The first six months in Thailand are over now and I would like to share my experiences. It was a time of ups and downs, new happenings and challenges. When I arrived, I was memorized by the beauty of this country and the friendliness of the people here. But I also had to learn how to deal with the negative aspects of life in Thailand.
When I was told in Germany that the country I was flying to would be Thailand, I did not know what was coming towards me. Before my departure, I had high expectations of the opportunity to contribute positively to the education of the children by contributing my skills and experience from Germany. I hoped to help the students and learn from them at the same time. However, many things turned out differently than expected. I had no idea how challenging it would be to live and work in a completely different cultural environment. Thats why in the first few weeks I had to adapt, not just myself but also how I approache things.
The preparations in Germany in the form of online meetings and the one-week camp definitely helped me to get used to Thailand faster. Nevertheless, the real challenges of everyday life and work in such a new environment presented an unexpected hurdle.
I work at the boarding school Rajaprajanugroh 50 in Khon Kaen, a city in eastern Thailand. The school offers children from socially weaker families as well as orphans an opportunity for education and the achievement of a general school diploma in order to build a life for themselves. I was warmly welcomed by the staff of the boarding school. Thanks to their support and inclusion, I quickly found the right pace of things here. I was also kindheartedly welcomed by the students. In the beginning, I often was the center of every conversation, but over time that also subsided and I quickly found connections with peers.
As far as my for my work in the project, it was easy for me to build a supportive and trusting relationship with the children. Their lively and curious nature as well as their openness and honesty made it easy for me to interact with them even though there is a huge language barrier. I only work in Elementary School – that is first to sixth grade here – which means that the students I teach are quite young and I'm someone they look up to. That means a lot of responsibility for me.
Before my stay here I had a romanticized idea of Thailand, because I have only ever learned something about this country only on the internet and through social media, where often things are presented very differently from how they really are. Only when I arrived here, I became aware of aspects such as the big difference between rich and poor and the outdated school system. These insights showed me how complex the realities and needs of the country really are, which helped me to better fulfil my role as a volunteer.
In conclusion, I would like to stress that despite all the challenges I have had an incredibly good time so far. In the last six months I have learned a lot and have really grown as a person. I was able to show new sides of myself and got to know myself better. The experiences I gained during my stay here have also broadened my horizons and deepenedmy understanding of Thai culture.
I can't wait to see what else is coming.
Summer Mabrouk, 6 th January 2024