Its hard to believe that its been a whole year since I was in your place. I still remember the whole process so clearly: reading past intern’s blogs, writing my application, nervously preparing for my interviews, and the total excitement when I got the email that read that I would be going to the the Karenni Social Development Center. This experience was a lot of things for me as I’m sure that it will be for you. It was challenging and isolating at times, but it was also incredibly rewarding and exhilarating. The opportunity to live and work at the Karenni Social Development Centre really is a once in a lifetime experience. If the idea of challenging yourself and learning (and teaching) in a close knit community in a remote part of Thailand is appealing to you, apply!
Here are a few tips for your time at the KSDC that will hopefully help you enjoy your experience to the fullest:
1. Take the time to listen to the people around you: You are going to learn so much. Some of it might be hard to hear, but it’s important too. Make sure to listen to the students, your coworkers, and the members of the community. This also goes for when you travel to other countries. Try to learn about the history, the culture, and the customs of the many places that you will visit.
2. Don’t do too much school on the side: Although teaching four hours a day might not sound like a lot, when you factor in the heat of the afternoon, the time you will need to correct homework assignments, and the time you will put aside to learn the material and lesson plan for the next day, it adds up. I personally did a directed studies and loved the material, but it did mean that a lot of my weekends were spent doing readings/writing instead of exploring/spending time with others. One directed studies is definitely doable, but don’t get over ambitious and try to do too much.
3. Don’t be scared to ask for help: The reality is that most students applying for this position will not be trained teachers. If you are, that’s amazing, but if you’re not, don’t be too hard on yourself. Although ideally, CBOs like the KSDC would have trained teachers, these are unpaid positions. It’s therefore really difficult to find properly trained individuals to teach this course. Volunteers are essential for the continuous running of the program so, ask around and be the best teacher that you can be with your resources. You will quickly get in the flow of things and I’m sure that you will rock it!
4. Take care of yourself: The work you do is really important. You are helping to provide an education to an incredible community who, unfortunately due to unjust systems, don’t have access to many other post secondary education options. This realization as well as the connections that you will build with your students will push you to work really hard. If you are anything like me however, this might also lead to a lot of stress and pressure being put on yourself. Because of this, it is really important to know when you are getting overwhelmed and what you need to do to take care of yourself. For me this meant going for walks, practicing yoga, and playing soccer with the students. Before you head out to the SDC, make sure that you think about what this is for you. If it’s a certain book, musical instrument, or any other material item, bring it along!
I hope that reading this has encouraged you to apply. If you already have, be proud of yourself because that in itself is a massive accomplishment. I wish you the best of luck with your application and feel free to reach out if you have any questions. I’m excited for you!