Alumni Spotlight: Elmarie

Elmarie is a small town girl from Bapsfontein, South Africa.

Why did you pick this program?

Elmarie: I loved how the program had a purpose. I was thinking working at the carnivals in America but honestly that would be such a waste of time. Here I get a qualification and I have the opportunity make a difference in the young learners life, most importantly, I think they made a big difference in my life and I have only been here for two months.

What is the most important thing you learned abroad?

Elmarie: How much space do I have?

Patience language here in Thailand can be problem if you don't speak Thai in every day situations. Faith - Most times I am not sure that the message got out across clearly but have faith most of time they get it right and if they don't be patient they will assist you to fix it. Thai's have a different way of working, stick to their system don't try to rock their boat and disturb their harmony then you wont fit in.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

Elmarie: JUST DO IT. You don't know what you are missing once you are there. Before you know it you are stuck in a rat race with a job from 9 - 5, married and with kids, then it wont be as easy to do a life changing thing like this

What was the hardest part about going abroad?

Elmarie: There are so many challenges to get over, but once you've conquered it, it is rewarding. For me the beginning was hard getting used to my new environment, I always lived in my comfort zone.

Financially in the beginning is a bit tough, I wasn't sure how much money was needed and a lot of hidden costs in the beginning. Making new friends I am a very shy person and keep to myself a lot. This pushed me to put myself out there a lot more.

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

Elmarie: For me it is the tough times when I got so fed up and just wanted to go home. I feel so proud to think during that hard times I stuck it out and I am so thankful I never went home I would have missed out on so many experiences. Take it day by day.

What made this experience unique and special?

Elmarie: I made new friends with special bonds while I was here in Thailand and I depended on them during these taught times I went through. They helped me through it all since they are experiencing the same thing as what I was. If it wasn't for them I would probably be home already.

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.

Elmarie: Asia is soooo much different to South Africa. From the time that you arrive every where you go is a new experience. Getting in a Taxi, tuk-tuk. Getting food, some times you have no idea what you are eating and it turns out to be one of the best meals you had in a long time. Dealing with the Thai people is such a nice experience. I have never seen so many friendly people in my life.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Elmarie: Enjoy every moment, good and bad. When it is over you would want to have more.

What made this trip meaningful to you, or how did this trip change your perceptions or future path?

Elmarie: This trip has meant the world to me. When I go home I will solve my problems a lot different, it was so much easier to give up but when you are out of your comfort zone it forced me to deal with the problems head on and solve it to the best way I can.