UWCSEA Gap Year Program, Singapore

Nicolette Meyer Ruimin

My two months as a volunteer at BABSEACLE Chiang Mai was a time of rich growth in terms of learning new skills, self-discovery and reflection. When I first signed up for the program, I never expected how diverse my jobs – or rather, “projects” – would be. From helping to organize the Trio for Justice event to teaching at MPlus+ to watching a CLE session at Wildflower Home, I was involved in many different aspects of the organization.

These different experiences allowed me to learn more about myself and I was constantly surprising myself: who would have thought I was able to design anything from T-shirts to award certificates? That I would be running around Chiang Mai trying to find the best bargain for printing those T-shirts for the Trio, with my limited vocabulary of Thai?  Or that I was capable of entertaining a rowdy class of 7- to 8-year-olds for a whole hour?

One of my most poignant experiences was of course the teaching at Mae Rim School. Every Thursday, I was greeted by a sea of smiles and the enthusiastic eyes of my young students. They were the ones who most enriched my stay in Thailand, who taught me the great gift of education that so many of us take for granted. I took great joy in planning the lessons for the little ones, from learning to sing “The Wheels on the Bus” for the kindergarten children to preparing vocabulary games for the older Primary 3 pupils. I will remember forever the children and teachers who were some of the kindest people I’ve met so far in all my travels.

I hope to return one day to that little village school… to sit in a red truck and drive through the countryside to finally see the white walls, the one-story school buildings, the students and teachers dressed in “scout” uniforms…  and teach those eager children again.