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My Muddy Hiking Boots – Volunteering With Elephants In Chiang Mai

Posted: December 19, 2017

The Amazing Thing About Volunteering With Elephants

 

What is so exceptional about volunteering in Chiang Mai is that you do not have to be fond of sciences, to be an explorer or anything. Being enthusiastic is enough. I spent 6 weeks living with people from all around the world: students, adults. And everyone has always accepted everyone. After 3 hikes, smelling terrible, being tired, you find yourself surrounded by incredible people who support you and feel the same way as you. You meet people so different from you and at the same time, so similar: we are all young, playful and most of all, passionate. The elephants are, with no doubts, the greatest beings ever. It was a dream for me to see them and learn about them. Of course, I’ve read about them, I’ve seen documentaries, photos, videos. But nothing compares to your real first hike when you finally come to them. You see them in harmony with their environment, happy and healthy –safe.   Because that’s why you are here: to help, even a little, to protect them.

The Impact You Can Have Working With Elephants

 

Sometimes I felt like I was not doing enough for them. I was looking at the Mahouts and the village, thinking of how their whole lives are kind of committed to their existence. Whereas I was only there for 6 weeks. I was to come back in France and continue my studies like nothing had happened as if It had just been a chapter of my life and that I had now to turn the page. But really? How can you? You come home and nothing has changed for your family, your colleagues. You still take the same train to the university, eat the same salad at lunch, go to the same bar at night with your friends. But deep in your heart: you have changed. You have grown; you don’t think the same way. It’s like your eyes are now open. Maybe for the first time. Your whole life is before you, and you realize that you have a lot to do, a lot of good to do. For Elephants, for the village, for everything you want as long as you put your heart and your mind in it.

Personal Growth With GVI Chiang Mai

 

I’ve spent my time worrying about my future. You know, sometimes, French people including me are a little bit grumpy and pessimistic. I was complaining all the time. Now, whenever I feel lonely, angry or sad, I think about my muddy hiking boots. I think about the local Thai Tea. I think about our movie night on base. I think about the bags of bananas we had carried for hours that were eaten in seconds by our Elephant friends. I’ll never forget, it was the happiest time of my life.

Further reading: 3 Key Reasons Why International Experience Is A Career Must

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