Julia Tzeng is from Potomac Maryland, attended college at the University of Pennsylvania, worked for 5 years in finance in New York City, and is now pursuing her MBA at Georgetown University.
Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with Volunteering Solutions in Thailand?
I wanted to take some time off before my MBA, so I wanted to spend some time abroad. What better way to do that than to volunteer? Volunteering Solutions was actually the cheapest of all the programs I was looking into. They were also very responsive to my inquiries, and I was able to speak with other volunteers who had done the program before. As for picking Thailand, it's on my long list of countries to explore and Volunteering Solutions had a 3 week summer special which included volunteering and traveling, which was perfect for what I was looking for.
Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.
In the elephant village, we woke up around 7 or 8, had breakfast, and went about helping our host family take care of the elephants. My favorite part was riding the elephants through the jungle to bathe with them in the lake. We would cut banana leaves and sugar cane for the elephants, and feed the elephants as well. We would get home cooked meals for lunch and dinner, which were delicious. At the child care center, we woke up around 8 and a car picked us up to take us to the childcare center. We would teach the children basic English in the morning and help prepare lunch. We got to play with the kids for a couple hours as well. During nap time, we would help around the center (painting, gardening). The kids were the cutest! I miss them!
What made this volunteer abroad experience unique and special?
Everything about this trip was special. There were definitely things that I needed to get used to (weather, lifestyle, etc) but I would go back if I could! I've never experienced anything like this trip before, and I would have to say that my highlight would be spending time in the Thai village with the elephants. I also loved that we were able to volunteer and travel as well. We saw so much of the country in addition to volunteering. Al, our guide, took very good care of us, and we had no issues with the language because we had him.
How has this experience impacted your future?
I will definitely volunteer abroad again. This trip has made me appreciate things that we may take for granted on a daily basis like running water and AC. As I start my MBA venture, I would definitely like to find a profession in which I can help others and work internationally.