I liked that the website was very easy to manoeuvre around and that it had a number of simple straight forward filters which could help narrow down and suggest options for where to go based on the criteria’s selected. I also liked the fact that there was detailed information on the different programs which provided information on the basics such as cost, volunteer schedule, the things you would be doing etc. These factors, in particular, are what made me decide to go volunteering with VS because the information was clear and transparent. This was quite different to other volunteer websites because they would require you to enquire further information by sending an email or so. This led me not to trust them due to lack of transparency. All I had to do on VS website was read about each program and make my decision based on which program interested me more, especially because I didn’t have any idea on where I wanted to go yet.
I found the pre-departure booklet verrry helpful and useful. Everything I needed to know was in the booklet e.g. visas, arrival, departure etc. I knew where to go and what to do because of the booklet. I liked the way that the booklet went further by providing me with information about the country traditions and greetings in Thai to learn. This was very useful as I could already say basic phrases when I arrived in Thailand. Due to the advice in the pre-departure booklet, I also bought a lonely planet Thailand phrase book which was so handy to have. I am very happy that the booklet was very detailed. Also, it would be helpful to know that there is an onsite umbrella organization in Thailand and that there are volunteers that you will meet (which are not all from volunteering solutions). I realized I was the only person from VS.
The Operations Head, Sahil was very helpful when it came to helping me prepare for my trip. He was very prompt with answering any questions or queries I had or would call me back. As a first-time new volunteer, he provided me with a lot of information to help assure me that everything is planned and looked after. Knowing that I had a direct form of contact to speak to if I had any questions was very reassuring.
I absolutely loved my placement. One of the best experiences I have ever had. I can tell my future grandchildren about this! This was my first time volunteering abroad and because of VS, I would love to do it again! VS made my experience enjoyable to the point where it didn't feel as if I was volunteering. It just felt right.
First of all being in the country was lovely as the locals were very friendly and made me feel welcome. I loved working in the school, the staff at the school made us feel very welcome and were very hospitable. It was a great experience to know that the children were also learning English we taught them well. This was equally the same at the elephant village, I felt I was part of a community and one of the locals. We were pretty much doing most of the things they were doing. In the elephant village, we were very proactive in helping the elephants and getting food for them. Despite all the hard work we spent during the day it felt very rewarding when feeding the elephants and looking after them. The interaction we had when giving the elephants their food was worthwhile. They were actually wriggling their trunks asking for more food! All in all the experience in itself made me feel appreciated that this volunteering was worth the trip.
About the accommodations and meals
Week 1 – Teaching, The accommodation was practical it did the job. I liked the fact that it was basic so we could get a feel of living with basic amenity conditions. I liked the fact that our windows were protected by mosquito nets and that we had a couple fans in our room.
We had to buy food while living in the house, as meals are not included when on the teaching course. There were, however, a few restaurants nearby which were relatively cheap, had wi-fi and had good food. The location of where we stayed was good as they had a big shopping mall which had a bank there. This was very helpful as I needed to exchange my English money into Thai Baht! That was a life saver!
Week 2 – Elephant village, I loved the accommodation in the elephant village and enjoyed the experience of living in a rural area. The hammocks outside was my favourite chair to sit on. Everyone wanted to sit in there whenever it was free! The house we lived in for our homestay was spacious and included mosquito nets in the bedrooms. I also loved the fact that the elephants lived close to us because we could help out most of the time. Especially during our free time. The meals were great! I really enjoyed the meals our homestay family prepared. We were given a variety of dishes and had at least 2 options on what to eat. I was also able to help the host family with the cooking and they gave me tips on how to make the food myself. We also had a thai BBQ which was amazing!
They were very friendly and helpful. I liked the fact that before we started the volunteering that the staff showed us around Bangkok. It was a great way to introduce me to Thailand as a starting point. When we arrived in Surin the head co-ordinator Nam was very nice and informative. She provided us with information on each of our projects. The support staff team was very helpful when it came to assisting us, especially when we wanted to explore the area they would help to book our transportation for us to pick us up and provide us with relevant information on good places to go to. Also, they helped us when we wanted to travel to other cities or Islands in Thailand and assisted us with booking our travel and advising us on the best places to go or accommodation which is suitable. During the weekend I and a few other volunteers traveled to Pakchong – KAO Yai National park of which they helped assist us with. The support staff also helped assist me when I planned to go to Bangkok. They took details of my flight time and informed me the best time I should travel back safely to ensure that I made my flight on time.
There are so many good experiences I had, hard to mention one! I would say the overall volunteering experience in itself. I loved the fact that I could spend each week doing two different projects, it was the best of both worlds! I was very lucky because other volunteers that I met who applied through other agencies were not doing the same thing as me. I think it was definitely browning points for VS for having the two-week special. The overall experience was amazing, being in the more rural parts and meeting locals. The school we were teaching in was absolutely lovely the children were so welcoming and friendly and the principle was so respectful and friendly. I absolutely loved spending time with the elephants in the elephant village. We took them to bath, gave them food, we could see how they interacted. It was such a great experience to be so close to such an animal and the animal responding well to you.
I definitely recommend. Like I said previously the 2 week special was definitely good because you could spend each week doing a different project. The projects in Thailand was amazing, Volunteering solutions by far are the most informative organization in terms of preparing you for your trip and telling you everything you need to know.