Looking back at my time in Thailand, it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I arrived in Fang in early January 2009, amid the grandeur of north-western Thailand's jungle scenery and the foothills of the Himalayas. The English teaching placement took place in a small town called MoungChoum, 20 minutes from Fang. With the help of Jildou and Ben, we moved into our Thai house in the village so we could be closer to the school. It was definitely one of the best decisions we made as we not only became involved in village life but I think it made teaching at school easier. We were able to develop friendships with the teachers much more than if we had lived in Fang.
Although we have only been in Thailand for four months, I feel like we have been here longer. This is because we have done so much and experienced so many things in a short space of time. For example, we went to Wiang Haeng as part of the 'Novice for Children' project. I remember arriving at Wat Huay Kray with Ben and Jildou, the novice monks from Wat Sri Boon Ruang in Fang and other volunteers to take part in a small English camp. Teaching English to the children from the local village was my first experience as it took place before teaching began at MoungChoum. It was a great way to fall into teaching and take part in fun activities with animals and English words. Being with the novice monks was a completely different experience and it also showed us how passionate Ben and Jildou were with English projects and the Novice for Children Project.
The next time I got to experience a similar situation to that of Wiang Haeng was when we went to a refugee camp just inside Burma. This camp was run by the Shan State Army (SSA) and was a focal point for people who were fleeing the atrocities within Burma. The first things that struck me were the spectacular scenery, but also the standard of living. The children were walking round in old dirty clothes and some looked malnourished . It just showed how important the program was to the people. The 'Novice for Children' project involved the novice monks giving out food, books and pencils to the Shan, Palaung and Lisu tribes that were at the camp. I was completely blown away by the enthusiasm, the dedication and the generosity of the novice monks and the Blood Foundation.