Thailand

Island TEFL Thailand

I don't recommend this school. I used them a while back and thought they were pretty unorganised and sloppy. Everything seemed to be on the hoof. Actually, there was a post up before by a guy called "TEFL Teacher" that I commented on. For some reason it got deleted including my comments. I don't know why. I've put it back here because it corresponds roughly with my experience:

"Don’t give them a single penny! Island TEFL is the most fraudulent company I’ve come across (and I live in Thailand), The main guy, Phil, doesn’t do any of the work but instead uses a free teaching agency and you pay Phil essentially to hook up with them when you can do this yourself FREE. Phil is a poor business man, and was consistently rude and undelivered on every request I made, all due to his sheer laziness. Sister companies include ...... and ..........., I would avoid these too, they’re all set up to make a boat load of money from vulnerable and eager travelers."

Program: TEFL
Location: Thailand
Posted: Dec 5, 2014
Overall:
3
Support:
4
Value:
2

Global Vision International (GVI)

Traveling halfway across the world to work with elephants is a dream I never had until I became curious about elephants and research about them. I got more out of this experience that I ever could have imagined. Opening your eyes to the world and problems within it can be one of the most painful things you ever do, but it is more than worth it. I witnessed first-hand some of the troubles Asian Elephants face today, and at the same time I witnessed the behavior and bliss of a select few who got their lives back and were reintroduced into their natural forests. I lived in a Koren Hill Tribe village known as Huay Pakoot with a population around 400 people and 60 homes. The villagers came to Thailand to avoid conflict that was abundant in Burma about 512 years ago. Except for very few Christian families everyone in the village is Animist, Buddhist, or Animist Buddhists. The native language is Pakinyaw and elephants play a huge role in their culture. Elephants are passed down within generations of families and only change families in certain circumstances. Each elephant falls under the same protection act as all other livestock. Each elephant also has a Mahout which is a person who works with and tends to their elephant. There are 6 elephants on GVI contract and 3 with the community conservation that are currently in the forest and not in camps. That is 9 out of the 70 elephants in the village. For the Mahouts whose elephants live in the forest, they live in the village and receive income from a GVI contract. The other elephants and their Mahouts are spread all around northern Thailand in elephant camps and some even on the street. The Mahouts with elephants in the camps get paid from the camps for “renting” their elephants out and they do not live in their native village; they live wherever they can get paid with their elephant. But for Mahouts in the village life is a little different.
GVI has a 10 year stay in the village to help the community conservation group stand on their own and be able to support the elephants and themselves. Being with GV,I I was a part of many things which include teaching English in the school which goes up to 6th grade, helping out in nursery, participating in litter pickups all around, bio diversity studies, and perhaps the most exciting work of all was with the elephants. There are three herds of elephants consisting of 9 individuals. There are typically 3-4 hikes a week where the elephants are observed off their chains. Proximity data is collected and recorded every 5 minutes as well as any touch data; and twice a week health checks are done on each elephant. Newest to the data collection is vocalization. The data collection time spans over 2 hours which can vary from the observation time, often after data collection we would opt to stay and continue watching them. Each of the elephants are truly amazing and watching them in the forest where they should be; eating a healthy natural diet, doing as they please, and witnessing the bonds they each have with their Mahout, was all truly amazing. I am lucky to have found this volunteer opportunity.
Upon my arrival I expanded my vocalization project from health checks only to each of the elephant hikes. The data collected is really interesting and does show some behavioral patterns. I hope in the future to be able to take the ecology and mind of the elephants into context to interpret the cause and meaning of each vocalization. (Note that only audible vocalizations were recorded) Because there are three separate herds I personally could never have collected all the data alone. I really learned to work with others and partially rely on them. Thanks to staff members and other volunteers we were able to collect vocalization data for each elephant hike. Analyzing all the data has been really fun as well. I am learning a lot and have been inspired to do so much more, not just in terms of research but in terms of helping around the world.
My homestay family along with the elephants was a huge part of my experience. I stayed with a woman named Areerat and she was genuinely amazing. She had two daughters, one age 12 living and going to school in a neighboring village, and one named Waneeda age 10 living at home. They do not speak English, so it was great when the three of us and sometimes others all sat down and worked on learning each other’s languages. My family taught me so much and through them I developed such respect and appreciation for them and their culture. Every day of the week they were working in the field, even Waneeda would be working in the field on days when there was no class. The homes in the village were really neat and beautiful. The simplicity of life as well as each aspect of their lives is inspiring. There were no chairs anywhere except at the school, if you wanted to sit you sat, even meals were eaten on the ground. Laundry was washed by hand and hung to dry, most all food was grown in the village, and meat was mainly pork, rarely chicken, and never beef or buffalo. Fresh fruit was also very rare.
All of the villagers are nice, and always try to communicate. They all seem to be so happy and there is no doubt that they all work hard. The children of the village are always out and about! They go to school, help their families, pick flowers for Buddha, and are always playing games. One Saturday we arranged a “kids” day and had a variety of games planed. I have never seen kids so joyful and excited. I have not worked with kids at home so this was really new for me and very rewarding. We taught English in the school twice a week to two classes. We also had nursery for the older kids once or twice a week and for those who wanted to come. We would play games and also teach English. They are tested on English on some of their Country testing. One of the best times is when we go to the nursery for the very young children and give their caretakers a break. These kids are so fun and spontaneous, but also can be very shy. Often when roaming the village I would see a small bunch of kids high up in trees getting mangos or just hanging out. The kids were so great!
As far as animals go, I learned that the euthanasia of animals in Thailand is very illegal. There were a few elephants in the country used in illegal logging on the Burma border that stepped on land mines and were hurt extremely bad…some are doing well now and actually have prosthetic limbs; but even when on their death bed no animal can be euthanized. This is because of the Buddhist beliefs of the people. The belief is that if they kill something or someone they will not be able to be reincarnated.
All of this is just a briefing of the things that I learned while volunteering on this conservation project. Everything that I have learned I hope to be able to share, for the elephants’ sake. I did not go into detail about all the issues they face, but I plan to educate people on the issues involving Asian Elephants. I am happy to share my experience but more than anything with my presentations I would like in some way to help the elephants. I believe I can do this because some of the situations they are in are strictly driven by tourists from all around the world. So by being in the States, I plan to be a voice for Asian Elephants, they deserve all the voices they can get.

Program:
Location: Thailand
Posted: Oct 13, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Global Vision International (GVI)

Thailand, how do even begin to describe this adventure of a lifetime? I can sum up Thailand in 4 words, "the land of smiles". I can safely say i have never felt so welcomed in any country before. It was a very pleasant surprise to see these little kids sitting outside their houses waving and shouting hello to us.
They would do this whilst you walk down the street to the local shops and restaurants. Overall GVI was very well respected within the community which made for me feeling at home faster than i anticipated.
Initially I was worried about making friends but the people at the GVI base introduce themselves, give you tips and they ask you about yourself. Those GVI volunteers and staff become your family away from home and i can safely say i don't know what i would of done without them.

Onto the programme, I was lucky enough to embark on a 6 week Marine Coastal Expedition where we did everything from clean turtles to teach adults English. I had an extremely varied trip and i was even lucky enough to visit the local orphange and take part in the community centre's weekly sports day!
I would trek into the rainforest and see all manner of beauty in the flora and fauna. So many species so be admired and observed, as well as respect. Taking part in the leadership course also meant i had a days experience being a project leader which was an eye opener to say the least.

Overall i had a trip of a lifetime where i experienced homesickness, actual sickness, pure laughter and some brilliant weekends away. I saw the beauty of local villages and the tourist areas like Krabi each with their own distinct feel and impact.

Five Stars!!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Thailand
Posted: Sep 18, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Frontier

I did 4 weeks on the Thailand elephant conservation program. Overall I had a great time. Singburi's a beautiful part of Thailand - a lot more laid back than Bangkok but still with lots to do in your spare time. The project was fun and rewarding - there were a lot of other volunteers there during my time, mainly from the UK and Australia. I was working with the elephants on weekdays, helping with feeding, bathing and relocation. I'd say bathing the elephants was the best part - they really enjoy it and it's a great way to cool down yourself when it gets too hot, which is most of the time!
All in all thoroughly recommended.

Program: Gap Year
Location: Thailand
Posted: Sep 3, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

WLS International

I spent two weeks in the children's orphanage in Chang Mai and it was the best experience of my life.

The culture and atmosphere that you receive within this city is incredible. The city is by far one of the most beautiful and interesting places I have been in my life so far.

Pratchwt is an incredible woman who was exceptionally helpful throughout my whole stay. She helped me to feel at home within this lovely community. Without her my time in Chang Mai would not be the same.

I could not have felt safer or more at ease during my time here. All the locals are so helpful and lovely. They are some of the nicest people I have met in my travels.

I'll be back again soon :) xoxox

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Thailand
Posted: Aug 15, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

uVolunteer

Last September, I stayed with Jack and his family for just over 2 months whilst volunteering to teach English in the small town of Phonphisai. My original thought of coming to Thailand was for purely teaching experience. But after completing my 2 months in Phonphisai.
I returned to England with so much more. As soon as I arrived, I was greeted with the love and warmth of Jack and his relatives. On most evenings, myself, Alex, & Sarah would eat a whole variety of delicacies with all of Jack's, Aunts, Uncles and cousins at his Grandfather's house. This house is no ordinary house!!! With over 3 generations dining on one floor, from baby Sanchai to Grandfather Boontrong, this house is full of laughter, love and great food of course!!
Staying here changed my whole perspective on travelling. Most people who travel to Thailand overlook the Isaan region, for it's lack of tourist sites. But for myself, it is the true face of Thailand. Whilst slowly devouring my favorite Cappaccino Ice Cream at the riverside Milk Cafe, I remember the scores of children playing fun and games in the late afternoon sun, monks in their rich orange robes gathering in the temple courtyard, and locals finishing their daily duties, getting ready for the most important meal of the day. I spent most of my afternoons by that riverside cafe, watching the world go by, enjoying an occasional conversation with a curious Thai, while the crimson sun set descended beautifully over the peaceful town and the winding river.
By day, I was an assistant teacher at the local secondary school. Here, I would help Ajan (Teacher) Phusita in class, in a number of ways such as pronunciation, grammar and spelling. Again my role went beyond that, as gradually I realized that all of the above were secondary. The students wanted to know more about myself and the culture that I represented. Furthermore, many seemed to be very interested on my thoughts of Thai culture. Hence, teaching in Phonphisai enabled the opportunity for myself as a teacher, and the students, to teach English through the means of sharing both cultures. The phrase 'time of your life' is used too easily in this day in age. I do believe that my stay with Jack, and his family in Phonphisai, was the best time of my life. I discovered so much about the world and myself. Yet, there seems tobe something in my heart which urges me to return there one day in the future to rediscover the adventurous Joe, and to rekindle the friendships which I forged. The true Thailand awaits to those who are adventurous enough to seek it.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Thailand
Posted: Aug 6, 2014
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
10

WLS International

My daughter is volunteering in Chiang Mai right now. She is signed up for two weeks. She already spent her first week related to the elephant camp activities and started volunteering in the orphanage in Chiang Mai. It was easy to register, pay, and communicate with the organizers. I happened to come along and got an opportunity of volunteering in the school for blind children teaching English to blind kids.
The hotel is very clean and nice and located right in the Old Town. We flew from Washington DC, through Bangkok and planing to come back to BKK for 10 days. It is safe and the coup which happened in Thailand a couple of weeks ago does not affect every day life, and it is safe to be in Thailand Chiang Mai and Bangkok.
I would highly recommend this program because the lady who is in charge here is very organized and takes care of people very nicely.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Thailand
Posted: Jul 14, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Frontier

I am the director of a marine conservation program on Koh Tao, in Thailand. We have been working with Frontier for 3 years now, and have really enjoyed how they operate. By working together with Frontier we are able to spend less time trying to find students and volunteers, and more time on the actual coral reef research, restoration, and protection projects. All of our student volunteers coming from Frontier are pleased with the information they have been provided with before coming, and already have a through understanding of the activities they will be involved in. Frontier does a good job of ensuring that the students arrive here safely and without hassle.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Thailand
Posted: May 7, 2014
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9

Frontier

The Frontier project was the first of this kind that I participated in. Hence, this experience was/is totally new to me. New as it was, it was also very exciting, since I got to do things that I’ve never done before and that I was interested in. Before coming to the island, I received a field brief containing information on the type of activities that volunteers will perform. I was very enthusiastic while reading that I might assist hatchlings. It did not happen as we were not here in the period when the eggs hatch. Nevertheless, I found the activity mix (patrolling beaches, doing turtle behavioural observation, bird surveys, beach profiling etc.) balanced, exciting and I definitely learnt and now know more about conservation, and sea turtle conservation in particular.
I found our host family in the home-stay was very friendly, the food that was cooked for us was absolutely delicious, and the people we met were positive and friendly. The same goes for the staff and the other volunteer that I worked with or met. To those who would like to join a project like this one, I would suggest to be patient and positive. There’s always something to do if one wants to. After all, we are here to help.
Walking the beaches might be a bit exhausting for some, but is rewarding especially when you get to see turtle tracks, if not a nest. I, for one, was definitely excited for the tracks in our last days. As for the ‘practicalities’, I would suggest bringing a lot of insect repellent, sunscreen and be prepared to live with electricity working only a few hours per night.
To conclude, the sea turtle project is definitely a ‘must-do’ if you’ve never done it and even if you’ve done it before, it is a unique experience.
Suggestions for organising the work of volunteers:
• I would have found it very useful (and helpful) if volunteers who have not participated in a similar project before, are given from the outset, in their first days on the island, an introduction/presentation of the project, the organisation, the type of work that they will perform and maybe information on the island and the various habitats. This way, they will become familiarised with the project and the surrounding environment, and will have a better understanding of the work/methodologies used.
• The practical arrangements (e.g. transportation by boat from the pier) could be better organized, and volunteers should receive precise information on who they will be picked up by and when.

Conclusion
Keep up the good work and the positive spirits, it is worth it and I do appreciate it! 

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Thailand
Posted: May 6, 2014
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
10

Treetop Country

I spent three weeks in Thailand in February this year and my only regret is not giving myself longer.

The time at treetops was time well spent. I was well supported and it was nice for me to be able contribute in the making of a grassroots project in such a lovely area with such beautiful people.

The food was amazing. The people welcoming, humble, hardworking and generous.

I stayed in my very own house amongst the trees. It kind of reminded me of being in never never land where the lost boys live. The other volunteers living there became good friends and riding our bikes around the little province up there in Thailand's north country will make up some of my greatest life memories.

I highly recommend treetop country.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Thailand
Posted: Mar 26, 2014
Overall:
8
Support:
10
Value:
10

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