Earlier this year, Gaby joined our team on the picture perfect Koh Samui in Thailand where she spent several weeks on one of our volunteer teaching programs. We caught up with her to ask her a few questions about her time in Thailand and what it was like to volunteer as a teacher in a small Thai school.
1. What made you want to volunteer as a teacher in Thailand?
The reason I wanted to volunteer as a teacher is because I knew that this year I would be unable to go and finish my last year of college so i decided to do something that would help others. I love children and I wanted to do something new that would help children who are unable to receive or afford a good education a better opportunity to enrich themselves.
2. What is your favourite Thai dish? My favourite thai dish would have to be the Pad Thai in southern Thailand. When I went northern you could taste the difference between the north and south.
The street food markets were gold. ???? #iwantnoodles #missgettingfoodunderadollar #thailand #streetfoodmarkets #flashbackfriday A photo posted by ☯No☯ (@gabriellnope) on
3. Tell us about one of your favourite memories from your experience.
One of my favourite memories is definitely a hard one because there were too many to count! However one that I do remember the most was teaching my students the ABC hand game. I learned this game in elementary school and basically it’s a fun way to teach the alphabet.
The students sit in a circle and as they say the letters of the alphabet they tap the person to their left on the hand. It first started with just a few students playing during recess but by the end of our time there everyone was playing this new game. They loved it!
It was amazing to see them enjoy a game that was also helping them remember their ABC’s.
4. How do you feel your experiences in Koh Samui have benefited you? My experiences on Koh Samui greatly benefitted me because I feel like I’m no longer as afraid as I used to be. Going to another country, a foreign land, without the language or culture I was used to was definitely nerve-racking but toward the end I felt more at home there then I do in the United States.
You know your popular when…..it’s gonna kill me to leave them. #starfishvolunteer #bandertoopschool #teaching #ilovethesekidssomuch A photo posted by ☯No☯ (@gabriellnope) on
5. How do you think the children at school have benefitted from your time with them?
I think my time with the children benefitted them because I feel like I watched them blossom.
When I first started the children were quiet, reserved, not volunteering to answer questions in class and basically not confident about their English or themselves. Then when it ended I watched these groups of children go from afraid to not afraid.
They were shouting out answers. They were asking questions. They were volunteering to read their work to the class. They wanted to go up to the board. It was a complete 180! I’ve never been more proud than to see the change in them happening right before me…
Seeing that was definitely one of the best moments of my life.
6. How would your describe Koh Samui experience? I would describe the Koh Samui volunteer experience as life changing. You get to meet all of these new people from around the world who really want to make a difference with you and it makes you form an incredible bond. You live in a small community and you become apart of it… Koh samui changes the way you lived your life beforehand into this beautiful open new one.
Beautiful weekend in Koh Tan and amazing sunset. #Kohtan #islandlife #volunteerlife A photo posted by ☯No☯ (@gabriellnope) on
7. Would you recommend volunteering with Starfish to others?
I would recommend volunteering with Starfish 100%!
The coordinators Zaza, Woody, and Kesh become some of your closets friends. They place you in one of the most amazing communities where you get the Thai island style of life: slow and simple.
You end up never wanting to leave because everything is so perfect and beautiful. You start out with the idea that your volunteering for a program and at the end you realise that it was a lot more than a program.
Last day in beautiful Samui and even though I’m beyond sad I cannot be more thankful for this wonderful first adventure. Having never left home before it was so scary to do something so new but I never felt more at home then I did when I taught those kids and lived in Thong Krut. I truly am blessed to have lived in such a wonderful place and teach some of the most respect, loving, funny, and kindhearted kids. I’ll miss them everyday. But I’ll see you tomorrow. #khunkrucrew #kohsamui #thailand #bandtoopschool #starfishvolunteer
We were privileged to have such an dedicated and enthusiastic volunteer who wanted to support the children and improve their learning. Our volunteers make all the difference to these small communities in Thailand who, without your support, would not get access to native English speakers to help them learn.