In the summer of 2016, before she started her Bachelor of Education at the University of Ottawa, Emily Marie Burnt went to Thailand for three months to complete an internship in elephant conservation under the auspices of Global Vision International (GVI).
Her project took place in the rural village of Karen in a mountainous area some five hours travel from the city of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Every day, she and other staff members would visit eight semi-wild Asian elephants living in the surrounding forest to monitor their behaviour and collect data on their activity. “Elephants are social, intelligent and beautiful animals and it was such a privilege to be a part of this work that allows them to live in a safe, natural environment, among other elephants instead of in tourist camps,” said Emily.
In addition to working with elephants, Emily also conducted biodiversity surveys of plant and animal life, and helped out at the local school and daycare. Her internship allowed her to be truly immersed in the local culture, so much so that at the end of her three-month stay, she found it difficult to leave. Parting with such close friends was hard, but at least she left knowing that her work had made a lasting and sustainable difference. “The internship gave me not only field experience, but also life experience that I will never forget.” When asked why she decided to go with GVI and this particular project, Emily replied “I knew I wanted to combine work experience with travel, and I found that GVI had the most reputable, high-quality opportunities.”
Emily found her experience so convincing that she now represents GVI at uOttawa. She promotes GVI’s international volunteer and internship opportunities, and connects students with programs that might interest them. If the thought of volunteering abroad interests you, and you would like to learn more about Emily’s experience or GVI, you can contact her by email or check out the GVI Canada website.