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Why I Chose Teach Myanmar?

Teach Myanmar Blog

Me busy at work setting up the concession tent in Adelaide, Australia

After traveling the world since 2012 I decided to slow down and stay in one place for a bit longer than usual. As I was traveling with a circus I would always stay in a city for about two months which was long enough to get to know a few people and the area but not long enough to feel settled. Although I loved being on the move and seeing so many new places it seemed like the time to see what it felt like to stay still for a while.

In March of 2015 I quit my job, went home to relax, save up some money, and to plan my next move. After I felt like I was home long enough I booked a flight to Iceland and Germany. I wanted to get into the world again.

The Journey to Teach In Myanmar Begins

Just before I set off I found XploreAsia and decided it was time to truly challenge myself and applied to be an English teacher in Myanmar. To head somewhere I had never been and go in completely alone.   While I was traveling for work I was joined by about 120 people each time. Any time I had a vacation there was always someone to take a trip with me. I would always meet solo travellers and find their stories so interesting I knew that I had to give it a shot.

Teach Myanmar: An Introduction!

Teach Myanmar Blog

A downtown street of Yangon. The streets are bustling during the day and beautiful at night

I left Germany after two weeks and headed to Yangon, Myanmar. I still had to go to Thailand to complete my TESOL course but I decided to dip my feet into Myanmar to have an idea of what I would be going back to. As I left the airport a girl from China came up and asked if I wanted to split a cab downtown. Perfect! I had some company for the next hour after a very lonely 24 hours of traveling.

Driving through downtown Yangon was VERY overwhelming! There was nothing that looked familiar. As it got darker I had no idea where I would eat as I couldn’t read any signs!

When I arrived at my hostel there was a small group sitting in the common area talking. They introduced themselves to me and took me out for dinner. They had a local friend who stopped at many street vendors picking up food for us to try. I don’t think I have ever been welcomed into a country so quickly. After dinner we went to the bar street. It was packed with locals all enjoying some music and a relaxing evening. It was shocking how few foreigners there were.

The generosity of the locals is incredible. I have never met such giving, loving and happy people. Everything that happened in those two weeks that I spent in Yangon made it harder and harder to leave but now I couldn’t be more excited to head back to Myanmar. Now that I know I will be placed 16 hours from Yangon I can’t wait to see what this new community is like. Luckily it is only a 4 hour flight to Yangon so I will be visiting often to see the new friends I have made there. Before even stepping into the TESOL course I knew this was the best decision I could have made.

TESOL in Hua Hin, Thailand

Currently I am in Hua Hin, Thailand taking my TESOL course. The XploreAsia team does a fantastic job to push you into the Thai culture and the unique atmosphere of Hua Hin. One place we were taken during our orientation was Rescue Paws. This organization truly inspired our class. Most of us from Canada and the USA aren’t surrounded by stray dogs. If there is a dog on the street at home you assume it’s a lost dog, you take it to a shelter and they will look after them. The last time I was in Thailand I noticed the abundance of stray dogs, but it just seemed liked it was a normal part of life here. It never crossed my mind to help or try to make a change. Seeing so many different cultures I always made the mistake to just accept what was going on as part of the locals’ life and leave it like that.

Making a Difference in Thailand

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Some stray puppies we found near a school in Hua Hin.

Jaco who is the Managing Director of Rescue Paws has an entirely different way to see it. The team that began Rescue Paws knew that stray dogs where a problem and they had to do something to help. By founding Rescue Paws they aimed to spay and neuter as many of these dogs as possible, not to harm the current population but to help it from increasing. His team will take in any dogs they see who are really sick or injured. They will take care of these dogs until they are healthy and then they will put them up for adoption or tag them and release them. Rescue Paws takes care of everything when someone wants to adopt one of their dogs. Everyone in the class started talking about who they wanted to phone at home and convince them about getting a new dog.

Seeing Jaco and his teams love for these animals was amazing. There is a pack of dogs who live near their office which they call the temple dogs. As Jaco walks through the street they all come running to greet him. You can feel he has made a difference in the lives of these dogs. After speaking to Jaco I realized he was very much on the same path as me many years ago. Traveling and then decided to try his hand at teaching. Since he began teaching he has remained in Thailand for 5 years. He has started this incredible organization and inspired many people. He told us of his future plans for Rescue Paws and they only need $5000 to make their next big move to build an adoption centre and more kennels. We have started a crowdfunding campaign for the duration of our TESOL course to see how much money we can raise for them. Please follow the link and make whatever donation you can.   https://www.crowdrise.com/helpingrescuepaws  If you’re reading this blog you have either been through an XploreAsia TESOL course and met this amazing group or you are thinking of heading this way. If you’re reading this article after I have finished TESOL but you still want to donate to Rescue Paws please do so through their website.

Teach Myanmar Blog

Me during my last trip in Thailand at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai. I stayed overnight volunteering to feed and bathe the elephants.

Making this jump has been nothing like what I expected. Thailand is the first country I have come back to since traveling. Usually I get somewhere and I’m always on the move. I need to see and eat as much as I can before I take off. I made it from the islands of Thailand to Chiang Rai in 3 weeks and loved every minute of it! This time I feel like I have spent most of my time just talking to everyone I meet and enjoying listening to their experiences. Everyone I have met have been so welcoming and encouraging. I can’t wait to see how the next few months play out. Meeting the XploreAsia and Rescue Paws team has been an amazing opportunity. Seeing all these people who came over to teach and now just haven’t been able to leave. Knowing how I felt after only two weeks in Myanmar I won’t be surprised if you still find me there in two years!

Teach Myanmar blogSam is from Toronto, Canada.   She has been traveling for the past few years through 18 different countries. Now she is very excited to begin her adventure teaching in Myanmar.

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