Volunteer in Thailand with Friends for Asia

Choosing a Volunteer Project

It’s not always easy to choose a project that fits your needs, experience, abilities and availability. Certainly everyone wants to find a worthwhile placement for their project that fits their schedule, budget and ethics. Moreover, everyone wants to make a difference.

Volunteer Project Timing

Volunteer and Intern in Thailand

Fortunately, most of our projects run year round, with the exception of our teaching projects, which close according to the Thai school breaks. With project start dates on the first and third Monday of each month, most volunteers are able to work with our project start dates in correlation with their job or school calendar. Although some of our project durations are brief, only two weeks, we do supply our project sites with a steady flow of volunteers and work hard to build on and develop the successes of previous volunteers in each project.

Choosing Ethical Volunteer Projects

It’s important for volunteers to know that their efforts are contributing to a meaningful cause. There are many complex issues at stake with international volunteering and it can be difficult to know which organizations are there for the benefit of local communities and which are just out for themselves. Our volunteer projects have been developed with the cooperation of the organizations where we place volunteers. In all cases, our volunteers are there to assist over-worked and over-stretched fulltime staff – not to take away a fulltime staff position.

Money Related Issues

Volunteer and Intern in Thailand

It’s equally important for volunteers to know that they are bringing more to the local community than a cash infusion. The fact that our fees are among the lowest of those offered by all the volunteer organizations in Chiang Mai, and that we do not offer payment to our volunteer project sites in exchange for hosting volunteers (and that these project sites have been accepting volunteers for many years), shows that the projects created really can and do use the assistance of volunteers in their operation. Things can get a bit confusing when volunteer organizations offer payment to locals for accepting volunteers. This creates the question as to whether the local community organizations are accepting volunteers due to financial gain or if they truly seek the assistance of foreign volunteers.

As previously mentioned, the project fees at Friends for Asia are among the lowest in Chiang Mai. This gives our volunteers the means and the choice to decide whether (and how much) they donate to any given organization. Please know that our Chiang Mai partners are not expecting any type of donation for accepting hard-working volunteers into the projects we offer.

How Much of a Difference I’m Able to Make by Volunteering

Volunteer and Intern in Thailand

A very, very common feeling experienced by foreign volunteers in all placements throughout the world is guilt that they are receiving more out of their experience than the people they have come to help. Big expectations and hopes arise after long flights and all those tedious arrangements. It’s to be expected that people want to make a big contribution throughout their experience. How is this success measured? This is the dilemma of every socially and culturally conscience volunteer.

Know that all people, especially children and students, pick up more than we think they do. Creating smiles, knowledge, understanding, friendship and speaking one’s first full English sentence with the help of a native speaker, or the skilled hands of a hard-working foreign volunteer are amazing moments and immeasurable hurdles in the development of a nation and the growth of a person.