My time in Thailand was amazing, I learned so many things but mostly and most importantly bout myself. This trip pushed me out of my comfort zones and also re-instilled what is important to me. I learned many things during the first two weeks of volunteering like, international and national relations, trades/construction skills, time and money management, sustainable development and fostering beginning friendships. My project leader was very friendly and helpful, he made sure to really highlight the core values and purpose of our volunteering time and work to the Lisu village and women's group. Every day he had us write out five things we were grateful for that day. This activity really made me see how the simple and small things are what we take for granted so easily and so often; for example, so many times the fresh fruits served at dinner were on my grateful list because it was a bright and sweet end no matter how tired I was at the end of the day. The constant smiles and words of appreciation from our project leader, our project supervisor, and the village people we were ultimately helping was always a sweet and kind reminder of why we initially chose to be on this volunteer trip: to help others and learn about ourselves and what we are capable of, both physically and emotionally.
The final two weeks of adventure tour however is where I really learned about being myself and about being independent. Though all of our activities were done together, I found some of my favourite days where when I did solo full day of half day trips. The friends I made on this trip were wonderful in that though we all had great times together (dancing in the rain by the ocean, helping each other overcome anxiety on snorkelling for the first time, bonding over amazing food and getting tipsy over a coupe drinks, offering words of support and hands to hold while getting traditional bamboo stick tattoos, or having memorable conversations while laying on a bed with tangled sea hair and sun sensitive skin at the end of an adventuresome day) they still understood times when I wanted to be alone and enjoy the busy city streets or rolling sea sands by myself. Some of my best memories are when I took a day trip to the highest peak of Thailand, did some self-guided temple touring, and traveled to one of the most renowned temples of the country. These moments are when I was really able to admire and understand myself and the world I marvelled at. Though these people I'm traveling with are from all over the globe, I have made friends and lasting memories with them. I learned so much about myself in that month abroad that I was truly saddened to have to return home; but, one of the things that this trip really showed me is that I have had this independent, curious, social, and adventuresome side within me all along, it just never had the opportunity to come out.
The universality of friendship and individuality really made this trip meaningful and beautiful to me. I hope to never forget all that I learned over in Thailand and that I will always keep open to meeting new people and learning from new adventures.
This program is pretty good as it is. However, I would suggest that in the volunteering weeks that there was more instruction on the upcoming tasks with considerable time before they happened. In the instance of teaching English to local school children, I was riveted with anxiety and stress before we even stepped foot on the school property because there was little to no instruction on how to teach and what we should be teaching the kids. It was very difficult to keep an three hour lesson plan open to the possibilities of how old the children were, what their English learning level was, what they know and did not know, etc. I would highly suggest to provide more insight into what each project entails from the volunteer.
Also, on the first day of adventure tour I had gone up to my tour leader and told her of a place in Thailand that I had been wanting to go to since I first booked the trip. I had it all figured out on time, minor supplies, and self-motivation to go alone and it was only in that moment when I had asked her where the bus station was to go to to get there that I was told I could not go on the trip because it was "too far away." If I had been previously informed by ISV that I can not take "long day trips" to neighbouring towns/provinces that would have saved me a lot of emotional upset.