This is my last blog entry as an intern in Thailand for GapGuru. I have now been here for nearly 8 months. These past months have been simply incredible, both because this internship has taught me so much as well living in the crazy place that Thailand is.
This internship has been my first experience working in a field where I consider a career for myself (this excludes my previous experiences working in coffee shops and Christmas markets). The best part of working for GapGuru has been seeing the various volunteering projects throughout the year and their results. Each volunteer brings something new to the school or project they are involved with. As the year went by, I got to see students getting more comfortable in English, creating bonds with volunteers, classrooms repainted, playgrounds re-done and much more. Working as an intern has been very intense and demanding at times, but when the volunteering projects end and have run smoothly, it feels like all the work put into it has been worth it. My mom always says that work doesn't feel like work when you love what you are doing, and I think this internship marks a first step towards that direction for me.
This experience also permitted me to see the challenges faced by NGOs working in long-term community development. Some of these have been how to measure the efficacy of the projects, in which direction to expand, how to make the needs of the community meet the capacities of volunteers, etc. These questions are only resolved by having a team putting their heads together, and an amazing aspect of the FutureSense Foundation still being a young NGO is the freedom of rethinking things and getting involved, even as an intern, which is not the case in many companies or NGOs nowadays. I cannot stress enough how valuable this experience will be for me for my master's next year and for my work in general and how grateful I am to have been given this opportunity. I am now moving on to start a master's in International Development and Humanitarian Emergencies in London. As much as I have loved working in long-term development, I still want to dedicate myself to emergency relief, although the two areas are very closely connected as both are part of international aid.
The other aspect of these past 8 months, apart from the work experience, has been living in Thailand of course. I have loved having the time to learn the language, discover the culture and the people. I am always looking for opportunities to learn new languages and learning Thai has been a huge aspect of my stay. I will never forget the people I met and the friends I have made here, and I know that I will come back to see them whenever I have the chance.
These past eight months would have never been so incredible without the amazing people I have worked with: Dave, Nid, Marcia and Will, and the interns that were with me: Amy, Dean and Elena. Having an effective but most of all positive work environment like this one is something that I look for in any work environment and I have been so lucky to have found this here. I would like to give a special thanks to Dave, GapGuru's Country Manager, for always being positive and calm, despite the long hours and the lack of sleep!
Lastly, I did not expect the work to be so varied and this has definitely been one of the highlights: working in schools and temples, in Hill-Tribe villages, doing elephant conservation work, leading tours in Bangkok, working alongside Buddhist monks and more. This has been an incredible chance to see some of Thailand's diversity, from Bangkok's restless nightlife to the peace of the Hill-Tribe villages. It will definitely be interesting to come back to Europe after a year spent in the peaceful atmosphere that is Northern Thailand. But I know that I will be back to Thailand at some point, even though I do not yet know when or for how long!
On this note,
Chok Dee Ka!