Volunteering and Internships for Students
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!
The whole experience was humbling, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get up close and personal with all sorts of animals but more importantly to me it helped me learn and understand the troubles that animals are faced with and what this particular organisation is doing to protect endangered species such as the cheetah. I have a lot of fond memories of the people who I worked with and the animals I was fortunate enough to get to know and those memories will never fade.
Typical days at the African Wildlife Ranch aren’t typical at all. Each day provided for a new opportunity to help improve the lives of the animals at the ranch. Whether it was assisting with cleaning enclosures each morning, preparing food for various animals, providing enrichment to one of the many wonderful animals, building and preparing enrichment opportunities or assisting with project work, there was always something new to keep you focused on.
When I arrived in Cape Town, I was positively surprised by how welcoming not only the staff but also the volunteers were. I had no problems at all finding new friends and engaging with everybody around. The average age was about 21, even though there were exceptions with ages ranging up to 65! I was immediately briefed on the project and on what to expect from it and never felt lost at all.
Teaching women through the Women’s Empowerment program, I was able to deeply connect with the Nepali women I worked with, even considering the huge language barrier between us. It was a joy and honor to teach them. I We spent the lessons laughing and actively interacting with each other, ensuring that they were learning as much as possible. It was very hard to leave them after three weeks. In such a short time, they embraced me into their world.
During my time in South Africa I gained such a wide array of experience that would have never been possible at home. I participated in several game counts, tested cows and sheep for fertility, treated horses and mules in the area of Coffee Bay, and experienced both a net and helicopter capture.
I’ve never been a morning person, so rising at 3am didn’t seem appealing at first, but the morning patrol was always my favorite. At least during my time on the project, the morning patrols were much more active. Baby turtles were hatching from their nests, and we helped them down to the ocean so they could avoid beach predators. Only 1 in every 1000 turtles lives to adulthood, so saving those that actually hatched, from a beach massacre was important!
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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