I came into this internship thinking Thailand would change me. But coming out, I’ve realised Thailand has not changed me – it has taught me. It has taught me how to appreciate the smaller things in life, but also taught me a lot about myself.
My internship began in Chiang Mai, working with a group of Paramedic volunteers who have just arrived in Thailand. The first week involved a lot of Q&A exchange sessions, where I was able to gather information about the Thailand healthcare system. In particular, the gap between rural and urban healthcare, as well as the treatment procedures, were interesting to learn about. It broadened my perspective on global health challenges and emphasised how factors like access, sanitation, water and government support play such crucial roles in a country’s health status.
Being an intern was initially a challenging concept. I was not a volunteer, but at the same time I was not a full-time member of the staff team. Finding the balance between the two was difficult - trying to participate in social activities with the volunteers, yet still remaining professional and working within my boundaries as an intern. For a volunteer, the working day finishes when they return from their workshop or hospital visit. As an intern, I would come home and then proceed to complete monitoring work, type up collected information or conduct interviews. It meant that my day would often clash with evening activities like watching a movie or going to the markets. However, this pushed me to work even harder so that I would not frequently miss out on social activities. It taught me to prioritise my work, and realise not only that it was ok to miss out on activities, but more importantly gave me a glimpse into the daily reality of the FutureSense Foundation staff.
As part of my internship, I worked on improving and restructuring the Paramedic Challenge syllabus. In doing so, I gathered volunteers’ opinions on what they considered to be valuable content and how they would ideally deliver this in a workshop, utilising this to inform the way future workshops are run. I also worked on trialling a new monitoring system which involved recording dates, times and details about every session that volunteers participated in whether it be workshops, hospital visits or evening activities. Whilst it was challenging at first, I found that as my time as an intern progressed, I became more comfortable and had a better understanding of the monitoring work I was completing.
In addition, I often accompanied the volunteers on on hospital checks at Mae Sariang hospital as well as their NCD screenings for different local communities. This was not only a great practical experience, but also gave me valuable information about healthcare practices in rural settings as well as some of the most prevalent health issues, including diabetes and hypertension. In the final week, I worked with the volunteers running English workshops at a school in the hill tribe villages.
Probably, the most difficult part of this internship was balancing my university studies with my internship commitments. I always ensured during my designated work hours I was doing internship-related work, but sometimes completing university work clashed with evening activities, and it was during such times I really had to prioritise one over the other. In saying that, I am proud of the way I balanced both workloads and completed my internship to the best of my ability, whilst still engaging in social activities.
Working with the FutureSense staff was truly an amazing experience and probably one of the highlights of this internship. Whether it was having meetings at the local coffee shop, working in the living room wrapped in blankets on cold mornings, or having late night discussions about the history of FutureSense in the hub office, it was always a memorable time. Even the countless hours of workshop preparations with the program manager Maria always involved a good laugh and a test of our creativity!
I am really grateful for having been able to work so closely with the FutureSense Thailand team. They were always so approachable if ever I had queries regarding my work, and they very quickly made me feel comfortable in working as part of their team. Their work ethic and dedication was admirable and inspired me to complete my work to the best of my ability. I have learnt so much about how organisations like Future Sense are run, but also how the work which is delivered by the organisation aligns with the needs of the community. It also showed me just how much responsibility I held as an intern. Often the work of other staff members relied on the work I was completing, and so this pushed me to meet deadlines as much as possible so that I could best assist them where possible.
Overall my internship was a truly eye-opening experience. There was a whirlwind of emotions, but ultimately, I am so grateful for the opportunity I have had and am so excited to see what changes I will make because of it. To anyone who is even remotely considering this experience, all I can say is you won’t regret it!
Keen to complete your own internship in Thailand? Check out the opportunity here.