Friends for Asia Mission Statement
The mission of Friends for Asia is twofold. First, we offer an opportunity for people to meaningfully contribute to the improvement of standards of living by building capacity in our host agencies. Secondly, we provide committed volunteers to work on projects developed with host agencies that benefit the people of Thailand.
Friends for Asia Chiang Mai Office and Staff
Friends for Asia’s Volunteer Coordinators and Staff
It is important to us that our coordinating staff is made up of highly qualified, educated individuals devoted to our volunteer’s needs and the development of our projects. You’ll see our staff regularly, if not every day – as our office and accommodation are located in the same area. We give our volunteers and interns freedom and the opportunity to have an authentic volunteer Thailand experience, but we are there to support them in all areas.
Leslie – Bangkok, Thailand Director
Hi. I’m Leslie Temanson and I’m the director of Friends for Asia’s Bangkok, Thailand projects.
I was born in Minnesota, but lived in California before moving to Thailand. Previous to working as a Friends for Asia site director, I was a volunteer with Friends for Asia. I volunteered in the Elephant Camp and International University for Monks Volunteer Projects. I was a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali, West Africa for five years. Upon completing my Peace Corps service, I continued working in Africa with various NGOs assisting with self help projects for another 15 years. When I retired from teaching and teacher mentoring, I volunteered in Peru. I have a Master’s Degree in Education from California State University San Bernadino. I hold dual California teaching credentials: one in general education and the other in special education.
Todd – Director of Friends for Asia
Hello. My name is Todd Cikraji. I am the founder and international director of Friends for Asia. I correspond with all of our volunteers and interns throughout the application and booking process. I also keep in touch with volunteers and interns during their projects in Chiang Mai.
I am originally from Cleveland, Ohio. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Dayton. Before founding Friends for Asia, I was a US Peace Corps Volunteer in Kyrgyzstan, and then Thailand. I have also worked at a couple of large schools here in Thailand teaching English as a second language and overseeing the work of other foreign teachers. I believe strongly in international volunteerism and have been overwhelmingly impressed with the contribution and work of our volunteers.
Aom – Chiang Mai Coordinating Manager
Hello. My name is Walaiporn Wuttiyan. You can call me Aom. I’m the Coordinating Manager of Friends for Asia in Chiang Mai. I oversee the coordination of our volunteer and intern projects and all of Friends for Asia’s coordinators and staff.
I was born in Chiang Mai and graduated (with honors) in Mass Communications from Chiang Mai University. I worked as a script writer for a large Bangkok broadcasting company for six years. I spent three years in the United States and have a post-graduate degree from Baruch College in New York State, USA. I have worked with Friends for Asia since 2009.
Nat – Chiang Mai Volunteer Coordinator
Hi there! My name is Naatsita Nawatfuangsakul.You can call me Nat. I coordinate the International University for Monks, Teaching Monks, English Education, HIV Orphanage and Single Mother’s Home Projects.
I was born and raised in Chiang Mai and graduated with a degree in Tourism and Hotel Management from Chiang Mai Rajaphat University. I have worked for luxury hotels and cruise lines abroad for over 12 years in many European countries such as Hungary, Italy, Austria, France, Switzerland and Germany. After my time abroad I have worked as a guest lecturer at Phayao University and as a special lecturer in Chiang Mai Centre for Skill Development, Chiang Mai and as well as at Phayao Centre for Skill Development, Phayao. I can speak English, German, Hungarian, Thai and Northern Thai.
I enjoy working here and am always happy when I can assist our volunteers to ensure that their projects are running smoothly and they will have a good time and unforgettable experiences during their stay here with us in Thailand.
Imm – Chiang Mai Volunteer and Intern Coordinator
I was born in Phrae, a small and quiet province in the north of Thailand. Before I worked for Friends for Asia, I was an English teacher at a private school here in Chiang Mai. I have a bachelor’s degree in English Education from Chiang Mai Rajapahat University.
Aun – Chiang Mai Volunteer Coordinator
I was born in Lamphun, Thailand. I have a bachelor’s degree in Japanese language from Chiang Mai Rajaphat University. I have privately taught Japanese as a foreign language and Thai as a second language to foreigners living here in Chiang Mai. I spent time studying English as a Second Language in New Zealand and have worked for the airlines and as a tour operator and travel agent here in Chiang Mai.
Note – General Chiang Mai Staff
Sawasdee Krup! My name is Manoch Wandee. My nick name is Note. I am a general staff person here at Friends for Asia. I am responsible volunteer safety, the upkeep of our volunteer accommodation, office, the purchasing of breakfast food and snacks, picking new volunteers up from the airport and helping in emergencies.
I was born in Nakornayok province but raised in Bangkok. I studied music at Chiang Mai Rajaphat University. Previous to working at Friends for Asia I was a drummer and taught drums to foreign students at some of Chiang Mai’s international schools.
Mike – US Based Partner
Hello! My name is Mike Cikraji. I am the limited partner of Friends for Asia, based in our Ohio office. I coordinate aspects of the company’s domestic financial, administrative and legal needs, when necessary.
I am originally from Cleveland, Ohio. I have a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in history, and I previously worked as a high school teacher. I currently work in industrial quality control, and as a college history instructor.
I believe that volunteerism serves to enrich all those involved, and I am proud to help such a great organization!
Friends for Asia – Chiang Mai Volunteering Video
Volunteer Accommodation and Project Location
Friends for Asia operates out two buildings, located only a few minute walk from each other in the center of Chiang Mai city. The buildings serve as our office, orientation venue and volunteer accommodation. For more information regarding accommodation, please visit our accommodation page. All of Friends for Asia’s volunteer and intern projects are within the province of Chiang Mai. The temple schools of the Teaching Monks Volunteer Project, the university of the International University for Monks Volunteer Project, hospitals of the Medical Intern Project and publishing house from the Magazine and Multi-Media Intern Project are located within the city center of Chiang Mai. Meanwhile, the Single Mother’s Home Volunteer Projects, Children’s Home Volunteer Project and Elephant Camp Volunteer Project sites are in the rural areas outside the city. For more information about Chiang Mai, click here.
Our Thailand Volunteers
From 2008 to the present, Friends for Asia hosted more than 1,000 volunteers and interns from 16 different nations. Friends for Asia accepts volunteers and interns of all nationalities, religions and backgrounds to partake in our volunteer and intern projects. Considering as culture, society and customs of Thailand are different than those in the western countries that most of our volunteers are from, we encourage our volunteers and interns to be flexible, patient and cross-culturally sensitive.
Additional Volunteer Asia Locations
Friends for Asia now offers projects in Vietnam , Nepal and Bali, Indonesia. You may also view additional information for our projects in Thailand and throughout Asia here. To inquire about these projects, please contact us.
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Volunteer StoriesAlex Jacobson, California, USA - Teaching Monks and Caregiving at Single Mother's Home, March, 2009
“The Land of Smiles” is the perfect phrase coined for Thailand. Love radiates from this country through the smiles and warm greetings from the local people. Whether it was during my trip in Pai, the Friends for Asia home, or at either of my volunteer projects, I feel that I made many unexpected friendships!
James Kneafsey, Dublin, Ireland - Elephant Camp March, 2009
"It was a joy working at the Elephant Camp: waking up to elephants passing by my balcony in the morning, swimming with the elephants, eating like a king, pitching in with the work, building relationships with the staff and having a well earned beer at the roadside bar in the evening."
Anke Anemaet – Lelystad, The Netherlands – Teaching Monks July, 2010
“ENJOY YOUR STAY HERE! You will be sad to leave, as I am now. It’s hard to explain to the boys that you won’t be coming back next week and you have to go home. They have all been such lovely students. Each one of them has their own personality and you’ll love them all. Take pictures so that you can remember them forever. They have become so important to me, which is unexplainable. I will truly miss them a lot. ”
Read more Volunteer Stories