why i volunteer
I came to Myanmar for the first time in December 2015 shortly after SOT first opened, I had met Evan, the OG volunteer, in Thailand a few weeks before and he told me I had to come visit.
Myanmar had not even been on my list, but a few friends I met along the way had convinced me to break my plans and go. I spent 5 nights in a cubbie here, and I absolutely fell in love. The lake, mountains, bike riding, winery, and the people...
I traveled for a few months longer and ended up back in Nyaung Shwe in March of 2016. I was staying with a friend who also worked in town, volunteering a few times a week teaching the staff English and basic conversation skills. I became very ill and Fiona (the owner) begged me to stay in the hostel so she could keep an eye on me. Apparently getting violently ill with dysentary was the best thing that ever happened to me. That was when I moved in and began working full time at the hostel.
These people became my family. We ate every meal together, we went on bike rides, I visited their villages, I met their families, I cooked with them, I laughed with them, and I cried with them. Leaving this place was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but it will always be here and I know I will always have a place here.
I went from teaching a few times a week to managing staff, building bars, making menus, implementing a activity board, and ultimately writing our very own guide for our hostel. I ended up staying in this hostel for 5 months. They were undoubtedly the best months of my life.
A few words of advice: If you're thinking about volunteering... do it! It will be one of the most special unique things you will ever do in your life. Spend time with this family, cook with them, sing with them, eat with them, learn a few words in Burmese, really absorb every thing these people and this country have to offer. Love, Hannah Portland, Maine, USA