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1 Month In: Ellie’s Thailand Experience

News Story: 1 Month In: Ellie’s Thailand Experience

Here we have some words from Ellie, a Thailand 2022/23 volunteer, currently living in Senangkhanikhom. Ellie talks us through what the first month of her Thailand experience at her project has been like.

Hi, I’m Ellie and I am currently living in Senangkhanikhom, Thailand, with Hattie, my project partner. Within three short weeks, I’ve already experienced more than I’d ever imagined, and I can’t express how excited I am for the year ahead. This will be my attempt at a summary to provide an idea of what living internationally as a volunteer is like; however, I could talk about it forever, so feel free to contact me.

In reflection of our time so far, the number of events we’ve witnessed and been involved in is inconceivable. After saying our goodbyes to the team in Bangkok, we embarked on the ten-hour bus journey to our village, where we were both immediately greeted by a group of the community in Senangkhanikhom, all ecstatic to meet us. We were taken straight to the village market for a 6 a.m. breakfast of sticky rice and noodles (chicken feet were optional), then to the school where we would work for the year. Upon arrival at Senangkhanikhom Kindergarten, we were met by critical committee members and given gifts of gorgeous flower garlands and Thai silk scarves from the mayor and school principal.

The scarves the mayor gave us resembled our Thai names; I am ‘Praewa’ and Hattie is ‘Pha Mai’, both are types of traditional Thai silks. We paraded around the school, saying hello to all the children and trying out the bikes the community bought for us. Afterwards, our host, Tam so kindly threw us a traditional Thai Barbecue party which included the divine menu of pig ear, pig intestine and raw beef (killed a few hours prior to eating).

It was all prepared beautifully by her family, using ingredients from her Mum’s garden that includes a wide herb selection, ranging from spring onions to more exotic choices. We sat around the table all evening with loads of people from the area, warmed by everyone’s hospitality whilst being massively humbled in terms of spice tolerance. This set the scene nicely for the next three weeks.

At first, living internationally was like being thrown into the deep end, it felt like being at square one with a severe language barrier and no connections apart from your partner. From a different perspective, being immersed in a foreign environment naturally encourages independence and has unknowingly induced a new approach to meeting people and communicating. It should be expected that there will be challenges- even if it’s sleeping in an ant infestation because the chocolate was left out (literal ants in the pants situation). It may seem relatively tame but, I can confirm, that I was left scarred by the ants.

Since being here, we’ve met some insanely lovely people, have explored all types of places, learnt SO much and have jumped at every opportunity presented to us- something I highly recommend. Hattie and I have found ourselves in some mental situations of which a mere exchanged glance can send us into hysterics.

We’ve found some of our favourite moments were spent navigating around our village and getting to know this new, foreign place. Also, the religion, music, art and food is so interesting and I really recommend spending time learning about it all because you appreciate everything in different perspectives.

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