Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Day in the Life of Volunteer Teaching in Thailand


My name is Tang and I am from the University of Kansas. My major is Global and International Studies along with a minor in Anthropology. 

I am currently volunteering as an English teacher at Wat Khuang Singha School in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The Thai students that I teach English to range from ages 6 to 12 years old. Almost every day I assist the Thai teachers with teaching English and one day a week I teach on my own, which has become a wonderful experience.

To be honest, I am loving this volunteer work! The Thai teachers and students are very polite and respectful towards everyone and I felt very welcomed when I first arrived at the school. There are so many things that I enjoy about this school, such as everyone singing the Thai national anthem every morning, the food, and the people. I really enjoy teaching the Thai students because they love to participate which makes teaching much easier for me. 

I would recommend this volunteer work to anyone who loves kids and who loves to teach. You don’t even have to be highly experienced in teaching because the volunteer work itself assists and provides you with the necessary skills. It’s not difficult, nor is it easy, but once you get the hang of it you will enjoy teaching as much as I am, especially with these wonderful Thai students.

Until next time, 


Monday, July 20, 2015

A Day in the Life of Mplus+ (สวัสดีครับ วันนี้ผมจะพูด เกี่ยวกับทำงานใน Mplus+)

Hello, Cormac here!

Today I’m going to write a little about a day in the life in Mplus+, an organization working in sexual health amongst MSM (men who have sex with men) and TG (Transgender) populations in Thailand, as well as promoting LGBTQ rights across Chiang Mai.  

Every day is different...

Working at Mplus+ it is fair to say no two days are the same. Some days we work in the evening, others in the morning, sometimes in the office, sometimes outside of it. There is a great diversity to the time and setting of work which is nice and spices things up, however for the most part our work is based at the Mplus+ office in Chiang Mai. This is a really nice two storey building with lots of space downstairs for meetings and eating, and with really good kitchen facilities. Upstairs is where myself and Maria work with the others - there are three rooms, although most of us work in one big room with lots of tables and computers, making for a really nice, communal atmosphere. However, in saying that over the last few weeks we have found ourselves in Chiang Mai University for the ‘No His-tory but Ours’ LGBTIQ event, at a local hotel for a series of workshops on empowering HIV community support workers, plus a local bar and a local sauna for outreach work. This mix of settings and times makes for an interesting and fun work environment.  

The most generous staff you could meet...

Myself and Maria are so lucky to be work with these staff members. I think you would be hard pressed to find staff as kind and as generous with their time, and with their food! On my second day here, one of the staff brought us to a café and bought us tea and cake, which was so delicious. Each day the houselady brings us something to eat, and one day gave us so much food and tea myself and Maria were totally full and just could not eat any more! Since then we explained that we got a packed lunch from home, and so we just eat that now, but any time we ever forget our lunch they are always first to get us something.  

The people here are also very generous with their time. I’m forever asking them how to say this, that and the other in Thai, but they never seem to get annoyed and are always willing to help. Because myself and Maria are the only native English speakers at the office, it makes sense that they talk among each other in Thai most of the time. However, when we’re at meetings or workshops, they are always willing to translate for us, for which I am very grateful.  

Looking Forward to the Next four weeks...

Today marks the beginning of my fifth week in the organization, and as such I have crossed the halfway point in my time here at Mplus+. All I can say is I can’t wait to see what the next four weeks have in store, as I learn more about Thai language, culture and from the other volunteers in the volunteer house.  

That’s all for now, โชคดี ครับ

Monday, July 6, 2015

สวัสดีครับ (Hey!)

ผม ซื่อ Cormac! ผมมาจากไอร์แลนด์ ครับ ทำงาน มูลนิธิเอ็มพลัส ที่นี.

Phew! Okay I need to work on that a bit more.

Anyways, my name is Cormac, I’m from Ireland, and I’m volunteering with Mplus+ in Chiang Mai this summer as part of the EIL Ireland Global Awareness Program in HIV/AIDS.  Like my partner in crime at Mplus+ - Maria Flavin – I’m a travel award winner with EIL.  

Mplus+ is a fantastic organization that works mainly in promoting sexual health among men who have sex with men (MSM), preventing HIV and other STIs by promoting safer sex with condoms and lube, and encouraging and facilitating testing. In addition it aims to promote LGBTIQ rights and positive visibility – just last week we had an event on LGBTIQ rights and social movements in Thailand (shown below), and on Sunday Mplus+ hosted the annual Miss Healthy Thailand, an event focusing on sexual health, rights, wellbeing and positive visibility for trans women in Thailand.  I am really excited to be working with this organization, and I have already learned so much from them.  I hope that my different experiences and background in LGBTIQ and HIV efforts back home will mean I can contribute at least in a small way to the project, as we exchange ideas and experiences in this area.

You can spot us quite easily in the above picture. I’m to the left of Maria and we’re in the left of the photo. This photo was taken at the opening of the LGBTIQ History Gallery for the ‘No His-tory but Ours’ 2 day event on LGBTIQ issues last week. That’s most of the team there – they are so much fun! Also shown below is myself and Maria at the opening of  Miss Healthy Thailand 2015!  

About me: I’m a medical student in Dublin just finished my second year at University, and I’m also a committee member of my University’s LGBTQ+ Society – so you’ll usually find me at a lecture, the library, a coffee morning or workshop.  I’m interested in sustainability, renewables and development – I was that ten year old kid who used to pester the principal about getting a compost bin and pleaded with my parents to get solar panels – I still get really excited about developments in the field and how each one of us can empower ourselves to make for a more sustainable, greener life. I’m also a Disney fan and like to listen occasionally multiple times a day to cheesy pop music!

So far my experience in Chiang Mai has been thought provoking, adventurous and inspiring.  I have already learned so much not alone from the people at work and in the locality but from living with the other volunteers.  Each of us has our own unique background and experiences and it’s allowing us to find out more about each other, which is fantastic. 

I also like languages (I’m learning some French in University and I did Spanish in secondary school) and the language here (especially the written language) is very different to my experience of European languages. The language is tonal which means how you say a word changes its meaning, and Thai script so far has been a bit of an unfolding mystery. For example, Thai script is written as an abugida rather than an alphabet (which means that vowels can go above, below, to the left or right of consonants and the form of the vowel changes depending on the syllable in question), so reading it is like playing detective, because you do get more familiar with it in time and there is a nice feeling of accomplishment when you finally get why something is written like it is. At the same time, while the tones and script make for another dimension to the language, much of the grammar is simpler than its European counterparts, such as with tenses, plurals and conjugations. Given how friendly and willing to engage the locals are - even with my plundering tones and faulty strung-together phrases – I’m looking forward to getting more familiar with this interesting and exotic tongue

I can’t wait to see what the next six weeks has in store for me, both in work and with the other volunteers. You can follow my EIL blog at http://www.eilireland.org/users/cormac   

Thanks, Cormac 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

From Dublin to Chiang Mai, Swollen Ankles Included

Hi there! 

My name is Eniola, but called Enny by pretty much everybody. 

I was born in Lagos (Nigeria), raised in Waterford (Ireland) and studying in Dublin. I am supper bubbly, perhaps way too chatty and always with a smile. 

I am a 3rd year General Nursing student of Trinity College in Dublin. I love the placement! Going home knowing I have helped someone in a vulnerable place, honestly is the best feeling in the world. 

What’s next? I have huge plans, I have big dreams! Slowly but surely I will make these dreams a reality. 

The first of which began in Thailand on the 7th of June after being named the Thailand EIL Access Travel Award winner for 2015 alongside Maria and Melissa. 

Our 26 hour journey consisted of connecting flights from Dublin to London to Bangkok to Chiang Mai. It wasn’t until we were about to get off the 12 hour flight to Bangkok that I realised how ridiculously swollen my feet had gotten. My feet refused to budge and fit into my flat shoes and walking on it gave me pins and needles. Trying to get through security and immigration waddling in swollen feet was not a pleasant experience but it provided great humour for myself and the girls. I most definitely will remember to get Ted stockings in the future.  The excitement we shared is something that I will never forget as it was the farthest we had ever been away from home.

As we landed in Chiang Mai in one full piece, we were welcomed by Dan the Assistant Director of Cultural Canvas Thailand and a temperature of 37 degrees Celsius. We arrived at the volunteer house and were welcomed by Sarah from New York and David and Claire from North Carolina.   

Since arrival, we have being orientated to Chiang Mai including awesome restaurants to eat, places that are a must visit, and our projects. The whole shebang really!

For more on that, look out for my next blog!

La gorn,