Student spends four months volunteering and living in a new culture 8,081 miles away from home
“In the US, I’ve also worked with a lot of young kids before, and so it was very interesting to come and see what’s different and what’s similar between kids in the US and Thailand.”
Newly graduated from high school and while waiting for college to start, Kelsey Quan (18) decided to come to Thailand to volunteer at Baan Nongkok School for four months. After spending time surfing the internet and looking for a program that would allow her to go abroad and volunteer, she found Projects Abroad and chose it because she liked the location in Thailand, the Care Project and the host family option.
At the school, she taught the kids basic English and created fun activities for them. “In the mornings I played with the kids as they got dropped off, then I use flash cards to teach them basic English vocabulary. Every once in a while I lead an art project for the kids. At lunch time I helped serve the dishes and wash them afterwards,” said Kelsey on her responsibilities at her placement.
While in Thailand, Kelsey stayed with a local host family and was able to learn some Thai from them. She learnt the Thai alphabet and some easy words for communication. Knowing some Thai words made it easier for her to control the class.
Coming to Thailand has changed her life beyond her expectations. “Before I came I had a general idea that I would want to work outside the US, but I didn’t really know why because I didn’t have much experience working in another country. Growing up in San Francisco, it’s so culturally rich there that I became well aware that each culture is unique and particular in its own way, and it’s really strong in each person. So I knew that’s part of why I wanted to travel. Coming to Thailand and not just learning about a different lifestyle, but adapting to one and living in it, has reinforced my desire to possibly seek a career path outside of the US.”
Kelsey encourages people to volunteer in Thailand, as it is one of those experiences that lasts forever in one’s life. “So for new volunteers coming here, particularly those from the US, even if it doesn’t change your life, it definitely gives you a new way of thinking. In the US it’s so different in that people, or that I feel, are really restless all the time, always trying to get somewhere else and do something different, whereas in Thailand - or Krabi at least - the locals are so content where that are that it really shows how life can feel at a slower pace.”
We hope great stories like these inspire others to help Projects Abroad continue to make a difference, and by doing so, learn something themselves along the way.