You know those once in a lifetime experiences that you will always bring up at a dinner party or when you’re sharing stories? That’s exactly the opportunity that Challenges Abroad has given me.
My name is Amber Meadley. I am currently studying a Bachelor Arts/ Bachelor Teaching (Secondary-Technology) at Australian Catholic University, Strathfield.
In January 2016, I completed a 2 week challenge in Chiang Mai, Thailand teaching English and lifestyle to primary aged students. My days in the challenge included waking up to breakfast from our beautiful in-house cook, Pi-kay and a quick morning planning meeting with our teaching teams and CA support staff to plan our day and lessons. In the morning session, we hosted a 2hour English lesson where we incorporated games and physical activities to assist in learning verbs. We broke for a lunch break, prepared daily by our school and socialised with students in the playground. After Lunch, lessons consisted of life skills. These varied from ‘crafternoons’, sports time and playing English word games. After school is completed, we were able to use the afternoon for leisure to explore local markets and cuisines, visit the local massage ladies and relax.
Through this experience, I was able to gain a greater understanding and appreciation for my passion of teaching and develop myself personally through making life long friendships, building my confidence and becoming a part of a wider community. I chose to join Challenges Abroad through ACU to step outside my comfort zone and challenge myself. I had always wanted to participate in volunteer work, but always made excuses not to (not enough time, friends, family). Speaking with a past volunteer and learning about her stories really changed my mind and convinced me to participate. After all- why not?
Looking back on my experience, I can affirm that this experience was one that I will never forget. I particularly made a very close connection with my younger students through our English Lessons. We shared joy, frustration and excitement as they learnt and grasped new English words or phrases and laughed as they tried to teach me how to write and speak the same in Thai. I not only became their teacher for 2 weeks, but their friend and mentor.
Thailand is one of the most beautiful, fascinating and friendliest countries I have ever been to. Whilst a language barrier and some various social norms stood between us, the local people of Doi Saket were introducing themselves and assisting us in every way possible. The local staff were nothing short of amazing and provided us with great opportunity to go above and beyond. The partnerships created through an experience such as this places a great perspective on our role as a global citizen and how we are part of a larger, diverse society. Challenges Abroad gave me the opportunity to believe in my abilities to become an influential participant in a wider society, helping me achieve goals and develop not only myself, but others. I can recommend this experience to anybody; whether wanting to develop your skills, try something new and push yourself. Challenges Abroad is a fantastic way to do that.