Saffron robes, morning alms and novice monks – and not a tourist in sight. It’s hard to believe that such a staunch traditional life still thrives in the 21st century, but Thailand’s temple schools are a world away from “everyday.” As a volunteer English teacher, you’ll experience the difference first-hand.
Volunteering in Thailand – A Day in the Life
Morning comes early in Thailand’s temple schools. As you arrive, novices line up to receive morning announcements from the faculty. Prayer and meditation follow, leading up to the start of class at 8:30 am. Another round of prayer and meditation follows lunch. Education in these temple schools is holistic – a marriage of mind and body rarely seen in the West.
Teaching Monks Volunteer Video
Every volunteer’s background and skill set is different, and your placement depends entirely on your comfort level. You’ll have the option of going into class with a Thai teacher and assisting in daily lessons, but if you’re confident in your ability to teach and manage a class, then there’s no substitute for planning and leading your own lessons. You’ll be at school from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm from Monday to Friday, teaching a total of 15 to 20 hours per week.
English proficiency is highly prized in Thailand, and your fluency puts you in high demand. While there’s no question that administrators will prioritize your role as an English teacher, you’ll also have the opportunity to teach art classes or share other skills and specialties with the novices. A satisfying degree of flexibility underpins this assignment.
Making a Difference – Volunteer
In all but one of the five temple schools, 100 percent of the students are novice Buddhist monks. The same is true of the teachers, nearly all of whom don the saffron robe as a way of life. Many of the students come from impoverished families and wouldn’t be able to afford an education if not for the charity of the Buddhist community. As it is, they get to study secular subjects, millennia-old Buddhist doctrine and, thanks to your generous efforts, the ins and outs of the most important language in the world.
The experience is likely to be just as enriching for you. Tourists couldn’t dream of enjoying such a high level of access to an authentic Buddhist temple. You’ll have the option to join in group meditation, recite mantras with students and celebrate festivals as a guest of the monastic community. Of course, none of this is compulsory, and no one will be offended if you limit yourself to the academics.
Most importantly, you’ll be helping these students forge connections at a formative time in their lives. Students at the five temple schools range in age from 12 to 15, and most have had little meaningful interaction with foreigners. Volunteers are encouraged to take lunch with the novices and teachers – difficult to refuse when the daily menu consists of stir-fries and savory curries layered over jasmine rice. This leaves plenty of time for out-of-class discussions and the chance to get to know the monks you work with.
The minimum age requirement for the Teaching Monks Project is 18. Volunteers do not need any specific qualifications, but should enjoy working with teenagers and young adults and be open and respectful to Buddhism and other cultures. Volunteers should be proficient in written and spoken English, along with creative, considering there is a lack of teaching materials within the school.
Friends for Asia requires all volunteers in this project (and all other projects where volunteers work with children directly) to submit a certified police background check before volunteer service begins.
Teaching Monks Volunteer Video #2
“I found myself sitting with a monk in one of the classrooms, learning meditation via two other teachers at the school who helped translate his Thai to English.” – Marissa Kent, California, USA
“It is the most fulfilling work I have ever done, and believe I will ever find. The novices, the teachers, and the people of Thailand made this experience the best of my life thus far.” – Dylan Rapoport, New York, USA
Click here to view all the Volunteer Stories from the Teaching Monks Project.
Volunteer Project Fees
Participation in the Thailand Teaching Monks Volunteer Project starts at $799 for two weeks. Each additional week is $119.
Volunteer Project Fee Includes
- Comprehensive Pre-Departure Information
- Visa paperwork (for projects over 8 weeks)
- FFA Volunteer Insurance
- Airport pick up
- Accommodation during orientation and entire project time
- Breakfast every morning
- Lunch every work day
- 2 day Orientation (including half day city tour, cultural dinner and show)
- Onsite Coordinator
- 24 hour emergency assistance
- Written record of service completion (for volunteers that successfully complete their project).
Volunteer Fee Does Not Include
- Travel to/from Home and Thailand (airfare, train tickets, etc.)
- Thailand visa costs (if applicable)
- International Medical Insurance
- Cost of criminal police background check (required for this project)
- Cost of transportation to and from Project site and and accommodation (roughly $2 per day)
- Lunches on weekends.
Thailand Teaching Novice Buddhist Monks Start Dates for 2016 & 2017
- May 16, 2016
- June 6, 2016
- June 20, 2016
- July 4, 2016
- July 18, 2016
- August 1, 2016
- August 15, 2016
- September 5, 2016
- November 7, 2016
- November 21, 2016
- December 5, 2016
- December 19, 2016
- January 9, 2017
- January 23, 2017
- February 6, 2017
- May 15, 2017
- June 5, 2017
- June 19, 2017
- July 3, 2017
- July 17, 2017
- August 7, 2017
- August 21, 2017
- September 4, 2017
- November 6, 2017
- November 20, 2017
- December 4, 2017
- December 20, 2017