Global Service Scholar: Asal Yunusova
Country: Thailand

This past month in Thailand has been a once in a lifetime experience filled with many lessons and takeaways. I was able to learn a lot through my interactions with others and through my weekend travels and excursions. Even more so, I had a lot of takeaways from my field study site at the children’s home. Through my interactions with the children and observing the home, I was able to learn a lot of lessons about compassion and empathy. For example, one afternoon there was a woman who unfortunately crashed her motorbike in front of the house. I watched as all the children rushed to help the woman and the parents helped clean up her wound. In the United States, there are so many cases of bystanders not doing anything and not taking action to help someone in need. But in this moment, I saw how these children and parents jumped to help someone in need without hesitation.

Helping others and being kind and compassionate seem like a natural instinct to many of the people in Thailand. I learned a lot about what it means to be compassionate and that even small, kind actions can make a big difference. Everyday I would watch everyone on the streets greet each other with a smile; you wouldn’t even know people were complete strangers based on their interactions. I learned to be more compassionate even towards people I didn’t know well.

On the weekends I was able to travel to places such as Pai, Phuket, the Phi Phi islands, and nearby temples and landmarks in Chiang Mai. I learned a lot about the Thai culture and history. I was able to try various Thai cuisines, learn some basics of the language, and the customs of the country. The environment of Thailand is so relaxed and easy going that I noticed I was a more cheerful person and less stressed overall. By the end of the trip I had learned a lot about myself.

This trip has made me more confident and more willing to take on experiences like this. I was very hesitant and worried at the beginning because I am a very introverted person who doesn’t take a lot of risks. This trip has showed me that I can do anything and that even if nothing is perfect everything will work out in the end. I have gained a new love for travel and a thirst to continue taking on opportunities like this that allow me to engage in service while seeing the rest of the world. Working at the children’s home confirmed my future plans that working with children can be a possibility.

Being able to participate in my first field study has also encouraged me to engage in more fieldwork and research as well. The Global Service Scholars program allowed me to get to know myself on a deeper level and reaffirm my passions. It gave me the opportunity to embark on a journey of self-discovery and to give back to others. I have returned with a greater appreciation for my life and the people in it, and I am grateful for the people that I have met and the experiences I have gained.