Lauren Tang

Lauren Tang

UX/UI Designer
United States

When she's not making the Go Overseas website more delightful, you can find Lauren sipping boba or jamming out at Soul Cycle. Lauren studied abroad in Rome with UC Berkeley visiting almost a dozen different countries while in Europe. She also volunteered in an elephant village with GVI Chiang Mai.

University of California- Berkeley
Lauren Tang
Yes, I recommend this program

I spent one week in Dharamshala, India with iSPiiCE on their volunteer teaching children program. I had never been to India before and honestly, had no idea what to expect. After having returned home, I now have such a beautiful appreciation for India and its vibrant people and communities.

Dharamshala is a small town nestled at the foot of the Himalayas. The daily program schedule included all meals, a lesson at the elementary school in the morning, and then an afternoon private lesson with a family. The highlight for me was definitely being able to interact with the cute kids, and just witnessing how bright and curious they all were. Education is such a powerful tool, and they were all eager to interact with native speakers. Definitely, be prepared for a lot of energy though because these kids love to chat!

-Daily chai tea throughout the day. Will definitely miss this!
-Using a laptop for an English lesson and seeing all the kids engaged/hovering over because most of them do not have a computer at home
-Being invited to a local family's home for a giant authentic Indian feast! By far one of my favorite memories to be welcomed in their home and to try to eat Indian food with my hands. So much fun and a great opportunity to interact with the locals.
-The Taj Mahal trip. Seeing the Wonder of the World was incredible, especially since I'm an architecture/history geek. The trip to Agra was long, but worth it to witness the marble masterpiece.

Varun and Vineet were amazing and always available for questions. I never once felt unsupported during my time with iSPiiCE. Thank you guys for an unforgettable week.

Note: I am a Go Overseas employee, but the above review is an honest personal reflection of my recent volunteer trip with iSPiiCE.

Lauren Tang
Yes, I recommend this program

I volunteered through GVI on their most popular “Volunteer with Elephants in Thailand” program. Though I was looking forward to visiting Thailand (and immerse myself in all the delicious food), I was even more excited to sign up for my first volunteer experience abroad. During my one week, GVI provided the support, communication, and project prep needed for a first-timer like me.

Impact: I learned very quickly about the current state of the elephant tourism industry in Thailand, and it was clear that this project strived to change that by bringing one elephant at a time back into the wild. Every day we met at the volunteer base and then took hikes to observe the elephants in their new habitat. GVI worked very closely with the Huay Pakoot community, and our work with the elephants helped create jobs in the village and promote an alternative method of elephant tourism.

Support: Every field staff member (Danielle, Holly, Phoebe, Jina and Pádraig) was always available for questions and provided orientation for new volunteers. Also, during your first week on the program, a staff member will join a new volunteer for dinner every evening with your homestay family to help you adjust!

Value: Disclaimer: My participation in the program was waived by GVI as a part of the Go Overseas paid PAID vacation program. However I do know that the program fees include airport pickup, transfer to and from Huay Pakoot, housing, and all meals for all volunteers during your stay.

Fun: There were always daily activities hosted by the program like river days, language exchanges, lessons with the local school children, or dinner with the mahout families. Even though life takes a slower pace in the village, there are plenty of volunteers on this program -- around 20 of us during my stay. Also, you have the option to take a weekend trip to Chiang Mai when there are no hikes (because there are always inbound and outbound volunteers).

Safety: There was never a time I felt unsafe during my stay. Your accommodations will be very basic, but my room and homestay house would be locked when no one was home. Also, the mahouts and field staff are very knowledgeable and tell you how you need to interact with the elephants.

Overall: The beauty in the program was really the opportunity to interact so closely with these intelligent animals, getting to know each one personally. My favorite elephant was Thong Dee, who was a total sweetheart with an old soul. If you are looking for an alternative trip during your time off (and have a love for elephants!), then definitely consider going to Huay Pakoot. I wish I had more than one week, because it was very obvious that longer term volunteers were deeply connected to the animals and community.

What would you improve about this program?
I would suggest improving the science aspect of the program. We were just beginning to log the body analysis of every animal during our hikes, but a lot more can be done to prove the efficacy of reintroducing the eles back into a wild habitat.
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GVI offers a variety of programs in Thailand driven by sustainability in a global, social, environmental, and conservationist...

Highly rated for Support, Fun, Impact

Hi, great question! There is no right way to answer because everyone's experience is unique! We recommend reading program reviews to get a feel for the experience you may have abroad. There are some great reviews at the bottom of this page under "Reviews":….