Part of my job here at The Volunteer Bay as Program Director involves me assessing each program to see how and if our international volunteers and the involving organization can benefit from one another. There's a long check list I go through. For instance, one organization I personally volunteered for in Thailand did not make the list, despite my personal connections with them. They relied on more local long-term volunteers who were there on an on-need basis to fill sporadic developing projects. Other organizations, like our volunteering with elephants opportunity are always in need of an adventurous volunteer ready to get their hands dirty. The donations and work provided by the volunteers are necessary for the longevity of the project.
Other days, I wish I can dedicate all my time to one or other of our projects. While in Chiang Mai, we we were visiting some of our projects, including one of the most popular, the Art Relief Program. Volunteers in the Art Relief program spend their time at various spots around Chiang Mai giving art workshops, including visual, performing, and experimental art, to different groups of people, including students, Burmese refugees, people with disabilities, and other minority groups.
Here, in the above photo, I got pulled into dancing to the guy-in-blue personalized choreographed dance. He popped and locked it just like Usher and Justin Timberlake do. He was a student at a vocational school/workplace for adults with mental disabilities. Never once did he break a sweat. I, on the other hand, had to take a seated rest at the next location, worried I was going to drop from heat exhaustion.
The Art Relief Program is cool like that. Even though, you have carefully planned art workshops, you never really know what you are going to walk into. You get to meet such a variety of people and immerse yourself in a creative environment. Next thing you know, when you tell your students that the class ends in 5 minutes, they moan. That's what was happening in the photo below, students hurrying with meticulousness to finish their paintings. Its a special thing when you tell students that class is over in 5 minutes and you never once hear a sigh of relief.