OCTOBER-SEPTEMBER ・ 12 MONTHS・ HOST FAMILY WITH OPTION OF INDEPENDENT HOUSING ・ TEACH ENGLISH
Thailand is a country filled with contrasting beauty. From beautiful beaches to Bangkok’s bustling shopping on Khao San Road, but few visitors have ventured off the beaten trail to the rural areas of Northeastern Thailand. In the northeast, fondly called Isaan, rice paddies are abundant and water buffalo graze freely. The region sits along the Mekong River, the border with Laos. This peaceful landscape reflects the Isaan people’s mindset and way of life which can be summed in a common phrase used in any situation “mai bpen rai,” don’t worry. The Isaan region, with its Lao, Vietnamese, and Cambodian influences is a melting pot of Southeast Asian cultures and languages, though Thai is the official language and spoken as the language of instruction in schools. Because of its remote location, students in the Isaan area have a disadvantage competing with more privileged students in the cities for enrollment in universities or for jobs.
The goal of this program is to give students at these schools a chance to compete with students at more privileged schools for a chance at a better future. Nakhon Phanom, being about as far from Bangkok as possible without crossing into Laos, is one of the poorest areas of the country. With an economy revolving around mainly agriculture, there is little incentive for students to complete their education before going to work in the fields. In our Thailand program, volunteers serve in Northeastern Thailand with primary or secondary school students, focusing on English language education. Volunteers give these students a chance to interact with foreigners and introduce different cultures in the classroom.
My most memorable experiences have been getting to know the people here and becoming a part of their lives. I have learned so much about their culture, lifestyle, and beliefs through building relationships with people here. The people in my village have been more friendly and welcoming towards me than I had ever anticipated.
Classroom life in Thailand varies greatly between schools. You may find yourself teaching the majority of your school’s students over the course of a week. Two or three classes a week with each grade level is a normal schedule, averaging about 12 to 16 classes total. Some schools have a specific textbook and others ask you to create your own curriculum. Some have a set classroom for teachers and others requiring you to move between classrooms each period. Even the number of students in a class varies with normal class sizes ranging from anywhere as little as five to as much as 35.
While each individual school is quite consistent, placements shape the Thailand experience far more than most other WorldTeach programs. You also have the chance to engage in extracurricular activities in and outside of your classrooms. You can follow the footsteps of many and lead an English club or another optional class with more freedom to teach about subjects you and your students find interesting, such as English songs and dances.
If you have older students, you may start a drama club while elementary teachers may focus on art projects from English words. In the community you will find many adults with the desire to learn English as well as many secondary projects working with Senior citizens or planting gardens.
You are provided housing during your time in the program. For the first two months you will live with a host family to learn more Thai and integrate into your community. After the initial months, you can choose to continue with your host family or live independently. Independent housing ranges from teacher housing on the school grounds to apartments nearby. Regardless of the type of housing, living in rural Thailand is rustic to say the least. Bucket showers are the norm in Thailand, and many houses have a porch with a burner as the kitchen. Internet is usually available but some sites will not have access. You will have a room to yourself, but local people do not think anyone should live alone, so you likely will have many families inviting you to their homes and teachers asking to share meals with you.
The volunteer contribution to the Thailand Isaan Year program is $5,490. This amount in conjunction with local partner funding goes towards:
- Pre-departure preparation and visa assistance if necessary plus visa fee*
- Monthly housing stipend
- Monthly living stipend
- Supplemental overseas health and emergency evacuation insurance
- Comprehensive orientation, mid-service, and end of service training conferences
- 24-hour in-country field staff support
- WorldTeach’s quality teaching support
- Alumni services and networking
*Visa fee of up to $160 USD for regular processing of Thailand Non Immigrant Visa
Many volunteers are able to successfully fundraise all or a significant portion of their program expenses. Please refer to our fundraising page for more information about fundraising possibilities.
Volunteers in the Thailand Isaan Year program must:
- Be a native-level English speaker
- Have a bachelor’s degree by the time of the program’s departure
- Be between the ages of 21 and 54
- Be highly flexible, mature, and have a genuine interest in teaching