A Trip to Thailand with Hannah Russell, '15

July 21, 2014

Hannah Russell

Hanna volunteered in Thailand before backpacking through Cambodia.

What are you studying at Simmons?

I double major in nutrition and dietetics and food service management.

Where are you spending your summer? What are you doing?

I'm spending most of my summer in Dongkui, Phetchabun, Thailand. The small town I live in is half way between Bangkok and Chiang Mai. I'm a volunteer teacher with the NGO Learning Enterprises, teaching English and basic health education to children ages 2 to 4. Once I'm finished with teaching in August, I'll be backpacking through Cambodia, then visiting Paris before heading home to Boston.

What's the most rewarding part of your experience so far?

Seeing the lightbulbs go off in my students' faces. Many people in Thailand are very shy when it comes to speaking English to foreigners. Watching my students come out of their shell and speak English has been incredibly rewarding. The town I live in doesn't see many tourists, so the volunteer that comes every summer is the talk of the town. People are very curious and have a lot of questions about everything in America. Having the opportunity to talk to children about where I'm from and show them pictures of Boston and Simmons helps students dream big. It's great that I get to show them something different than their town and everyday life.

What inspired your backpacking trip?

I've always wanted to visit Angkor Wat, and this was an amazing opportunity to go! I've marveled at pictures of the beautiful temples within Angkor and am so happy to be able to see it in person. The more I researched Cambodia, the more places I found that I wanted to visit. I'll be visiting Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and the islands. After that, I'll be spending a week in Paris to relax and take in the sights.

What excites you most about coming back to Simmons in the fall?

I'm excited to come back to the awesome community at Simmons. Seeing my friends again will be nice as well. Going into my senior year, I want to savor every moment I have left at Simmons!

Where's your go-to spot to hang out in the summer?

My host family's house! It's been a great place to come back to and relax. Tutoring my 7 year old host sister, Kaimook, at her home after school has been really fun. Sometimes we just hang out and watch American children's shows, too.

What's your summer anthem?

I've been listening to the Thai top 40 the entire summer - it's been fantastic. The song of the summer here is actually an Italian song called, "Mi Mi Mi" by Serebro.