Teaching Traveling: Ever wanted to volunteer teach in Thailand, even if you come from a different line of work than education? Curious what travel and teaching abroad are like as a Eurasian? Meet Monica, and listen to her story. Monica, tell us about your background.
Monica: My Name is Monica Leslie; I am a graphic designer and also a part-time blogger in my spare time. I am a Eurasian; half British and half Chinese and presently live in the United Kingdom. Travelling is something which came to me naturally, especially being from two worlds and having that clash of identities from a young age while trying to figure out who I actually am.
Therefore, I took trips out on holidays to visit my extended family members in China and that was how my journey to travelling began. I somehow developed a fascination for discovering new places and finding out about new cultures. As regards teaching, I initially took some time off before college to teach English in China. It was an amazing experience and I knew I always wanted to do this in some capacity, but my love for designs would eventually ensure I settle for a career as a graphic designer.
However, a few weeks after my fiancé and I got engaged, we planned a trip to China to share the news with my extended family still living there. During this trip, we decided we were going to make trips around and that was when we decided to visit Thailand. It was my first time in the country but I was truly blown away. The allure of both a modern and civilized world blending seamlessly with such presence of culture and ancient feel was too difficult to resist that we knew we would be returning in some capacity. Thankfully, we made friends with a fine gentleman from an underprivileged community who proposed returning as volunteer English teachers and we grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
TT: Awesome! I also absolutely loved travel in Thailand. Tell us more about your travels.
M: This trip to Thailand was particularly interesting because we did not know what to expect. We knew that travelling only as tourists would be totally different from travelling as tourists, but also volunteering in the process. In my own circumstance as a Eurasian, I did not know if I would be more accepted or frowned upon as a figure or authority to teach English. However, the gentleman who made the proposal in the first place assured us that everything would be fine.
When we arrived at the Suvarnabhumi Airport, the feel of warmth gave us the re-assurance we needed to proceed on our planned itinerary. However, first we must enjoy and immerse ourselves in the beauty that Thailand has to offer and get accustomed to the country before we begin our volunteer gig. We tried out everything from visiting the Grand Palace, several temples, the floating market, The Jim Thompson House and Museum, Amulet Market, Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho, Thieves Market and the colorful flower market at Dheves. We even took a short culinary course on Thai cuisine and dared to learn how to tattoo. We also took a trip to Koh Phangan which I will simply refer to as a paradise on earth. Here we visited the beaches with crystal clear waters, visited the waterfalls and took a swim, walked through the jungle, rode on elephants, attended a Thai boxing game, got a Thai massage and even tried out diving. However, we did not get carried away by it all and it was finally time to go to Isan in Northeastern Thailand. There we spent a month teaching English in some of the most difficult conditions, but to kids with the most beautiful hearts and that experience will remain in my heart forever. All in all, we spent a month and 3 weeks in Thailand.
TT: How did you find this travel opportunity?