Once I finished my studies in Australia, graduating with a degree in English Language, I decided I was finally going to pursue a dream that I had for some time. My dream was to go to another country and teach. I have a strong belief in doing something that makes a difference in the lives of others. What I didn’t realize is what a difference the experience would make in me.
I arrived in Thailand to teach English and to learn about the culture and people there. I didn’t realize I would forge friendships that I can now see lasting a lifetime. The people of Thailand were so warm, welcoming and friendly. I was there for several months living among the people, and they treated me like I was a local in their country.
Thailand is a country of amazing geographical contrasts. There are five distinct regions and each one is unique. The south features miles of sandy beaches and shoreline. The north boasts a mountainous rugged countryside where hilltop Buddhist temples offer an interesting visitor experience. The central plains feature wildlife sanctuaries and National parks. The exotic wildlife found there is fascinating. Each area provides its own cultural experience, and I was lucky enough to have several opportunities to visit different parts of Thailand.
I spent most of my time in the northern part of Thailand, and my favourite place there is Pai, a peaceful small town with wonderful landscapes, cozy small restaurants and beautiful waterfalls. I also visited Bangkok several times, although I must admit that I prefer the peacefulness of small towns to the buzzing of big cities.
The landmarks you shouldn’t miss in Bangkok are the amazingly colourful Domnoen Floating Market, which will allow you to experience firsthand the traditional Thai way of life, Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn), an iconic piece of Thai architecture, and the Democracy Monument, which you should make sure to visit at night, when it is lit up.
Going to Thailand as a volunteer educator was for me the best way to really see and experience all the beauty and wonder that Thailand holds. The charm of this country is the warmth of its people, which was clear from the beginning. Thailand is often affectionately called the land of smiles and for good reason. I have not felt that instantly at home anyplace else I have ever visited. This speaks volumes for the friendliness of the people of Thailand. They have a real passion for learning, which I experienced first hand.
The educational system in Thailand is very similar to systems in other countries. Private education is very well-developed. The public sector educational system is also a well-organized system. Thailand public education is free to all and provided by the government, up until the age of 17. Education is mandatory until the age of 14, then young people can continue in the system until they’re 17.
The young people I worked with in Thailand were enthusiastic, interested and eager to learn. They wanted to know all about Australia, too. The prevalent feeling is that English is an extremely important skill to master, so my students gave undivided attention to the lessons I taught them. Not only was I able to teach these students, I gained an immeasurable amount of knowledge in the ways of the Thai people. It was an unbelievably rewarding experience that I will never forget.
Teaching abroad was a blessing for me and an unforgettable and amazing experience. I might have never visited a magical place like Thailand if it hadn’t been for my teaching position. I was completely immersed in the culture and I was able to push my personal boundaries in ways I never could have imagined. The children I taught in Thailand were not the only ones who learned. For any woman who dreams of traveling and seeing the world, teaching in another country offers an excellent opportunity. It is a much safer way to travel and to experience first hand that the world really is very similar no matter where you go. People have the same desires of educating their children and providing a good life for their families no matter where they live or what culture they grew up in.
Dunya Carter is a teacher and a passionate traveller from Brisbane, Australia. She is currently working for EDventure Volunteer Abroad, contributing to projects that give people the opportunity to travel, teach and make a difference in the lives of children in many countries.