By Anne Mantel – 1 week volunteer
When I first read about the KSES I loved the combination of being able to observe semi-wild elephants and connecting with a different culture by teaching English. Both have been amazing experiences. I was able to help collecting data on the elephants, which will contribute to further scientific research. My highlight with the elephants was seeing them play with each other just like little children. They seem to have a lot of fun and can move up and down steep mountains with ease.
Apart from hiking to observe the elephants every day, I loved living in the little village. Even though we didn’t speak the language they welcomed us volunteers with open arms into their homes. These homestays are a great experience to learn more about the culture, play with the little children and eat great food they prepare for you every day. I was staying at Moo Too’s place in a little hut, surrounded by pigs, chickens and dogs. It was a very authentic experience and I was able to learn about the Pakinyaw culture by observing it closely, almost having the feeling of being a part of the family.
Many thanks to the great team Kerri, Alex, Carly and Zabby. You can really feel their passion for the elephants and their close bond to the villagers. They speak their language and give back to the community as much as possible. We were able to join many village activities such as teaching English for adults and in the nursery, joint trash pick-ups and a kids day. After one week I almost felt at home in the village. Overall, it has been a great learning experience about both elephants and the special culture of the Pakinyaw people in the Ban Naklang village.