Hey! My name is Laura and I am a new volunteer with Art Relief International. Coming from a small town in chilly Northern Ireland it has been quite a culture shock to stay in Chiang Mai with the heat, humidity and friendly hospitality!!
Thailand has been so welcoming so far and so full of new experiences, colours, textures and people so I can't wait to see what else it has in store over the next three weeks.
Having studied Textiles and art at university I have a real passion for creating new pieces and developing new concepts within my area of study. While I have enjoyed exploring my own artistic practice I also relish in the opportunity to share my knowledge, skills and love of creativity with other people. This has led me to run my own workshops as well as gain employment as an art facilitator at the Ulster Museum where I'm from and an art technician at a local secondary school. I enjoy working with a variety of ages and cultures which became particularly evident when I volunteered at an orphanage at North East India for four months a couple of years ago. It was really great to see the children open up and develop their personalities through art workshops, playtime and basic English lessons. I really enjoyed doing art with the children in particular and felt like I learnt a lot about them when they were explaining their work to me. It was a great way to communicate without language and it let them show their emotions clearly!
When I decided to have another adventure and travel around Australia and South East Asia I thought that volunteering for a few weeks would be great as I think it is one of the best ways to really understand a culture. I researched art organizations on the Internet and came up with Art Relief International. I immediately felt drawn to the ethos and goals of the organization: to provide relief to people who may be struggling, disabled, suffering from mental health problems, single mothers and young offenders to name a few groups that ARI work with. I eagerly applied to come here for three weeks and now I'm here and have already been moved by the people I have met and the things I have learnt about the local community.
I'm looking forward to working with all the different partner organizations and bringing my own skills to help others less fortunate than me but I'm sure they will probably teach me more than I will teach them!