Volunteer in Thailand – Learn, Volunteer and Travel
Sing Buri , Thailand
“Ladies and gentleman, we have just been cleared to land at the Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport. Please make sure one last time your seat belt is securely fastened. Thank you!” As I heard these words, all kinds of thoughts started spinning around in my head. My mind was full of so many questions and doubts. I had left the familiar surrounding of places and people and go volunteering in Thailand at the Learn, Volunteer and Travel project, doing a job I had little experience in, with people I had never met and a culture so intensely different it often stopped me dead in my tracks.
However, when I got off the plane I was extremely relieved to see Korn (the main transfer coordinator) waiting for me at the airport with two other European girls, who later became my best friends.
Due to the project being in more beautiful community area, close to the city of Sing Buri, a bus was in order. It was fantastic to see the road side markets lit up for the evening hustle of people as we drove past, I was glad to discover the reason why Thailand is called “the Land of the Smiles”- simply because everyone was smiling pretty much nonstop. The contrast that I could see to my life back home was too huge, it felt dreamlike…After couple of hours we arrived at the Brown house, where we spent the first week.
The first week was the Siam Culture Week (also known as the ‘Introduction week’).During this immersion course we had the chance to discover Thailand through the eyes of the local Thai people, step into their world and become part of a fascinating culture, its unique etiquette and way of life. Each day of the week was full of different activities, such as visiting temples, participating in Thai cooking & Thai language lessons, making coconut bracelets, and all of that while building lifelong friendships.
Moreover, during this week we had the chance to truly experience the incredible Thai cuisine. Thai food in Thailand is leagues better than anywhere else in the world. There’s more variety and more flavors. Your mouth dances with flavor when you eat there…and NO, I am not exaggerating!
My second week I volunteered at the Sri Udam Orphanage. What a treat that was! The children were very welcoming. As I had expected, I was indeed overwhelmed with the cramped living conditions and health and safety (or more like lack of), but those kids were so loving, so dynamic, so full of warmth and without fail greeted us with beaming smiles and ‘hello ma’am’ every morning upon our arrival. Their English was limited but they tried their best to communicate with us.
At the orphanage we could do many things: construction, painting, building, playing with the children in the afternoon, and teaching English to Thai people. I taught English and it was the best feeling ever. It was extremely rewarding and my students were very thankful. They were incredibly sweet and very eager to learn. I felt a really strong connection to them and looked forward each day to seeing them again. It may sound as a cliché but I gained so much more than I gave. Volunteering at the orphanage gave me insight into the culture in a way I could have never gotten as a tourist. It really is waging peace through justice worldwide.
As my time in Thailand came to an end, I did feel so very upset to be leaving. However, I felt like I had already said my painful goodbye to my beautiful coordinators and friends. I feel lost without that place even after weeks of returning back to Bulgaria. I would give anything to be back in teaching and knowing that I am touching some lives. For me this journey was a vehicle through which I reached a deeper understanding of life and without a doubt I would return to this magical adventure in a heartbeat! – Shebnem