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Teach and Beach on Koh Samui, Thailand.

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Volun-tour: teaching and touring Koh Phangan

I spent 2 weeks in Thailand taking part in the Bamboo Project’s volun-tour project; 1 week teaching at an underfunded school based on Koh Samui and 1 week touring Koh Phangan. I don’t know where to begin explaining my trip or the impact it has left me! This was not the first time I volunteered abroad, but it is definitely one of the best trips I have ever done! Even in just a short time of teaching, it’s rewarding to recognize the difference you’ve made in the children’s confidence to engage in conversation and their desire to learn and understand English.

I have never worked with or taught children before, so it was a bit nerve wrecking in the beginning, but the staff at the Bamboo project (Mark, Lucy and Tee) made it fun and easy to enjoy. The children at the school were also the most grateful, enthusiastic and loving children, which made the experience worthwhile. I highly recommend the Bamboo Project and the Teach & Beach project to any future volunteers. I have left Thailand with new experiences, friends and most importantly family. I will definitely choose the Bamboo Project again!!

What was a typical day at the project: teaching?
The typical day began around 8am, where Mark, my brother and I went for breakfast at a local restaurant by the beach. By 9am, Lucy would pick us up from our accommodation and we would all head to the school. Classes would begin promptly (thai time, of course) after their morning assembly, and we, the volunteers, would take turns leading the lessons while the other volunteers were to assist (such as going around correcting or helping individual students). We mainly taught English throughout the day, but we also taught art. Lunch was around 12pm, and it was provided at the school. After lunch, we would go back to teaching until 3-4pm. After school, we would go to 4 Monkeys to relax (which has in my opinion the best frappes/coffees/leos and views). Later in the evening, we would all go for a nice dinner.

What are the highlights of the project (teaching)?
The greatest highlight of my trip was to see the enthusiasm and improvement of the children. The English levels of the students are basic, so we always tried make English lessons fun with games.

• When Lucy mentioned certain students who never talked or participated started to raise their hands and engage in the lessons. It’s rewarding to know that despite the language barriers and frustrations of teaching English, we are making a difference. I will always remember the student who always said “leaves” and “branch” whenever he saw me; this is because I taught him these words during one of our lessons!

• Lunchtime. The food was always good, the children were always sitting with us, and Wiggles, the sweetest dog, was there. I highly recommend getting the Milo Popsicles after lunch; they are so yummy and only 10 baht! The children also collect the Popsicle sticks and play games with them!
• During one of the lessons, where some students were calling my name to help them with some of their work! Its great to know that they are so eager to learn (albeit competitive) and for them to know my name!

• The art lesson where I taught the children origami. Despite our language barriers, all the children made it correctly and they really enjoyed the class!

• The unexpected gifts, hugs, hand holding, and I love you signs that I received from the children were really meaningful and made my trip!


What did you find most challenging?
The most challenging thing for me was leading lessons. I have always been nervous in big groups and it was difficult to get all the students attention. Luckily, the Bamboo staff was always there to assist and they never made me feel uncomfortable teaching. I am thankful that I was given the option to assist in classes instead of leading them. Although I wasn’t great at leading English lessons, I was reassured and encouraged multiple times that I was good at leading games (such as What Time is it Mr. Wolf and Hang Man), and art class (such as origami).

What advice would you give to future volunteers?
I would advise you to bring clothing that is appropriate for school. The Thai people really appreciate it when foreigners respect their culture. Bring clothing that covers your shoulders, mid-drift and knees. I highly recommend buying ‘thai pants’ or ‘elephant pants’ when you are at Khao San because they are really comfortable! I would also recommend bringing a hand fan (Susanne, another volunteer, was a genius for bringing this) because it is really hot in Thailand, especially after running around and playing games. I also recommend you to be prepared and think of different games and activities that could be incorporated into lessons. The students learned best when lessons were fun and competitive! Lastly, be prepared for lots of friend requests on Facebook from the students (and accept them because they like to message you and it’s a great way for them to practice English!)

What was a typical day at Koh Phangan?
The accommodation was by the beach, with its own swimming pool, tiki bar and club. A typical day started with breakfast around 9am at the beach village. After breakfast, we would drive around and explore the island, and then stop for lunch at a nice local restaurant. After lunch we had free time, where we mainly relaxed by the pool or at the beach. Later in the evening we would go out for dinner and head to haad rin for the scene (drinks, party, fire-dancers, etc).

What are the highlights of touring Koh Phangan?
At the time I went, there was no full moon, hence no full moon party, but nonetheless, I had a great time! Koh Phangan is beautiful and there are a lot of things to see.

• One of my biggest highlights was just driving around the island on a motorcycle. I really enjoyed riding the bikes in the rain while going up to haad rin.
• Visiting different parts of the island and different beaches everyday was very nice and relaxing.
• Playing with the beach dogs.
• Meeting Jay-J (the bartender at the tiki hut in our accommodation) and his tiki shots
• Watching the fire dancers, arm wrestling and fire limboing at haad rin

What advice would you give to future volunteers touring?
Brings lots of sunscreen, swimsuits and flip-flops! I also recommend purchasing a ‘selfie stick’ so you can take lots of pictures. Be prepared to do a lot of relaxing, and if you come during full moon, be prepared to party!

I would highly recommend the Bamboo Project to future volunteers. The staff at Bamboo is incredibly fun, organized, professional and helpful. They responded to my emails and inquiry quickly and were more than happy to pick me up from the airport earlier than arrival dates. I would also like to thank my guide, friend, brother Mark! He is incredibly fun to be around, and helpful. By the end of my trip, we had become a family with lots of memories. #DoYouBamboo #Khaosoy #7/11 sandwiches #WifiWarriors #Babyvom #BambooFamily #volunteer (Started hash tagging everything after seeing the staff upload pictures)

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Experience

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Impact

    10

  • Health and Safety

    10

  • Social Life

    10

Better late than never for a review?! Do I even Bamboo?

Ok so this is long overdue but here goes...

If you book with bamboo you can expect to have an awesome time. Be prepared to be well looked after (Mothered even if you are with Lucy!). Be prepared to laugh a lot, serious banter may happen I'm afraid (I'm looking at you Mark). You might be surprised at how much the Thai children will love you and respond to you; in fact if you want to learn Thai they will happily help you there! Just be ready for a fantastic time. Where else will you get the opportunity to go and take part in a Buddhist ceremony with an entire school? Where else will you be able to sit on the beach on a night failing at fishing with Mr Tee drinking a few beers on a night? Also there's the exceptional tours you get of Bangkok and Koh Samui.

Basically get yourself over there :) Way better than a holiday!

Sam