Aiesec: a youth led organisation run by university students in over a hundred countries, offering thousands of internships. From engineering to business through to journalism, the list was extensive…and relentless. Indecision plagued me, but after a series of successful Skype interviews, I was set to teach English, in rural Thailand, for six weeks.
Arriving in Bangkok, we spent three days being taught about the project with eighty other interns. Here I met people from Mexico, India, Pakistan, South Africa, Egypt, France, Italy, Canada, USA, and Lithuania. The cultural nuances I had been expecting suddenly felt cavernous, but at the same time we quickly got to know each other, all searching for a seam of common ground.
After the training, I headed to Chaiyaphum, in north eastern Thailand. I was staying with Me Tuk, a female Thai teacher, and Mitha, a fellow intern, from Indonesia. Me Tuk gave us her spare room. Sleeping in the same bed; Mitha and I certainly got to know each other quickly!
On my first day of school I was greeted with stares of wonder…most of my students had never met a fair skinned European before. To be the owner of something so desirable was an amusing contradiction to my hunt for a sun tan! The students would come up and ask for autographs, photos and phone numbers; the adoration they had for Mitha and me made the demands of teaching a pleasure. Although teaching children from ages seven to fifteen was at times difficult, it was always rewarding. Nervous at first, it was wonderful when the students repeated English sentences back to me; I knew their confidence had grown. I hoped that they would be inspired and would have the courage to continue learning English.
Although weekdays were spent in school, the weekends were free allowing us to travel around Thailand. This experience was probably as valuable as the teaching. All the interns bonded quickly, whether it be from visiting temples and markets, white water rafting, paragliding, trekking through the jungle, or discussing the aftermath of many drunken nights out in Bangkok!
Like Me Tuk, my host, every Thai person I encountered was welcoming, hospitable and friendly making the experience truly memorable. So if you’ve got next summer free, why not consider an Aiesec internship to Thailand?? I don’t think you’d be disappointed!