Category Archives: Staff Profiles

Meet an international volunteer: Peter

img_1245The International Department would like to introduce Peter. He joined our organization almost three weeks ago. Peter teaches English to the children here at DEPDC and the Community Learning Centre, but he also helps the other staff with documents and these blogs.

Peter is from the Netherlands and got to know Thailand during an elective track in “Human rights and security” at Thammasat University in Bangkok, whilst he was doing his master’s degree in Global Health. Peter has previous experience working with children, whilst doing his bachelor in Social Work and his education in becoming a group-home worker, which does comes in handy working here. Peter has quite an extensive resume, from which he draws inspiration for this organization.  img_1254

Peter says that he is inspired to help change the situation for the best for these children. And that he knows that education can be the key for this change. The children really seem to like him and are amazed about his size and they often come up to him to compare their length. During the last Sports Day he was part of the black team and even though he wasn’t very athletic during most events, he was skilled at the tug of war. fullsizerender_4

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Work Productions Participatory and Integral Learning Program

During these past 4 weeks at HDS, DEPDC students received the company of Sun students to attend a class activity taught by Phor Sompop’s daughter which focused on life skills, where learning how to gain self-esteem and life philosophy teachings were at the center of class discussions.

The first chapter of the exercise was for the students to choose and cleanup the scraps of wood on which they would be able to write the quote.

The second chapter focused on the students’ presentation in which they explained why they decided to choose that quote in particular. This exercise had as main goal to help them develop their speaking skills in front of an audience.

The final chapter of the exercise focused on how the students exchanged their thoughts and opinions in front of the class.

This task taught them the concept of critical thinking and how, as a fact, develop research skills. They learned how to check various sources of information using resource books, going from the Buddhist teachings to the teachings of the Bible, and readings from different ethnic cultures.

The motivation behind such a class was that, taking note of the many important topics and concepts such as tolerance, prestige, love, the environment and poverty can teach children think for themselves. It teaches them how to effectively participate in class and to be assertive in their work.

photopicpic-3Just by amusing children with the often both entertaining and meaningful life philosophy teachings, you may give them an edge in becoming generous, compassionate, virtuous, responsible, and self-reflecting beings.

 

Meet an International Volunteer: Theodora

The International Department would like to introduce Theodora. She joined our organization this past month. Theodora is from Brussels, Belgium and has been living in Bangkok for the last 6 years. Following her Master’s degree in International Relations in 2013 from Webster University, she has spent her time working in the environmental sector both in Thailand and Hong Kong. She has recently completed a two-year work experience in wildlife conservation issues for a Bangkok-based anti-wildlife and anti-human trafficking non-governmental organization where she co-worked on projects that provide legal-based solutions to combat transnational wildlife trafficking in Southeast Asia.

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“While studying my Master’s in Bangkok a couple of years ago, I experienced my first exposure to the issues of both wildlife and human trafficking. Throughout the years I became even more aware of the extensive atrocities committed in the region in total impunity. It is then that I decided I wanted to work on projects that are geared towards helping to save endangered wildlife and humans from the growing problem of trafficking.”

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DEPDC definitely caught my eye. The organization has been around for so many years now, having as main objective to tackle child prostitution and child labor by providing alternative education to girls at high risk of exploitation up north. I was very much impressed by its achievements and it was then that I decided I would join the team, and leave Bangkok for a short while.”

Dogs of DEPDC

DEPDC would like to introduce one of its oldest Canine residents. Meet Dum! Dum is eight years old (we suspect), and has become one of the most easily recognizable features of the Half Day School in Mae Sai. Since her arrival, Dum has seen countless classes of students, teachers and foreign volunteers, come and go. she’s greeted them all with a loving heart and a wide eyed enthusiasm. An enthusiasm rivaled only by that of her human friends. DEPDC wishes Dum many more years of healthy, happy living as both she, and the organisation move ahead with their important work and countless campaigns.

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It has been scientifically proven that the presence of domestic animals, such as dogs, can have a profoundly positive impact on man’s physical and mental health. Though the physical health benefits of owning a dog, such as the exercise gained from its care, the mental health benefits are much more profound. Animals provide comfort and companionship, both in our darkest hours and brightest days, which, ultimately, can help to dispel everyday demons such as stress, anxiety and loneliness, all while providing  people with much needed physical contact.

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In addition to this, looking after such a creature instills responsibility while teaching its masters to care for something other than themselves. This provides an essential foundation for the children’s compassion as well as an environment in which children have the opportunity to put their leadership skills into practice, allowing them to grow and flourish. It is DEPDC’s hope that the children will incorporate these lessons and skills into their daily lives as they travel down the long and winding road to adulthood.

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Meet an International Volunteer: Erica!

This week we would like to introduce you to Erica,  one of our new international volunteers who is currently volunteering at our HQ in Mae Sai. Erica graduated with a B.A in Chinese Studies from the University College Cork, Ireland. As part of her four year course, she spent a year studying at Shanghai University.  Here, for the first time, she was exposed to the seedier nature of several aspects of Chinese culture and on her return to Ireland, decided to focus all of her energy on researching human trafficking.

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Erica says ‘For my final year, I centered my dissertation on trafficking and used every presentation as a chance to learn more. Every time I read a new article or book, there was something to shock me.  After graduation, I couldn’t think of a single thing I was more passionate about than trafficking, so I set about looking for volunteering options.  Many people ask me why I chose Thailand when my degree is in Chinese, this is simply because finding a Chinese NGO working against trafficking that accepted international volunteers proved much harder than I thought it would. Another area of interest to me however, was the Greater Mekong Sub region.

I found DEPDC/GMS after coming across the volunteer application on Omprakesh, applied, was accepted and am living it! Volunteering here so far has been an amazing experience and working next to like minded people is a huge part of that. The kids and the staff are welcoming and kind and the work is hard but rewarding. Every day offers new opportunities for inspiration. ‘

Goodbye Hannah, Hello Hana – International Volunteer Coordinators at DEPDC

In this edition of staff profiles, “Hannah vs. Hana,” we’d like to say a fond farewell to Hannah Smith, our international volunteer coordinator, who has been with DEPDC for the past year, and we’d like to introduce her replacement, Hana Livingston. (It is not a requirement that you have to be named Hannah/Hana to work as the volunteer coordinator at DEPDC!)

The international volunteer coordinator (IVC) is responsible for DEPDC’s International Department, which comprises all of our international volunteers. Based in the Mae Sai headquarters, the IVC wears many hats, including recruiting, training, and managing volunteers; overseeing the DEPDC blog and other English language social media and communications; writing grant reports; receiving visitors; and general administration.

Hannah S. graduated with a B.A. in Politics and Development from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London in 2011. Originally from Thailand, Hannah came to DEPDC because of her strong interest in human trafficking.

Hannah Smith enjoying sports outside of DEPDC Mae Sai

Hannah S. enjoying sports outside of DEPDC Mae Sai

Hannah says, “Working at DEPDC has been an amazing and unforgettable opportunity. I am so grateful to have been a part of an organization that does such great work. Everyone here is incredibly dedicated.”

Some of her best memories from DEPDC are interpreting for World’s Children’s Prize while they were profiling Khun Sompop and the children in our programs; working with everyone at DEPDC, especially the staff and volunteers, who are “simply great people;” and seeing Khun Sompop and DEPDC staff have a jam session with guitars, bongos, and Thai classical instruments!

Read more from Hannah’s staff interview at Go Overseas.

Hana L. is thrilled to be the newest IVC at DEPDC. She previously worked for an education-based NGO on the Thai-Burmese border in Thailand’s Mae Hong Son province. She has also worked with refugees, undocumented immigrants, and disadvantaged children in China and in her home country, the U.S.

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Hana L. playing with schoolchildren in Ko Kel, Cambodia

Hana says she loves working at DEPDC so far and sometimes has to force herself to leave the office and go home at the end of the day! Some of her favorite parts of the job so far are getting to interact with people from all over the world who are passionate about ending human trafficking, giving people the opportunity to change their lives and the lives of others by becoming volunteers, being inspired daily by the hardworking and committed DEPDC staff and volunteers, and playing with the babies that hang out at the Mae Sai office!

Please join us in wishing Hannah Smith the best of luck in her next steps, and in welcoming Hana Livingston to DEPDC!

Meet an International Volunteer: Patricia!

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.

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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!

Meet an International Volunteer: Natalie!

Hi everybody! We are pleased to introduce you this week to one of our current volunteers, Natalie from Texas in the United States. Natalie joined us back in October of 2012 at our Mae Sai site. 

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Before she came to Thailand, Natalie worked for many years as a teacher in the US. After graduating from university, she taught at a private school for gifted children in Austin, Texas. In her first year there, she assistant-taught in a primary classroom, specializing in early literacy skills. For the next two years Natalie worked as a lead teacher, instructing students ranging in age from five to thirteen in English, French, World Geography, and various seminar classes. She also performed many administrative duties at this school, researching time allocation of core subjects and writing the elementary school schedule, organizing all field trips for grades K – 12, and recruiting guest lecturers for elementary seminar courses. 

Subsequently, Natalie has taught SAT Prep to high school students in Texas, worked as a buyer in an Austin clothing store, and volunteered with a local, socially-responsible clothing business called Open Arms, teaching many of their employees – all refugee women from countries around the world – EFL and literacy skills. Natalie has longed for years to come to northern Thailand and do volunteer work to combat the child sex trade. She is overjoyed to be working at DEPDC Mae Sai to educate at-risk youth, as she strongly believes that this is an effective tool in preventing child trafficking and empowering children.

At our Mae Sai site, Natalie teaches English to grades K.2 – G.4-6 at the Half Day School (HDS), teaches Staff English, and teaches adult community members English as a part of the Community Learning Center (CLC) program. Natalie also helps out with social media (she made the Children’s Day video!), writes for our newsletter, and does some report writing. During her last two months at DEPDC, Natalie is writing a teaching manual for all future international volunteers who will be teaching English who may not have had much previous experience or training in education.

Some of Natalie’s favorite experiences at DEPDC so far have been playing games in HDS classes and watching her students have fun learning English, riding her beloved motorbike around town, playing soccer with the HDS kids on Sports Day, and having a class discussion with her CLC students about what they want to do with their lives and hearing so many thoughtful responses about how her students want to help others and try to make the world a better place.

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