Devon Adlawan is a Pre Nursing major and a resident of California, USA and took part in the Thailand Summer Volunteer and Adventure Program in July 2013.In her interview, Devon shares her experience of volunteering in Thailand with Volunteering Solutions and how this experience has impacted her future.
Why did you decide to do the Thailand Summer Program with Volunteering Solutions ?
I decided to the Thailand Summer Program because it was a very diverse volunteering program. I was able to work in orphanages and help contribute to building the new school and work along side elephants in the elephant village. It was cost effective and it allowed me to do free travel on the free weekend.
Describe your day to day activities
Everyday was a new adventure and that is what I loved about this program. In the elephant village, the village elders were kind enough to provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the mornings, we helped clean the dishes, feed the elephants in the backyard and then go to the sugar cane field. There, we cut loads of sugar cane and off we went to go plant banana grass in another area. In the orphanages, we would start out with interacting with the children and then getting them prepared for lunch. After, we would walk over to the new building in renovation and make cement to continue to the building process.
What made this experience unique and special?
The unique thing about this program was that they gave us a lot of freedom to roam around. While in Surin, we were able to safely walk around town (or Tuk Tuk) and go to night markets. Also, we got to do some sight seeing with the temples! In one day, we were able to see the Grand temple, Wat Arun and Wat Pho. They also provided a free weekend, as I mentioned earlier, and a group of us ventured to Cambodia. The great thing is they organized it for us. The leaders called the taxis for us to get us through the border safely. Another group went the islands which the coordinators also help set up too. Everyone is very accommodating and helpful. I was never stressed about anything.
How has this experience impacted your future?
Personally, this program gave me a new perspective on life. Seeing the poverty and the small villages is so humbling and it makes me feel very blessed to have volunteered in such places. The Thai people are extremely hard working and never complain about anything. It changed me to be more diligent too. Professionally, this program makes me want to help others even more. I am a Nursing major at San Diego State University, and seeing the children with what little resources they have drives me to want to work overseas as a nurse to provide my services around the world. I owe it to this program in Thailand, for opening my eyes to a new culture and wanting to help people even more.
Any advice for the volunteers looking to come to Thailand.
Pack lightly. We moved around a lot and I brought a suitcase full of unnecessary clothes. I ended up buying more clothes in Thailand anyway because it is so cheap! I wish I brought a travel backpack, everyone in my group had one and I was envious they did not have to lug around a suitcase. Bring toilet paper with you where ever you go, some places do not supply such toiletries.
Are you looking to volunteer abroad in the near future in any other country.
Yes, definitely. Seeing that I am taking Spanish classes this year, I am thinking about Barcelona, Spain.