Thailand was filled with so many special moments

It was been a wonderful experience, looking at things with new eyes and sharing my stories with friends and family. My time in Thailand was filled with so many special moments. The people were incredible and I feel like I now have a family there, at the school and at Krujuk's. We continue to communicate and I hope to visit again. I wanted to thank you so much for all your help and concern. I really enjoyed our conversations and learned much about the country from you. I have had a few people email me with questions about the project. It is good to share information.

I hope you and your family are well. I imagine you are as busy as ever. I think you are doing a very important thing, making experiences like this possible for people. Good luck on you mission. Hopefully we can meet again someday.

Debbie Ralph

Reflections on my first few weeks in Thailand

It is hard to believe I have only been in Thailand for two weeks..I have seen and learned so much. From the first evening I was picked up at the airport on my arrival from Vancouver, Canada there has been someone providing support and information. During the Cultural Awareness week we had an opportunity to see many temples in the Autthaya area.. learn some basic Thai language and country customs.. The three day homestay in Bangsai was so peaceful and typical of what I had imagined rural Thailand to be. Our meals were excellent, our room very comfortable.We rode bicycles around the area to visit a temple, a school and markets. We experienced a traditional Thai massage and went on a boat trip down the river. We did some Thai cooking and made scarecrows for the rice field.

My permanent homestay family is very warm and friendly. I am living on the banks of a river with a large extended family who operate a resturant so there is always a lot of activity. Each day I see and learn more. At my school I work with three Engish teachers and assist mostly with conversation and pronunication in classes with children ranging from 6 to 13. The students and teachers are all very welcoming. By Canadian standards it is a large elementary school with over 700 students.

The heat is challenging but a good fan really helps. a handheld one for the day and an electic one in the evening..I have enjoyed many new fruits..the food is declicious and loose, cotton clothing is quite comfortable. It is also very helpful to learn a bit of Thai... the Thai people reallly appreciate your efforts and are patient about any efforts you make..just smile if you get stuck!!

Humour, flexibility and an open mind and heart will make your volunteering a very memorable experience..you will surely gain more than you can ever give.

Deb

Jamie Stewart

Thailand, rightfully known as the land of smiles, is difficult to sum up in the space I have available here. There is the side to the country that the tourists see, from the infamous bars and clubs of Bangkok, to the beachside bungalows of the south, to the jungle treks of the north. But there is so much more besides.

There is an immensely warm and caring culture behind the famous smiles just waiting to be discovered, and the Thai people are more than willing to share it all with you. Volunteering with Global Crossroads gives you the opportunity to witness the sides of Thailand that the average tourists may not see, from the windows of the air conditioned busses and the plush hotel rooms. Volunteering will give you the chance o have a far more intimate and meaningful experience of this beautiful country, alongside the people that call it home.

I have been involved in a two week journalism internship, along with a preceding, and strongly recommended, week of language and culture lessons. Class sizes are small and the teaching friendly, informal, but none the less, very attentive. Meeting your teachers family and taking her cute kids for a boat ride after you have picked them up from school is a pleasure, (it was never like that when I was at school!). this is how learning should be! The classes left me with a firm grounding in the basics of pah-sah Thai (Thai language). It is up to you, throughout the classes, and afterwards, toget out there and put your new found skills to the test. And believe me- it is worth the effort. String two words of Thai together, and you will be hailed a linguistic genious by everyone from stall holders to taxi drivers! Speak a line of Thai to a child in the street and you will most likely have a friend for life.

The internship itself has been more than I could have asked for. I resided at the Asian Institute of Technology, 40 kms north of Bangkok, an educational institution held in very high regard, throughout Asia and across the world, for two weeks. All the facilities that I required were kindly made available to me from day one. I lived on site, walking the five minutes to work each morning in the sunshine, and playing football / soccer with 20 Vietnamese students in the evenings, and was given the wlcome freedom to work around my own timetable. Guidance from the GC In-Country Coordinator was again attentive without being intrusive, and there is always help at hand, either in person or over the phone, whenever it may be required.

To have volunteered overseas is a great addition to the CV. It shows a senseof adventure and a willingness to learn that is valued by others, as it should be. Ultimately, your program can be whatever you are prepared to make of it. It may occasionally require hard wrk, though nothing is ever asked of you that cannot be achieved, and there is always help available, if need be.

From the outset, Global Crossroads run a highly professional and approachable operation, and when you consider the sheer number and variety of programs on offer, all over the world, this is some achievement. The cost is highly competitive, and the fact that Global Crossroads is a not-for-profit organisation speaks for itself. You know that your money is ending up in the right place, channelled into the communities who are opening themselves and their lives up to you. I would urge anyone considering a volunteer program to go for it. There is so much to be gained, and, depending on what you choose to do, you really can make a positive difference through the exchange of knowledge and cultures. Not just to your future, but to the committed people that you have the chance to work alongside as well.

Thanks again,

Jamie Stewart

Christina Dietrich

I have to say that I made wonderful experiences!

The thing I enjoyed most was to be with the family I stayed with while my time in Thailand. They took me to weddings, to funerals and other Buddhist ceremonies! It was very interesting to get so close to the culture of the Thai people.

Everybody in the family took care of me and was interested in what I am doing or think. I felt very comfortable all the time. We had also a lot of good food together and they were explaining everything to me. And I hope that I could help them learn to talk English a little better and to let them know a bit about my country. The time teaching in the Klong Ban Prao School was very challenging to me. I never taught to kids who can't understand me. But I had a lot of funny situations where we just laugh together! It just takes a while to get used to it. But also it is very exhausting being in school for the whole day - even if I don't have to teach all the time but most of it. But the students were very nice to me and used to come up to me to shake hands or to simply say "Hello, How are you"! The teachers were all very nice and they helped me where they could.

The first two weeks "culture and language" program, I enjoyed to go out for dinner and lunch to learn about people and culture. I had the chance to ask questions. We went to Bangkok, Ayuthaya and the Floating markets. The staff of Global Crossroad here in Thailand are very friendly and nice. Mr. Kai, one of the staff, took me to the future park (shopping mall) even though it was a "day-off".

Thank you,

Christina Dietrich

Catherine Moss

Hi

I have nearly finished my first week here and I have loved it. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming and they are so thankful for the help we are giving to the children. It is difficult for the children as they know the English words, but they are unable to pronounce the words. The children are keen to learn and always want to talk to you. With the heat it can be tiring but I am finding it very rewarding. The people are kind and proud of their country, they want to show you everything. It is an excellent opportunity to experience authentic Thai life. I am looking forward to seeing how the children get on with their spoken English over the next few weeks and also seeing more of Thailand.

Thank you very much for your support in the orientation, it gave me a good start to my time here in Thailand.

Thanks again,

Catherine Moss

Daniel Chan

It's still a little early for me to fully comment about teaching, but I'll try my best here: Teaching in Thailand can be challenging, but it's also rewarding. The students at Joseph Ayutthaya are generally respectful and well-behaved. I have met some very eager and enthusiastic students, who view foreigners with a mixture of curiosity and pleasure. There is very much to see in and around Ayutthaya. The temple ruins are breathtaking. Naturally there will be some serious culture shock when you arrive. However, people in Ayutthaya are very friendly and hospitable. People everywhere, not just in the schools, are wanting to learn some English. There are many foreigners who visit the city as tourists. Most of them are Westerners. You may see them every day, and may even want to strike a conversation with them. I hope this passage is what you need for your website. I can always make changes, since it's not refined yet.

Kind regards,

Daniel Chan

Alison B. Scott

Global Crossroads gave me the rare opportunity of life in Thailand from an insider's perspective, rather than a typical tourist.

After many months of researching a non-profit volunteer organization, I finally met the perfect match. From the very 1st phone call to Global Crossroads, I felt extremely comfortable and reassured that their English teacher volunteer program would be a great fit for me. The staff at Global Crossroads was terrific! All of my questions and concerns about life abroad were thoroughly answered. I also had the ability to make contact and talk w/ real people who were once in my shoes. The staff was very flexible and more than willing to meet my interests and individual needs.

Teaching in Thailand was a fantastic opportunity which was extremely rewarding! It is not until you are fully immersed that you can experience and appreciate the true life of another culture. From living w/ a Thai teacher, teaching primary kids at a village school, from joining in at Buddhist ceremonies, To learning Thai cookery, to meeting and learning from the local community…For the rest of my life I will forever be grateful for what the Global Crossroads volunteer program has given me. I am already counting down the days that I will be revisiting and teaching in amazing Thailand!

Alison B. Scott

Larry Ono

My name is Lawrence (Larry) Ono. I was born and raised in Seattle, WA since 1951. I left there for Thailand 02/12/04 as a volunteer for a NGO known as Asia Volunteers, now Global Crossroad. My assignment was to assist primary school students with their English diction for two weeks. I am not a teacher by trade. I am a fire fighter for the City of Seattle with a law enforcement commission.

I was assured that, although preferred, being a professional teacher was not a priority. The school wanted someone whose native language is English. It did not matter from what country the volunteer came from, only that they would come. With those assurances in hand, I decided I could possibly do this.

I met the Thailand program director on the 16th of February. During the lunch he bought for us, he explained in greater detail what to expect from my assignment. After lunch it was still a little early to meet my host, so we drove around the town of Pathum Thani. We then drove to Wat Hong Phatum Ma Wat Primary School. The school sits on the bank of the Chao Phraya River. I met my host, Miss Wan Pen Hoon Dee, who is either a vice-principal or senior staff person at the school. I also met a few of the teachers there.

We then drove to her home that also is on the river, almost directly across from the school. I was shown where I would be sleeping. It was the first floor of a house closest to the river. This property has multiple homes on it where most of the family lives at one time or another.

Being across the river from where we work, every morning I would take a ferry with my host, her niece and a neighbor friend to school. Actually, the boat docked at the public market where we would then walk maybe a half a mile or so to school. Walking through the market to and from school every day was an added pleasure and a definite plus to each day.

The morning of the first day of my assignment, my host informed me, I was to address the entire student body (at least 1000 children & staff!) after their daily morning assembly. I was caught a little off guard by this request but I did volunteer for this so 'when in Rome……'. The actual teaching was little more than helping the students pronounce certain words or sounds not used in the Thai language, as far as I know. The difficulty depended upon where the English consonants and vowels were located in certain words. For instance, the word April came out as Apearl. Yet they had no difficulty with the word yellow. The word December came out as Decembaa…... Also, the Thai language places the tongue more at the rear of the mouth than the front as some English words are spoken. Where the tongue is placed to make sound for the word "the" for instance is a classic example of this.

I soon realized, that because the Thai language uses five distinct tones each tone giving a different meaning to a word though it may be spelled the same, that I had to be extra careful when I was giving a verbal example of a word I wanted them to speak/imitate. For instance, I would find myself pronouncing a particular word with a rising tone, as if asking a question. The students would imitate that mistake of mine because their language has these tones that are so important to their language. The students, to their credit, are very much in tune to listening exactly how any word is spoken. So imitating my "tonal" mistake meant nothing to them. Where as if an English-speaking student were listening to that same faux pas, they might wonder why I spoke that particular word with a rising tone for no apparent reason.

As time passed, the students became more and more used to seeing me at school. Sometimes a group would muster the courage to approach an open window near where I would be sitting, say hello and then run away after I'd answer. The Thai phrase book that the Global Crossroad Director in Thailand gave me turned out to be the mother of all "ice-breakers". I decided one day to take the book out to the playfield, sit down off to the side somewhere and read. Soon enough one or more of the children would come over to investigate. I would then point to the book where the Thai writing was printed and ask in English how to pronounce it. The response was overwhelming. It appeared to me that a few of the children couldn't believe that such a book existed.

Soon I was speaking more Thai and they were trying to perfect their English. Ever since, many of the students would say 'hello' or 'good morning'. At least I would get a smile if nothing else. Imagine if you will, saying 'hello or good morning' 7-800 times a day!

The next item was the camera. I wanted to take pictures but not of a contrived nature. I managed to get some but once it was discovered that the camera was in use, it seemed that everyone wanted their pictures taken. I would be rushed and crowded to the point where my camera wouldn't focus at such a close distance. Moreover, there were so many children at times that it actually became hotter because of their bodies and/or breathing! This was a small price to pay in exchange for the interaction that was happening everyday.

Every day the teachers would take me out to lunch. My money was worthless. Everyone made me feel right at home from the first day I arrived. I cannot say enough about my host and her family and friends and the way I was treated. The places they took me to after school, I'll always remember and cherish. The people's homes I was invited to for a visit, dinner or both was almost too much. I felt like a celebrity or at least one of the family.

On my last day two students gave me presents to remember them by. It was very sweet of them. The school gave me a couple of pairs of pants and a shirt. I once again addressed the entire student body; it was a lot easier this time.

The person that was supposed to have been with me on this mini-adventure really missed out on a great, great experience. I've left out a lot of detail but I hope I captured most of what I felt while volunteering there. I said that I'd be back next year in January. My hope is that things will work out to let that happen. I will miss Thailand for these and so many more reasons.

Thank you Asia Volunteers/ Global Crossroad for everything!! You really did provide a mini-adventure!!

Larry Ono

Seattle, USA

Tania Menzies

Volunteer in thailand Reviews- Tania Menzies Volunteer in thailand Reviews- Tania Menzies

For one month in 2004, I was a volunteer in Thailand. I LOVED every minute of the program.

The first week consisted of a language and cultural course which meant I got a guided tour of Bangkok and surrounding provinces and got to see some amazing sites such as the Grand Palace, the reclining Buddha and the old capital of Thailand – Ayuthaya. Although the Thai language was hard I enjoyed the classes with Sukanya and our many outings together.

The second week was spent In Nakhon Nayok on home stay with an authentic Thai family. This was one of the best times I had In Thailand, the water falls and surroundings at Nakhon Nayok were breathtaking and the family's hospitality was amazing, I felt like another member of the family and even though there was a huge language barrier, we got along great. Not to mention the food that was absolutely mouth watering.

For the following two and a half weeks I taught at Klongbanprow School which was an amazing experience that I am not likely to forget anytime soon. Although at times it was hard to adjust to the differences between the Thai and Australian (or western) education system. In particular the huge class numbers. I really enjoyed teaching the students English and observing there lifestyles and the Thai culture. The teachers and students at the school were all so welcoming and treated me like a kind of queen, or at the least a celebrity. At times the children even got me to sign my name on there books, pieces of paper or even there hands and arms. The second day before I left the teachers took me out for dinner and we had a great time. On my last day the school gave me a huge lunch and a few presents to remember them by. When I hugged my many children goodbye I couldn't help but shed a few tears in the thought that I wasn't going to see them again.

If there is one thing characteristic that the Thai people should be known for it is there hospitality, and that's what I will be remembering most about this program and Thai people in general.

I would highly recommend this program for anyone who wants to experience a way of live different from there own and meet some truly beautiful people.

Tania Menzies

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