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ESL Teaching With No Experience- Declan’s Story

ESL Teaching With No Experience- Declan’s Story

Trying ESL Teaching in Thailand for the First Time

"ESL teaching has encouraged me to constantly look for ways to improve myself and taught me how to learn from experiences. Teaching has forced me to grow, adapt and improve."

Coming into ESL teaching from a completely different field can be a huge challenge. In a very raw and honest blog post, one of our recent TESOL graduates shares his struggles and how he overcame them. With a background in Finance, Declan was thrown into a completely different working environment which made him learn how to approach problems in a new way. ESL teaching can be tough at first, but, as Declan explains, there are lots of ways to help yourself and your students if you take it step by step. Sometimes the most important lessons you learn from teaching abroad have nothing to do with what’s on the TESOL syllabus.

I graduated university in December of 2018.  It took way longer to get my degree than it could’ve, but there I was, degree in Finance firmly in hand. As much as I’d also earned a sense of accomplishment that I’d achieved something that began as an idea years ago, I only had to scratch just a little bit below the surface before I started asking myself: “What the hell am I going to do for a career?”

XploreAsia offers training in ESL teaching in a group setting so that you can support each toher through your individual journeys.

I quickly realised that maybe I wasn’t ready for a “career”-type job yet. If I rushed into something without being certain of what I wanted, I may come to regret it.  So, I decided to take a gap year.  Teaching had always appealed to me, and it was something I’d always thought I would be able to do well, so when I discovered the opportunity to teach in Thailand, I quickly jumped onboard.

Fast forward a few months of saving like crazy and trying (and failing) to plan everything, I had landed in Thailand.  The month in Hua Hin with XploreAsia, was amazing; I had a fantastic time and truly didn’t want it to end. I’d made lots of new friends, had built up confidence, and felt that I could live in Thailand. I felt reasonably settled. I was feeling very excited for what the next chapter had in store. I’d gained a couple of days of teaching experience through XploreAsia that went particularly well. I enjoyed them immensely and felt like I’d delivered great lessons. However, this success only added to my misplaced arrogance and naïvety as to how I thought I’d be as a teacher.

ESL teaching offers opportunities to truly bond with your students, but it can be a learning curve.

Walking into my new school, ready to teach maths to 13-year-olds, reality quickly came to smack me in the face.  For the first few weeks, I constantly had this feeling of being overwhelmed, lost and entirely hopeless as to where to begin.  I remember walking into my first few classes, looking around the room to see who was going to be in charge, only to have it dawn on me that I was to be in charge. My lesson plans didn’t go as well as I’d envisioned, and I started to lose faith in them. It felt as though I was drowning. I thought I was failing at a career I thought I would so naturally and effortlessly thrive in. I knew I needed to change my approach to things.

Lean on Your Peers with ESL Teaching Experience

Teaching can be a big adjustment, but an amazing adventure. Remember to breathe, and try to remember what you learning during your TESOL course.
ESL teaching is made much easier by asking for support from your colleagues. Chances are, all new teachers are feel a little unsure at first.

One of the things that got me through those first few months, was turning to my new international support group. I didn’t want to tell my family that I was having problems in case I worried them. Luckily, I’d made friends through XploreAsia and sharing my problems with them set my mind at ease. To hear from them about similar struggles and feelings normalized what I was going through and instilled me with a great deal of comfort. I’d encourage madly that you should remain in contact with your good friends you will make whilst completing your TESOL. The new ESL teaching experience may throw the world at you- and it certianly was a very new experience for me- so to have someone to talk to openly and honestly, someone who could potentially be in the same boat as you, will help soothe your troubles and be very therapeutic.

I also began to keep a daily journal to write down how each class went. Writing in the journal was great, it gave me an outlet for my emotions, and provided tangible evidence of the improvements I was making in my teaching ability.  I began to try to include at least one successful and positive thing that I had achieved in each class.

Try New Activities in the Classroom

I was also lucky that my parents had raised me to become relentlessly optimistic and determined.  If my classes were going horrible, I wanted to change that.  First off, I had to shelve my pride, and embrace my failures to be able to see what wasn’t working. This gave me the confidence to experiment with new techniques and strategies in class. I worked hard to research and improve my management skills and to also keep my lessons interesting by adding new activities. If something didn’t work, I would switch to a new idea to find what my students responded best to.

Sometimes it really pays off to be creative and silly in the classroom.

I embodied the expression ‘anything worth doing, is worth doing poorly.’ If a new activity I implemented in class didn’t go so well, it was still better than not trying new things at all.

Ask for Feedback (Even if it’s Hard to Hear)

Asking for feedback from my peers after my lessons took some courage; it was challenging having my lessons dissected and critically analysed by other teachers. However, I’d made a promise earlier to be open and honest with myself, so hearing some negative feedback wasn’t too soul crushing. As it was such a new career path, I was still learning about ESL teaching and the advice turned out to be invaluable.

Having a fellow teacher observe can really help you build your teaching knowledge.

The advice I was given was hugely beneficial and implementing it in the following lessons returned huge successes: my lessons were running smoother, I had the students under some control, and I was able to keep the children more engaged throughout the class.

To wrap up my first few months of ESL teaching in Thailand, I would say it was much more of a rollercoaster than I was anticipating. Although I’ve had some low moments, I’ve also had some adorable and warm highs and learned more about ymself than I have done during any other time in my life.

ESL teaching has encouraged me to constantly look for ways to improve myself and has taught me how to learn from experiences. Teaching has forced me to grow, adapt and improve. It has also taught me to accept that there are some things I can’t do well from the get-go, and that’s fine. I believe that if we are honest with ourselves, we can handle any situation thrown at us. We can’t be anything more than our best, and we should be comfortable with that, even if our best isn’t always perfect.

If you want to take on a new challenge, why not check out our TESOL courses? ESL teaching abroad can give you a chance to improve not only your own confidence and problem-solving skills, but also to make a huge impact on your students and the local community.

Catch up with our staff and teachers on our Instagram and Facebook pages.

Tips for Teachers Working Abroad for the First Time

Tips for Teachers Working Abroad for the First Time

Do's and Don'ts for New ESL Teachers

Nervous about starting your first job as an ESL teacher? Read some top tips from our TESOL instructor.

Hello! My name is CJ Lewis, a TESOL Instructor with XploreAsia. As we welcome a new group of TESOL students to Hua Hin, I thought I would highlight some Do’s and Don’ts for new teachers heading abroad for the first time. Here are my top tips for teachers new to the field of ESL.

First, the Do's!

Here are some tips for teachers looking to make their new lives abroad much easier.
  1. DO arrive to school early. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Yes, that’s every day. It really shows the school staff that you take your job seriously and they will respect you for that.

2. DO dress for success. You know what they say, clothes make the man/woman. It will give you confidence, show the students that you are a professional teacher, and show the staff that you are ready to go. It’s a win-win for everyone.

3. DO bring a small gift for the principal of your school. It builds rapport, shows appreciation and its just fun to do.

Do you have any other tips for teachers? Let us know in the comments!
CJ's advice this month includes to dress for success.

I have given baseballs, fruit, energy drinks, even a Lebron James jersey (for a principal who REALLY liked Basketball) and it really made the year a smooth one from an administrative standpoint. Plus, some became friends for life.

One of CJ's tips for teachers is to try to learn the native language so you can bond with locals.
Explore the markets to find bargains and make new friends.

4. DO explore the day/night markets. You never know who you will meet, what you will buy, what you will eat, what music will play. Always a fun experience each and every time you go. No matter which country.

5. DO have an understanding of the native language. When out and about, if you try your best to speak their language, the locals will appreciate it. You don’t have to be fluent, but the if you know some vocab it will help locals to get to know you better. There’s a ton of apps out there to help you learn a new language in a fun way. Don’t be shy, give it a try!

Next, the Don'ts!

Here are some things to avoid if you want to make a good start teaching abroad.

1. DON’T be late. Ever. I mean it. Of course, things can happen. Everything is different and new in the country you have been placed. Buses are late, scooters run out of gas, routes get forgotten. Plan for it, make it a goal to always get to work on time and avoid distractions.

2. DON’T just stand in front of the class and give instructions. I like to tell students that the front of the room is “lava” and if they stay in one place for too long they will burn their feet. Move around! Get the students to talk, ask questions. Just don’t stay put. Be active

Do you have any more top tips for teachers? Share some advice in the comments!
Top tips for teachers: staying active can particularly help to keep the engagement of young learners.

3. DON’T speak too fast. This is one of the most important tips for teachers who are not used to teaching ESL. When we’re around our peers, friends, and family, we tend to speak pretty fast. They are native English speakers and they understand what we are saying. That is not the case when you are teaching ESL. You must pace yourself, enunciate, and take your time to convey understanding. It will take patience, practice and experience.

Another of CJ's tips for teachers is not to neglect your social life. Try to grasp every opportunity whilst teaching hing abroad.
You'll always have your XA family to lean on. Don't be afraid to contact us for advice.

4. DON’T say no to a wrong answer or an invite, DON’T say I cant to an opportunity. Be a Yes man! Get out there and see what opportunities your town can offer when given the chance! I never thought I would be into scuba diving and now I go almost every weekend, because of an invite.

5. DON’T become discouraged when things aren’t working. Lean on your new friends, vent to your family back home (Skype!), chat with your favorite street market vendor, and of course, the XploreAsia team are always here to help! Drop us a line if you ever need a helping hand.

To learn more about our programs, head over to our website. To see updates from teachers we’ve already helped find amazing new adventures, follow our Instagram and Facebook pages.

Chad’s Story: Teacher in Thailand Making Local Friendships

Chad’s Story: Teacher in Thailand Making Local Friendships

Bang

"It was probably the most emotional I have been during this whole experience and all I want for him is a happy, successful life and wish that he gets out of the life he is in now."

In our final installment of this month’s series, recent TESOL graduate Chad shares his heartfelt story. Chad met Bang during his stay in Hua Hin whilst studying to be an ESL teacher in Thailand, and the encounter had a profound affect on his worldview.

So since being here I have talked to so many people in the local community but none have had more of an effect on me than Bang. He is a little kid that was probably no older than 8 or 9. I met Bang in the worst possible way; he was selling roses on the street by himself at about 11pm at night when our TESOL group was heading out on the first of many Friday nights out in Hua Hin.

Chad met Bang during an evening in Hua Hin during studying for his TESOL course. Who will you meet when you teach in Thailand?

Since being told about the difficulties Thailand has with child trafficking, I was heavily against being a part of it and buying into any of it. To my understanding, kids in these situations do not lead the best lives, Matilda, a fellow student training to be a teacher in Thailand, agreed and we decided just wanted to make sure that he knew we cared for him and wanted him to have fun like children at his age should be doing. We chatted with him, danced in the street and played “silly buggers” for almost 2 hours instead of drinking with everyone. He spoke excellent English and knew that we just wanted him to be okay.

He told us that we can visit him around the same area again during the weekends. As I was training to be a teacher in Thailand, I really hoped I’d see him again before leaving to my placement. He was such an amazing and caring little child; it was very upsetting to me that he was stuck in this type of lifestyle. I really wanted to do everything I could while I was here to give him the most fun time as I could manage.

It wasn’t until the next Friday, when we went out again, that I got to meet Bang for a second time. The whole group was walking to the bar district and he was standing on the stairs by a 7/11 with a few of his rose selling friends. Matilda and I saw him and said a big hello and ran towards him- Bang nearly dived off the stairs into both mine and Matilda arms!

The best thing about meeting and getting to know Bang was the true heartfelt hug he gave me after I told him that I would never forget him and hope to see him in again in the future.

Chad- TESOL graduate

We both were so happy that he remembered us and we made sure that he was okay and wasn’t hungry, thirsty or needed anything. We had another muck around with him and his friends and just generally chatted and chilled with him for a bit. Once again it didn’t take me long to realize that he was such an intelligent, funny and just all round amazing kid. He was constantly cracking jokes and showing so much compassion from both Matilda and I which was obviously because he could sense how much we actually cared for him and just wanted him to be happy. 

Matilda, Chad's fellow teacher in Thailand, was also very touched by Bang's situation.

Once again, I had the opportunity the following Friday to try and make his night just the little bit better. Knowing that it may be the last time I’d get to see him, it was harder to want to leave. He was very upset that Matilda was not with me this time and he told me (after our quick game of tag on the streets, a bit a dance together (because he has the coolest dance moves ever) and a shoulder ride) to make sure that I give her a big hug from him and to tell her that he loves her because she is beautiful and kind. It was probably the most emotional I have been during my time in Thailand so far. All I want for him is a happy, successful life and I wish that he gets out of the life he is in now. The best thing about meeting and getting to know Bang was the true heartfelt hug he gave me after I told him that I would never forget him and hope to see him in again in the future.

What did you think of Chad’s story? Being a teacher in Thailand lets you see all sides of the culture, but also puts you in a position to make a huge difference to the community. If you’re interested in teaching in Thailand, check out our programs. Follow our Instagram and Facebook accounts to keep up with our current TESOL teachers.

Chad graduating from our Hua Hin TESOL program and becoming a fully-fledged teacher in Thailand.

Olivia’s Story: Teachers in Thailand Making Local Friendships

Olivia’s Story: Teachers in Thailand Making Local Friendships

The Banksy of Hua Hin

"I couldn't help noticing the beautiful street art and I was intrigued by the mysterious person behind these works."

Moving to a new country can be a huge challenge. Here at XploreAsia, we believe that challenges are what make people grow and that moving abroad can open up a wealth of opportunities. In this series on our blog, our recent TESOL graduates are sharing their stories of the international frienships they made even before they became fully-fledged teachers in Thailand. This week, Olivia tells us about her discovery of one of Hua Hin’s most prolific street artists who she ran into during her time studying in Hua Hin.

 

Since arriving to Hua Hin, I couldn’t help noticing the unique street art, particularly the giant eye that seems to be watching me everywhere I go. As an artist myself, I was intrigued and keen to find the mysterious person behind these works. I’d labeled the artist, in my head, as the “Banksy of Hua Hin”. In our first week here, I’d noticed an alley that had walls decorated with paintings on the road to the night market. A few Sundays in, I was feeling restless and decided to go to exploring. During my walk, I passed the same colorful alleyway, and decided to venture down and check it out.

What I discovered was a space filled with art. Rap music blared as I wandered around the giant room trying to take it all in. Suddenly the volume was lowered,and a tall skinny Thai man with a ponytail and tattoos nodded at me coolly. He became the recipient of my millions of questions. “Did you make all this art?” “How long have you been an artist?” “Do you live here?”

He answered as best he could with limited English, but was quick to show me his sketchpad. When I told him I drew too, he told me that it’s important to do at least five drawings a day in order to really improve. He invited me to explore and take pictures if I wanted to. He even let me photograph him. We hung out and chatted about art. I learned that aside from art, he likes to skimboard every day with his girlfriend, who is also an artist. She makes clothes and bags- one of which I ended up buying. It was a collaboration of her stitching and his drawings, priced at 500 baht, but since I only had 400 on me, he gave it to me for 400. It had one of the mysterious eyes I had seen plastered all over the city. 

Teachers in Thailand get a chance to gain a real insight into the lives of the locals.

I was really fortunate to meet a Thai artist that seems to make his entire living that way, especially because I have struggled for a while to find my own path. His entire demeanor was refreshing, and it seemed like he had found the secret formula to happiness. He was very humble while also being breathtakingly talented.

Teachers in Thailand have the opportunity to explore the most incredible places!

 

From this interaction, but also from the interactions I’ve had with Thai people in general, I felt very welcome. This is a new thing to me as someone who comes from icy New Hampshire, where people are much less ready to chat to strangers. The genuine kindness of Thai people is definitely something I can get used to. I’ve had Thai people help me fit groceries into my backpack when they saw I was struggling, run up to me with a bottle of vinegar when I got stung by a jellyfish, and cram ten donuts into a box for me because I had dropped the ones I originally bought on the street. Creativity also appears to be a common thread through my experience in Thailand so far, and I am looking forward to meeting more creative people in my new community.

What do you think of Olivia’s story meeting a fellow artist? Teachers in Thailand are often surprised by how welcoming the locals are and it’s easy for Thailand to feel like a home from home. If you enjoyed this blog, why not check out Olivia’s classmate Kyle’s experience bonding with a local?

You can also see updates on Olivia’s journey through her blog and Instagram page. If you want to be finding new friends and learning new things yourself, all whilst making a huge difference to a Thai community, check out our TESOL course which will give you all the skills you need to be a great English teacher. Make sure to follow XploreAsia on Instagram and Facebook to see what else our teachers in Thailand, Myanmar, South Korea, Vietnam and China are up to.

Kyle’s Story: Teachers in Thailand Making Local Friendships

Kyle’s Story: Teachers in Thailand Making Local Friendships

The Jersey Boys

"He wanted to know about my home as much as I wanted to know about his."

Making the move to a new country can be difficult. It’s daunting to leave friends and family so far behind to start a new adventure. However, moving abroad is just that- an adventure- and there are lots of new friends waiting to be found. In this blog series, some of our teachers in Thailand who’ve just graduated from our most recent TESOL course in Hua Hin are sharing the most memorable connections they’ve made with Thai locals during their training. Read on to find out about Teacher Kyle’s chance encounter with a musical couple.

Teachers in Thailand get the chance to make lasting international friendships.

One day, as I walked to explore Hua Hin and find a new place to eat, a friendly Thai man exclaimed “New Jersey”, the state I come from, as he passed me.  I was confused and turned around to see him looking at me and telling his wife something but I only understood “New Jersey” and “Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons”.  I didn’t even realize the shirt I had on that day was of the summer camp I worked at called Camp Nejeda.  I tried to start a conversation in Thai with him and they laughed with me before he started speaking above average English.  The man told me his name but said to call him “Ant” because I’d have trouble anyway, sure enough I forgot both him and his wife’s Thai names.  I am pretty sure the man was more eager to talk to me than I was to him.  He asked me question after question about my state and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, his favorite musical group.

I sat with him and his wife for a half hour over breakfast. He was ecstatic that people in my generation had a sense of adventure and an open mind to work in his country. Ant told me he spent a few months working in Washington DC but was never able to make it up to New Jersey which always disappointed him.  I tried to reassure him there was nothing special about it.

Ant, his wife and I were only together for about an hour and a half and I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole time. I have never even felt so welcome, even in my own home. The generosity and curiosity was new to me and it was shocking in the best way.

Kyle- TESOL graduate

After sharing music from our home countries, we were heading in the same direction once we left breakfast and he asked if I had ever tried khanom khrok (a Thai dessert made with coconut milk).  I said no and he bought some for us to try. I loved it and tried to offer him money for the share he gave me. His wife and him both laughed at me as I insisted. Then I realized how American I was being. Local’s kindness can be a surprise for new teachers in Thailand.

Ant, his wife and I were only together for about an hour and a half and I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole time. I have never felt so welcome, even in my own home. The generosity and curiosity was new to me and it was shocking in the best way. He wanted to know about my home as much as I wanted to know about his. However, what stuck out the most was that he’d drove four hours to Hua Hin that day to replace a car battery for someone in his family. My family care for each other too, but instead of making a 4 hour drive we would probably help them over the phone. Ant, on the other hand, was excited to make the journey to help his family. It was an excuse to come see them and have dinner. He also was fine taking time out of his day to hang out with a stranger from America. I truly could not see anyone doing that in the States. Unfortunately, I forgot to get any contact information and now that I’m writing this I wish I could stay in touch. He was my first Thai friend. At least I got a selfie, though!

What do you think of Kyle’s story? If experiencing a different culture sounds good to you, head over to our website to learn more about our TESOL course which we offer in six amazing locations. Teachers in Thailand can earn a living and make a huge difference in your community. Who will you meet during your time abroad?

Keep an eye on the XploreAsia blog to hear more stories from our teachers in Thailand and the cross-cultural friendships they have made. Also, head over to XploreAsia’s Instagram and Facebook pages to see what our teachers all over the world are getting up to after gaining their TESOL with us.

The Twelve Days of Christmas in Thailand at Rescue P.A.W.S.

The Twelve Days of Christmas in Thailand at Rescue P.A.W.S.

Rescue P.A.W.S. landscape logo

Celebrating Christmas in Thailand can feel strange for westerners who may be used to building snowmen and having snowball fights. Although you may not be able to ride a sleigh through the snow, there are many ways to celebrate the holiday in the sunshine instead. What more perfect way to ease your homesick blues than taking a look at some of the adorable animals our charity Rescue Paws is caring for?

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… a cat curled under the tree!

Saba is one of three cats we found tied up in a bag and thrown over the wall of the temple where our clinic is based. We took her and her siblings in and now they are happy, healthy and ready for adoption. If you are interested in adopting, contact us here!

Rescue Paws volunteer walking towards kennel
Rescue Paws volunteer with cow

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two rescued pups and a cat curled under the tree!

Whenever we are unable to return a dog to its pack, we try to find it a forever home. Pictured are two dogs we took in to sterilize and care for that were adopted by two families.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me three volunteers, two rescued pups and a cat curled under the tree!

Our volunteer program is the backbone of Rescue P.A.W.S. Without our volunteers, we wouldn’t be able to help nearly as many dogs as we do. If you are interested in volunteering, please visit our website to apply!

Rescue Paws volunteer with dog
Rescue Paws volunteer training dog

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, four purring cats, three volunteers, two rescued pups and a cat curled under the tree!

At Rescue P.A.W.S., not only do we look after dogs but we also look after cats. All of our rescued animals are like siblings here!

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, five sterilized strays, four purring cats, three volunteers, two rescued pups and a cat curled under the tree!

Rescue Paws volunteer holding dog on the beach in Hua Hin, Thailand

Stray dog overpopulation is a massive issue throughout all of Thailand. In the span of six years, one male and female pair can produce up to 67,000 offspring. Here at Rescue P.A.W.S. we help to reduce the number of strays by sterilizing dogs, which in turn helps increase their quality of life.

Volunteer in Thailand with Rescue Paws

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me six dogs a-hugging, five sterilized strays, four purring cats, three volunteers, two rescued pups and a cat curled under the tree!

While on a feeding run one day, we noticed one of the puppies, Snooze, had swelling in her paw. We took her back to the clinic to sterilize her and treat the wound. She will be returned to her to her pack as soon as she heals.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me seven dogs a-feeding, six dogs a-hugging, five sterilized strays, four purring cats, three volunteers, two rescued pups and a cat curled under the tree!

Rescue Paws volunteer holding dog on the beach in Hua Hin, Thailand

Our volunteers partake in daily feeding runs to local packs around the area making sure the dogs are properly nourished. We feed the pups both dry and wet dog food, all thanks to donations. If you want to help us feed the street dogs in Thailand, donate here today!

Volunteer in Thailand with Rescue Paws

For the eighth day of Christmas in Thailand, my true love gave to me eight licks a-landing, seven dogs a-feeding, six dogs a-hugging, five sterilized strays, four purring cats, three volunteers, two rescued pups and a cat curled under the tree!

One of the most crucial parts of being a volunteer is socializing with the dogs. We give each dog extra love and care so that they grow up friendly and properly socialized.

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me nine dogs a-learning, eight licks a-landing, seven dogs a-feeding, six dogs a-hugging, five sterilized strays, four purring cats, three volunteers, two rescued pups and a cat curled under the tree!

Rescue Paws volunteer holding dog on the beach in Hua Hin, Thailand

Not only do we socialize the dogs, but for those that are with us for longer, we also train them. Pictured here is Cloud, who is up for adoption! If you are interested in adopting and making this Cloud’s last Christmas in Thailand, please message us here.

Volunteer in Thailand with Rescue Paws

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me ten clean kennels, nine dogs a-learning, eight licks a-landing, seven dogs a-feeding, six dogs a-hugging, five sterilized strays, four purring cats, three volunteers, two rescued pups and a cat curled under the tree!

Our volunteers work tirelessly to ensure that our dogs are happy. Part of their daily tasks is cleaning the kennels so that all the dogs staying with us are comfortable and happy.

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me eleven toys donated, ten clean kennels, nine dogs a-learning, eight licks a-landing, seven dogs a-feeding, six dogs a-hugging, five sterilized strays, four purring cats, three volunteers, two rescued pups and a cat curled under the tree!

Christmas in Thailand doesn’t only come once a year thanks to our lovely volunteers. Nikita, was generous to donate some much-needed toys, leashes and collars for our dogs. This year, we have been lucky to receive many donations from many kinds of individuals. But unfortunately, we still need more help. With one sterilization costing around 2,000 baht ($60 USD), any amount goes a long way! To donate, click here. All of us at Rescue P.A.W.S. and XploreAsia appreciate the donations that have and are being made that enable us to continue helping the community.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me twelve strays transformed, eleven toys donated, ten clean kennels, nine dogs a-learning, eight licks a-landing, seven dogs a-feeding, six dogs a-hugging, five sterilized strays, four purring cats, three volunteers, two rescued pups and a cat curled under the tree!

It warms our hearts to see so many lives of animals transformed after they come through our doors. It’s truly incredible what a little love and care can do to better the lives of these precious animals. Thank you to all of our donors, volunteers, and to our amazing team for helping make Rescue P.A.W.S. the organization that it is. 

Volunteer in Thailand with Rescue Paws

Do you love animals? Want to give back to the community? Ready to trade a cold crimbo for a warm Christmas in Thailand? Come join us in beautiful Thailand and get involved with Rescue P.A.W.S. You can also make a positive impact by visiting Wagging Tales Cafe, our non-profitable coffee shop where all proceeds go towards Rescue P.A.W.S. itself.

If you want to see more of our adorable pups and kittens, check our RP’s Instagram and Facebook pages too! Learn more about the Rescue P.A.W.S. volunteer program here

How to Reduce Your Environmental Impact In Thailand

How to Reduce Your Environmental Impact In Thailand

How to Reduce Your Environmental Impact in Thailand

Picture this: I’m walking down the street in sunny San Diego with an iced almond latte in one hand, proudly sporting my stainless steel tumbler and straw. I feel as though I’m saving the world with my farmers market tote in the other hand. Fast forward one month and I’m ordering a Thai coffee in broken Thai for 30 baht from a street vendor. My stomach churns as I watch the smiling woman hand me a plastic cup with a plastic lid and a plastic straw. Then, my heart sinks further as I consider my environmental impact as she places the drink in some sort of plastic bag handle device.

Plastic can seem to be everywhere in Thailand- reduce your environmental impact by carrying reusable alternatives instead.

From the day I was born my parents engrained reduce, reuse, recycle, repair, or refuse into my mind. However, I never really considered how my habits back home would translate abroad.

My First Impression of Thailand

Having only spent one week here in Thailand I am constantly amazed by the prevalence of single-use plastic. There are plastic water bottles everywhere. At 7-Eleven they’ll give you a plastic straw in a plastic wrapper for your plastic drink bottle all held together in a plastic shopping bag. Or at a local market they’ll wrap your dried fruit in a plastic sheet, tie it with a rubber band, and place it inside another plastic bag. Even bananas come in plastic bags. And to think I was annoyed by the shrink-wrapped cucumbers at Trader Joe’s back home.

Reduce your environmental impact by seeking out sustainable and cruelty-free wildlife centres, santuaries and rescue organisations.
Rescue Paws volunteer in Hua Hin, Thailand

Thailand is one of the most beautiful countries in the worldknown for its tropical beaches, lush forests, high mountains, and glittering Buddhist temples. The various street vendors and markets on every corner allow visitors to support the local economy. They also have an amazing ecotourism industry where visitors can participate in sustainable travel.  Visitors can opt for a homestay, support a humane elephant sanctuary, or volunteer with a nonprofit organization, such as our very own Rescue Paws. While Thailand has exceeded my expectations with its sheer beauty, pollution is still a very real issue.  

My first visit to the beach was quite a humbling experience. This particular beach was absolutely gorgeous with white sand and calm waves, but there were hundreds of tiny pieces of plastic stuck in the seaweed that washed onto shore. Yes, plastic is convenient. Yes, it is a low-cost option. Yes, there are other pressing issues besides the environment. But I think as both guests and educators in this country we can do something!

Progress Towards Sustainability in Thailand

By no means are things all gloom and doom here in Thailand. The country has definitely made some significant strides towards sustainability. Tesco sells reusable bags, local coffee shops provide discounts for bringing a reusable cup, most busy locations have recycling bins, and national parks recently placed a ban on plastic.

Plastic Ban in National Parks

This large sign appears at the entrance of the Sam Roi Yot National Park near Hua Hin

Plastic ban sign in Sam Roi Yot National Park in Thailand

In 2013, a group of environmental activists in Thailand formed a nonprofit organization called Trash Hero with the mission to bring communities together by reducing waste through action and awareness.  As of June 2018, more than 104,000 volunteers have removed almost 597 tons of garbage from beaches and cities across Thailand and ten other countries. There’s a chapter right here in Hua Hin that holds weekly beach cleanups every Sunday. This is a great opportunity to collaborate with the local community for a greater cause!

Reduce your environmental impact by volunteering with Trash Hero. Picture: a volunteer educating youth about plastic and sustainability in Thailand

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We interviewed one of XploreAsia’s very own program coordinators about her experience with Trash Hero

Whether we are teachers, interns, volunteers, or just tourists in Thailand there are some small changes we can make in our new everyday lives here to help make a difference and lower our environmental impact. The first thing on everyone’s to-do list after arriving in Thailand should be to buy a reusable water bottle. I bought a large water jug and have been refilling it with clean drinking water at many locations around Hua Hin for 5 baht.  Furthermore, we can purchase reusable shopping bags and take-away containers to use at local markets and street vendors.

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Adorable kids from Trash Hero teach us how to say no to plastic bags in Thai

Helpful Thai Phrases

Mai sai tung ka/krap = don’t need a bag
Mai ao lawd ka/ krap = don’t want a straw
Mai = no
Sai = need
Ao = want
Tung = bag
Lawd = straw
*make sure to add ka (if you’re a female) or krap (if you’re a male) at the end to be polite*

Our Role as Educators

Most importantly, we can educate our students about how to reduce our environmental impact and the importance of minimizing single-use plastic. This global issue will affect their future unless we do something about it now! Many of our teachers have set up recycling bins and demonstrated to the students how to appropriately sort waste. We can and should incorporate sustainability into our lesson plans. For example, when learning the English words for animals we can teach students about marine life and what we can do to protect them. In addition, during a lesson about household items we could play fun games that teach them about saving water and energy.

Teacher from XploreAsia teaching Thai class about the beach
As an educator, you can teach students how to reduce their own environmental impact and spread the workd about how to protect the Earth!

By teaching in Thailand, we have the ability to encourage our students to discover other ways to protect the planet. During XploreAsia’s overseas in-class TESOL training participants will learn different activities and lesson plans to encourage conservation. Since this is a cross-cultural experience, your students may even come up with some ideas that you haven’t considered. Let’s work together to make a difference and preserve Thailand’s natural beauty!

Written by: Maya Vrechek

Best Cafes in Hua Hin for Productivity & Good WiFi

Best Cafes in Hua Hin for Productivity & Good WiFi

Best Cafes in Hua Hin for Productivity & Good WiFi

(All in walking distance from the XploreAsia office too!)

Whether you’re interning, teaching, or working abroad (like at XploreAsia), Hua Hin offers an array of highly productive, adorable cafes located on almost every corner. I love finding a nice, cozy, cafe or coffee shop to write, read, or work at for the day. A change of scenery is my best inspiration and productivity booster. Luckily, Hua Hin is filled with the best cafes all over the city. Work hard, play hard right?

best cafes in Hua Hin

For those of you searching for these hidden gems, I’ve created a short list of the best cafes in Hua Hin with reliable wifi, delicious snacks, & perfectly brewed coffee based on my own experiences here in Hua Hin–not to mention, they are all a short walk away from the XploreAsia office. I hope these cafes bring you as much productivity, inspiration, and yumminess as they did for me. Happy exploring!

Soi Hua Hin 43

Open: 7am-4pm

1.) Wagging Tales

Located right across from the XploreAsia office, Wagging Tales is XploreAsia’s local cafe supporting their NGO, Rescue Paws.

XA transformed this big house into a cafe serving delicious Thai and Western food and drinks. 100% of the profits from Wagging Tales go to helping the stray dog population in Thailand through XA’s NGO, Rescue Paws. Wagging Tales is committed to bringing all profits back into the community. Not only does this cafe offer amazing smoothies, breakfast muffins, etc. it’s also a great place to meet fellow dog lovers and support a good cause. The mango smoothie from Wagging Tales is a perfect start to my day!

Make a donation to Rescue Paws, here.

11/34 Hua-Hin Soi 45

Open: 8am-3pm

2.) Black Monster

Despite the name, this coffee shop is the farthest thing from a black monster. Located just a block over from XploreAsia, the Black Monster is one cafe you can’t miss. The speedy wifi and assortment of trendy drinks combined with their mod decor, makes this cafe a favorite in Hua Hin—mine included. Not to mention, ALL. DAY. BREAKFAST. The most important meal of the day, and one that is sure to give you a productivity boost. Black Monster offers a breakfast special for 275 TBH which includes a trendy drink of your choice, toast, and a hearty breakfast. It’s a win-win situation.

3.) Chub Cheeva

Described as “tasty food in a chillax environment” Chub Cheeva was one of my best random finds in Hua Hin. Just a few minutes away from the office, this place is a A+ choice for great food, drinks, and atmosphere. Whether you need to get some work done with their super reliable wifi or take a break, Chub Cheeva has it all. As they say, “Loosen up your day in our chilled garden”.

 

2/8 Soi Naeb Kehardt,

Tambon Hua Hin

Open: 11am-9pm

4.) Two Beds & Coffee Machine

Right down the street from my accommodation (which is also conveniently on the same street as the office), I spotted this adorably hidden cafe, Two Beds & Coffee Machine and had to check it out. Turns out, Two Beds is a small and cozy British espresso bar and tea lab. Although they don’t have food, they do have an assortment of espressos, tea, and matcha. Plus, if you’re hungry for a snack, head over to their close neighbor Wagging Tales Cafe! The icy cold A/C, reliable wifi, and caffeinated drinks make Two Beds a great location to hammer down and get some work done.

11/62 Hua Hin Soi 43

Open: 9am-6pm

5.) Hot Cappuccino

I spotted Hot Cappuccino walking home from dinner one evening. When I went back to check it out, I found a clean, quiet, coffee place conveniently located right next to the Pizza Company (I was really craving pizza that day). The staff was very friendly and the service was stellar. This open air cafe allows you to take in the streets of Hua Hin while also getting some work done. I tried their frozen cocoa smoothie and was not disappointed!

Hua Hin Soi 56 Phetchakasem Road (next to the Pizza Company)

Open: 8am-5pm

 

6.) Khang Wang 

Another random discovery in Hua Hin, Khang Wang Clean Food & Juice Bar, stole my heart. There’s a lot of hidden gems in this city. I find that the best places I’ve stumbled upon are by accident, and I haven’t been disappointed yet. Khang Wang is an inviting, slightly hidden clean food & juice bar. Both the WiFi and A/C are top notch too. But, the best part of it all is the service you receive. The gentleman that helped me was so genuinely nice and helpful that I couldn’t help but include him in this post. Not to mention, he just earned himself a new regular customer. I suggest trying the Rice Noodles & Green Curry entree and Honey Lemon drink! 

11/100 Petchkasem Road Tambon Hua Hin

Open: 8am-5pm

 

Written by: Leah Amich

Volunteer in Thailand: An Interview with Rescue P.A.W.S.

Volunteer in Thailand: An Interview with Rescue P.A.W.S.

Rescue P.A.W.S. landscape logo

In 2013, XploreAsia co-founded Rescue P.A.W.S., an animal relief organization based in Hua Hin. This creates a unique opportunity for animal lovers to volunteer in Thailand while also contributing to our mission at XploreAsia. Rescue P.A.W.S. is made up of full-time staff and a group of volunteers who carry out the daily tasks of the on-site kennels, clinic, and play area. The team is a tight-knit unit who live and breathe passion towards animal care, often going above and beyond what is needed by the innocent canines. Our volunteer programs provide you with a life-changing opportunity to make a big difference to the lives of the stray animals in need of care, whilst also offering you a rich holiday experience soaking up the authentic culture in one of Thailand’s must-visit destinations. 

As marketing interns for XploreAsia, we took the opportunity to volunteer alongside the Rescue P.A.W.S. team for the last two days. After getting to know these two rockstar volunteers, we have a much greater understanding of the passion and dedication that is required to be a Rescue P.A.W.S. volunteer.

Rescue Paws volunteer in Thailand Kennidy with Cher

Kennidy (& Cher)

Kennidy is a 22-year-old from Settler, Canada

Rescue Paws Volunteer in Thailand Shari with Cloud

Shari (& Cloud)

Shari is a 20-year-old from the Gold Coast in Australia

Side note: these two adorable pups are up for adoption! Find out more here or email adopt@rescue-paws.org 

Rescue Paws volunteer with Mae and Thai food

How did you find out about Rescue P.A.W.S.?

K: I originally wanted to teach English abroad. So after a quick Google search, I found XploreAsia. Through them, I discovered Rescue P.A.W.S. and decided to volunteer in Thailand with animals instead. I hadn’t heard of Rescue P.A.W.S. until then, but I follow many similar animal welfare accounts from all over the world on social media.
S: I learned about this opportunity through Global Work & Travel. I did a work program through them previously and had a great experience. I knew that I wanted to volunteer in Thailand next so I was browsing the Global Work & Travel programs and found Rescue P.A.W.S.

Do you have any previous experience working with animals?

K: Yes, I was a secretary at a local animal rescue in my town. I’ve also fostered dogs in the past and have always been an animal lover.
S: Yes, I’ve always loved working with animals and knew that I wanted to work with animals since I was 5 years old. Back home I worked in a few different vet clinics but wasn’t exactly sure what kind of work I wanted to do with animals in the future. My time at Rescue P.A.W.S. has helped me figure out more of what I want to do, which is pursuing vet school!

Rescue Paws volunteer walking towards kennel
Rescue Paws volunteer with cow

What’s your favorite part of the day?

K: I think my favorite part of the day is having one-on-one time with the dogs that are the most timid. It’s amazing getting to know the dogs. Oh, and I love teaching them tricks!
S: Afternoon activities are my favorite because it’s different every day. It could anything from training the dogs, feeding stray dog packs, befriending these packs, bathing the dogs, parasite treatments, Thai cooking, surgeries, etc. Our mornings are pretty routine but we never know what we’ll be doing in the afternoon and if it’s a surgery, we get first-hand experience with the vets.

Biggest reward

K: Seeing dogs slowly come out of their shell. Throughout my time here I’ve been able to build relationships with each of the dogs. Most of them are quite shy and timid in the beginning, but after spending time with them every day their personalities begin to shine through. S: Returning dogs back to their packs. For me, experiencing the whole process from start to finish is quite amazing.  It can take a long time to befriend a local pack, so when you’re finally able to pick up an unsterilized or injured dog, bring that dog into the clinic for testing, surgery, rehabilitation, and then returning that dog back to their pack feels really good. You know you’re making a direct impact on that animal.

Rescue Paws volunteer with dog
Rescue Paws volunteer training dog

Biggest challenge

K: The biggest challenge for me is finding wounded street dogs and seeing them in pain. We actually found Pudge during one of our feeding runs with a wild pack. His foot was cut and he came right up to us. Usually, the dogs are so scared that they won’t come anywhere near you but this cute puppy needed our help.  Also, I see dogs in a different way than back home. It’s just a completely different society. Back home, if you see a stray dog you post about it on Facebook and the owner claims it. Here it’s different. There are soi dogs everywhere and they can generally take care of themselves.
S: It’s challenging to be continuously working with different dogs. There are a lot of dogs here in Thailand that need our help and we only get a certain amount of time with each dog. So, it can be difficult to maintain consistent training and bonding with each dog since they are often rotated between volunteers, adopted, or are returned to their packs.

Do you have a favorite animal?

K: I don’t know. Maybe Lamb or Bohdi. Lamb was the first dog that I able to work with so it was the first real relationship I built. But then there’s also Bohdi. I sat in his kennel with him when he first got here. He was so scared and I eventually helped him feel more comfortable. But it’s hard to pick favorites because we have little relationships with each animal and they’re all so different.

Rescue Paws volunteer holding dog on the beach in Hua Hin, Thailand
Volunteer in Thailand with Rescue Paws

Do you have any advice for a future volunteer in Thailand?

K: Don’t come here with any expectations. You’ll be challenged a lot, so I advise everyone to come in with an open mind. You’ll be challenged on things you thought you knew when it comes to animals. I came in thinking I could save them all but you simply can’t. But what they’re doing here has made a significant impact in their community.
S: Definitely be open minded. Traveling, in general, is always going to be full of unexpected challenges and it’s a mind game to overcome them and make the best of any situation. Your experience is going to be what you make it, so be open minded.

Thank you so much Kennidy and Shari for all of your hard work! Rescue P.A.W.S. wouldn’t be able to thrive without all the help that we get from our amazing volunteers. 

Do you love animals? Want to give back to the community? Come join us and volunteer in Thailand with Rescue P.A.W.S. You can also make a positive impact by visiting Wagging Tales Cafe, our non-profitable coffee shop where all proceeds go towards Rescue P.A.W.S. itself. Learn more about the Rescue P.A.W.S. volunteer program here

Work in Thailand: Orientation Week at XploreAsia

Work in Thailand: Orientation Week at XploreAsia

Work in Thailand

Whether you’re coming to pursue work in Thailand as an English teacher or through one of our various internship programs, your first week will always include a cultural orientation. At XploreAsia we believe that immersing yourself in the culture is critical to your success here in Thailand. During your first week in Thailand you will partake in various cultural orientation courses about Thai culture, politics, and language. We wouldn’t throw you into working in a new country without giving you the basics first (who do you think we are)!

XploreAsia’s Cultural Orientation courses are designed to prepare future English teachers and workers for all aspects of life in Thailand. Each course delves into the heart of each countries culture and values through online classes before you arrive in the country, and once in the country, through active-learning cultural excursions to various sites of cultural and historical significance.

Thai Cooking Class

One of, if not, the best part of Thailand is the food. Thai food consists of four distinct tastes: salty, sweet, sour, and spicy. Most Thai dishes are not considered satisfying unless they combine all four tastes.  A typical Thai dish includes rice or noodles, vegetables, meat, and lots and lots of herbs and seasonings. The most common street foods being, “pad thai” and “som yom”, or papaya salad.

Thai cooking class is one of our most popular cultural orientation classes. During this course you will learn the basics of Thai cuisine and how to make both of these popular dishes. A very important phrase to know as a foreigner or “farang” in Thailand is,“Mai ped”, or no spice. For those that are looking to work in Thailand, “mai ped” tells the locals to hold back on the chili flakes that they love to saturate local dishes with.

XploreAsia’s Thai cooking class not only acted as an immersion into the culture, but also a useful lesson on how to make an easy, fast, and affordable meal when living in Thailand.

Muay Thai

Muay Thai, meaning “the art of eight limbs,” is a boxing sport of Thailand that combines physical and mental discipline using the knees, shins, fists, and elbows.  During this lesson, Muay Thai instructors demonstrate and teach common defense moves that may be useful when working in Thailand.Through this active cultural learning excursion, you will learn how to side kick (Tae Tad), kick to the inside of the knee (Tae Pub Nai), elbow strikes (Sok), and many more aspects that make this sport so popular among the Thai locals. Make sure to pack your workout clothes when coming to Thailand as many of our participants have said this is the best workout they’ve ever had.

Work in Thailand: XploreAsia teachers partaking in Muay Thai

Work in Thailand and learn how to Muay Thai

Rescue Paws

It wouldn’t be cultural orientation week without a visit to our non-profit organization, Rescue Paws. When you work in Thailand, homeless dogs are around every corner and in 2013 we co-founded Rescue Paws as a way to help the stray dog population here in Hua Hin through sterilization and education.. With an increasing number of stray dogs in Thailand, Rescue Paws befriends local packs in the area, , and then makes an effort to decrease the stray population through vaccinations, sterilizations, and adoptions.

The majority of dogs brought into the Rescue Paws clinic  are in life threatening conditions, and living a poor quality of life. Once an animal is treated, they are returned back to their original packs. Unfortunately, some are not in the condition to be returned to the streets. In this case, these animals are put up for adoption and put into a forever home. A visit to Rescue Paws not only helps spread awareness of the organization, but participants get the chance to learn about the importance of animal sterilization as well as hangout with the amazing pups!

Rescue Paws is completely run on volunteers and donations so there are ample opportunities to volunteer or donate to the organization during your time working in Thailand.

Sidenote: follow Rescue Paws on social media and if you or anyone you know is interested in volunteering, adopting, or donating to Rescue Paws, contact coordinator@rescue-paws.org.

Work in Thailand: Sprite enjoying his day at the beach

Sprite enjoying the beach!

Temple Hike at Wat Thum Khao Tao and Monk Meditation

Next on your cultural orientation is a temple hike to Wat Thum Khao Tao and a visit with the local monks here in Hua Hin. Rescue Paws’ clinic is actually located on the temple grounds, so it’s a nice transition from one excursion to the next.

Wat Thum Khao Tao, meaning “Temple, Mountain, Cave, Turtle”, was used as a halfway house for monks traveling from the North to the South. The cave is still frequented by traveling monks, but also is a sanctuary for those that work abroad to experience the spirituality of the Thai culture. Dragon fixtures, Buddha statues, and monk figures, were present around every corner of the cave. With this, a giant Buddha is located at the top of the mountain. The statues around Wat Thum Khao Tao represent the hope for further awakening and the devotion the Thai people have towards their faith. This cave is certainly a bucket list destination for those working abroad!

After your temple hike our participants partake in a guided meditation with the local monks that live at Wat Thum Khao Tao. Through meditation, you are educated on the basics of meditation and how the mind and body work together as one. The monk will also talk to you about the importance of meditation and how this practice will bring peace, happiness, and serenity to your life.

Work in Thailand: Teachers at Wat Thum Khao Tao

Group photo at Wat Thum Khao Tao

Beach BBQ: Leaving Behind Fears of Working in Thailand

Last but not least, cultural orientation week ends with a beach BBQ. The beach BBQ is a time for everyone to celebrate and reflect on the past week. Not to mention a time to have fun and enjoy amazing food with your new friends!

XploreAsia goes to great lengths to provide the most comprehensive culture orientation possible by bringing aspects of all major areas of existence here in Thailand right to the classroom for our clients. We provide traditional classroom learning on life and business in Thailand alongside an array of hands-on experiences that require you to completely immerse yourself within the culture.

Work in Thailand: Teachers at Wat Thum Khao Tao

Are you ready to work in Thailand? Visit our website. We hope to see you on our next cultural orientation week!

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