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Volunteer Petra and Her Community Give Back

The following story was originally written in July 2011, and it showcases the fantastic and giving students and staff from Bewegte School in Austria. Petra Pfann, a previous Mundo Exchange volunteer, collaborated with the Bewegte staff and students to collect money for children in Isaan, Thailand whom Petra worked with during her volunteer service. Together they helped Thai children by raising funds for needed school supplies, shoes, clothing, and bicycles! Especially in the world we are in now, it is important to remind each other of exceptional people and stories, such as this one between these Austrian and Thailand volunteers and students. All in Thailand were so grateful for Petra and the Austrian students and staff at Bewegte, and we are taking this opportunity to once again thank not only Petra but all of our donors and friends who gave and continue to give to the Thai children of Isaan.

A special group of Austrian students from Bewegte Volksschule have helped many Thai rural farm students over the last few years. Bewegte School Director, Ingrid Mader, along with the school’s staff and students collected donations for the Thai children where Petra volunteered. The Austrian elementary school students hosted a Christmas bazaar and theater presentation to collect money. The Director, staff, and students of Bewegte volunteered to donate all of the proceeds from the student’s Christmas bazaar to the Thai children. 


Petra volunteered wth Mundo Exchange in the heart of Isaan in Northeast Thailand. She was asked by her Thai school’s Director, Khamdee, to come help his students and the Thai English teachers. Khamdee is one of the most progressive Thai school directors Mundo has met. Together with the students and teachers they have created organic gardens, fish ponds, and art and recycle programs. The Thai school children also plant and sell Thai herbs, flowers, and trees to the local community. They raise farm animals including cows, goats, and chickens. Khamdee knows the importance of having his students learn about other cultures through cross cultural exchanges. Mundo has a great appreciation for Khamdee and his students and staff for enhancing cross cultural exchanges and providing volunteer opportunities for people like Petra. 

This small, rural Thai school is made up of only  400 students and around 20 staff members. When Petra decided that she would volunteer at this school the English teacher, Supapon, was very excited to have help in her classroom. With the help of Khamdee Supapon and her family made a room for Petra and invited her into their home where she would be staying during her time volunteering. This family had never had a volunteer from Austria and they were very excited, if not a bit nervous, for her to come. After meeting Petra, however they were all put to ease and they began sharing stories of their family life and different cultural ways and ideas. Petra and Supapon taught together as a team, which allowed the Thai students to hear English words pronounced by Petra. In a very short time the Thai students were enamored by their new volunteer Petra, and her kindness and dedication was noticed and valued by the community. 


During her time volunteering Petra helped students from economically challenged Thai farming families. When she shared details about the challengers these Thai children and their families face on a daily basis, the students of Bewegte developed the Christmas bazaar plan to raise money. Their donations supplied the Thai students with bicycles, school and scout uniforms, shoes, English-Thai dictionaries, and other English reading materials. Additional funds were raised by Mundo Exchange and other volunteers. Many Thai students walk a long distance to and from school, and bicycles help transport the students to school as well as to their families rice fields where they help their parents after school. 


The donated items that Petra, Bewegte School, and Austrian friends gave as still being used and are greatly appreciated by students and also the Thai Isaan community.

The students that the Austrians helped live near the Mekong River where they fish and farm.

When Petra returned to Austria she wrote a radio news travel article about her experiences as a volunteer in Thailand. You can learn more about her personal experience by clicking the links below (you will  probaby have to use a translator)! This 2 part article includes photos and her thoughts about living and volunteering in Thailand.

Part 1

Part 2

We at Mundo and Global World Exchange thank all who have helped the people of Thailand and Guatemala.