Be The Good recently helped fund Hollyn Lentz’s service trip to Thailand. With the support of Autism Career Training, Hollyn is passionately advocating for quality, individualized education for all children as a direct aide to a student with special needs at one of the International Schools.
She shared the following insights from her time abroad so far.
1. Why were you drawn to this service trip?
I love people with disabilities and have loved working alongside them in the United States. When I heard about the opportunity to work 1:1 with a student with Down Syndrome in an international school while abroad, I knew I had to pursue the experience!
2. How have you spent your time so far? What has a typical day looked like?
I have loved my time in Thailand! I got my motorbike license– which was a very cultural experience. Now, I ride my bike to work and pick my student up in her van!
Each morning, we meet with the other two students in our program. Then, we move forward with our day. We typically work in our own classroom, similar to a special education classroom from the United States, but we often push into a typical classroom a few times each day. In these spaces, we work on reading, life skills, math and social skills.
3. What is one unexpected thing you’ve learned so far from your time in Thailand?
I didn’t realize how normal school life would be here! It feels very similar to the school I grew up in, but everything is quieter. The lunch room is so calm and peaceful! This was certainly something I was surprised by.
4. What is your favorite aspect of working as an aide in this capacity?
I have loved working as an aide. I love watching my student learn and helping her grow. We both teach each other new things every day!
My favorite part, though, has been watching how kind her peers are to her. We recently started a peer group where her peers come into our classroom to play games several times a week. Seeing all the students bond despite their differences has been very impactful. My student comes in every day and asks, “Friends coming today?” It’s wonderful!
5. What is your favorite memory with your student from the first half of your service trip?
One afternoon, she grabbed my hand and said, “Let’s dance!” We skipped the afternoon’s reading lesson and had a little dance party. Her joy was contagious, and it was truly extraordinary! I hope I always live with this kind of spontaneity.
6. What is one thing that has surprised you about Thailand’s culture?
Thais are so kind and warm. I have been so blessed with their hospitality, kindness and smiles! They are always willing to lend a hand and help someone out, which has brought me much hope for humankind.