The last couple of weeks have been quiet on ACTBOLD.org because I have been on my annual community service trip with Rustic Pathways. Rustic Pathways offers travel programs for high school students, families, groups and college students. Summer programs are available for students from 12 years of age. The company runs programs year round to Australia, Burma, Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, the Fiji Islands, Ghana, India, Laos, Mongolia, Morocco, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Tanzania, Thailand, Vietnam, and the United States.
This is my fourth summer doing programs with them, and these programs have had a huge impact on me. They have helped shape my passion for service and have helped me see the world through different cultures. While there is much work to be done in the US in terms of helping our communities, it is a very interesting and different experience to go to a different country, immerse myself in the culture, and begin to understand how the people in other countries live. This summer I went to Thailand for two and a half weeks for a medical service project and a week at Thai orphanage.
It was an incredible experience to provide many Thai villagers with free health checkups because many have never had the opportunity to find out their blood pressure, weights, blood sugar and other basic facts about their health. In addition, I really enjoyed living at the orphanage with 27 Thai teenagers who live there all year round and are supported by Rustic Pathways. Many of the girls who attend school and live at the orphanage would otherwise be faced with child marriage and pregnancy without any chance at an education. I was able to really interact with the teenagers by helping them with their homework, talking to them to help them develop their English skills, or simply just playing games. While I was there, I also had the opportunity to teach English in an elementary school, which was very difficult but a rewarding experience! I learned how important the English language really is and that because it is the universal language, the Thai children who get the opportunity to learn it will have so many more opportunities for jobs as they get older.
This trip proved to me yet again the importance of education, especially educating girls, because by doing so we can and will create the next generation of leaders.