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Volunthai’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 08 Jan 2019

MapThe Hayes Family, Nan Province

When we were looking for volunteer groups which could accommodate our young family Volunthai was one of the first to take us on and certainly one of the most welcoming. Our experience in Thailand could best be described as transformative.

I am not entirely sure what my expectations were heading into our stay from early October through the end of November. Having never been overseas before I had no frame of reference for comparison. But regardless of my naiveté I was not only impressed but very much humbled by the people and culture. Prior to our travels we had read up on what to expect in Thailand in terms of cultural norms and the like. While the books and blogs are correct that the Thai people always seem to be smiling I do not think they did justice to how welcoming and gracious they truly are. Our encounters in every city, temple, restaurant, and shop were pleasant and seemingly memorable.

I would unequivocally recommend this program to anyone who is interested in volunteering and teaching. The children with whom we worked were not only highly engaged but very attentive and excited to learn English. The teachers also often engaged in learning activities clearly interested in how they could continue teaching after we had left. They were also very willing to entertain our interests in learning more about their culture, food, and language.

I would recommend that anyone interested consider a longer term stay especially if the assignment is with the younger learners. In our experience the younger children took a week or two to feel comfortable with us. Though once they did feel more comfortable with our teaching they became very affectionate often greeting us with hugs and high fives. We also found that especially with the younger kids that games, songs, and activities with action were very effective.

I would also suggest, especially for westerners, to be prepared for a much different pace of life and for flexibility in planning. My wife and I both agreed that timing seemed to be very much like island time. Things got done to be sure but there did not seem to be an overwhelming rush like we see in the United States. Moreover, plans tend to shift and sometimes do not even exist at all. For anyone who is regimented in a routine or expecting to have an extensive game plan this could be frustrating or unwelcome. As we came to learn this is one of the best parts about Thai life. All things get done in due time, and most importantly with a smile on your face.

Michael, once again thank you. I will forever be grateful to the people with whom we spent so much time in Thailand. Their generous and kind hearts will warm my soul for as many days as I have left to live. I cannot believe how impactful their friendship and love has been and I will be forever indebted to them for it.

You can contact us with any questions, and see more from our trip to Thailand, as well as other please we're volunteering around the world, here: