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Achievement

Report Template

Report Title
Bringing volunteers and community together

Objective

Expand our community project to reach as many locals as possible
Make our English lessons accessible to all ages

Summary
This year has seen a great expansion and development of the community side of the GVI Chiang Mai
project. Having expanded our teaching to all six grades in June, our Community Staff Member Nicki
has been working hard to extend our reach to the community in other ways too. Our weekly nursery
visits now include basic English classes and a weekly group English class for the homestay families
has been set up. Alongside these, new after school activities have started including Movie Club, Arts
and Crafts, and Song and Dance Club. The result of this is that both the community and volunteers
are benefiting from more interaction with each other, and the bond between GVI and the village is
growing stronger.

Report

Community development and capacity building are a large part of our project here at GVI Chiang
Mai. The villagers are keen to be able to communicate better with our volunteers, and also gain the
skills needed to support their own volunteers in the future. Learning English is a large part of this,
and something we can easily assist them in. To this end we have been teaching school children aged
5-11 and our mahouts in regular classes for some time. Previously, volunteers were encouraged to
also practice English with their homestay families on a regular basis. However one-on-one English
can be difficult to undertake, and our Community Staff Member Nicki wanted to give them some-
thing more structured. We have therefore invited all the homestay families to attend new weekly
group English classes. A simple syllabus has been designed, with activities and worksheets focused
towards the English that will be useful in their everyday life. Eleven members of the homestay fami-
lies attended the first class, and enjoyed it very much. We are hoping in the future to run more clas-
ses in different areas of the village to encourage as many of the homestay families as possible to at-
tend. In addition to this, we have begun weekly visits to alternating homestays to sit and chat with
the families. This informal evening allows families and volunteers to practice each others languages,
and get to know each other better. We are hoping that informal evenings like this will help to allow
both sides to feel more comfortable and confident communicating with each other. It also means we
are collecting some amazing stories from the villagers about the history of the village and the forest
that surrounds it. The volunteers love hearing stories of encounters with deadly snakes, although
the tiger stories are most peoples favourites!

As well as increasing our interaction with the adults of the village, our involvement with the young-
est locals has increased recently too. Our weekly trips to the village nursery, which cares for pre-
school aged children, have become informal and fun English classes themselves. Alongside singing,
dancing and games the children are learning basic English. They started with emotions and actions,
and are currently learning the alphabet through food. The main purpose of these sessions is to get
the children used to hearing and speaking some English before their more structured lessons start
when they begin school. We are also increasing the childrens exposure to English through a new

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weekly Movie Club. Each Monday we play an easy-to-follow kids movie in English, with Thai subtitles
for the older ones. So far they have enjoyed The Fox and the Hound, Big Hero 6 and everybodys fa-
vourite Frozen. By also learning a dance to Let It Go in the new weekly Song and Dance Club, we
are now hearing the song being belted out all over the village! In fact, we now have four different
After School Clubs running each week, allowing volunteers to spend time with the children in a re-
laxed and fun environment.

So far, the introduction of these new activities has been a great success. Both the villagers and vol-
unteers are enjoying getting to spend more time together and break down any potential language or
cultural barriers that may exist. All these steps are helping the village become more independent,
and thus more capable of sustaining an ethical elephant project in the future. Its also great fun
along the way!

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