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Program Details
24 Weeks From R 75,045
Code: THCM0466N

Community Development Internship in Thailand

This internship is an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in the local Karen culture and gain valuable teaching experience.


Program Information

This is an excellent opportunity to genuinely experience the unique Karen hill tribe culture, as well as gaining teaching experience and helping to significantly improve the English language knowledge of the villagers. This is to ensure that the villagers acquire the knowledge and skills needed to run their own sustainable elephant conservation project, i.e. being able to speak English and interact with potential tourists/volunteers.

United Nations
Sustainable Development Goals

Overview

Travel to the mountainous area of northern Thailand, a region famous for its beautiful views, unique culture, and the elephant keeping hill tribes that reside here. This internship is an excellent opportunity to genuinely experience the unique Karen hill tribe culture, as well as gaining teaching experience and helping to significantly improve the English language knowledge of the villagers.

During your time on project you will work alongside other like-minded volunteers and receive relevant training from our experienced staff. A lot of your time will be spent in and around the local school; teaching English and elephant conservation to children, lesson planning, and building relationships with the local teachers. You will also attend nursery and after school clubs to play with the younger children of the village, and teach English to Mahouts and other adults in the evening.



You will be an essential part of the community team; planning and leading your own classes, after the initial training, as well as helping to train new volunteers and interns who also want to experience teaching. With your help, we hope to expand the community project further, to include more lessons at the school, as well as introduce a consistent conservation/environment related syllabus that local children will learn from.

As you will be working and living in a Karen hill tribe village you will become truly immersed in this fascinating and friendly community, as well as having the chance to learn the local language (Pakinyaw) and Thai while interacting around the village. There is also the opportunity for you to hike with mahouts and their elephants, a couple of times a week, as they roam in the surrounding forest.

After a successful internship, qualifying candidates may be given the opportunity to work for GVI or selected partner organisations in Thailand or in other countries around the world where GVI operate. Teaching positions can be paid or unpaid, range in duration from one month to one year, and availability varies. Qualification for possible GVI positions is at the sole discretion of Global Vision International.

All internships are geared at developing your leadership and role model skills, allowing you to develop a variety of key soft and hard skills that will put you a step ahead the rest of the pack. GVI have been running community development, education, and conservation projects since 1997 and our highly experienced field staff will help you gain and improve vital skill sets to improve your future job prospects.

Program Details

Life on the Internship

Our base in Chiang Mai is surrounded by breathtaking mountainous scenery. Set in northern Thailand, the project work itself takes place in the Mae Chaem District, a 5-hour journey into the mountains, where the famous Karen elephant-keeping communities reside and have shared a unique and sacred relationship with elephants for hundreds of years.


Accommodation Tour

ACCOMMODATION


GVI Chiang Mai allows you to experience life like a local, as each volunteer has their own homestay with a local family allowing them to become immersed in the Thai culture and warmth of its people. Homestays are usually with their own rooms or single hut, and are located all around the village, usually a quick walk from the GVI base. This allows you the perfect opportunity to enjoy the fresh morning air and the sites of the village. There is cold running water available for showers, bottled water available for drinking, shared bathroom facilities and shared base duties, including cleaning and other chores (this is all part of the GVI experience)!


MEALS


Breakfast is available at base before the morning hikes, and lunch and dinner are typically home cooked meals provided by your individual homestays. Food is simple but nutritious, and is primarily vegetarian with optional fish or meat available once or twice a week. During the first week, a staff member typically eats with each participant at their homestay, to help integrate them into the family.


COMMUNICATION


You will have limited access to long-distance communications whilst on the program, so make sure friends and family know how often they can expect to hear from you. WiFi is usually available at Root’s coffee shop in the village, but be aware that power cuts and storms can make this unreliable. Mobile phone reception is possible and quite reliable on site, and SIM cards can be purchased to use with your unlocked cell phone.


CLIMATE


From November to February, Chiang Mai enjoys its cooler months, when the temperature is mild and mostly dry. The weather is hot and humid between March to June, but as we are based in a mountain community, the temperature usually drops at night, giving you a pleasant reprieve from the heat of the day. Monsoon rains are heaviest from August to September, but if you bring some rain gear and a sunny outlook you might see the elephants enjoying a muddy wallow after the rains.


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.


GVI Chiang Mai’s programs work in collaboration with the local hill tribe and village of Karen. Here we work with the elephant-keeping community to help reintegrate elephants into their natural habitat from their previous lives in tourist camps.


Your contribution will help to keep these elephants in protected forests, continuing the conservation of these beautiful animals and what remains of their fragmented forest habitats, as well as providing funding to keep the project running whilst offering alternative livelihoods to the local community. The goal of this project is to have semi-wild herds of elephants living, socializing, and foraging in their natural habitat, supervised by their mahouts around their local village.


This allows us to offer support to the local community, assist in the conservation of these amazing animals, and to address many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, such as #15 – Life On Land, #4 – Quality Education, #8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth, and #13 – Climate Action.


Project Objectives

 


GVI Chiang Mai Long-term Objectives:  


1. Increase and promote the ethical treatment of elephants


2. Create a viable self-sustaining eco-tourism program for the village.


3. Supporting a stable herd of elephants living naturally in the forested area of the village.


4. Improve standards of living and job opportunities for people in the Huay Pakoot village


5. Improve sustainable natural resource management in the Huay Pakoot area


Training

A GVI program is an investment in your career. No matter which you choose, you will be working toward improving your employability by mastering new social skills, gaining further technical expertise and earning qualifications in many cases. Most of our staff are, in fact, GVI Alumni, and we have helped many of our Alumni discover, move toward, and earn their own personal dream jobs. Each program includes introductory workshops, ongoing presentations, as well as on-the-ground professional support provided by our very own trained staff members. In addition, our training programs are critical for helping us to ensure the long-term impact of our sustainable development projects around the world.


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.


What's Included

  • 24-hour emergency phone
  • 24-hour in-country support
  • 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
  • Certification and summary of training and experience received
  • Confidential professional reference
  • Location orientation
  • Long term experienced staff
  • Meals while on project (except on work placements for long term internships)
  • Safe and basic accommodations (usually shared)
  • Teamwork and leadership experience
  • Weekly evaulation with your mentor
  • 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, they will be assigned a personal support coordinator who will oversee their pre-departure journey. The support coordinator helps to bridge the gap between program enrolment and arrival at one of our field bases. Your personal support coordinator will ensure that you are provided with all the necessary information required to apply for visas, background checks, and any other documentation.


Safety

Upon arrival at the airport participants will be greeted by a GVI staff member. All GVI staff are our own and all our programs around the world are run by our staff. All GVI field staff are background checked, Emergency First Response and safety trained. The minimum staff to participant ratio on GVI’s programs is one to six, although on several bases we have a ratio of one to three. When finishing the experience, participants will provide feedback on all aspects of their program.


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.


Country Exploration

Joining a GVI program not only allows participants to collaborate with communities or work toward preserving unique ecosystems but it also offers plenty of opportunity to explore the surrounding area or travel further to see what other parts of the region have to offer. Many decide to travel before or after their GVI experience, solidifying the lifetime friendships established on program.


Our own long term field staff are a great source of advice, and have helped us put together the following information on local travel options. Please note that the below suggestions are not included in the program fee, and are for the individual to organise at their own expense.


Weekend Trips

Huay Pakoot visit

Visit this quiet rural Thai village, giving you a unique chance to learn about traditional Karen culture. Learn to cook Thai and Karen dishes with community members, and learn about everyday life in this traditional setting.


Doi Inthanon National Park

Doi Inthanon National Park is home to Thailand’s highest peak and is famous for it man waterfalls and stunning viewing spots.


Karen village surrounds

Due to the remoteness, our program is based in and around the village. On weekends you will have the opportunity to explore the surrounding evergreen cloud forests, or why not go bird watching or look out for the smaller mammals such as gibbons and deer.


Mae Chaem visit

It is a two hour drive to the town of Mae Chaem, and travelling around the village is easily done on foot. Here you can also visit the wihan of Wat Pa Daet.


Chiang Mai Visit

Arrange a trip into the Chiang Mai, here you will find plenty to do, from cooking classes, Muay Thai training, and shows, too night bazaars, temples (including Doi Suthep) and the opportunity to enjoy a traditional Thai massage. There is the opportunity to go into Chiang Mai every two weeks, with the staff and volunteers going in for the new volunteer intake. There is no public transport to the village, but staff can assist you in booking transport to various places, and sometimes we organize a group trip to nearby attractions.


Further Travels

Island hop

Visit Ko Tao and Mu Ko Chang Marine National Park, and soak up the sun on these stunning white sand beaches.


Ayuthaya visit

Explore the golden kingdom of Ayuthaya, with its mysterious temple ruins, which were once gilded palaces.


Bangkok visit

The capital city of Thailand, known for its exotic atmosphere and ancient traditions. Pumping with colour, noise, and people, Bangkok is a place you need to see experience first hand if you are visiting Thailand.


Railay Beach visit

Known for its pristine beach, lush jungle and dramatic rock formations, Railay is not something to miss.


Neighbouring Laos

Discover the ancient country of Laos, where the fusion of French and Asian culture and charm make for a wonderful setting to experience a unique culture.


Meet The Team

Liane

Base Manager



Meet Liane! Liane is known on base as “Base Mum” and is originally from England. Her journey with GVI began in March 2018 after she had finished working in Malawi for six months. Liane has also worked in both China and Australia, where she was a teacher. In her spare time Liane enjoys making the most of what Thailand has to offer, hiking mountains and scuba diving!






Charlotte

Field Staff



This is Charlotte! She is one of our Field Staff here in Chiang Mai, starting her work back in October 2018. Charlotte is from England and has had her fair share of volunteer experience. This includes volunteering in both Ecuador and Madagascar. She also has a Bachelors in Zoology with Conservation. A fun fact about Charlotte is she has a very large collection of Monsters Inc merchandise!






Dee

Field Staff



Meet Dee! Dee is from Thailand and has been with GVI for a year now. His family looks after six elephants and he has been a Mahout for 17 years. He helps to take care of the elephants that are in the care of his family.






Don

Field Staff



This is Suwan, also known as Don! He is has been working with GVI for three months now. Don is a Mahout in Chiang Mai and so he plays a very important role in the day to day care of the elephants. Further Don loves the forest that he is surrounded by everyday!






Matt

Field Staff



Meet Matt! Matt is one of our Field Staff here at GVI Chiang Mai, and has been since October 2018. Matt is originally from Chicago, Illinois. He completed his Masters Degree on the Lone Star Tick back in the states and he has also been to the Barian Sea to conduct Fishery Management. A fun fact about Matt is that he is confident he has the best beard of all the staff.






Myles

Assistant Base Manager



Introducing you to Myles, also referred to as Coach. Coach is from Brooklyn, New York and has been the Assistant Base Manager for over a year now. Other experience includes working with cobras in Thailand, monkeys in Zanzibar and crocodiles in Florida. On top all this, Myle has 127 dreadlocks!






Olly

Field Staff



This is Olly, who is one of our Field Staff at GVI Chiang Mai. Olly has been with us for the last seven months and has had a lot of travel experience. He has previously interned for six months in Equator and has also worked with Komodo dragons in Chester Zoo. Further he has been one of our Field Staff in Mexico and has volunteered in Australia's zoo! A fun fact about Olly is that he has changed a monkeys diaper, what an experience!






Ali

Field Staff



Meet Ali, one of our Field Staff in Chiang Mai who is originally from Dublin. Before coming to Thailand Ali has lived and worked all over the world including: California, Texas, Madagascar as well has her come country of Ireland!






Ed

Field Staff



This is Ed another one of our Field Staff here in Chiang Mai. Ed studied Zoology at university and his favourite thing about the program is getting to know the village and the people in it!






KT

Field Staff



Meet Katie, from England. Like many of our other Field Staff Katie was originally a volunteer before becoming an intern and finally a full time member of staff.






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.

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Publications

The best decisions in international development and conservation cannot be made without accurate and up-to-date data or informed research. Our many field teams around the world collaborate with local and international partners to analyse data and draw conclusions. In addition, many of our participants have used research they have collected on their various GVI projects to complete their Masters, Doctorate, or postdoctoral studies. We also run a fellowship program which connects postdoctoral researchers at globally-respected universities with our many sustainable development programs around the world to support their research and ensure continuous improvement of our best practices on base.


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.

live base updates

Follow GVI Chiang-Mai's Facebook page for live updates straight from the field. Get an idea of the types of projects you might be involved in, meet our staff and participants, experience life on this GVI base, hear about free time activities, and learn about the local culture and environment.
 
GVIThailandChiangMai

Arrivals

When it comes to support, we ensure that each participant is provided with unparalleled, 360 degree support, from your initial contact with the GVI Family, all the way through your program, and even after, as you become part of the GVI Alumni Team.


As part of this promise, we will ensure, whenever possible, that one of our dedicated staff will be available to meet you at the airport. We will arrange with you prior to your departure that, should you arrive in the agreed upon pick up window, a member of our staff will be there to welcome you, easily identifiable in a GVI t-shirt or holding a GVI sign and wearing a friendly smile. This means there will be someone there to greet you as you land, and from there you will be transported to your GVI base to start your adventure and meet the rest of your team.