By: Brittney White, Work and Travel Employer Services Coordinator

As CCI Greenheart welcomes Work and Travel Spring participants arriving from China, Thailand, and the Philippines, I am taken back to the eight months I spent in South East Asia. What an amazing adventure!

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South East Asia is an amazing place to take time to travel, explore, meet people, and eat! I spent most of my time in Thailand and I found that it is known as the land of smiles for good reason. The Thai people are among the happiest and kindest people I have had the pleasure of crossing paths with. Even though I was thousands of miles away from home and spoke close to no Thai, I never felt so welcomed and taken care of!

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At just about this time last year I was teaching English at the Southern School for the Blind outside of Surat Thani, Thailand. I was responsible for teaching English to 110 blind students at the school – what a challenge! My favorite class was with the school’s seniors who were learning traditional Thai Massage. I helped develop a curriculum to help these students learn Massage focused terminology, so they could better communicate with Western tourists. This was a win-win for everyone as I was often the “Westerner” they practiced on.

406929_2942311238759_799608083_nDuring my time here, my Thai friends and family made sure that I experienced all the riches of their culture. They took me on excursions to local attractions; included me in countless Karaoke performances; showed me the local markets; brought me to their temples and showed me how to pay respect to the Buddha. I was fed, endlessly, and did not miss out on a single culinary delight. The foodie highlights included: spicy Som Tom salad (if you are not sweating mid-meal it is clearly not spicy enough), Ant Egg Soup, fried fresh fish, green curry with chicken feet, and my favorite – fried bananas! 

As Old Man Winter continues to chill us here in the Midwest and across the U.S.A., I dream of days spent on the beautiful beaches of Thailand, a fresh coconut in hand, and nothing but sunshine and smiles. As I reminisce about my own experience in Thailand I cannot help but feel the warmth of the culture in my heart and the smile upon my own face.

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Our Work & Travel employers are lucky to welcome these spring students who will undoubtedly bring some of that sunshine and smiles to the work place. Hopefully they will also get to experience the taste sensations of the delicious cuisine of South East Asia!