My sister, and my love for travel and new experiences.
Why did you choose GeoVisions?
Geovisions was helpful from the get go. I also knew a girl who loved her experience with the program.
What surprised you most about Thailand?
I had always heard that Thais were a very relaxed people. When we arrived one of our directors even said, “Thais don't argue, it's not in their being.” This was absolutely true. Coming from a country where our days are so packed with obligations and activities, it was both surprising and refreshing to be immersed in such a content and calm environment (aside from Bangkok!).
What made your experience with GeoVisions in Thailand unique?
The other volunteers; so many different personality types came together and made it work.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
They were amazing! Always helpful, fun, and informative.
What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?
That you won't enjoy EVERY moment. Traveling can be tough, tiring, and frustrating, but don't let that fog your perspective. you need to take as much in as positively as you can because it'll be over before you know it.
How difficult was it to communicate with locals?
Thais will always at least offer a genuine smile if they do not understand you, and will most likely find someone nearby (often younger) who speaks English to help you. I have not found communicating frustrating, but that's just me. I know some volunteers have found the language barrier more challenging.
Describe a typical day in the life of your program.
A typical day started with a yummy breakfast provided by either the hostel or school. Then some school prep, and then on to the classes, which were generally followed by an optional, inexpensive activity.
What did you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoyed talking with locals and checking out the local food options and goods.
What was your favorite part about Thailand?
THE PEOPLE! Thai people are so genuine, helpful, and sweet.
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
What was the hardest part about volunteering abroad?
What I found most difficult about volunteering was being paired up with fellow volunteers with such differing personalities and backgrounds. Don't get me wrong, we've definitely all bonded and worked through any hick ups, but to spend every meal, activity, and sleep, with the same group of people can be very taxing. You learn to be more adaptable and roll with the punches.
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?
All of our accommodations have been clean, convenient, and homey.
What is one thing you wish you would have known before arriving in Thailand?
Honestly, the only thing I wish I would've known more about is some of the scamming that goes on in Bangkok (tuks tuks in particular), and also how inexpensive awesome clothing is. If I could go back, I would pack extremely light so I had room to purchase more goods!
Do you have any packing tips for individuals headed to Thailand?
Pack LIGHTLY, if you're at all interested in designating some money to new threads. If shopping doesn't interest you so much, pack some TP, hand sanitizer, BUG SPRAY!, hydrocortisone cream, and a good book. You'll have downtime waiting for buses and whatnot.
What do you feel the biggest benefit of volunteering abroad is?
I think being adaptable is such strong and worthy trait to have. When you're adaptable, you don't let the small nuisances of life slow you down or inhibit your experiences. Volunteering has been a lesson in adapting to lifestyle changes, personality differences, and polar opposite climates. Not only does volunteering abroad make you more adaptable, it also keeps your perspective in check. Hardship is relative for sure, but when I saw people with so much less living such happy lives, I thought, wow, I am truly fortunate and I need to appreciate that more often.
How has traveling abroad impacted your life at home?
It has made me travel thirsty!
Would you recommend your program to others? Why?
I would, mostly because of our group leaders, Johna and Kevin, and all of the activities they facilitated.
If you could volunteer abroad again, where would you go?
I think if I ever volunteer again, it will be somewhere in South America, either focusing on environmental issues or with kids again. Asia is amazing and vast, but I'm trying to check more places off of my list before I start returning back to places I've already been to.
Tamara is currently working on her social science and teaching degree. She has traveled some, but wants to travel more in the future. Other than her experience as a camp counselor in Thailand, she has also worked as a server and a nanny in the past.