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Ten things I learned on my volunteer trip to Thailand

By TammyYang ( Updated: 2014-09-10 15:54

During the summer holiday, I chose to be an international volunteer in Thailand for two weeks. It was not long, but I learned a lot. A teacher told me it is meaningful to end a period of your life by thinking about what you have learned. Through this you get to know yourself better.

1. Sharing 

A monk told me the importance of sharing when I taught in a primary school in the forest. He asked why I chose to visit Thailand and I replied, for volunteer work. He was so happy and grateful and told me “thank you” for sharing my experience and knowledge with all his Thai students. I answered that there was no need for thanks because I have learned a lot from my students in Thai. He smiled and said this is an important lesson we have to learn in life. Through sharing we can get a lot of new things, knowledge, motion, motivation, value and attitude. 

2. Expressing love in different ways

We like to say "I love you" to people we love. But when I worked for an orphanage (the children's average age was around 7) it was hard for the children to understand difficult English sentences. Not only the volunteers but also the children have to learn express love in other ways. Love from a volunteer can be expressed through a picture drawn on the wall Love from a volunteer can also be expressed by a game or song we taught the children. According to the headmaster, he thought our arrival was showing love to the children. From an early age the orphans have known many "big brothers and sisters" from all around world who care about them. Love from children can be expressed by hugs and a small gift made by themselves.

What makes me happy is that at the end of our volunteer week, all the volunteers can say "I love you" in Thai, and all the children can say "I love you" in English. I guess this is another aspect of "Love conquers all", at least it conquers the boundary of language and different nationality.

3. Respecting and understanding

In our camp, some volunteers displayed some prejudice against Chinese volunteers. Sometimes they made jokes about Chinese volunteers. There must be some reason for this prejudice (like some former Chinese volunteers were late for work or kept speaking Chinese when others used English). Even though I cannot change a lot about people's prejudice, I can at least respect their culture and understand their behavior. Respect and understanding are important for making friends. Through respect and understanding I have made new friends from other countries, and also because of me, they have some new perceptions for Chinese volunteers.

4. Some basic skills

When we worked at the orphanage, our daily schedule was about mixing cement with water, sand, and mud. Another duty was checking children’s bodies and helping them take care of wounds. Those jobs sound quite simple, but when we tried to do them, it was far more difficult. In my former education, I only learned theory about how to make cement and how to manage wounds. Through this volunteer trip, I have learned practical skills.

5. Friendship never changes

My trip to Thailand was made because of some old friends I made in Japan at an international university student seminar. We promised to meet each others around the world and when I met them again in Thailand they treated me so well. Even though distance may keep us apart for a long time, friendships never change. I believe my new friends, made on this volunteer trip, will keep in touch and one day I may also have a chance to see them around the world.

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