Stefan Amberger joined Mundo Exchange and the Thai association Laekplian Lokgatat as a volunteer in Thailand during July 2010. After completing his latest year of Austrian university studies in mathematics he jumped a plane and headed for Thailand to volunteer. During his orientation he visited sites in and around Isan, met his Thai hosts during his welcome dinner, learned the cultural ways of village, city and town life in Thailand, learned to cook Thai food and also learned some Thai language for village life. The Mundo orientation and cultural training for volunteers, like Stefan, continues throughout their stay. Volunteers first have two to three days of directed cultural and language training and then they and their Thai hosts continue to explore and exchange information about both the volunteer’s ways and Isan Thailand culture.
Stefan helped with many community development projects during his volunteer stay. First, he helped our Thai host, Vanida, by helping her prepare a luncheon and village handicraft display for Thai government and Japanese leaders interested in learning more about the production of local goods and handicrafts. Stefan helped to make this celebration a success.
Stefan then left with his Thai hosts to journey to a small town further east along the Mekong. There he helped develop Mundo’s new cultural and learning centre and taught young children some English. Later he went to a forest wat or Thai temple located on the banks of the Mekong River separating Lao from Thailand to help the monks with their English skills too.
Perhaps the most important part of his cultural experience and volunteer project with Mundo Exchange and Laekplian Lokgatat was to visit one of his host’s village. He traveled by local bus with Yoon to experience and explore and give feedback on Thai village life. They slept in make shift tents, fished in the local rivers, cooked and ate village style, learned about rice farming and visited Thai children and teachers in the local village school.
Below you will find part of what was written on his volunteer certificate, given at the end of his stay for his diligence and exceptional volunteering capabilities.
Below you will find part of Stefan’s volunteer certificate of completion. Volunteers now receive one certificate for completing orientation; one in Thai, and another in English at the end of their stay for their invaluable work as volunteers and interns.
Stefan’s international perspective and ability to work effectively with a variety of projects and people is valued by all who had the good fortune to learn with and from him.
Stefan, we thank you so much for your efforts to help Lokgatat and Mundo Exchange with our new village projects. Your ability to go into the rural parts of Thailand, stay and give valuable feedback is greatly appreciated by your Thai hosts. With your assistance we now can better understand what future volunteers can do while in the villages of rural Thailand.
We hope that you had a great stay with us and also learned from your cultural exchange with your Thai friends. Your positive ways, kindness and friendship are appreciated by our entire Mundo team. You are always welcome in our homes to relax, volunteer or assist with our community development projects. We thank you again for what you do to make this world a better place for all concerned.
Chock Dee, Stefan!
Below you will find some of Stefan’s ideas and feedback about village life.
My Personal Experience
The stay at the village was probably one of the best and deepest experiences I have ever had, when travelling abroad. While I tried to be as “Thai” as possible I also had the feeling that Prayoon’s family too tried to accept and understand me and the cultural differences. The food was great and prepared in a hygienic way, I didn’t have a problem with that. The bathroom is basic but still private and clean. The family-members do not bother your belongings and didn’t seem to be envious or anything. It wasn’t a problem to leave my camera, wallet or passport unlocked. I especially liked that Prayoon’s sister was able to speak English too, so I had another person to talk to and not everything had to be translated by Prayoon.
People I Recommend to Stay at the Village
People that …
• love nature and aren’t afraid of it
• love direct contact with Thai culture
• like to be in nature, to fish and help local people
• are able to work hard (if they are going to help on the rice-fields)
People I don’t Recommend to Stay at the Village
People that …
• can’t eat hot Thai food
• are afraid of nature (wild nature)
• need a lot of time and space to be alone
• Cannot or don’t want to adjust to local customs (no hot and automatic water, no food except Thai-food, no thick mattress or bed).
We at Laekplian Lokgatat and Mundo Exchange will miss Stefan but we all feel fortunate that our volunteer paths were able to cross in Thailand. Stefan is one of those wonderful global thinkers and volunteers that has left a positive global footprint in Thailand.