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The guiDE program provides DukeEngage alumni a pathway to continue their commitment to service and civic engagement by providing leadership, mentorship and service opportunities that support wider DukeEngage efforts on campus and beyond.

Kiersten Bell holding a baby sea turtle


DukeEngage Partner Organization: Global Vision International

Major: Environmental Science

Contact Kiersten:

Kiersten is a member of the 2018 graduating class from Nashville, Tennessee majoring in Environmental Science and minoring in Biology and Economics. On campus, she works as an undergraduate assistant for the Meyer Toxicolgy Lab and a campus representative for Global Vision International (GVI). She participated in the DukeEngage Thailand program in the summer of 2016 where she paired with GVI to do various conservation activities such as sea turtle cleans, biodiversity hikes and community projects in Phang Nga, Thailand. To further her environmental endeavors, she studied tropical biology abroad in the fall semester of 2016 in Costa Rica. In her free time, she enjoys exploring new places, walking her Bernese Mountain dog, and spending time with family.

Resource Guide for DukeEngage Thailand

Following her summer working with Global Vision International in Thailand, Kiersten developed the following list of resources for students who are interested in that program — or similar programs.


Although it is not required, learning a bit of Thai will make a huge difference during your time in Phang Nga.  Not only will you be able to find your way around easier, but the Thai people will greatly appreciate your efforts to speak their language. Although Duke does not offer any Thai Language classes, it is possible to get a limited understanding through smartphone applications and YouTube videos. A pocket dictionary with quick phrases is also good to flip through.


In 24 Hours Learn to Speak Thai

Learn Thai – Phrasebook for Travel in Thailand

YouTube Videos/Links: provides videos for learning Thai on a lesson-by-lesson basis:

Recommended Book:

Almost any pocket dictionary will suffice

First-year students have the opportunity to participate in Eco Olympics hosted by the Duke Environmental Alliance during their fall semester. Students in each dorm are encouraged to participate in different educational tasks (

The Nicholas School of the Environment is constantly hosting guest speakers with specialties in conservational and sustainable topics. Check their Facebook page to find out about upcoming events (

For general information regarding Thailand:

To keep up with current events:

Thailand’s most updated English news website –

Another option includes Bangkok Post –

Insects in Thailand used to ID species:

Field Guides:

Field Guide to the Birds of Thailand by Robson Craig

A Naturalist’s Guide to the Butterflies of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore & Thailand (Naturalists’ Guides) by Laurence Kirton

Online Resources

101 East – Saving Thailand’s Animals

The Wave that Shook the World (NOVA) – a documentary regarding the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami – Another documentary about the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.  Although the information may be repetitive, it is important to be knowledgeable about this subject because the small village of Ban Nam Khem was one of the worst affected areas. They are still feeling the aftermath of the natural disaster – 12 years later.

Racing Extinction – A documentary about the potential loss of half of the world’s animal species

TED Talks

Sylvia Earle: My wish: Protect our oceans

George Monbiot: For more wonder, rewild the world

James Borrell: Is There Hope For Conservation?

Charles Moore: Seas of Plastic

Other Resources

Francis Tapon: How and Why Travel Transforms You


Marine Litter:

Any TED Talks/NPR podcasts that place a strong emphasis on conservation, sustainability, marine litter, and microplastics would be extremely helpful.

Groups that support sustainability around Duke are Environmental Alliance, Duke Campus Farm, and Duke Community Garden. Each of them encourage students to work towards a more sustainable world. One other useful group would be Learning through Experience, Action, Partnership, and Service (LEAPS). Its mission is to encourage service-learning at Duke. Another interesting group is Duke Conservation Tech.

Some organizations include, but are not limited to, Global Visions International (GVI), Shark Guardian, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), United Nations (with reference to the sustainable development goals), and the National Thai Navy.

Students have the opportunity to practice Buddhist meditation at the Durham Shambhala Meditation Centeras. Having some exposure to this is highly recommended as Theravada Buddhism is the main religion practiced in Thailand. If interested in trying Thai food, restaurants such as Thai Café, Thai Lanna Restaurant, and Twisted Noodles are good places to start.