A recent trip to Thailand has given Ebanie inspiration for what she hopes will be her future career …
Where do you go to school, Ebanie, and what grade are you in?
I go to school at St Paul’s High School, Port Macquarie, and I am currently in Year 10.
When did you travel to Thailand, and who went with you?
After my parents, Jamie and Sharon Martin, agreed to me travelling to Thailand (much thanks!) I travelled for four weeks, from September 18 until October 16, spending 2 weeks in an orphanage.
I travelled with my grandmother, Susan Flynn, who really made the whole trip possible, so I am very thankful for that. The organisation that gave me the opportunity to experience this despite my age was ‘Friends for Asia’, who were really great with giving out the right information and providing pictures and past volunteer stories on their website.
What was the aim of the trip – what inspired you to go?
The aim of the trip, I guess, was to get an insight into what I wish to do when I leave school. I also really have a passion for learning about culture and differences in the world.
How long did you stay in Thailand, and what were some of the things you saw and did while you were there?
I was in Thailand for a month, but I had 2 weeks in Chiang Mai, where the orphanage was located. During each day, my grandmother and I, along with other volunteers, travelled 40 minutes out of town to the orphanage, where we worked with the kids from 9 – 4, as they were on school holidays. Whilst in the orphanage, we enjoyed spending quality time with the children, playing games and joining them for lunch. I also got the opportunity to teach English in the local primary school, to very cute 8 year old children.
Other than the orphanage experience, it was really great to see a side of Thailand that was not tourist directed with the help of Friends for Asia. Friends for Asia helped us to learn basic Thai language and took us to see the traditional Thai temples, as well as purchasing fresh food from local markets. At the markets we tried traditional Thai foods, with even an opportunity to try a fried cricket! Friends for Asia was really great with helping us experience the real Thailand.
Friends for Asia also provided great accommodation in a guest house, where I got an opportunity to meet people from all over the world and form good friendships.
What memory sticks in your mind most from the experience (and why)?
I have taken a lot of memories away from my experience that I will never forget, but I would have to say the smiles and happiness of the children that have so little, to be so excited for volunteers, including me, to arrive each day. There were just so many great emotions attached to being able to improve the lives of children and give them the love and attention they need and deserve; it really was great.
Has the trip changed your life in any way – and if so, how?
The trip has definitely given me an insight into what I wish to do when I leave school, and it has also made me super keen to go to Thailand next year and visit the same orphanage. The trip to Thailand has also really shown what kind of things happen in the world that most of us are so ignorant about; it really did show how much is taken for granted.
What are your future plans – have you decided what you’d like to do when you leave school?
When I finish school, I hope to go to university and get a medical degree. With this I hope to be able to travel to as many different third world countries as possible in a volunteer team. I hope to help out in hospitals and give hope to those people who live in complete poverty in the world. I really hope to be able to make a difference, even if it is small.
More information about Friends for Asia organisation can be found at:
Interview by Jo Atkins.