My magic moment volunteering in Thailand
I never imagined that a plate of rice, a little boy, and a Thai daycare would all come together to create one of the best moments of my life.
I spent my time in Thailand with Cross-Cultural Solutions volunteering in a daycare center. On my first day, I was immediately greeted by the smiling faces of 45 children and their 4 teachers. I jumped right into the day. I led the kids in reciting the alphabet, numbers, colors, and the days of the week, all in English.
As the day progressed, I noticed one little boy who stuck close to the teacher's side. Hoping to make a new friend, I smiled and waved, and expected the giggling grin that the other children had so easily offered. Instead, I got a look of sheer terror. I later found out that this little one was new to the center and wasn't quite used to spending his days with 44 other kids, and 4 grown-ups that weren't his mom, let alone strangers who speak an entirely different language.
My second week in the classroom, I brought my camera along to capture some of the chaos and joy that was happening all around me each day. I decided to snap a picture of the shy little boy—who was still avoiding me like a pro—so that I could show it to him. I figured, what kid doesn't love seeing a picture of himself, right? And believe it or not, it worked! I was thrilled when I got a little grin (that's him in the picture), even though it quickly faded back into that suspicious little face that I had gotten to know over the course of my two weeks.
During lunchtime on my final day of volunteering in Thailand, I did my usual scan of the room to see who needed help eating. Most kids were happily, albeit clumsily snacking away on their rice, all but one. That same shy little boy looked like he could use some help. Since all of the other teachers were busy, I decided to make an attempt to help him eat his lunch. As I sat down and filled up his spoon, I waited for him to flee. But to my surprise, he stayed! In two weeks, with no words exchanged, I suddenly felt this very simple and beautiful connection with that little boy, and that feeling will stay with me forever. I can't wait to hear about how he continues to progress and grow from the future CCS volunteers lucky enough to spend their time volunteering in that incredible center.