Week 2 LiA Reflection

Volunteering with the Duang Prateep Foundation

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This week, I felt that I was able to find a bit of the balance between getting to know the team/other volunteers and being proactive in the office, which I talked about in Week 1! One of the foundation’s long-time volunteers (she has since moved to Europe with her husband, but had volunteered with the foundation for more than 30 years!) visited during the week, and I was able to join in on a few meals with her. Hearing her talk about the continued dedication of the foundation over the years was amazing. Some of the current staff at the foundation grew up through their New Life Project, which supports orphan children, and she had been part of their journey as they grew up. These staff members were very excited to see her again, and seeing them together was a testament to the great work the foundation does, the incredible impact that long-term dedication makes, and the importance of developing personal connections to help support the growth of others.

At the same time, I was able to take more initiative in the office. The English projects—while there are many!—are typically very quick edits to emails to sponsors or letters from students. However, my supervisor Monwarin mentioned that the letter from children that the foundation supports to their sponsors would be more meaningful if they were accompanied by a bio, but the records they had were too scattered for them to do so easily. Most of these bios are individually created and printed out, and the online versions are split across many documents. I volunteered to help find and compile these bios, and this became the project that I worked on in the lull between current initiatives of the foundation. Reading the stories of these students is also a testament to the resilience of these students and it’s deeply inspiring to know that I get to work alongside them every day.

I also felt a lot more comfortable teaching English in the classroom! I never really realized that teaching Kindergarteners would require teachers to be so… boisterous? I’m a pretty reserved person, so leading the class in the hokey-pokey or playing puppets felt very awkward last week. But as I got more used to it, I’ve begun to feel a lot more open and I’m having a lot of fun. The other volunteers have been here for a few years each, so they’ve also been very encouraging and helpful. And I’m slowly picking up a (tiny) bit of Thai to help teach, too.

This week honestly felt great and very smooth. I’m excited to keep teaching, helping out in the office, and working on the student bios project. Additional tasks that I’m looking out for next week include beginning to work on a “school sports day” that the English program coordinator is working on and beginning to work with Wut and Smile (two older students at the foundation, who are heading to college and hope to return to work at the foundation afterward) on advancing their English.

P.S: The biggest struggle I encountered was accidentally water damaging my computer — I still have no idea how it happened! But I wasn’t able to bring it in to get fixed for a few days, and then there was some sort of issue that I couldn’t quite understand due to the language barrier. Anyway, I’m finally back with a new computer. I noted everything down in my journal in the meantime, so I’m excited to write them out in formal updates to share.

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