I spent ten weeks teaching English in school in June 2019 in the south of Thailand. I’m not sure that there are enough words to describe this place and how brilliant it is, and the large impact it made on me. Leaving was very hard as I truly fell in love with the area and the people in it.
The community really make you feel like you’re a part of it and not a tourist. I know the whole point of the program was about teaching the adults and students from the village but I feel like it taught me a lot more than I thought was possible, it opened my eyes to the real world and showed me how much is out there and the world is bigger than my corner of England, it helped me grow so much as a person and just changed my whole perspective on life in general. I didn’t know you could fall in love with a place until I arrived in Ban Nam Khem and this place will always have such a huge part in my heart forever, and so will the people who live in it and the students I taught. This program has a massive impact on the community and its so clear to see that, we took part in village clean ups, temple clean ups, parades and so much more which proved how much of a good relationship GVI has with community and the respect each side has for each other. During the week we taught at two different schools, a Thai school and a Burmese school and had multiple lessons at each, having the same classes each week helps build up such a strong relationship between you and the students and there was such an age range from 6-16 which gives you such different experiences with every class. And every second Friday we had a group project were all three programs would come together to do something, this was different every time from, a beach clean, making chicken wire bins, fundraiser for menstrual cups, summer camp at a school and so much more. we also had weekly Thai lessons to help you with communicating with others in the village which I found very beneficial.
My first two weeks were a massive struggle and I found it very hard, however the staff team were just amazing and gave me a lot of support and made things so much easier, base felt like a home and the staff really made it feel like a family, without such an amazing, kind and supportive staff team I think I would of found the whole experience a lot harder, every single one of them helped me so much while there, they constantly supported me, checked I was coping okay and were always available if I wanted someone to have a five minute chat with, it was my first time out of the country without my mum and the staff team made it a lot more easier and it didn’t feel I was as far away from home as I really was.
The initial shock of finding out you have no hot water, sharing a room with six people in bunk beds, Geckos everywhere and so much more seemed like it would be impossible to cope with but being away from it is weird as I miss these things so much.
I made friends for life here and speak to most of them on a daily basis even though we are in different places around the world, and the ones in England I meet up with as much as we can, and am planning on visiting a group over in America next year.
GVI as a whole has been amazing throughout my time with them, before I went I received many emails and calls making sure I was prepared for my trip, since being back I still get regular emails to check how I am, I’ve joined the ambassador programme where I now go to lots of events around the uk and meet other past volunteers which I really love as its amazing to see so many people who believe in the same thing as you, and I love hearing about past trips of other people, I can say without a doubt this isn’t my last trip with GVI as I will definitely be returning in a few short months. GVI changed me for the better as a person as it was the first time I felt truly happy and I couldn’t recommend this enough to anyone, my confidence and self-awareness grew so much I don’t recognise the person who came back and it’s a very good thing.