To you the reader or someone thinking about traveling with Youth International. These 3 months were so incredible, it is hard to put into words.
The greatest group of 16 young adults I have ever been surrounded with. From day one of orientation, I knew I was in the right place. Two fantastic, inspiring, and helpful leaders lead us through the craziest, scariest, most rewarding and exhausting times. Through sicknesses and new experiences, I never felt unsafe. We were educated before take off of the basic principles, but I quickly learned, there is only so much you can teach.
I learned so much about myself and the world during these three months. Experiencing new cultures first hand by living with these families, emerged in all of the different cultures Asia has to offer. Words can't even describe my appreciation for these three months of my life, I would give so much to be back out there with those people.
I faced some pretty interesting obstacles along the way, but never got completely lost, which could have been very easy to do out there. I recommend this trip to anyone from anywhere, any age, and any reason, as long as there is an open mind involved, this will undoubtably be a trip of a life time with a great program running it. I have tried many times, and there is no way to describe how amazing my experience was. I highly recommend this program.
Every day we learned so much; culture, religion, society, and so much more. I could not have asked for better leaders. I truly felt like we were in control, not being led around by a tour guide. One of my favorite parts was staying in a village in northern India.
Thailand youth football team trapped in flooded cave
I learned how to communicate without language and felt like I was truly making an impact on the lives of the students. The trek taught me so much about myself and I am extremely thankful. Now that I am in my first semester of college I am finding that the time I spent studying traditional Tibetan Buddhism and meditation in silence was extremely worthwhile.
This trip is priceless and worth every second of your time. When looking at gap year programs post-graduating high school, I wanted to travel and be with a group of people my age to learn and experience new parts of the world together. Youth International was promising due to its constantly moving schedule and even though we were never settled in one place for weeks on end, the variety of cities and villages we visited has left a permanent footprint on myself and the future I want to make for myself.
Youth International changed my life for the better, even though I thought I was already on the right path.
Trapped soccer kids thought they were hallucinating when rescuers came
It opened my eyes, mind, and soul to experiences and a way of life I had never walked in, and I am forever grateful for the positive impact this has had on me since. The program is extremely professionally executed, and while I have traveled to over 60 countries in the past 20 years, Youth International has been by far the best-run program I have been involved in. I feel like one of the luckiest people in the world to have found, and gone on, the Asia trip with Youth International, and I enjoy sharing details of the experience, even to this day, 10 years later, about this trip of a lifetime, this learning experience I am forever grateful for.
YI was instrumental in shaping my priorities and worldview by giving me the opportunity to challenge myself and my ideas about the world and my place in it. A few key features drew me to this program over other programs: I lived with a teacher for part of this program and assisted in her classroom - educational opportunities: I took Indian cooking and music classes - physical component: I took yoga classes and we did a several day meditation retreat no talking! I liked that this program doesn't advertise that you'll 'change the world' because Brad and the program staff know that what you learn is so much more than the otherwise feeble work we can offer besides lots of awesome cross-cultural understanding and some lifelong friends The couple that led our semester were wonderful leaders who had worked for the Peace Corps and other organizations, as well as traveled extensively on their own.
We had much independence on the program, this being a program for youth who want something more than traveling on their own, but don't expect people to do all the travel work for them eg. One strength of this program is that they're small, but have also been around for awhile. I went on the program I think it was that year In the decade-plus since I've completed my undergraduate degree, thesis-based masters program, teachers college and worked for several years around the world, but with focused work in remote fly-in communities in the Arctic. This program launches you into new situations and cultures-- I got to understand and make bonds with locals.
I now feel that I could go anywhere in the world and have since travelled throughout many countries, including South America and Europe.
My favorite part of the program was the silent meditation retreat in Dharamsala. This was over three years ago and I have yet to encounter a more expanding and enlightening experience, as cliche as that may sound. My leaders were incredible, I still have occasional contact with both of them. The greatest aspect of this program is that it is truly authentic. It is a small organization, and therefore each of us got the chance to meet the head honcho, Brad Gillings.
He is a great guy and an incredible facilitator. He has travelled to each of the locations and has set up healthy and constructive relationships with small communities in each of the countries. I appreciate this more and more as I learn more about the way that other programs are set up. Rescue workers struggled to find a way to extract the team from the cave. On Saturday, rescue mission chief Osottanakorn said conditions were "perfect" to evacuate the team in the coming days before fresh rains and a possible rise in carbon dioxide further imperil the group.
Rescuers have conceded that evacuating the boys is a race against time, with monsoon rains expected to undo days of around-the-clock drainage of the flooded cave. While the oxygen level had stabilised, he warned that levels of carbon dioxide in the cave were a vital factor in considering when to move the group. In addition, the impending rains could raise the water levels to cover much of the muddy ledge on which the group are sheltering.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, he said the boys were not yet ready to dive out of the cave, a complex and dangerous task through twisting and jagged submerged passageways. But his comments 12 hours later suggest the thinking had changed, with water levels inside the cave currently managed to their lowest point by constant drainage. Industrial pumps have been working incessantly in an attempt to clear the tunnels and, hopefully, allow them to escape by foot. After emerging from the cave, the boys will be taken straight into a waiting ambulance which will drive them to a nearby helipad.
Youth International Gap Semester: India, Nepal, and Thailand
From there, they will be flown to the provincial capital of Chiang Rai for treatment in a hospital there. In notes written by the team and published on the Thai Navy SEAL Facebook page on Saturday, the coach apologised to the parents of the boys for taking them into the cave complex during monsoon season. I promise to take the very best care of the kids," Chantawong wrote. The rising water obstructed the rescue operation on Monday, as Royal Thai Navy SEAL divers, struggled to move farther into the cave complex, which is thought to be about km long and contain some large chambers.
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We believe the students have gone further in. He said they would wait for water pumps to be brought in which would hopefully help them access another passageway. The SEAL team arrived at the site on Monday morning to begin their search after multiple local rescue teams could not make much progress. Mothers and other relatives of the missing boys held a prayer session on Monday evening at the entrance to the cave, where there is a shrine with a statue of the Buddha. They laid flowers and then some walked inside, where their cries could be heard echoing off the walls.
I am waiting for you here! Another kneeled down near the bicycles and prayed, asking "Where is my child? Namhom Boonpiam, whose year-old son Mongkol is among the missing, said she had been waiting at the entrance since Saturday night.