Mathieu Deslauriers - September 2014 Program Participant

Volunteer in Thailand painting a school

Working on a painting project for the school.

Why did you decide to volunteer with The Bamboo Project over other volunteer organizations in Thailand?

It seemed to me as being a well organized organization just by the look of their website. Also, because they had many project choices to choose from.

Thailand has several well known islands that are popular with volunteers and tourists alike. Why did you decide to volunteer on the island of Koh Samui?

Before coming to Thailand I had my plan made. It included doing a scuba diving instructor course. Coincidentally, it was being held on Koh Samui. This was a major influencing factor when making my decision for choosing this project.

What were housing arrangements like in Koh Samui? Was it easy for you to live with the other volunteers?

The housing arrangements on Koh Samui were very convenient, adequate (domestic   appliances, warm shower, comfortable bed). As for living with others, it was a pleasant, easy, and sociable experience.

The Bamboo Project works hard to make sure their volunteers are able to really immerse themselves in the Thai culture as well as take part in projects that truly need them. What is your favorite memory of interacting with the locals on Koh Samui?

It was at the school where I was volunteering. During lunch time the children were everywhere, I could interact with them. Even with the school staff, they were all very kind toward me. They really cared about my wellness.

Volunteer housing in Koh Samui, Thailand.

The volunteer housing on Koh Samui.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while volunteering in Thailand?

The biggest challenge was the language barrier. If I could have understood a little or learned to speak some more Thai before arriving it would have made my life easier.

You studied and then worked in the field of Engineering. Were you able to use this experience to help with the building project in Thailand?

Not really. The volunteering project I was involved in consisted of painting the front part of the school. This manual skill was something I had already practiced well before.

What engineering skills did you learn while volunteering in this building project that you were able to take home with you?

This reminds me of a funny situation, when we securely attached the single 10m ladder to strong points with some resistant ropes. My engineer skills were needed and I learned a new way to apply them. 

You were able to volunteer in not just one, but two placements with The Bamboo Project. If you could volunteer for a third time, which program would you choose and why?

I would definitely choose without any doubt, the Marine Conservation Project. The reason is simple, it’s because I’m a dedicated, conscientious, self aware of the underwater environment diver.

Ban Laen Hoy School in Thailand

Ban Laem Hoy School.

Would the Koh Samui Beach Development Project be a good fit for someone who has never been out of their home country before?

I believe it would be, they would have the opportunity to meet new volunteers just like them  who would maybe have never been out of their home country. And also because they would learn a new sport in a pleasant context – scuba diving.

The Bamboo Project provides over 15 years of experience in Thailand and the volunteer industry. What was something special “the Bamboo family” was able to offer you as a volunteer?

The possibility of immersing myself into the Thai culture more quickly than if I would have been in Thailand only for the purpose of a holiday. During the two projects I’ve accomplished, I was directly in contact with the local population.

You’re originally from Canada, what advice would you give someone from your home country looking to volunteer in Thailand?

To not have apprehensions about volunteering in Thailand. Even if you’re by yourself (that was my case), you’ll meet nice people that will make you feel like you’re a part of a group of friends.

Are there any more international adventures in your future?

Hopefully there are more international adventures awaiting for me in the future. The next trip I would like to take is to Australia. It would involve animals, this is one of the main reason I’d like to go there.