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Thailand Community Development Service Learning Program

Learn about educational inequalities while contributing towards sustainable solutions in Phang Nga, Thailand.


Program Information

Discover service learning in Phang Nga province, Thailand. Contribute to the education of the local community by improving their non-formal education center, under the direction of local partners. Develop personal and career focused skills by completing connected educational assignments, all part of a comprehensive curriculum.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

Overview

The program will focus on improving basic human rights through educational development, infrastructure improvement, and reciprocal cultural exchange, and will take place in Phang Nga Province, two hours North of Phuket, with The Andaman Sea to the West and Phang Nga Bay to the south. The province is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, numerous national parks and beautiful scenery, white sandy beaches, tropical islands, majestic limestone rock formations, and the warm hospitality of Thai locals.



These projects range in content suitable for students studying academic disciplines such as:

- Women’s Empowerment,
- Sports and Exercise
- Sustainable Agriculture
- Education
- Global Health.

Example project activities include:

- Sports workshops at special needs school or Burmese center and teaching sports techniques in schools;
- Delivering healthcare/nutrition workshops or life-skills and language training for women;
- Tending vegetable and herb gardens,
- Chicken coops, and a greenhouse made of recycled bottles;
- English tutoring/classroom teaching and teacher training.

 

Program Details

Location: Asia - Phang Nga - Thailand

Curriculum

This inter-disciplinary program introduces students to international service-learning and sustainable development in content and practice, in Phang Nga, Thailand. Through lectures, discussion, research, service, and reflection (beginning two weeks prior to their departure and continuing two weeks after their return home), students in this course engage in meaningful, context-driven service-learning at home and abroad. Emphasis will be placed on relating long-term project goals with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and engaging in daily reflection surrounding the experience, which will be led by qualified group facilitators who are trained to enhance individual student development. The program curriculum will be tailored to your students’ academic needs as well as any faculty requirements.

A GVI service-learning program provides students with the opportunity to live and work within the “classroom” of their chosen field of study, and to develop professional capacities associated with intercultural competency, global citizenship, teamwork, problem-solving, and leadership. By participating in this program, students will be prepared to contribute to solutions for critical global issues related to sustainable development within a local community, and alongside an international team.

The Project

The objectives for each GVI project are based on specific United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. In Phang Nga, students will largely contribute to need-based community development projects in surrounding areas that primarily improve the general infrastructure and learning environments for local disadvantaged children.

 

Phang Nga's short, mid, and long-term objectives


All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualize their contribution to the UN SDGs.Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.

Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.



Learn about the long-term objectives you will be contributing to in Phang Nga:


1. To provide equal, quality education to children of all backgrounds.

2. To Promote Good Health and Wellbeing through education to all children

3. Increase skills for local people to assist with equal employment opportunities in our communities within Takuapa and Ban Nham Khem

4. Increase awareness of local populations to environmental issues and facilitate change towards sustainability through scientific studies.

5) Increase our in-country capacity by providing environmental and conservation education and training

6. To assist and develop local coastal conservation efforts through providing practical support to project partners, data collection, awareness raising, and habitat restoration

Your Impact

All of our programs have short, mid and long-term objectives that fit with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or UN SDGs. This enables us to report on our collaborative impact across the world in a streamlined manner, measuring which UN SDGs we are making a substantial contribution to. Furthermore, this will help our local partners and communities measure and visualise their contribution to the UN SDGs.


Upon arrival to base, you will be educated about the history of the UN SDGs. You will learn about the specific goals of your location, the long-, mid- and short-term objectives, and also clarification of how your personal, shorter-term involvement contributes to these goals on a global level.


Our aim is to educate you on local and global issues, so that you continue to act as active global citizens after your program, helping to fulfil our mission of building a global network of people united by their passion to make a difference.


ENVIRONMENTAL WORK


The environmental issues Thailand facing are many and varied. These include poor water, air and soil quality as well as biodiversity loss. Poaching, kidnapping of wild animals, deforestation, and unsustainable tourism threaten Thailand’s land and marine habitats and wildlife. The Thai government is constantly updating and improving environmental legislation and practices, and local and international non-governmental organisations and community groups can assist with achieving these conservation outcomes.


SEA TURTLE CONSERVATION


A large part of the environmental aspect of our project involves working alongside our partners at the Royal Thai Navy Sea Turtle Conservation Centre and the Phang Nga Coastal Fisheries Research and Development Centre. These are head-start centres, where turtle hatchlings are reared until they are between 6 and 9 months old before being released back into the wild. Turtle populations the world over are threatened, and it is estimated that only around 1 in 1000 hatchlings survive to reach adulthood naturally. These statistics are exacerbated by beach erosion as a result of tourism development. Head-start programs aim to increase the survival rate by protecting the hatchlings until they reach a size where they will face much less risk of predation. The work our participants carry out includes scrubbing the tanks to ensure that the turtles have a clean environment to live in, washing the turtles with an antibacterial solution to reduce levels of infection, and also applying antifungal and antibacterial treatments to any wounds the turtles have. We also conduct research at the centre, collecting data on turtle morphology and infection rates, as well as some behavioural research to monitor the effects of enclosure enrichment. We hope to use this data to gain further understanding of the best methods of turtle husbandry. This project runs year round and if you are lucky enough to be on the project during a release date, you will assist in releasing hundreds of young turtles into the ocean


ISLAND CONSERVATION


We also conduct biodiversity research on two nearby islands of Koh Ra and Koh Prathong year round to assist the Thai Department of National Parks in the effective management of these vital areas. We conduct surveys and run camera trapping research on the islands to build up a picture of the biodiversity there and we hope that this research will contribute to the islands falling under formal protection. We have already confirmed the presence of some critically endangered species on the islands so we know that they are of conservation value, and we hope through our continued and expanding research, we can learn more about the ecology of the islands and their importance in the region. Other activities include conducting research on mangroves and conducting further research on these plants.


*Please note that we only travel to Koh Ra and Koh Prathong once a month, so participants who only visit for two weeks might not get the opportunity to conduct island surveys.  


BIRD CONSERVATION


Another element to our projects is carrying out weekly bird surveys in the local area year round. Birds are an important part of healthy ecosystems and as such, building species lists and monitoring populations and patterns of migration is a valuable way to build a picture of how well nature is doing in an area. Participants are provided with training on how to identify birds in the field. Currently our data is submitted to a citizen science project, e-Bird, but we are looking at developing this project to commence our own research plan.


PLASTIC POLLUTION CLEANUPS


Year round we carry out beach cleans in our local area in Phang Nga. Marine litter is one of the greatest environmental challenges conservationists are facing today. Through regular clean ups we hope to make a difference through removing litter, and also occasionally through engaging the local community to participate alongside us.


CORAL RESEARCH


During the dry season, November to April, we carry out one to two snorkelling surveys a week on nearby coral reefs. We monitor the health of the coral, and we also look at the variety and abundance of fish species present. Coral reefs are incredibly important ecosystems which are vital to the health of our oceans, which in turn means that they are vital to humans as well. Globally coral reefs are being affected by overfishing, climate change and irresponsible tourism. We aim to monitor the reefs close to where we are based to look at how well they are doing and to establish if there are any actions that could be taken to improve or protect them further. We carry out our surveys in partnership with Green Fins Thailand and REEF, which are both organisations using citizen science to provide research and monitoring of the world’s coral reefs.


*Please note that you will not be doing any diving, while conducting these surveys, only snorkeling.


ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION


Throughout the year, we also conduct environmental awareness workshops at local schools, hotels, tour or dive operators, and anywhere in the local community when an opportunity presents itself.


COMMUNITY WORK


Ban Nam Khem, meaning ‘Place of Salty Water’, became the epicentre of a tin mining boom in the 1950s. The population grew from a few families to approximately 5000 people at its height. However, when all the tin was eventually extracted from the surrounding mines, the mining bubble burst, so that all remains of the industry today are lakes dotted around the village, marking where mines were dug out yet never filled back in. Today most people here earn a living from fishing, but many look for new income in the nearby tourist hub of Khao Lak.


Thailand, like many countries in South East Asia, suffered greatly in the wake of the Indian Ocean Tsunami on 26th December 2004. Phang Nga, the province in which Ban Nam Khem is located, was one of the most severely affected in the country. Many villagers lost their homes, relatives, and friends. The need for community redevelopment and regeneration is still present.


The GVI Phang Nga hub was initiated in September 2013 with the aim of supporting the continued redevelopment of Ban Nam Khem and increased access to employment opportunities through capacity-building initiatives. The local community’s efforts to diversify employment markets remains central to its well-being. Ban Nam Khem is well located to take advantage of the tourism boom in the area, but the population needs a good level of conversational English to enable them access to the corresponding employment opportunities. Furthermore English language skills can assist students in the Thai workplace and in the international economy.


Ban Nam Khem boasts its own primary school with an enrolment of around 250 children and a Community Development Centre which offers free education during the day for around 150 children who live in the village, and free after-school classes open to everyone in the evening.


ENGLISH EDUCATION PROGRAM


Throughout the year we assist local teaches with running classes to improve conversational English. This might include everything from training local teachers, assisting with lesson development and providing one-on-one tutoring sessions for learners requiring additional support. We also conduct English lessons for adult learners from the community.


CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS


We also assist educational or community centers around Ban Nam Khem with infrastructure development, depending on if and when they have requested the support. We assist by conducting basic maintenance and renovation work like maintaining fences or installing bathrooms.


The main United Nations Sustainable Development Goals we work on at GVI Phang Nga are:



  • #4, Quality Education,

  • #5, Gender Equality,

  • #14 Life Below Water,

  • #15 Life On Land.


 


Our Partners In Thailand

Project Objectives

 


GVI Phang Nga Long-term Objectives:  


1. To provide equal, quality education to children of all backgrounds.\


2. To Promote good health and wellbeing through education to all children.


3. Increase skills for local people to assist with equal employment opportunities in our communities within Takuapa and Ban Nam Khem.


4. Increase awareness of local populations to environmental issues and facilitate change towards sustainability through scientific studies.


5. Increase our in-country capacity by providing environmental and conservation education and training.


6. To assist and develop local coastal conservation efforts through providing practical support to project partners, research, awareness raising and habitat restoration.


What's It like?

If you’d like to find out what the experience of joining a GVI project is really like, simply contact us and we’ll put you in touch with one of our many Alumni.

We’ll try to match you to an Alum based on your location, nationality, age, stage of academic career, gender, and program interests. This allows you to gain insights into the experience that is most relevant to you.

Depending on your location you might be able to speak to an Alum over the phone or online, or meet up with them face-to-face at a coffee shop nearby. We also run a series of small events around the world where you can speak to GVI Alumni, Ambassadors and staff members.

Our Ethics

Below is a list of core ethics and best practices we believe are essential to the operation of high quality, ethical volunteer and sustainable development programs. We believe that all responsible volunteer and sustainable development operations should focus upon these principles. If you are considering volunteering, these are some of the key considerations you should question, to ensure that your time and money contributes towards positive change.


Our 10 Ethical Commitments

 

Locally Driven, Collaborative Projects

We aim to design all our projects in collaboration with local organizations and communities and ensure that they are locally driven.


 

Clear Objectives & Sustainable Outcomes

We aim to clearly define short-, mid-, and long-term objectives with sustainable outcomes for all our projects.


 

Impact Reporting

We aim to track, record, and publish the impact of each of our projects.


 

Working Against Dependency

We aim to build in-country capacity by assisting local organizations in becoming self-sustaining.


 

Responsible Exit Strategies

For each local organization we work with, we aim to have a plan in place for withdrawing support responsibly.


 

Clear Roles & Specialized Training

We aim to ensure that ever participant is assigned a clear role and that they are fully trained and supported to carry out their work by specialized staff.


 

Respect for all

In all our actions we aim to respect the skills and efforts of all and seek to protect the rights, culture and dignity of everyone who engages with GVI.


 

Local Ownership

We work to ensure that credit for the results of any project, along with any data collected, research conduct, or Intellectual Property developed, remains the property of local organizations.


 

Transitioning from the Orphanage Model

We do not condone and aim to withdraw support of orphanages and residential care centers.


 

Child and Vulnerable adult policies

We will live by our Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult policies.


Continual Development

As an organization, GVI is committed to striving toward best practice, and to educating both our potential participants, our partners, and the world at large about them. Both the volunteering and sustainable development sectors are increasingly, and rightly, under scrutiny. Many recent local and global articles highlight poor practices and questionable ethics. GVI is widely recognized for striving to apply global best practice in the volunteering, education and sustainable development sectors throughout our operations by reputable organizations such as ChildSafe.


However, global best practice is always evolving and we dedicate both time and resources to engage with internationally respected experts and learn from the latest research to ensure our programs both fulfil their potential to create maximum positive impact, and minimise their potential to create unintentional negative impact. Along with and as part of the sustainable development and volunteering community, we are constantly learning and applying this learning to practice. We do not always get everything right, but we seek feedback from our community members, partners, participants and our staff, and react accordingly. We know are already doing a great job, and feedback we have received confirms this, but we aim to do even better and are continuously refining our operations to improve upon our already excellent reputation.


Itinerary

Example Itinerary:

This program varies in duration, depending on project requirements as well as cultural expeditions or activities. The below outlines a one week course; however, your in-country service can run for as many weeks as set by your academic curriculum, objectives, and requirements.

Pre-Departure

Two weeks prior to departure, students will be assigned readings and assignments. These assignments make sure they have a basic cultural understanding of Phang Nga and it’s local conservation-based issues; a foundational understanding of international service learning and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals; and begin a dialogue surrounding global engagement. Materials will be chosen based on collaboration with the group’s educational leader to ensure the work fits within the group’s in-class curriculum.

In-Country:

Day 1- Arrival at Phuket Airport, Transfer, and Orientation

You will be met at Phuket airport by a GVI staff member or an appointed representative. The group will travel immediately to the project location In Phang Nga province. Students will be accommodated in dorm style rooms or homestays, and will have a chance in the afternoon to relax and settle into their rooms and new surroundings.

There will be an initial welcome presentation and introduction to the GVI staff, history and background of the projects, as well as a health and safety breakdown. Following this, the group will head out for an orientation tour to learn a bit more about the local area and language.

In the evening a reflection period will take place in which participants will debrief and review their initial reactions and observations surrounding the experience and location.

Day 2-6- Daily Structure: Service, Education, and Reflection

Students will report daily to the project construction sites where they will work side by side local community members and our partner organizations. Specific projects will depend on the needs of the centers at the time, and could involve engagement in construction and renovation projects, as well as creative activities, basic healthcare and hygiene programs, and sports development initiatives. Participating in the multiple projects is a great way for students to practice effective team building skills in order to achieve overall goals that positively affect the greater global world.

All service elements will be connected to a greater understanding of the cultural context in which the students are working. Assignments, in the form of lectures, readings, written response papers, journal entries, group presentations, and miscellaneous creative projects will be conducted daily to enhance student learning from their service involvement. Daily reflection sessions will act as the bridge that connects and helps to synthesize the many aspects of the experience.

Particular emphasis will be placed on the ways in which participants are working towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Students will critically examine their part in this process, by analyzing their contributions, challenges, and observations.

Day 7- A Fond Farewell

GVI field staff transfer the team back to the airport and bid them a fond farewell! GVI will endeavour to keep the group informed of any updates there might be in the field and with particular reference to the projects participants contributed to during their time in Thailand.

Post-Return

Students will continue to engage with active reflection and educational expansion two weeks after leaving Phang Nga, with emphasis placed on incorporating the international experience, and insights gained which are then applied to the students’ home context. Assignments will involve generating ideas to continue global engagement, connecting the experience to personal and career goals, and reflecting on the insights gained while in the field.

What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • A dedicated course co-ordinator
  • Access to Alumni Services and Discounts
  • Airport pick-up (unless otherwise stated)
  • All necessary project equipment and materials
  • All necessary project training by experienced staff
  • Flight bookings service on request
  • In-country transport costs
  • Insurance on request
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Welcome meeting

What's Not Included

  • Additional drinks and gratuities
  • Extra local excursions
  • Flights
  • International and domestic airport taxes
  • Medical and travel insurance
  • Personal items and toiletries
  • Police or background check
  • Visa costs (where necessary)

Support & Safety

We won’t sugarcoat it — Traveling abroad is usually a complex process that carries an element of risk. But this is exactly why we’re passionate about providing extensive support throughout the process as well as the highest safety standards during the in-country phase. We believe that volunteering abroad should not only be impactful, but an enjoyable experience that carries as little risk as possible. This is exactly how we’ve been able to maintain our reputation as the most highly respected volunteering organisations in the sector over the past two decades.


Support

Once a participant books, our support team will oversee their pre-departure journey. This helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. We will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.


Safety

Once a participant books, our support team will oversee their pre-departure journey. This helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. We will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.


Health & Safety Case Studies

19 Nov

HOW GVI UPHOLDS HEALTH AND SAFETY

It takes courage to book a GVI program, get on a flight, and head off to somewhere new. Volunteering offers a level of cultural immersion that typical backpacking or holidays just can’t achieve. This is why thousands of people around the world participate in paid GVI programs.


1 Nov

GVI’S COMMITMENT TO SAFETY AND SECURITY

As the saying goes: ‘Expect the best, plan for the worst’. Cliched or not, we take it to heart. This tenet is at the core of how GVI operates when it comes to promoting the health and safety of our participants, staff, and local community members at all of our 20+ bases around the world.


6 Nov

HOW GVI REMAINS PREPARED FOR NATURAL DISASTERS

The weather isn’t just a topic for polite small-talk here at GVI. We have emergency action plans in place for all scenarios. So when the weather, or other natural forces, takes a nasty turn, we are prepared to respond to stormy situations.


5 Nov

HOW GVI MANAGES PARTICIPANTS EXPECTATIONS

Once GVI has matched a participant to a program that suits their passions and goals, our team aims to set the right expectations for them. In the event that false expectations around a program are created, the GVI team takes immediate action to ensure that the situation rectified.


Meet The Team

Vanessa

Program Manager

This is Vanessa. Vanessa is originally from the UK and joined GVI back in 2017, when she was completing an Education program in India. Since this volunteering expedition she has worked more closely with GVI and is now the Program Manager at our base in Phang Nga, Thailand.


Vanessa absolutely loves the beautiful setting of Thailand and enjoys making a difference to the lives of the local people who live there!

Luis

Conservation Coordinator



This is Luis! Luis has a Masters in Conservation and Biodiversity and is a Conservation Coordinator here in Phang Nga. He has also been in similar roles while traveling all around the world.






Bob

Community Coordinator



Meet Bob from the USA! He is our Community Coordinator and has previously worked as US peace corp volunteer in Ghana. Bob also is a firm believer that anything can be eaten for breakfast, fair enough Bob!






Amelia Hart

Community Coordinator

Say hey to Amelia! She is from Hastings in the UK, and is our Community Coordinator in Phang Nga, Thailand.


Like a lot of our staff Amelia began as a volunteer with GVI. She interned on a TEFL program for six months, before becoming a member of the Field Staff. Amelia is really excited to see how she can continue to help improve the program.

Molly Plexico

Country Director
Meet Molly, our hard working country director for both Thailand and Laos. Over seeing operations in two countries is no easy task but Molly is more than capable.

She started volunteering and travelling at a young age, working  in soup kitchens, with AmeriCorps, at animal shelters, as a Big Sister with Big Brother Big Sisters of America and as a Guardian ad Litem. She studied family development and psychology and loves to dance.

Her goal is to visit one country for every year she is alive. The most unusual place she has travelled to is Uzbekistan, on a trip beginning in Europe and ending in Southeast Asia. This is where she fell in love with Laos which began her journey with GVI. She started working for GVI back in 2012 and she is now based in Thailand. GVI has hubs all around the world and she has been lucky enough to visit the hubs in Nepal, Thailand, Laos and the office in South Africa.

Parent Info

‘If only every student could do this. It changes your life in all the right ways,’ says Chris Heritage, parent of Luke Herritage, one of our teen volunteers who has participated on two GVI programs, one in Costa Rica and another in South Africa.

We are a parent-run organisation that is incredibly serious about health and safety, and increasing the impact, as well as the long-term career benefits of our programs. Our programs help young people develop the skills to select a career path that is personally fulfilling, and live a life aligned to the well-being of our planet and the global community.

Ken and Linda Jeffrey, whose son Sam volunteered with GVI in Thailand, talk about how the experience affected Sam. He also went on to volunteer with GVI again in South Africa. ‘I know it sounds like a cliche but in a sense, he did go away as a boy and he came back as a young man. Both of us could recommend GVI without any hesitation to any other parent thinking about exploring an opportunity for their children to explore the world and to see different parts of it.’

Parent Info Pack

Download the Parent Pack and learn more about:

Our staff: All our projects are run by staff, selected, vetted, trained, and managed by our central office.
Health and safety: Our safety practices include a child and vulnerable adult protection policy and high participant ratios.
Staying in touch: See what’s happening on base, by following a hub’s dedicated Facebook page.
Free parent consultations: We would love to talk to you about exciting opportunities available for your child.

ENQUIRY FORM

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Enquiry Details

   
Speak to us about Scholarships, available if you book before the end of January.