A Month in the Foreign Department 
A quick look back at the month of January provides a window into volunteers’ experiences at DEPDC/GMS. The diverse team of international volunteers makes up the Foreign Department of DEPDC/GMS, with six current volunteers hailing from Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. Working in both the Mae Sai headquarters and the Chiang Khong center, they have the amazing opportunity to share in a wide cross-section of the organization’s work.
English teaching is one of the most important contributions of the volunteers, and there is no shortage of willing students, from the eager young beginners at the Half Day School (HDS) to the dedicated adult intermediate learners in the Community Learning Centre (CLC). “Half Day School children love to learn through games and songs,” says Jenni, volunteer teacher. Instructing two classes per week for each grade, she harnesses her creativity in planning fun activities to build students’ English and cultural knowledge. The Community Learning Centre class is another kind of sanook,* teaching business English and writing skills to students including monks, sales professionals, skilled laborers, and entrepreneurs.
English language and leadership skills come together in the Border Youth Leadership Training Programme (BYLTP), an intensive training program for young people at risk of exploitation. Volunteer Lindsay integrates grammar and vocabulary with human rights and organizing in her lessons. She says of her students, “They are so motivated to get involved in solving the serious social problems in border areas.” After several months of intense preparations, Lindsay also completed an English curriculum to be used among all of the English classes at DEPDC/GMS.
Volunteers spread awareness of human rights through media, including the Blog, DEPDC/GMS Facebook page, and the Fun English radio show on Child Voice Radio. Five days per week from 9 to 10am, volunteer DJs play English songs, share human rights reports and issue news updates. “Child Voice Radio gives all the youth DJs a chance to present their unique perspectives in seven different languages,” says Jamie, our volunteer who coordinates the Fun English show. January also saw the publication of the DEPDC/GMS quarterly Newsletter, a task shared by the full team of volunteers in order to research, write, publish, and e-mail the articles and updates of the newsletter.
In addition to English teaching, radio and Newsletters, volunteers do a variety of behind-the-scenes tasks to be described in Part 2 of this post. Click here to continue to Part 2!
*Sanook is a Thai term for ‘fun’.