This week we would like to introduce you to Patricia, our new international volunteer at DEPDC Chiang Khong. She is originally from Spain but has lived in England for many years. Pat graduated from East London University (UK) in 2011. She studied Third World Development and Psychosocial Studies because she wanted to “change the world.” Although this has proved much more difficult in practice than it ever seemed in theory, she is firmly convinced that a better world is possible.
After finishing her degree in England, Pat returned to Spain. During this time, she took courses in development, gender, NGO management, French, and Catalan, as well as volunteering for the Red Cross. Pat’s goal was to join a development organization abroad and gain practical experience in the field. She was delighted when DEPDC offered her the opportunity to come to Thailand and become part of the International Department as a long-term volunteer.
Pat first visited Thailand in 2008 for what was supposed to be just a holiday. However, her short trip became much more than that when she witnessed the enormous scale of the country’s sex industry. She became very interested in the issue of prostitution in Southeast Asia, particularly sex tourism, and it became the topic of her final thesis at university.
Pat is the only international volunteer based at DEPDC’s shelter for at-risk girls in Chiang Khong. One of her projects is running a daily English Language After School Club. The club provides the girls with an informal setting where they feel comfortable practicing their English skills, leaving their fears of foreign languages behind.
More recently, Pat has initiated a long-term project to teach the girls about environmental protection. It addresses issues such as waste management, the 3 “R” concept (reduce, reuse, recycle), consumerism, and sustainability. She also helps with English language correspondence, visitors, and the DEPDC newsletter and blog.
She plans to stay with us until the end of this year. She is currently studying Thai language, which she hopes will enable her to discuss a wider range of issues with the girls.
Pat is especially enjoying living at the centre with the girls and developing close relationships with them. You will often find Pat and the girls riding bicycles together across the paddy fields as the sun sets on the horizon. Surely the best moment of the day!