By Richard Monigatti: Former Intern at BABSEACLE
I first was introduced to BABSEACLE in an almost overlooked email from my university careers centre. I remember that strong initial spark of interest as I saw the connection of human rights work, travel and a chance to teach others. Soon I was drafting an application and awaiting a reply to whether I would be given the chance of a lifetime to mix work with pleasure. Sure enough, I was granted my wish and preparations were set to travel halfway across the globe, entirely on my own.
This was a daunting opportunity right from the start. To be a 12 hour flight away from my friends and family was something I was dying to try, but at the same time something that instilled a deep-rooted anxiety within me. As I got on the plane to travel to Thailand from my home country of New Zealand, I found myself wondering just what sort of people and experiences would await me upon arrival. I arrived late in the evening not to an empty house as I’d expected, but a group of warm and friendly people waiting to welcome me in. This was not the kind of warmth extended merely out of politeness or etiquette, but a genuine care for another’s well-being That first moment sums up my experience for the following two months, camaraderie for one another in the work we were there to do.
I found that the work that BABSEACLE does in the community and beyond extended from values owned not just by an organisation, but by its people. Our visits to community centres and universities were fuelled by a passion to be involved and help others. That same passion that drove me to apply and become involved in the organisation as an intern was not a unique feeling but something that spurred everyone else into action as well. And just as any workplace is made by its employees, so was my experience made by my co-workers. Each teaching session at a university or community had hours of collaboration and teamwork behind it, showing me a lesson is as much the preparation and people involved in making it as it is the time in front of the class itself.
The key notion I take in my return to New Zealand is how powerful acceptance and support is to those around me and just how easy it is to allow someone to feel at home by extending a hand of friendship and equality. The lesson BABSEACLE offers us all is that this hand of humanity needs to be extended even further, to those marginalised and often not greeted with the genuine appreciation deserved equally by all, as much as it needs to be extended to those in our own lives.