Southeast Asia

Animal Conservation

Applications Closed!

Applications Closed!

Southeast Asia

Animal Conservation

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  • Embrace the chaos and complexity of modern Bangkok, from the delights of Thai cuisine to the beautiful temples and pagodas, from the spirituality of Buddhism to the harsh realities of the urban slum of Khlong Toei.
  • Live and work with the majestic Asian elephant at the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand.
  • Volunteer with Cambodia’s permaculture action team and be part of a movement to promote sustainable farming practices among the country’s most marginalized communities.
  • Spend a day getting to know Sun Bears and the endangered Asiatic Black Bear at the Free The Bears sanctuary in Phnom Penh.

Program Dates

2016

January 13 – February 17
PROGRAM CLOSED!

 

2017
COMING SOON!

 

Program Fee + Community Contribution

[CBC country=”ca” show=”n”]$2,560 USD + $565 USD[/CBC][CBC country=”ca” show=”y”]$2,900 CAD + $750 CAD[/CBC]

 

 

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Sample Itinerary

*This itinerary is based on our previous experience with the region. Programs change every year based on the needs of our partners. This should give you a sense of what our program may look like.

Orientation in the Big Mango
Following airport pickups, the group will be introduced to Thailand’s bustling capital of Bangkok. In a citywide scavenger hunt we’ll be introduced to the sights, sounds, and tastes of this modern yet distinctively Thai city. We’ll visit some of the city’s most beautiful temples but also spend time in the slum of Khlong Toei where we’ll witness some of Bangkok’s harsher realities. Along the way, we’ll learn a bit of Thai from some of the coolest kids in town as we visit a great local NGO.

Elephant Sanctuary
Out of the concrete jungle and into the real, lush one! We will take a short bus ride down south to visit the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) where we will spend time volunteering at their Elephant Refuge Camp and Education Centre. No, we will not be riding elephants and we definitely won’t be watching them entertain with tricks! Rather, we will be working hands-on with the elephants, washing them, collecting food for them, and going for a dip with them in the lake. Our work will contribute to the WFFT’s crucial work in protecting the Asian elephant in Thailand!

Down and Dirty at the Permaculture Education Farm
After crossing the border into Cambodia, the team will stop in the capital of Battambang for a night’s rest and introduction to a new country before heading into rural Cambodia! Amidst rice fields and villages, we continue to go further south into the province of Battambang. We’ll head over to the Teuk Poh Permaculture Education Farm to join Cambodia’s “permaculture action” team – a group of dedicated activists promoting sustainable farming practices in marginalized communities around the country.

Our team has previously built fences, dug ponds, created gardens, and planted veggies, fruits, and trees. The aim of the project is not only to introduce us to the amazing world of permaculture, but also to get our hands dirty making improvements to this farm that is visited by hundreds of farmers year round.

We’ll be sleeping in hammocks, eating out of palm leaves, and spending evenings by the fire listening to Khmer folktales. We’ll be stripped down to basics, and by doing so, have an opportunity to truly connect with the community!

Free The Bears In Phnom Penh, Asia’s Hidden Gem
After roughing it in the countryside, we head to Phnom Penh, where we’ll introduce you to all the hidden secrets of this booming city! Wander along the Mekong, meet artists from around the city, try fried tarantulas, and get to know NGOs working with marginalized families to build brighter futures. Home to one of the 21st century’s worst genocides, we will also visit the S-21 Prison Museum and the Killing Fields in order to understand Cambodia’s tragic recent history.

Our time in Phnom Penh will be topped off with a day volunteering at “Free the Bears”, an NGO that prioritizes the conservation of the endangered Asiatic Black Bear. We will get up close and personal with the Black Bear and Sun Bear, learning more about what it takes to take care of these beautiful animals and ensure a more sustainable future.

Independent Travel Time
A staple of all Operation Groundswell programs is Independent Travel Time (ITT). You can travel independently if you desire but everyone is urged to travel in pairs or small groups. During this time, you are not under the auspices of the organized program and are entirely responsible for yourself. Team members are given the emergency contact number of program leaders during ITT for any advice or safety concerns. This is the ideal time to learn more about your specific interests, whether it’s by volunteering, travelling, or just relaxing.

Disorientation
The group will reconvene for a program debrief known as ‘disorientation’ prior to flying home. This will likely take place in Kanchanaburi, one of the most relaxing spots in all of Thailand. We will discuss our accomplishments, how we can stay in touch, and what future projects we can collaborate on before returning back to Bangkok to send everyone off on their way!

Sample Itinerary

*This itinerary is based on our previous experience with the region. Programs change every year based on the needs of our partners. This should give you a sense of what our program may look like.

Orientation in the Big Mango
Following airport pickups, the group will be introduced to Thailand’s bustling capital of Bangkok. In a citywide scavenger hunt we’ll be introduced to the sights, sounds, and tastes of this modern yet distinctively Thai city. We’ll visit some of the city’s most beautiful temples but also spend time in the slum of Khlong Toei where we’ll witness some of Bangkok’s harsher realities. Along the way, we’ll learn a bit of Thai from some of the coolest kids in town as we visit a great local NGO.

Elephant Sanctuary
Out of the concrete jungle and into the real, lush one! We will take a short bus ride down south to visit the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT) where we will spend time volunteering at their Elephant Refuge Camp and Education Centre. No, we will not be riding elephants and we definitely won’t be watching them entertain with tricks! Rather, we will be working hands-on with the elephants, washing them, collecting food for them, and going for a dip with them in the lake. Our work will contribute to the WFFT’s crucial work in protecting the Asian elephant in Thailand!

Down and Dirty at the Permaculture Education Farm
After crossing the border into Cambodia, the team will stop in the capital of Battambang for a night’s rest and introduction to a new country before heading into rural Cambodia! Amidst rice fields and villages, we continue to go further south into the province of Battambang. We’ll head over to the Teuk Poh Permaculture Education Farm to join Cambodia’s “permaculture action” team – a group of dedicated activists promoting sustainable farming practices in marginalized communities around the country.

Our team has previously built fences, dug ponds, created gardens, and planted veggies, fruits, and trees. The aim of the project is not only to introduce us to the amazing world of permaculture, but also to get our hands dirty making improvements to this farm that is visited by hundreds of farmers year round.

We’ll be sleeping in hammocks, eating out of palm leaves, and spending evenings by the fire listening to Khmer folktales. We’ll be stripped down to basics, and by doing so, have an opportunity to truly connect with the community!

Free The Bears In Phnom Penh, Asia’s Hidden Gem
After roughing it in the countryside, we head to Phnom Penh, where we’ll introduce you to all the hidden secrets of this booming city! Wander along the Mekong, meet artists from around the city, try fried tarantulas, and get to know NGOs working with marginalized families to build brighter futures. Home to one of the 21st century’s worst genocides, we will also visit the S-21 Prison Museum and the Killing Fields in order to understand Cambodia’s tragic recent history.

Our time in Phnom Penh will be topped off with a day volunteering at “Free the Bears”, an NGO that prioritizes the conservation of the endangered Asiatic Black Bear. We will get up close and personal with the Black Bear and Sun Bear, learning more about what it takes to take care of these beautiful animals and ensure a more sustainable future.

Independent Travel Time
A staple of all Operation Groundswell programs is Independent Travel Time (ITT). You can travel independently if you desire but everyone is urged to travel in pairs or small groups. During this time, you are not under the auspices of the organized program and are entirely responsible for yourself. Team members are given the emergency contact number of program leaders during ITT for any advice or safety concerns. This is the ideal time to learn more about your specific interests, whether it’s by volunteering, travelling, or just relaxing.

Disorientation
The group will reconvene for a program debrief known as ‘disorientation’ prior to flying home. This will likely take place in Kanchanaburi, one of the most relaxing spots in all of Thailand. We will discuss our accomplishments, how we can stay in touch, and what future projects we can collaborate on before returning back to Bangkok to send everyone off on their way!

Explore

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What’s Included?

A comprehensive program itinerary and educational curriculum focused on the issues facing your specific region

Experienced and caring program leaders with you 24 hours a day

All lodging and accommodations throughout the program

Three local meals a day

All group tours, entrance fees, and excursions

All group transportation on the ground

Regular discussions and workshops to help you internalize and reflect on your experience

Support from OGHQ whenever you need it

ITT

Independent Travel Time is your opportunity to go out there and explore on your own terms!

  • Travel back in time exploring the mystic ruins of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Hike into the territory of the northern hill tribes and explore the famous night markets of Chiang Mai.
  • Take the epic bus ride from Saigon to Hanoi or visit Halong Bay in Vietnam.
  • Relax on the pristine beaches of southern Thailand and relish in the stunning landscapes these islands have to offer.

Accommodations

With OG, you live like the locals.

Traveling as much as we do on the Southeast Asia program, there are a number of different styles of accommodation. In cities, we stay at clean, safe, and secure guesthouses. When we’re out in rural communities, local families will host us in their homes and we might just sleep under the stars for a few nights (with mosquito nets of course)! Being welcomed by local families is an incredible way for the team to integrate within the communities we visit. Cold bucket showers are common while continuous electricity can’t always be guaranteed – so come prepared! Though Western comforts should not be assumed, you can expect to better connect with locals and their culture.

Meet Your Program Leaders

Rebecca Samaan’s wanderlust began at the age of 12 when she went Egypt for 3 months with her Egyptian father. She was 15 when she packed her bags and did a self-taught semester abroad in India where she worked with lepers, gypsies, and orphans and then continued her adventure to study French in the top language school of France. These experiences transformed her life and paved the way for her to get both an undergraduate and master’s degree in Global Development.

Today Rebecca has traveled to over 35 countries, between Zip-lining across the rainforest in Costa Rica, to riding Camels in Egypt, Morocco, and India, to hiking the Camino de Santiago in Spain, Rebecca has seized every opportunity she could to seek adventure but more importantly to always be considerate of other cultures and to make even the smallest of positive change in any place she goes.

Zoe SilverbergThat little travel bug going around must have bitten Zoe. She is constantly buzzing around looking for new adventures and experiences. She has hiked the Himalayas, dived the Pacific, cycled the Alps and competed in a 24 hour hiking and biking race in the Sahyadri Mountain Range. Zoe always tries to have a unique travel experience by blending work and travel. She has worked in the field of informal and formal education in Canada, India, Singapore and Switzerland. She has worked as an outdoor education leader in Switzerland and Singapore and established and managed a swimming program in India. When she isn’t engaging in heated discussions about issues around equity and access, both locally and abroad, she can be found swimming and paddling in the magical fresh water lakes of Ontario, Canada. All this being said a Saturday night with a bowl of all dressed chips, a beer and the newest HBO mini series doesn’t sound all that bad.

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