Volunteer in Asia
Our time at turtle camp was capped off by releasing two of ‘our’ turtles into the sea to begin their journey as independent turtles! Hopefully, the love and care provided at the turtle project will ensure these turtles have a greater chance of survival in the big, wide, scary ocean. Go well, little turtle!
The greatest aspects of the project are two. First of all, you really feel useful as local coordinators need our help to take care of all turtles as they are not enough to do the job alone. Second, compared to Ubud, there are less volunteers (around 25, even if they told us that during the high season it can go up to 70). As you are not a lot, no small groups are done; we are all part of a big group, or even better a big family. You really get close to volunteers and to coordinators and cookers.
At the orphanage we could do many things: construction, painting, building, playing with the children in the afternoon, and teaching English to Thai people. I taught English and it was the best feeling ever. It was extremely rewarding and my students were very thankful. They were incredibly sweet and very eager to learn. I felt a really strong connection to them and looked forward each day to seeing them again. It may sound as a cliché but I gained so much more than I gave. Volunteering at the orphanage gave me insight into the culture in a way I could have never gotten as a tourist. It really is waging peace through justice worldwide.
And of course, my favorite project, teaching English. You don’t need any experience at all because it is very basic stuff – such as going through the alphabet, counting, pointing at objects and saying the words in English. They mostly just appreciate you being there. Spending time with them was amazing and something which I will never forget and always cherish!
Apart from the daily routine and some other work that we did, there was always enough time to go snorkeling. There were different snorkeling grounds close by (and once a week we went on an excursion a bit further away) and I discovered something new every time. Another part of the experience was living on a local Maldivian island – which seemed worlds away from the resort islands.
Volunteering in the Maldives... was everything I could have ever imagined, but the biggest surprise to me was how much I gained from the program. Working with the turtles in itself was incredible. To watch them grow, get to know their personalities and then release them back into the ocean. To know that you have had a positive impact on saving such a beautiful creature from extinction, it is very rewarding. It’s not an experience that comes around often and I’ll hold it close to me for the rest of my life
The work at the panda base wasn’t very hard, but it was extremely rewarding. I feel so grateful to have had this once in a lifetime experience, getting up close and personal with the pandas, learning their different personalities, and helping with their conservation. We were also part of an amazing group of volunteers, united by a love of pandas. We all got on really well and generally just had a great time together, both on and off the panda base. I will miss those crazies all most as much as I will miss my adorable new panda friends!
Friday’s are a bit different because that’s test day, the children LOVE this though, as they get to see what they’ve learnt through the week and after an hour or so of tests are free to play. One Friday it was so hot we all ran through a fence at the back of the school and jumped in to a huge pond to cool off. All the kids who could swim were jumping in with us and the ones who couldn’t we were hugging and splashing.
What I enjoyed the most was seeing the excitement and pleasure the gibbons felt whenever the owner came to say hello to them. After two weeks of volunteering in Thailand, I know that I made a difference and that feeling of being a part of the gibbons' happiness is something I couldn't be without.
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