A sense of purpose
Hello there, Nora here.
I just got back from a trip to Greece, and I would like to tell you a little bit about the month I spent in Thailand. For those of you who don't follow NUET on ig (psst, u should ;) ) I spent around one month in Thailand working at an orphanage and a kindergarten. We were 7 students craving to help, and in this article I will tell you a bit about the journey and include a bit more information and tips if you would like to volunteer somewhere in Asia.
The journey started on the 15th of June and ended on the 11th of July. Six friends, two parents (the people who owned the house we lived in) and I were going to work at an orphanage. One month with children who we could not speak to (or except: Hello how are you and I’m good.) Body language was going to be our main form of communication. Looking back now, maybe I had some small expectations, however, after just seven days I knew this journey would most likely change my view on life in one way or another.
After a long day of travel, layovers, car rides and heavy rain we found ourselves at the place that would be our home for the next month. Suddenly I found myself perfectly placed in a village outside Phuket, surrounded with lush banana trees, pineapple plants, bungalows, a pool, and a five-minute bike ride to a remote and beautiful beach.
Although volunteering can, and will most likely be draining and sometimes you simply would rather stay in bed, the afterthought of being a part of their community and maybe making the kids day a little more special. It makes everything worth it. Once you put your head on your pillow, your day had a bigger purpose than one could ever put into words.
My days usually started around 8 am, eating breakfast and either biking to the kindergarten, or sleeping in and driving to the orphanage at around 3 pm. We would try to teach the children some basic English skills, but this was harder than you first would think. If that did not work out, we would simply sit with them and play, eat dinner and or get them ready for bed, some of us helped them with their homework as well. It was overall the small things in life that were on the agenda. This made me look at every moment of the day in very different light than before.
We would finish the day off with some classic Thai food from family-owned, local restaurants, get Thai friends to make dinner or make (try) it ourselves. This usually consisted of nuddles, vegetables, tofu and various sauses. The vegans were in heaven to say the least!
Some things to take notice when living and volunteering in an Asian country:
1. Don't be afraid of tasting their delicious fruit that looks horrible. You will thank me, I promise.
2. Don't drink the tap water.
3. In Thailand at least, it is the norm to remove your shoes before entering a building.
4. Everything and I mean everything takes time.
5. You'll most likely learn how to get back to basic.
6. Your the one who have to adapt to their coulture. This might mean that you might have to eat, do or say something that you might not want to do. It is all about findind the balance between personal choices, and not being disrespectful.
I want to end this article by saying that volunteering made my summer, and has ultimately given me a different discipline, perspective, and love for the planet and the people who live on it. There are no words to tell you how grateful I am to have gotten to create so many meaningful and inspiring connections during that month that I will take with me for the rest of my life. I know with all my hear that I will one day be back with the children there, and hopefully do more volunteer work abroad in the future.
If this is something that caught your eye, and you see youself helping out be sure to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and details.)
(All photos Ali Nazeri)