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Volunteer and Teach English in Thailand
International Volunteer HQ collage photos of participants International Volunteer HQ collage photos of participants

Volunteer and Teach English in Thailand

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    8

  • Health & Safety

    9

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Three awesome weeks in Chiangrai, Thailand

I wanted to take a break from work and to find myself. IVHQ offered me the best opportunity I could ask for. My time was meaningfully spent, my inner voice was better heard, and my friendship was lovely enriched. I stayed and worked on an outdoor project at The Mirror Foundation in Chiangrai, Thailand. The whole experience was so beautiful that I didn't want to leave and would definitely love to go back if I have a chance.
Arriving at The Mirror Foundation, I was happy to see such an environmentally friendly living space. There were tall trees, green grass, a lovely hand-built garden, cool wall paintings, a small pond, a lovely bamboo hut, and an impressive sight of colorful handprints from previous volunteers on one of the houses. The Thai interns who had escorted me all the way from the airport were very nice and helpful. They showed me around and we headed to a supermarket in town together with other new volunteers who had also just arrived earlier that day and later became my dearest friends.
The next day, I was really excited for my outdoor project to start after having an interesting orientation with Nikki – the volunteer program manager. I did not have to wait long as my outdoor team started digging a ditch that afternoon. It was hard work I must admit. However, the satisfaction looking back on the road and seeing what our teamwork had brought about was worth it. As time passed, our list of achievements went on; they were mending a dam, preparing a campsite, making a road, building fences, renovating a toilet, and growing chilies. Not a single day was wasted, and I loved every minute working side by side with my friends and our outdoor project mentor. On those days, we sweated a lot, laughed a lot, talked a lot and understood each other a whole lot more despite our different backgrounds. I also really appreciated our lunch boxes which were kindly prepared for us by the kitchen lady whenever we had to work off-site.

  • International Volunteer HQ [IVHQ] responded to this review May 22, 2018 at 10:39 PM

    Hi Maggie, It's great to so see you managed to spend your break away doing positive and meaningful work in a deserving community. The locals are very appreciative of what you achieved during your time on the program.Thanks again for volunteering with IVHQ. ^Sam - IVHQ Thailand Program Manager

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Lifetime of experience in a moment

I had an incredible journey teaching local kids english. The amount of joy that was brought from volunteers and from the kids made it an experience I shall never forget. I will be returning in the future.

  • International Volunteer HQ [IVHQ] responded to this review March 21, 2018 at 8:19 PM

    Hi Natalie, Thank you for your feedback, it is wonderful to hear that and your friend had such a good time in Thailand. We would love to see you again on one of our future programs. ^Sam - IVHQ Thailand Program Manager

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    9

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

You're never too old

A volunteer holiday in Thailand? ‘Great idea!’ said my daughter; ‘Why on earth do you want to do that? I shan’t have a moment’s peace until you are safely back home!’ said my brother. At over 70 years old I wanted to know if I could still cope with the demands and hardships, and contribute something worthwhile. And if the young people would put up with me. 

The Mirror Foundation is a worthy Thai NGO and their beautiful site among the Hill Tribes is the next best thing to Paradise. It’s in a clearing in the jungle in the Golden Triangle, with streams and ponds and greenery. You walk along paths and over a little bridge to breakfast, past a variety of traditional housing nestling in the hollows, by the water, or on the sunny open area. 

We were well-housed and well-fed. The simple food prepared by ladies from the tribe, is very healthy and based on local produce - rice, vegetables and a little meat or eggs, usually in spicy sauces. Tip - never pile the sauce on top of the rice on your plate, put it to one side so that you can take a spoonful of it at a time with the rice… just in case it’s a little too spicy!

The dormitories are a little snug, but lockers and mosquito nets are provided. Up in the hills here there can be a 20 degree change of temperature from day to night, so a sleeping bag is a good addition to your luggage, but you can always hire one on site. I have to admit that I never got used to the cold showers! Tip - take one in the afternoon when the water may have fractionally warmed up. 

The range of nationalities was interestingly diverse - there seemed to be at least 75% of the volunteers from all over Asia, with the rest from the English-speaking world.

The Outdoor team went off and did amazingly useful things during the day, such as cutting down trees, re-roofing homes or digging up old rice paddies. The Indoor group were either doing child care, which meant playing in English with the nursery age children, or teaching English. After a day’s orientation the teaching group used the Wifi room computers and facilities to prepare for teaching. Every day we would be sent out in cars (covered pick-up trucks) looking like a gang of migrant workers (which is actually what we were!) to variety of locations, mostly primary schools around Chiang Rai, also to a group of monks, or even to an English Festival at the local university. 

The teaching was challenging - it was the first time in my life that I had taught children whose language was totally incomprehensible to me, and to whom I could not explain even simple things. We learnt a list of Thai expressions and instructions, e.g. ‘Kián!’ (‘Write!’), but were hampered in explaining more complicated activities. Fortunately there were usually 2 or 3 volunteers in each room, and we had helpers who circulated among the classrooms, in the form of our invaluable driver/mentor, and Thai interns on a 3-month placement from their university. We usually felt by the end of a lesson that some language learning had taken place and the children had made progress. Given the inexperience of the majority of volunteers this was a triumph.

We would drive back home after teaching, to fall into the wonderful snack bar on the site, (or take that shower), have a debriefing session and then chat over the evening meal, before preparing for the next day. Some nights there was time to go into the town of Chiang Rai, about half an hour away, and have a drink or visit the Night Market and spend too much money. We were free to explore at the weekends, and all took advantage of the travel possibilities, or went on homestay to a tribal home. 

I was impressed by IVHQ, and much admired the aims and efficiency of the the set-up and the personnel here, which made it all possible. We felt safe and supported at all times, and I congratulate the staff for looking after us extremely well (yes Nikki, this means you).

It gave me personally great pleasure to to see the children respond to our teaching, and to watch inexperienced young volunteers flourish and develop their skills. The unexpected bonus for me was the way being old in Thailand is not a disadvantage: people always went out of their way to help me, and fellow volunteers welcomed my experience and were willing to learn from it.

It turns out that you can do something worthwhile and enjoy it, and have a life-changing experience at any age.

  • International Volunteer HQ [IVHQ] responded to this review February 21, 2018 at 5:58 PM

    Thank you for your wonderful comments about our Thailand program. It's clear that you made the most of your time in Thailand and your efforts were very much appreciated by our local team and the villagers. I'm sure you have taken many amazing memories home with you. Thank you again from IVHQ and all of our local staff members. ^Sam - IVHQ Thailand Program Manager