In the morning, the monks study Buddhism and meditation. Afternoon is class time at the university. English is the language of instruction for most classes. There are roughly 250 students at the university. Approximately half of the students are Thai and half are of other Asian nationalities (Indian, Bangladeshi, Cambodian, Laotian). This diversity makes an international learning environment at an institution focused on the higher education for Buddhist monks. For these reasons, it is a very unique school. The university is located in one of Chiang Mai’s largest and most historic temples and is in the vicinity of Chiang Mai University and other small colleges, which gives the area quite an academic atmosphere. Volunteers serve under the direction of the English department, which is staffed by a highly qualified and educated, bilingual, Thai faculty. Although most of the professors are regular Thais, a few members of the faculty are Buddhist monks.
Volunteering in Asia – A Day in the Life
Volunteers assist the professors in the English department with their lessons. Additionally, volunteers assist the students outside the classroom informally, practicing pronunciation, writing, conversation and other assignments and studies. There is the possibility of taking a more active role in planning lessons and writing exams. These additional tasks however, would only be offered to volunteers with experience and/or education in the field of university instruction. Occasionally, the Thai professors may ask their foreign volunteer counterparts to assist with classroom preparation and grading. Many of these responsibilities will be based upon the working relationship between the full-time Thai professor and their volunteer partner. Most volunteers will work directly with their assigned professor for three or four class hours each afternoon. A Buddhist day is selected for each week. During this Buddhist day the university is closed. When a Buddhist day falls on a week day, that day is made up on the Saturday of that week. The university is always closed on Sundays, Thai holidays and Buddhist holy days.
Minimum age for volunteers in the International University for Monks Project is 18. Volunteers in the International University for Monks need to be able to speak English fluently, have an open mind, enjoy working with university students and being in an academic environment. The more experience and education/training a volunteer has in university class instruction, the more responsibilities the volunteer will have during their volunteer service.
For more information about this project, including volunteers project fees and stories written by previous volunteers, please click here.