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Friends for Asia

About

Friends for Asia is a volunteer organization that places foreign volunteers and interns in projects in Bali, Thailand, Nepal and Vietnam. Originally started in 2007, Friends for Asia has placed hundreds of volunteers, from more than 18 different nationalities, in our volunteer and intern projects. Our projects assist local communities with challenges related to their development and benefit volunteers via their volunteer (or intern) experience. Our local staff in our different volunteer locations is well educated individuals that work hard to allow you to make a difference in your volunteer project. We offer a variety of different projects – something for everyone.

Founded
2007

Reviews

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Juliette
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I think you’ll love this opportunity!

This program is not your typical “save the world” type.. Friends for Asia provides an experience where the goal and ideal is very real and tangible. Service and not saving; teaching and instructing English so these individuals (children in our case) can have an invaluable skill in their future. Of course, you know all this from FFA’s spiel on their site..
But I just want to share my thoughts on my volunteer experience.

First off, it proved to be a great way to travel and experience the Thai culture in a more immersive fashion. We had done the tourist thing a few weeks before our program and I promise you that volunteering was more rewarding in the long run. The connections we built with the children and teachers was priceless. We still talk about the friendly welcome they gave us and all the places they brought us!
Also, the experience YOU get instructing is a really eye-opening and challenging opportunity. We had to learn to control the classroom and establish rules. We came up with lesson plans and activities to keep them occupied and learning English. You will have to learn to cross the social borders without understanding the verbal language. In the process, I learned that people (especially children with a ton of energy!) really don’t need a common language to find stuff in common.. It’s crazy hectic but amazing!
Friends for Asia provided a way for me to learn these lessons, get this experience, build these bonds and legitimately serve others.
If you are looking for a good volunteer program in Thailand - I recommend FFA.

What would you improve about this program?
The hardest part was definitely maintaining order and controlling the children. A volunteer would be better set for success if they had really solid lesson plans and activities for the kids.
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Ranbir
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Remarkable Opportunity

Friends for Asia Foundation (FFA) has twice facilitated my placement as a volunteer English language teacher in Thailand. In 2017, I worked for 8 weeks at a Secondary school for Buddhist novice monks, and in 2018, for 10 weeks at a Primary school in a remote village of Chiang Mai province.

FFA made my placement seamlessly smooth from the beginning to the end. The infrastructure for reception and pre-placement stay in Chiang Mai, and eventual transfer to the school site was excellent. I was initially guided into critical understanding of matters related to Thai culture and language, health and safety, and food and transportation. Throughout my stay, an experienced, kind and extremely caring coordinator kept in touch. I thank my coordinator, Naphat Kasikitworakul (“Tae”), for a weekly breakfast supply of Muesli, yogurt, juices and fruits, and for a regular watch after my comfort and needs at the school site. The Director of FFA, Todd Cikraji, and the FFA staff went out and beyond to resolve any Thai Visa issues and to provide health and travel advice.

Once at the school, I was totally free to develop and use my teaching methods in coordination with the resident Thai English language teacher. I found 6 – 8 weeks an optimum period for a measurably meaningful instruction in English language.

It was an excellent opportunity to understand and partake in life enriching experiences.

Paul
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Teaching Monks Chiang Mai

This was a moment in my life I can safely say I will remember for a long time. Friends for Asia took care of me from my arrival at Chiang Mai Airport where I was met to my Taxi ride back to the airport for my return home. They took the time to prepare me for my time in Thailand and my time teaching. The young Monks were a joy to be with and laughed with me as we journeyed through the day. The teaching staff took great care of me and included me as much as could be expected.The days were long as there were lesson plans to be prepared most evenings. At the end of week 2, it was a lot easier and I was able to mix up the plans for different classes. Friends for Asia is a great platform to travel and immerse yourself in a different culture. I meet some great people both Volunteers and Locals.My favourite thing was the laughter in the classroom.

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Beth
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Thank You is Not Enough

Having just come back from Thailand, after volunteering for two weeks through Friends for Asia I can honestly say that this experience has renewed my faith in international volunteer programs.  In the past I have volunteered through other organizations in India, Haiti and Peru; all valuable experiences however short of the now high precedent that Friends for Asia has ranked in my heart.
                To begin the volunteer experience Friends for Asia provides a two-day orientation process that includes teaching basic Thai language, cultural norms and acceptable behavior, what to expect in your program and even in-city transportation. The volunteer houses are spacious and clean, laundry is available (yes each house has a washer), the kitchen and living rooms are modern, the bedrooms are comfortable. In addition, a program coordinator is on-site everyday, to assist with directions, suggestions for site-seeing and travel and to support you throughout your time with Friends for Asia.
For my volunteer project, I taught English to Buddhist monks at the Demonstration Pali School. I felt very welcomed by the monks and school staff and found that the monks were very eager to learn English and about myself and my culture. The lesson plans may not have always been followed exactly but I have never smiled more. Being in the monks company was a truly joyful time in my life.
I highly recommend this organization to anyone interested in visiting Thailand and is looking for an amazing life-enriching experience. I cannot express my gratitude enough to Todd, the program director and Aom, May, and Manong, the program coordinators, thank you from the bottom of heart!

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Thanyamai
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Worthwhile Experience

I did the Medical Internship programme for three weeks last summer in Chiang Mai. Seeing that I have done medical internship programmes before, I can say that this was different in the way that we got to fully engage with the various hospitals we were assigned to, and allowed for the experience to be invaluable. I learnt so many things, and the kindness and support of the staff bolstered the positive experience even more. The accommodation was also lovely, and the food for breakfast provided was plentiful. It is so easy to get around the town, and we got to go on some amazing weekend trips, such as to the Elephant Camps and the Sticky Waterfall. I kept a daily log of what I did and saw everyday, and still refer to it now during University (as some things overlap!). It was a positive experience overall.

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Alexandra Perkinson

After volunteering with Art Relief International for three months, Alex returned in January 2014 to fulfill the position of Funding and Outreach Coordinator for Cultural Canvas Thailand. Alex is originally from Baltimore, Maryland but spent the last six years living in New York, New York. She studied at Syracuse University and Pratt University, receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Art Photography and Master’s degree in Art Therapy and Creativity Development from these institutions respectively.
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Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with Art Relief International in Thailand?

I had just finished my Master’s degree in Art Therapy and I knew that I wanted to travel but not lose sight of my professional goals. The Art Relief program was a perfect way to integrate my interests.

What made this experience unique and special?

Art Relief International is one of the few programs in the world that specifically advertise volunteering through the lens of art activism therefore the program is inherently unique. Once here, my expectations were not only met, but surpassed, and I was able to integrate what I had learned over the past two years of graduate school while learning new and innovative approaches to the discipline of art therapy and art education that are practiced here.

How has this experience impacted your future? (Personally, professionally, academically, etc.)

This experience was a natural continuation of my career path and I was very fortunate to be offered a part-time position at Cultural Canvas Thailand upon the completion of my volunteer term. This worked out in a lot of ways for me because I really wasn’t ready to leave and I am able to work now towards long-term personal and organizational goals.

What was the highlight of your experience?

The highlight of my experience was getting to know some of the individuals that we work with on a more personal level. Because I was here for three months volunteering, and now back as a part-time staff member, seeing people every week enabled me to build up trusting relationships.

In the beginning, workshop participants may have been tentative about communicating with me, whether due to language barriers or just shyness, but after a few weeks the same kids were sitting on my lap and chatting my ear off. It is really rewarding to see that kind of growth happen.

What is one piece of advice you would offer someone considering interning abroad in Thailand?

Go for it! Thailand is a beautiful and culturally rich country. It attracts “professional” and novice travelers alike because it offers a range of experiences. Just in Chiang Mai, you can visit areas where people speak fluent English, eat western food, etc. or you can travel a short distance outside of the city and find yourself in a village or hill tribe with no real connection to urban life, speaking dialects you’ve never heard of and practicing completely unique and foreign customs.