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NU volunteers go to Thailand over break

By Sean McCormack
On February 10, 2011

Instead of relaxing during winter break, eight students and two faculty, from the volunteer program at Norwich University went to Thailand  to help out an local community according to Director for student civil engagement.

   "We have a huge alumni base in Thailand. We have over 80 alums in Thailand. We have this partnership with the royal Thai military academy." Said Nicole DiDominecoDirector for student civil engagement.

   This is not the first time students from the volunteer program went to Thailand. The group was there last year and they returned this year as part of athree year plan.

  "We had six students with us. That initial trip was a community needs basement trip. We were specifically invited by a community called Pha chan located in Isaan which is in the northeast region of Thailand." Said DiDomineco

    The students went there for to help a village learn English and build a library. Part of this experience was learning another culture.

            "They wanted to learn more English because they were getting a lot of western tourists. But they also said they needed a library." Said DiDomineco

  The students started a plan to get it done for the next time. When they left the student volunteer service kept in touch with Pha Chan.

 Over the course of the year we worked with them an outline what we would so on the 2nd trip." Said DiDomineco "That was phase one." They made plans for what they would do next time they were there.

 The next phase was to go back a second time. This time around the group would help build the library and teach the children and villagers English.

    "This time around we had two professors. They had eight students with them this time. Four students were designated to assist with the architecture building project." Said DiDomineco.

    One group of four students and one faculty was assigned to teach the children English and culture. The other group was to present plans on building the library.

     When the students got there they found out that a library would be second on the list. The villagers needed another facility which is in more nee than a library right now.

 "When we went to the village my team we were focused on designing a kitchen for the village that was out goal." Said Jon Schoef, a 22 year old, senior, engineering management major form Gorham Maine.

    The students turned their attention on making plans to build a dinner for the community. The other students focused on teaching the children English.

  The villagers of Pha Chan and the students worked together on these projects to help accomplish their goals. "We finished our project, the English group did very well they made a lot of headway." Said Schoef

The students were there for all of winter break. Ten days were spent in the village of Pha chan, in total 20 days were spent in Thailand.

    The volunteer program plans on going back to Pha Chan for a third time. They will be looking for volunteers who are willing to make the trip.

      It is not as expensive as one would think. Scholarships help pay for 2/3 the trip greatly helping students who wish to go. There are also fund raisers that the volunteer service sets up; the money goes towards the trip to Thailand.

"It was interesting seeing a different culture. We learned a lot about our culture just the differences. "Just how much of a family they are over there the entire village helped each other out." Said Schoef. "I would go back in a heartbeat."

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