Prior to arriving at DEPDC, I knew a fair amount about human trafficking, less about statelessness, and absolutely nothing about the amazing relationships that I would make in Mae Sai. While my days at the centre primarily consisted of teaching the Half Day School (HDS) and Community Learning Center (CLC), my evenings were spent with some of my students or fellow volunteers shopping at local markets, eating street food, and visiting some of my students’ families at their homes. At DEPDC, I was welcomed like family rather than treated like a foreigner, and I learned so much more from being with my students and fellow staff members than I could ever teach in a classroom.
My time at DEPDC was an invaluable experience for me. I had the opportunity to learn first-hand about the issue of human trafficking in border regions and exactly how the system of trafficking and human slavery survives. I was fortunate enough to interact with our target group daily, working directly with the children and adults DEPDC serves to protect. I know that the work I did had a direct impact on many of my students, and I am so grateful to have had this experience with DEPDC/GMS and to still be in contact with many of my Thai and Burmese friends!
In a culture where showing anger is considered a weakness, patience is a way of life, and smiling is contagious, I was taught countless invaluable lessons. Living in Thailand taught me to trust myself, to follow my heart and not let anything hold me back from what I want, to not stress over things out of my control, and above all else, to enjoy every moment to the fullest. My students taught me to appreciate everything you have, to give whenever possible, and the importance of valuing the people in your life.