My program had a good portion of volunteering work sandwiched between truly amazing tourist attractions like the Thai Temples, Khao Yai National Park and the Chatuchak Market. Having been through this program really opened my eyes to the wonders of volunteering. Being able to help the locals brought genuine joy and satisfaction to all of us volunteers. Being able to meet fellow volunteers coming from different countries only made the experience that much better.
Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.
David: Volunteers assemble relatively early in the morning to depart to volunteer sites. My volunteer activities included taking care of disabled children at the Christian Foundation for the Blind, Thailand (CFBT), teaching at a Childcare Center and participating in local community work at Tha Thum Village like clearing weeds, planting sugar canes and bathing elephants.
Our volunteer work usually ends by late afternoon and we would then be free to explore the town. Some of the typical things we do are Thai Massages, attempting to eat insects, shopping (with a lot of bargaining) and simply taking pictures around the location. Volunteers who appreciated nightlife would immerse themselves in the local clubbing scene.
Personally, the best part of this trip is my community work experience at Tha Thum. During my stay in the village, I learnt to appreciate the simplest things in life and truly felt the warmth of the villagers who tried their best to make us feel at home despite being unable to speak English. Being able to ride elephants is something I will never forget as well!
What made this experience unique and special?
David: It is a rather unique summer experience as you get a bit of both worlds; as a tourist and a local. I visited numerous tourist-friendly areas during parts of the program itinerary and had a much better view on the country from the local's perspective through the volunteering work carried out. I thought it was a great balance and it made me understand the country's culture, lifestyle etc much more thoroughly than just the stereotypical impressions given in tourist areas.
How has this experience impacted your future?
David: This experience has kickstarted and reassured my plan to take on international volunteering projects in the future. I find myself much more comfortable and confident in communicating with people from different cultural backgrounds, not to mention amongst fellow volunteers.