There are a variety of ways to use study abroad to help boost your career but one unmatched option is volunteering. For health majors and students interested in community service, Khon Kaen provides the opportunity to volunteer with a local hospital in the Cancer Ward for Children.
Ban Chivasil at Srinagarind Hospital is the home to children suffering from different stages of cancer that are unable to return to their homes. Students volunteer to draw and color with the children, tell and perform fun stories and spend time with the children to lift their spirits.
To learn more about this volunteer we reached out to several students who are currently involved in the program in Khon Kaen. Here’s what they had to say about why they chose to volunteer and how it’s helping their future career goals and affecting their study abroad.
Why did you choose to do this volunteer?
I chose to volunteer because I am passionate about helping people. I volunteer at a hospital back home and I really enjoy it. It’s rewarding getting to see the impact that you can have on someone in such a small amount of time. At times, I feel like the kids and patients actually help me more than I help them. Alexis Cary, UNR
I chose to volunteer because I am trying to make Khon Kaen my home for these five months. Volunteering has been an important part of my life since I was young, and having the opportunity to do the same in another country was an amazing opportunity I couldn’t pass up! Alexa Andary, Grand Valley State University
I chose to do this volunteering because I wanted to be able to give back during my time abroad. I have always enjoyed volunteering, and art therapy sounded like an exciting way to get involved. I also thought taking a break from classes to do something meaningful would rejuvenate me! Margaret Lohmann, West Virginia Wesleyan College
How does this opportunity relate to your major/future academic or career goals?
My ultimate life goal is to become a reconstructive plastic surgeon because I want to help those in need, whether it be burn victims or people with birth deformities. Volunteering ultimately relates to my career goals because I will be working with all different kinds of patients. It’s not only something I am passionate about but something that will prepare me in my future endeavors. Alexis Cary
It doesn’t relate to my major too much, but directly relates to my interests and goals I have outside of the work place. I want to continue giving back to the community and learn new things through volunteer work. Some of the most inspiring people I have met have been through different charity programs, and I can’t imagine my life without service involved. Alexa Andary
Volunteering through art therapy, singing, and storytelling like we have at the hospital relates to my major of English Literature and also combines my interests in theatre, public health, and health communication! Margaret Lohmann
How has this experience enhanced your study abroad so far?
Yesterday was my first time volunteering at the hospital here in Khon Kaen and it was an amazing experience. When I first walked in it was heartbreaking seeing the sick children confined to their hospital beds. But as we began to color and sing with them their faces lit up and they were laughing and enjoying themselves. I was so touched to be a part of an experience that has such an impact on the children. After just one short hour with them I fell in love with the kids. I am so honored to be a part of this program and have the opportunity to work with these children each week. Alexis Cary
Volunteering has made my time here feel more at home. Although I am across the globe, the common thread of giving back to the community and helping others is universal. Seeing the kids faces reminds me of the similar volunteer work at home, and brings me back to reality on the big picture of why I decided to go abroad. Although sight seeing is a must here in Thailand, having this opportunity as well has really made me feel comfortable here and immerse myself further into the community. Alexa Andary
It was amazing to be in a setting where I could still connect with others despite the fact that most of the people in the room did not speak my language. I will always remember the smiles of the patients as we colored and sang with them. It was humbling to see how joyous they were in the face of serious health fights. It inspired me and showed me that even if we do not speak the same language, it is still possible to connect with others and that smiles can sometimes be the best medicine! Margaret Lohmann
This opportunity is available to students studying abroad in Khon Kaen, Thailand. If you’re interested in volunteering at the hospital, you can you can talk with the Resident Director, Jum once on-site.