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Thread: Relief and Development Work

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    mai pen rai Array DianaR's Avatar
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    Iwasthinking Relief and Development Work

    Hi,

    I participated in a program on human rights and sustainable development seven years ago in Thailand and have been wanting to return ever since. I have spent the past few years working for non-profits in the US on social justice issues and want to enter the relief and development sector. Since every job for this type of work requires at least a year of experience I am moving to Thailand in a few months to get that experience. My family is not rich and I paid my way through university so I will be happily teaching English to pay the bills, and learn more about Thai culture.

    Can you recommend organizations for me to contact regarding fellowship, internship and volunteer positions? I have done research through idealist.org but thought Id ask this forum since most of you live in Thailand.

    Thank you.

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    Re: Relief and Development Work

    I spent 2 weeks volunteer teaching at the NGO The Mirror Foundation near Chiang Rai in November 2007 and I would recommend it for sure. Unfortunately since I registered knowing I could answer this I can't post links yet :-p so search "Mirror Art Group" in Google and you'll get it, further ahead to read the site than listen to me describe it all, but happy to answer questions :-). I fell in love with Thailand during the month I spent there after finishing my International Development BA (Hons) and have now found the same problem as yourself, no one will hire someone with no experience, and 2 weeks might as well be none really when it comes to competition so I'm now seeking a teaching position in Thailand to begin my quest for experience.
    -Angela

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    Resident Pontificator Array Loxley's Avatar
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    Re: Relief and Development Work

    All of the UN agencies in Bangkok accept internship positions, you have to be determined, find out names and contacts and be persistent. Ive known a couple of people get positions this way but I warn you...you will be surrounded by spoilt clueless youngsters that not only are not very clued up about world affairs but also do the internship as an egotistical badge of honor to make them feel better about themselves (and party every weekend in BKK) rather than any genuine desire to get their hands dirty, experience discomfort and get involved with any real work...

    Get yourself out to a Volunteer camp and get involved on the ground, then you will get noticed for a real job when the time comes, rather than making cups of tea and filing paperwork
    "During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act." George Orwell

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    Senior Member Array tomcat's Avatar
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    Re: Relief and Development Work

    ...places like Mae Sot are sinking under the weight of all the NGOs on the ground...just follow the Burmese back to their camps and ask the first caucasian you see if you can help...

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    mai pen rai Array DianaR's Avatar
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    Re: Relief and Development Work

    Quote Originally Posted by Ang85 View Post
    I spent 2 weeks volunteer teaching at the NGO The Mirror Foundation near Chiang Rai in November 2007 and I would recommend it for sure. Unfortunately since I registered knowing I could answer this I can't post links yet :-p so search "Mirror Art Group" in Google and you'll get it, further ahead to read the site than listen to me describe it all, but happy to answer questions :-). I fell in love with Thailand during the month I spent there after finishing my International Development BA (Hons) and have now found the same problem as yourself, no one will hire someone with no experience, and 2 weeks might as well be none really when it comes to competition so I'm now seeking a teaching position in Thailand to begin my quest for experience.
    -Angela
    Thanks for the info Angela. When will you be in Thailand? Would love to meet up for some Thai iced tea

    Quote Originally Posted by Loxley View Post
    All of the UN agencies in Bangkok accept internship positions, you have to be determined, find out names and contacts and be persistent. Ive known a couple of people get positions this way but I warn you...you will be surrounded by spoilt clueless youngsters that not only are not very clued up about world affairs but also do the internship as an egotistical badge of honor to make them feel better about themselves (and party every weekend in BKK) rather than any genuine desire to get their hands dirty, experience discomfort and get involved with any real work...

    Get yourself out to a Volunteer camp and get involved on the ground, then you will get noticed for a real job when the time comes, rather than making cups of tea and filing paperwork
    Thanks Loxley! Great advice. I love your signature quote.

    Quote Originally Posted by tomcat View Post
    ...places like Mae Sot are sinking under the weight of all the NGOs on the ground...just follow the Burmese back to their camps and ask the first caucasian you see if you can help...
    Thanks Tomcat. I plan on doing just that once I can at least speak conversational Thai and some Burmese(?). I'm doing Rosetta Stone right now and I heard that there are informal programs where foreigners can practice English, and Thai at temples with monks....no high fives aloud though

    I want to make sure I have something valuable to offer as I heard random foreign presence at refugee camps can cause more damage than good.....

    Thanks for taking the time to respond everyone!
    Last edited by DianaR; 27th May 2009 at 23:56. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

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    Senior Member Array tomcat's Avatar
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    Re: Relief and Development Work

    Quote Originally Posted by DianaR View Post
    I heard random foreign presence at refugee camps can cause more damage than good.....

    ...I doubt you'd be allowed into the camps...I understand they're tightly guarded by Thai authorities...an alternative would be to hang out around NGO offices in Mae Sot (for example) with a "teach for food" sign....
    Last edited by tomcat; 3rd June 2009 at 10:45.

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    Yay Re: Relief and Development Work

    Hey there, I will HOPEFULLY be back in Thailand this fall for about a year or so, looking to start teaching second term which starts in November from what my research has told me. The TEFL program I took in February includes a 6 month personal job hunting service which I activated last week but still need to write and prepare my resume and cover letter to send to her. Not like anyone's hiring for November right now anyways but hoping they can work some magic for me. Before others jump on me for seeking a job before going, I have a lot of good reasons for doing it this way and my mind will not be changed nor will my family and friends' on the issue.

    On the topic of Thai lessons, 2 long-term volunteers at The Mirror Foundation were taking private personal tutoring/lessons in Chiang Rai with a local as far as I recall and they seemed to find it very beneficial and to be learning a lot quickly so yes that is a definite option. I do not know if it falls into the illegal tutoring category like foreigners tutoring locals does but that doesn't seem to stop anybody anyways lol.

    I would LOVE to get together in Thailand, I'm jumping out of my skin excited to get back there, while being somewhat terrified at the same time lol.

  8. #8
    SageAndOnion
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    Re: Relief and Development Work

    Quote Originally Posted by Ang85 View Post
    nor will my family and friends' on the issue.
    Do they have experience of working in Thailand then?

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    Re: Relief and Development Work

    Quote Originally Posted by SageAndOnion View Post
    Do they have experience of working in Thailand then?

    Some have been, the point is I can't see just jumping on a plane and hitting the pavement, I will not get the support of my friends and family doing it that way, on top of the fact the my TEFL org. hooks you up with schools they are familiar with and are legit and what not so I'm going that route, end of story, above all else safety is very important and as a 5'2'' 110lb white redheaded female the idea of just going, at least for my very first job, is pretty much out of the question.

  10. #10
    SageAndOnion
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    Re: Relief and Development Work

    OK.

    What does being white and redheaded have to do with your decision though?

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    Re: Relief and Development Work

    Being a small EXTREMELY obvious foreigner. That's what.

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    SageAndOnion
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    Re: Relief and Development Work

    I see. Did you feel vulnerable when you were in Thailand last time then? It's not something I've any experience of.

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    Re: Relief and Development Work

    No I didn't but I was with others, for most of the trip I was with a Canadian female, an Aussie female, and a 6'+ American guy covered in tattoos who was pretty protective of us 3 girls. Was alone with just my Canadian friend in Vietnam, walking around Hanoi with a map trying to find our hostel while quite intoxicated at like 4 am probably wasn't our brightest move but we were fine. Being completely alone is a different story though, at least imo.

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    mai pen rai Array DianaR's Avatar
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    Re: Relief and Development Work

    Ang, I wish you the best with your choice.

    Not in an attempt to change your mind but more so to offer my own piece of experience as context, I've traveled alone in Thailand and Cambodia and felt mostly safe. I was also 18 years old at the time. I could have made a lot of mistakes but thankfully I did not.

    I've been all over South America and Europe and felt a lot safer in Thailand. Its great you want to be careful and I understand that it'll keep your folks off your back. I'll be there in August-September so hopefully I can check out the school you want to sign up to teach at and I can help you settle in...though I'll still be doing that as well I'm sure. Also, before accepting a job, post the school in this forum and see what experiences people have had teaching there.

    I look forward to meeting you.

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    Yay Re: Relief and Development Work

    Quote Originally Posted by DianaR View Post
    Ang, I wish you the best with your choice.

    Not in an attempt to change your mind but more so to offer my own piece of experience as context, I've traveled alone in Thailand and Cambodia and felt mostly safe. I was also 18 years old at the time. I could have made a lot of mistakes but thankfully I did not.

    I've been all over South America and Europe and felt a lot safer in Thailand. Its great you want to be careful and I understand that it'll keep your folks off your back. I'll be there in August-September so hopefully I can check out the school you want to sign up to teach at and I can help you settle in...though I'll still be doing that as well I'm sure. Also, before accepting a job, post the school in this forum and see what experiences people have had teaching there.

    I look forward to meeting you.
    Thank you sooo much Diane!! I hope we end up close to each other!! Honestly, if I didn't have this free personal job hunter included with my TEFL under the policy that if they don't find you a job they give you a full refund (after you send em 20 rejection letters but they also work with only schools they know and trust so unlikely to get screwed...hopefully) then I would probably seriously consider doing it the pavement way, despite my friends and family's insistence that's too dangerous and risky. Hopefully as I get more travel experience they'll calm down, hard to go against their wishes when they support me as much as they have and do. And I'll definitely be checking out the rep of schools that make offers, after posting my resume on Ajarn I was contacts by a couple OBVIOUS scams so I'm keeping my eye out for that, even with Oxford's connections. I'm in the process at this very moment of putting together my resume, cover letter, country preference, and earliest departure date for my job hunter and I've said earliest is October since school terms start in November but would be willing to go as early as September. My timing has been somewhat messed up since my sister was supposed to get married in mid August but has now postponed that for a couple years as of like a week ago :-p

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