Why Volunteer in Rural Isaan Thailand:
Isaan is a unique area with respect to the Thailand traveler’s experience. It is rich in both natural resources and Isaan Culture – a blend of Thai, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and China. Wildlife preserves crisscross the NE area of Thailand, home to a variety of mammals, reptiles and birds. These areas provide the visitor with an opportunity to see a diversified fauna in verdant jungle and savannah-like areas. Mountains popup out of an otherwise very flat landscape allowing for excellent hiking, biking and climbing opportunities. Many of the mountains are home to Buddhist monks and have beautiful pagodas and temples on the highest points of the peaks. These areas are excellent for day hikes and overnight camping. Magnificent sunsets and sunrises with stars that reach out and touch your nose at night await those willing to camp. Mundo volunteers are regular visitors to these areas. We can provide camping equipment for those who wish to venture away.
The Isaan culture is diverse and staunchly continues to hold on in people’s everyday activities. Much like the most traveled areas of Thailand were 50 years ago, you will have the opportunity to see a lifestyle that no longer exists in most of Thailand. Buddhism is prevalent in everyday living, as is animism. Your Thai hosts are happy to teach you about Buddhist ways and talk about the robust spirit world that oversees ones’ moral activities here. Twice a week Bueng Kan is host to a Loas traditional market. It has a festive-like quality and sells a huge variety of food and tools people require for everyday living. You will have an opportunity to sample tasty crickets, toads, field rats, wild boar, fresh seafood, Mekong river fish, rice cakes, noodles, all sorts of rice sweets, ice cream, coffee, etc. You might choose to buy a new set of dishes at the 20 baht store, a new machete, or a new puppy. Warm coats and blankets lines stalls in the cool season and lightweight clothing can be found as the temperatures rise, all at decent prices. There is also a chance to learn about herbs and traditional healing tools from local healers, who spread their wares out for one to enjoy.
Mundo, with its Thai partner, Lokgatat, thoroughly investigates all volunteer sites to ensure that you will have a quality experience. We strongly recommend a homestay placement so that you can immerse yourself in to the Thai culture and language. This most likely will mean that you will be in a small village that has no other foreign visitor. While challenging to be the unique person in a village, you will find yourself surrounded by friendly, welcoming and curious people who will be so honored that you have chosen to be with them. They will bend over backwards to make your stay enjoyable and memorable. Many of our volunteers have maintained longterm relationships with their homestay families and friends years after they were here.
Below you will find our current placements. However, should you have unique skills or a burning desire to try something different, let us know and we will see if we can arrange it!
School Placement – Teach English
International volunteers help local teachers with educational projects, creating educational materials, and teaching English and computer skills to students pre-k through high school. Volunteers also help teach students and staff English communication and technical skills. Volunteers with skills in the areas of art, music, dance, and sports are also encouraged to apply. Many rural and village children have rarely worked with international volunteers and are excited to exchange their cultural ways with those from other countries. Mundo Exchange offers volunteers opportunities for all age groups. No teaching experience necessary!
Dental Health Education
Mundo has recently been given a large grant to help children improve their dental hygiene. Dental care is essential to one’s longevity and is one of the leading causes of illness in the Isaan population. Due to their diet, which is rich in starch and sweets, and a lack of access to dental education and dental supplies, many Isaan adults have few or no teeth by the time they reach their late 20’s. Our goal is to change that statistic! Volunteers have the opportunity to help create and improve the dental hygiene curriculum and teach the program to students and adults alike.
Helping Children with Disabilities
Isaan Thailand has only recently begun to recognize the value of education for those with disabilities. New school programs and training opportunities are being created for individuals 0 through adulthood. Evaluation and intervention skills are needed for those serving these children. Volunteers with specialized skills such as speech and language pathologists, physical therapists, assistive technology specialists, occupational therapists, special education teachers, autism specialists, school psychologists or those who have the gift of knowing how to build mobility, sight, hearing and vocal devices are welcome to come and help work with these dedicated teams. The programs currently focus on engaging and empowering caregivers and the disabled themselves so that they can provide services using local tools that are easily available in the villages. This work is at the grassroots stage and very exciting. Helping to change age-old attitudes about persons with disabilities is also something volunteers would be greatly appreciated for!
Teaching English to Adults
Volunteers have the opportunity to work with adults wanting to learn English. Our volunteers have worked with health providers, lawyers, Buddhist monks, teachers, university students, dentists, and business people to enhance their conversational and technical English skills.
Environmental Project / Eco Projects
Volunteers help create an ecological outdoor environmental learning center in rural Isaan, Thailand. Community members who have recognized the importance and need of ecological programs have contacted us and then donated land for this program. There are many Thais who now recognize the importance of learning and teaching about organic farming, global warming, floral and fauna of Thailand, reforestation and more. A volunteer in Thailand will work with Thais to set up outdoor learning stations, build necessary structures, plant seedlings and small plants, help develop compost, water conservation systems and alternative energy models. Other volunteers can create environmental materials used by schools throughout Thailand. This is an on-going project where volunteers often work outside developing earth friendly learning opportunities with their Thai hosts.
Monitoring of Wildlife Migration -Birds, Mammals and Fish
Mundo has been asked to help monitor the migration patterns of wildlife in the nearby natural reserves and lakes. We partner with the Thai wildlife preservists and local education leaders to set up methods of monitoring migratory patterns, noting who is in the area, changes in numbers and species, and educating local people to protect the environments and the wildlife. Birds from as far north as Siberia make local lakes their winter homes. Elephants romp in the nearby forests during their spring. Fish, many of which are now endangered, are attempting to continue their spawning cycle in the protected waters of the nearby lakes.
Temple Stay – Teach English to Novices
If you would like to work in a local Buddhist temple we can arrange for you to help the novices with English communication skills. Volunteers will have the opportunity to learn about Buddhist daily life and rituals while helping Thai monks and novices increase their English vocabulary, reading and writing skills.
Team English Teachers
School instructors who would like to help prepare lessons and exchange professional information and training with local Thai teachers are also needed in schools, colleges and universities in Thailand. Volunteers knowledgeable and interested in exchanging information about educational assessment, lesson preparation and project-based education are also deeply valued.
Computer and Information Technology Assistance
Help educational staff, businesses, and/or our Learning Centers with computer and technical learning that will make a difference in the employment skills of adults and younger students in Thailand. Also help with building and maintaining computers and internet programming.
Help Teach Word Press Website Design
Volunteers with specialized skills working with Word Press and Web Design will work with Thai community service providers and our local NGO to develop websites for education and volunteering opportunities.
Website Building Internship
Come help Mundo revamp our website and move us into the new world of virtual communication with our volunteers, students and local partners. Help connect our students to the rest of the world through an up to date, easy to use interactive website!
If you are planning to stay for three months or more and would like to assist our Thai association with developmental issues in the areas of non-profit organization, assessment, community development programs, web design, computer technology, material design are also offered unpaid positions with Mundo Exchange. There is an application fee and a fee for accommodation. Applicants should send to an email with their resume or Vita, letters of recommendation and a detailed internship proposal.
Virtual Volunteering – Online Volunteers
We are looking for people who are willing to communicate via email with a Thai partner who wants to improve her / his English or exchange teaching ideas. All you would need is an Internet connection, a good sense of humor, and a lot of patience.
Read more about our virtual volunteering opportunities.