Teach English to Karen refugees in the mountains on the Thai/Burma border


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  • Description


    Our project provides native English language speakers the opportunity to teach English to Karen refugees at a Refugee Camp on the Thai/Burma border in Thailand.

    Teaching assignments should be at least one to two weeks and up to 30 to 60 days.

    There are three high schools at the refugee camp with more than 600 students per school. Classroom size is typically around 30 students. Additionally there is a small Junior College with < 200 students and a teacher's college with 45 students. Classes start at 8:30a and finish at 3:30p. Teachers typically teach 4-5 classes (50 mins) daily out of 7 total periods. Teachers have a one hour break when not teaching a class. All teachers and students stop for an hour at lunch time.

    Your primary relationships while here will be with the Principal of the high school, the English teacher (Karen person) who you are partnered with, the other teachers, and with the hundreds of delighted students you will teach. Your English teacher partner is very helpful to communicate more challenging exercises or instructions in the classroom.

    Basic accommodation is provided. This includes three daily meals as well as bottled and / or boiled water. Typically dishes are rice with vegetables and some meat. Adjustments are made for vegetarian and vegan diets.

    The refugee camp is located six hours overland west of Chiang Mai, Thailand, on the border of Burma. It's 2.5 hours west of Mae Sariang. Accessible only by 4x4 truck. Camp permit, authorization by the Thai govt. and Karen Refugee Committee, is required to access camp. We work with you to achieve this.

    To teach here it is important that you are physically fit. The walking commute to schools can be ~30 minutes on mountainous dirt paths, sometimes wet, in tropical (often very hot!) weather. Bring good hiking shoes and, depending on which school you're working at, expect to get a daily aerobic workout!

    BA in education or directly applicable is preferred but not required. Students attending a degree program for education will be viewed favorably. ESL certifications can be helpful but are not required. Experience teaching ESL is preferred. Ability to mentor English teachers in ESL methods and practices is helpful. Real-life teaching experience in a different subject can be perfectly fine. If you are unsure if you would be qualified, tell us about your applicable experience and we will review together. We seek native English language speakers.

    Please contact us 4+ weeks (6+ preferred) in advance of your travel dates. This time allows us to meet via video chat, help you obtain the permit to camp, and arrange for your driver and travel.

    There are just three co-founders of our small non-profit organization. Two are experienced travelers and teachers and one was a refugee in this refugee camp from 1995 to 2010. She and her family were resettled to the USA in 2010 and she is committed to helping the Karen people in her community in the USA and also those who remain in the refugee camp where she lived for 15 years. She still has immediate family living in the the camp.

    If you would like to teach English at the refugee camp to support the Karen ethnic minority group from Karen State in Burma we would love to hear from you!

  • Type of help

    Type of help


  • Help


    Engage students in English language development activities - speaking, reading, writing, conversation, listening, pronunciation and much more.

    Teaching English is a highest priority for camp leadership. Teaching other subjects can be helpful. Let us know what you would like to share with the Karen people.

  • Languages spoken

    Languages spoken

    Karen, English, some Burmese

  • Accommodation


    Basic - shared or private room with a mosquito net. Your bed can be a mat on bamboo or possibly a one inch thick mattress (feel free to bring your own), pillow and blankets, some very slow WiFi Internet is available. Private bath is cool water from a pail / scoop in a 50 gallon barrel. Toilet is eastern/squat toilet. The living environment is perfectly fine for reasonably hardy travelers. You would have equal or more comfortable accommodations than any of the residents of the refugee camp.

  • What else ...

    What else ...

    There's lots of beauty in this mountainous location. Plan a hike to the waterfall, swim with your new Karen friends, visit a nursery school, attend a church service, hike to the buddhist temple, etc. Join in a sporting event - play soccer (football), volleyball, cane ball and other games with students and the refugee community. There are lots of amazing photography opportunities while learning about the culture and history of the Karen people! Expect to be invited into the homes of students and fellow teachers. They're very excited you're in camp and want to spend time with you!

  • A little more information

    A little more information

    • Internet access

    • Limited internet access

      Limited internet access

    • We have pets

    • We are smokers

  • How many Workawayers can stay?

    How many Workawayers can stay?

    More than two

  • Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    Cultural exchange and learning opportunities

    This is an exceptional opportunity to provide much needed assistance to the Karen people, an ethnic minority group severely persecuted by the Burma junta army government. The camp rarely receives volunteer teacher visitors so the students and teachers are elated when they come! Volunteers will learn about the rich and colorful culture and traditions of the Karen people and will be embraced in an extended family-like community. The most difficult part of this volunteer engagement is tearing yourself away when it's time to leave!

    If you have wanted to teach but have been declined due to lack of formal qualifications this could be your chance to establish real-world work experience. While formal education and certifications are beneficial we look for native English language skills, ability and enthusiasm to teach, and some applicable experience in knowledge sharing. We seek generous spirits with open hearts who seek to help others.

  • ...

    Hours expected

    Maximum 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week

  • ...

    This host charges a fee

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    Why does workaway.info allow listings of hosts who charge money?

    In developing countries (Where most hosts are involved in charity work or community development) some of our hosts may ask for a small donation to help the host family or charity (often less then 5 dollars per day) Workaway will allow this listing when the donation goes directly to the family or charity and is just to cover the cost of the volunteer‘s stay.  (This will be clearly marked on the host listing).
    We will strictly not allow listings posted by agents, “middle men” or projects who we feel are looking to profit from a volunteers stay.



    500 Thai Baht (approx $15) for camp two week government permit

My Photo Album

Eager students love to see volunteers!
Visit a nursery school in camp - so cute!
4th grader loves her new colored pencils!
Kids playing on the main street in camp
Bridge to school in refugee camp
Class activity ... I want to be a ...
Talking about time in English language class
1st & 2nd grade in Day Bu Noh, Karen State
Teaching human body with post-it notes

Host ref number: 491385263563