“I love to travel”: Q&A with Teach in Thailand Participant, Chelsea Garbell

1) What made you decide to Teach in Thailand with Cultural Embrace by API?

I just graduated from NYU in May, and I wanted to take a year to live and work abroad.  I love to travel, but I also wanted the opportunity to become part of a community and give back in a meaningful way.  A friend of mine had taught in Thailand through Cultural Embrace by API (CE by API) the year prior and she completely loved the experience.  She connected me with CE, and I was on my way!

2) Where are you teaching now, and what do you enjoy most: about your job? About living in Thailand?

I am a kindergarten teacher at the Sunflower Trilingual School in Samut Sakhon (right outside of Bangkok).  My favorite part of my job is seeing my amazing munchkins everyday.  Nothing cheers me up like hearing “TEACHA CHELSEA” and seeing my kids smile.  They soak up language like a sponge, and watching their growth is deeply fulfilling.  My favorite part about living in Thailand is the people.  Thai people are the friendliest, most helpful people I have ever met.  They are always willing to start a conversation, share what they have, or stop and offer directions if you look lost.  It’s a breath of fresh air after living in New York City.

3) There is a lot of media coverage and concern about the political and social unrest in Thailand. What are your thoughts and do you recommend foreigners to go to Thailand now?

The political situation in Thailand is nothing if not complicated.  It often feels like part public festival, part Occupy rally. That being said, I travel into Bangkok proper very often, and I have never ever felt unsafe. Because the city is so sprawling, it is completely possible to spend an entire day there and never once encounter a protest site.  For a more detailed account of the political situation, you can check out my blog here:http://chelgarbell.tumblr.com/post/75479870380/expat

4) What is a ‘typical’ day for you in Thailand?

A typical day for me starts at work at 7:30am, where we have morning assembly and then classes.  After lunch I have some down time to do general prep work, read, etc, before my afternoon class.  After work I head home to relax on my own or with the other girls I live with, head to the market, eat dinner, read a book, or watch TV.  On weekends I usually spend time with the Jewish community in Bangkok, or I’m out traveling the country!

5) What advice or suggestion(s) do you give anyone that is interested in teaching in Thailand with Cultural Embrace by API?

Do it.  I have had the most amazing 4.5 months, and I’m so excited for the next 7.5.  This is an amazing country filled with the friendliest people I have ever met, beautiful countryside, and fantastic food.  And when you come through Cultural Embrace by API, you have the added benefit of an organization that genuinely cares about your wellbeing.  Unlike other agencies, CE by API gives you catered and individual attention, and will make every effort to answer any question or concern you may have, big or small.  My coordinator, Emlyn, even called me the day before I left to make sure I was all set, and she continues to check in often.  This has been a phenomenal adventure so far, and one I would recommend in a heartbeat.

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