Promoting sustainable income generation projects for the local community through environmental conservation, research and education.
, Country Director, ProWorld Thailand
, Senior Custom Programs Manager, ProWorld
ProWorld’s mission is to empower communities, promote social and economic development, conserve the environment, and cultivate educated and compassionate global citizens. We invite students to join the ProWorld mission and make a difference in our host communities through our sustainable development model.
In 2013, Duke students will have the option of working on the following three projects:
1. Restoring and maintaining local rainforests through tree planting, nurseries and other projects.
2. Researching and conducting outreach for the conservation project
3.Supporting and improving the work of local community groups to use sustainable alternative projects to protect the environment and generate income for local communities.
Examples of work completed by past program participants include:
Design, set up and collection of information for data plots that will monitor and feedback into the conservation program. Participants collected detailed information about the different species, size and density of species in several areas under the reforestation program.
Participants taught English to local children with a focus on the environment.
Participants created materials designed to increase outreach and fundraising work to support the conservation efforts. These include write ups for websites and brochures.
Participants surveyed the local community and worked with community groups to improve and produce sustainable products that can support the local community while enhancing the efforts of the conservation project. This includes construction of bamboo furniture, a biogas project, and solar power products.
Program Requirements & Environmentals
Language/Other Prerequisites: Thai is not required to join the program. All volunteers will receive 6 hours of Thai lessons per week to help facilitate language acquisition. Classes will occur in the evenings after work and will be led by a local Thai teacher. We seek to focus on practical Thai speaking skills that will enable participants to live and work with Thai people more effectively. Due to the complexities of reading and writing in Thai this will not be part of the curriculum.
Reflection Sessions: Your Site Coordinator will lead regular reflection sessions in which you will be expected to participate. Weekly discussions will be facilitated by ProWorld staff regarding project experiences, and we will also explore and discuss different developmental and cultural issues through different types of media, including videos, articles, etc.
Neighborhood: Students will live in the village of Maedtaman, one hour north from Chiang Mai. Because of the rural location of Maedtaman village, ProWorld Thailand organizes transport and accommodation for the students to travel to Chiang Mai on the weekends to meet other volunteers, use the internet and to do other activities.
Housing and Accommodations: DukeEngage students will stay in community homestays in the small village of Maedtaman. Participants may share a homestay with one or two others, or have their own homestay. During weekends in Chiang Mai, students will be housed in the ProWorld dorm together with other volunteers. The ProWorld Thailand housing will provide a warm, safe and authentic Thai living experience. While housing may only meet basic material needs, participants encounter a wealth of sharing and strong family relationships. The bonds created with your new family or fellow participants often prove to be one of the most memorable aspects of the ProWorld Thailand program.
Meals: During your stay in Thailand your host family will be providing you with two meals a day. Breakfast will typically consist of a small meal such as coffee and bread with jam. Lunch will normally be eaten at a local restaurant. This will involve several dishes, such as curries or lightly fried Thai food. We ask vegetarians visiting Thailand to be flexible, while we will make every effort to help you find food that does not contain meat, much Thai cooking is flavored with fish sauce. Dinner will be eaten with the homestay family and is normally the most important meal of the day again soupy curries and fried food with rice will be normal. On the weekends when you travel into Chiang Mai, ProWorld staff will provide you will a stipend to cover the costs of local Thai food. If the participant wishes to eat a meal away from their host family, that is acceptable, as long as the family is informed in advance. There are dozens of restaurants scattered around Chiang Mai, include pizza places, traditional Thai fare, North American-style cafes, and international fusion cuisine. A standard meal in such a restaurant could cost anywhere from $1.50 to $10.00, depending on the order and the caliber of the restaurant.
Communication: During your stay in Thailand there will be ample opportunity for you to be in touch by telephone with friends and family in your home country. ProWorld Thailand will provide you with pre-paid cell phones. We will ask for a deposit for these that will be returned when you return to the US. These can be used to cheaply call both within Thailand and to call the US. The normal cost to call the US is around 15 cents a minute. We ask that all students keep a minimum balance on the phone so that they can use the phone in any emergency.
Skype is also a great option. You can open up an account on line and call other Skype accounts via the computer for free. Skype can also be used to call phones directly, with calls to the US costing about 2 cents per minute. Skype credit for such calls is purchased on line using a credit card. Most homestay families do not have landlines or internet. Internet cafes can be found all over Chiang Mai. Generally, an hour of internet costs about $1 US. Wireless internet is available in some locales. While some internet cafes might already have them, bringing a headset with you could be useful if you plan on making calls home via Skype from local internet cafés. Wireless internet is also available at the Casa ProWorld Thailand which can be used occasionally.
Transportation: Students will typically walk to work. Project work may be conducted in various locations depending on the project, including the office, schools or local communities. If working outside the village, students will use private transport. Various forms of transportation are available in and around Chiang Mai. Public or private taxis, vans, buses or cars, will all be employed by ProWorld Thailand to help our volunteers reach their projects.
Volunteer Placement Logistics: Students will work on one of the projects listed above, based on their interest, skills and community needs.
Opportunities for Autonomy/Private Space: Volunteers will work on their project during the day, and Thai classes will be scheduled after work. Whenever volunteers are not on project or in Thai class, they will have free time to relax, explore other side-projects, or enjoy the Chiang Mai region and all that it has to offer. There will also be free weekends scheduled throughout the program that volunteers are free to use as travel opportunities and explore beyond Chiang Mai.
Miscellaneous: ProWorld Thailand volunteers will be able to participate in different enrichment activities weekend activities scheduled throughout the duration of your program. These fun and culturally intriguing activities may include excursions to Thai Buddhist temples; exploring the local environment; hiking to unique destinations; visiting surrounding towns for traditional markets or festivals; or performing service projects in local communities. There will also be free weekends scheduled throughout the program to provide down-time and an opportunity to recharge.