GVI has worked in Thailand for over 7 years and has continued to support our community partners during the global pandemic by providing successful virtual programs over the past 8 months. Students will have the option to choose a service focus area to support, although often service projects will cover more than one area. Possible service focuses may include: environmental conservation (specifically marine conservation), sustainability, education, or public health. Just as with our in-country programs, every virtual project that GVI coordinates has a clear link to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to ensure a sustainable, long-term impact using a grassroots approach.
During their three weeks participating in the virtual service program, students will have the opportunity to work with NGOs, nonprofits, and social enterprises on a sustainable development service project in Thailand. They will learn about the country and culture and will have regular meetings with senior members of the community partner organization. The program will include a pre-departure webinar, orientation, service project work, check-ins, reflection sessions, masterclasses and cultural immersion.
Students will be expected to devote roughly 20 hours per week (that is 60 hours in total over the 3 week period) to the program activities and project work:
- 10 hrs/wk of scheduled activities such as project orientation, group meetings, supervisor check-ins, cultural enrichment activities, and facilitated project workshopping. Group activities will be scheduled during the week (Monday – Friday) for approximately two hours per day. Most activities and sessions will be scheduled approx. between 5-7 pm PDT / 8-10 pm EDT to accommodate for differences between Thai and US time zones.
- 10 hrs/wk of independent/group service project work (day-to-day allocation of time is flexible).
Student’s availability will be requested after they are selected for the program and the group schedule will be adapted as much as possible to fit availability. To get an idea of what to expect on a day-to-day basis, view a draft schedule.
GVI has partnered with a range of organizations that address sustainable development challenges in Thailand. Specifically the organizations that we support focus on the following service areas:
- Marine conservation
- Education – this could include creating lesson plans and awareness campaigns with the possibility of recording virtual English conversation class to be shared with adult students
- Public Health – this could include supporting public health initiatives and conducting research
When applying for the ACE in Place: Thailand virtual service program, students will be able to indicate their preferred service focus in order of preference e.g. first preference may be marine conservation; second preference may be public health, and third may be education. Final group placements will be assigned after acceptance into the ACE in Place: Thailand program and will be based on interest, past experience as described in resumes, availability and group capacity.
Depending on interest, up to four virtual service groups will be composed for Thailand. Service groups will consist of 4-6 students who will be working together as a team on a service project, although some project work may be completed independently depending on the service project. Each group will have their own dedicated GVI supervisor to guide them through the project and ensure the group has everything it needs to make the most out of the service project. A service project brief will be shared with students before the program starts so that they understand the work they will be engaging in. This brief includes information about the organization that you will be working with, information about your service project, what success will look like, and additional resources. The final service deliverable will be collaboratively developed with the community partner organization throughout the program.
Students will be informed which service focus they have been assigned after they have been selected for the ACE in Place: Thailand virtual service program. Some service projects will work across more than one service focus area. For example if you work with FED (see below) your service project may cover both public health and education service areas.
Service projects may focus on program management; research; marketing, media and communications; fundraising; advocacy and awareness; or a multi-focus project. Examples may include:
- Research access to healthcare in Thailand for the migrant population (Burmese and Moken) and create training materials for All for Villages to support their centre.
- Create an awareness campaign (including social media) on one of the Shark Guardians conservation campaigns.
Potential partners that students may work with include:
- Shark Guardian: Although a UK-based organization, the founders Brendon Sing and Elizabeth Ward-Sing, are located in Thailand. Shark Guardian’s objective is to advance the conservation of sharks and the natural environment through conservation, education, research projects and expeditions.
- The Foundation for Education and Development: FED’s main programs in Thailand are focused on providing education and a safe environment for Burmese children, supporting and developing the Burmese migrant community, and providing health care and training to Burmese Families.
- All for Villages: All for Villages is an NGO based in Koh Payam off the coast of Ranong in Thailand. This NGO works to support Moken, Thai and Burmese people. They work in several different ways including providing education, healthcare and overall support for the community.
Virtual Volunteer Environment
In order to complete the virtual service program, students will need a current email account and access to a computer and broad-band internet. It is assumed that participants are familiar with using a computer and accessing the internet.
The main online platform that will be used throughout the program is Zoom for the scheduled meetings. Students will also have access to their own ACE website that will provide information on various components of the program and include the schedules for each service project.
Students can use whichever tools they are most comfortable with for the project work such as MS Office or Google Drive. This will be up to their discretion although GVI uses Google Drive and so some resources and information will be shared through that platform. Students may wish to use Google Docs to effectively collaborate and communicate ideas on their service project with their group.
Partners are all either native speakers or fluent in English. However, learning local languages provides additional opportunities for cultural exchange. If possible, it is recommended that participants learn some basic Thai phrases before the program begins.
No previous experience or qualifications in the field of conservation, education, sustainability, community development or public health is required to join this program.
Service projects will be assigned according to the focus area of the students and adapted to their experience and interests. In their applications, students are encouraged to list any interests or skills such as video editing, social media platforms, or website development.
As this is a virtual service program, background checks or drug tests are not required as students will not be engaging with any vulnerable populations.
Previous coursework in Thai history, culture, music, and literature is not required but is strongly encouraged.
- Commitment to honest and ethical behaviors – Actively seeks to understand and adhere to the values, policies, procedures, and protocols of ACE and their host organization/community; lives up to commitments and promises they make to others
- Self-reliance and self-confidence – Understands and meets their own physical and emotional needs in virtual environments with an age-appropriate mixture of optimism and realism
- Empathy and cultural sensitivity – Effectively and respectfully communicates and interacts with people of different ages, races, religions, and cultures; demonstrates curiosity about the lives of others without judgment
- Ability to work productively on a supervised team – The ability to respond to feedback and critique from ACE teammates and supervisors with maturity and openness to improvement, ability to listen actively and communicate courteously, ability to respond with patience and perseverance to new or unanticipated situations and obstacles, accepts responsibility for their actions, balances personal expectations of the volunteer experience with the realities of working on short-term projects in virtual cultural settings that are new to them
- Problem solving and goal orientations – Possesses strong analytical skills and an interest in producing deliverable end-projects for a community partner organization, e.g., report or social media strategy, etc.
Thailand is in the heart of Southeast Asia. About 90 percent of the people are Buddhist, but about three million Muslims live in the south near the border with Malaysia. Food in Thailand is influenced by Chinese and Indian cultures. Most Thai dishes are spicy and many common dishes include hot chilies, lemongrass, basil, ginger, and coconut milk.
The country’s tropical climate ensures that verdant jungle rainforests thrive in Thailand’s hilly northern region, while sunny beaches and clear blue waters line its coastal peninsula. As a result, Thailand supports a high level of biodiversity both above and below water. The country supports endangered species such as the Javan Rhinoceros and the Asian elephant, as well as threatened and vulnerable species, including the Hawksbill sea turtle, and Asiatic Black Bear. This provides an array of volunteering opportunities for those interested in conservation.
GVI also partners with the local community to support development and empowerment. Through these initiatives, greater economic opportunities are created, resulting in alternative sources of income for the community.
GVI uses email as our official means of communication. This includes program welcome emails, service information and correspondence from our internship supervisors and support teams. Students are responsible for reading the content of our communications sent to your email account.
As mentioned above, students will have access to a dedicated ACE website that will include their program and daily schedules for reference.
Comprehensive pre-departure preparation and orientation will be provided to students to ensure that they have sufficient context of the partner organization and knowledge of the country. This will include:
- Welcome Presentation: Run through the program in detail and introduce the various components & GVI staff who will be working with and supporting students.
- Location Presentation: Discuss key cultural aspects such as cultural norms, country information, language, religion, & socio-economic conditions.
- Community Partner & Service Project Brief: Detailed introduction of community partner and service project as well as time for the team to plan out project work for the week.
- Regular Community Partner Meetings: Meet with service/project partners to better understand the organization, importance of the project and ask them questions.
Throughout all of these sessions we encourage communication and so students are recommended to ask questions where needed.
Experienced GVI staff will virtually introduce students to local cultures and environments, enabling supported cultural immersion and the fostering of global citizenship and intercultural understanding. Staff will guide the students through the learning process, including presentations, discussions, and dedicated reflection time.
Reflection topics may include:
- Team Building Sessions
- Cultural Sensitivity and Community Work
- Marine conservation
- Culture Shock
- Stereotypes & Perceptions
- Global Health
- United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
Regular check-ins will be scheduled throughout the program, where successes or challenges will be discussed.
Where possible students will be able to meet with different stakeholders of the community partner organizations and GVI staff members in that country in order to get a holistic understanding of the organization and its various parts.
Virtual cultural immersion activities will be scheduled throughout the program. Potential activities may include a virtual cooking class, language lessons, and virtual kick-boxing lesson. Cultural immersion activities would be planned for all ACE in Place: Thailand participants regardless of project group to participate in together so students can engage with participants from other teams throughout the program.
During the program students will learn:
- To overcome personal and work related challenges.
- To work as part of a virtual team and resolve conflict.
- About local issues and how they relate to global issues and their communities at home.
- New skills and gain practical experience relevant to their chosen project.
- How international NGOs and organizations are structured and the challenges they may face.
Students will also have a unique opportunity to work directly with senior level members and founders of social enterprises/ NGOs on service projects and to make a direct impact for their organization partners.
Participants will benefit from learning more about local history, culture and customs before you start your program:
- The Thai Kingdom
- Thai Cultural Values
- Volunteer Tourism Debate in Thailand
- The capacity to adapt? Communities in a changing climate, environment, and economy on the northern Andaman coast of Thailand
- WWF Living Blue Planet Report
- Marine Turtle conservation WWF
- Mangrove forests in Thailand
- Book: Wave of Destruction by Erich Krauss.
ACE in Place: Thailand
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Video for Image 4 In this video, you can learn more about All for Villages, one of the potential community partners in the ACE in Place: Thailand program. All For Villages is a non-profit organization established in the wake of the 2004 Tsunami in Thailand and is based in Phang Nga Province. They work in several different ways including providing education, healthcare and overall support for the community.