I first chose PoD in 2012 because I wanted to find a charity that believed in what they were offering, there were many websites and company's out there that seemed as if their main goal was to make profit rather than offering a personal, ethical, responsible volunteer experience. After such a fantastic first experience in 2012 I signed up again, in 2014 to help support the new volunteers with their experience.
From the onset of signing up for the placement Gemma and the staff at PoD were there for support. Wether it was a question as silly as "how many trousers should we bring?" They replied quickly and efficiently to reassure us that all would be ok.
The first time I volunteered with PoD I went with my friend, and although it was great to have someone from home, Gemma made it very warm and welcoming and we all quickly made friends with each other. People in the same resort were surprised when they found out we had only known each other for a couple of hours, rather than for a couple of years!
Everyday was meticulously planned so that we got the best we could out of the experience. Wether it would be snorkeling, visiting temples, working in schools, going to the night market, traditional cooking class, staying with local families, dolphin watching, island hopping... it was all quite exhausting but it helped to create a fantastic life-changing experience.
The volunteering side was inspirational, when I first volunteered with PoD I was the youngest and many of the volunteers were full time teachers with some years of experience. Hoping to do Primary Education at university myself, I feel it really challenged me to develop my own teaching style which was engaging and fun for the children whilst not relying on the interactive whiteboards and other resources you may find in a typical english classroom. It is really quite interesting how many activities you can come up with, with just a few paper plates!
The thai children really value education and are excited to learn, their enthusiasm has kept me motivated to carry on with my teaching placements in an inner-city school where, its safe to say, some children would rather be anywhere else. Whenever I am having a tough day here, I watch my video I created which documented the trip, to keep me going through all the planning, appraisals and reflections I have to do. All that I can think is 'take me back!'.
I cannot speak more highly of this experience. To me, there is no other way I would like to spend my break, than to volunteer overseas with PoD. I wish to continue volunteering with PoD as I know they have my best interest at heart and that I can always rely on them for an amazing time.