Name : Alanna O'Gara
Age : 23 years old
From : America
Period : November 2011, 1 month
Email :

Riding my bike to school along the vast Mekong, Laos just across the water, discovering new tastes at the Saturday market, gathering with Jack’s entire family and passing along bowl after bowl of delicious home cooked food at family dinners, visiting the dramatic sculptures in nearby Nong Khai, joking about starving as we made a picnic of sticky rice and fermented fish sauce after an unsuccessful fishing trip, child after child greeting me every morning with a kind of love you can only find in Jack’s small village of Ban Thin Dung.


These are just a few of my favorite memories of the time I spent at Isan Survivor with Jack, his family, my fellow volunteers, and, of course, my English students. Though a short time in the scope of my nine month trip, these memories standout as highlights of my time in Asia, and I find myself talking of volunteering as an English teacher with Isan Survivor when people ask me about the best parts of my trip.

Good bye

Jack is an extraordinary person, devoted to giving every child in his community the opportunity to grow, learn and survive better than they might without his program and devoted to his volunteers, welcoming us to join in his culture, always with kindness and always with a smile. Jack’s mother is the most amazingly loving person I have ever met, and, if you are ever feeling homesick, all it will take is a smile from her (and possible a few bites of her delicious cooking) to make you feel right at home with family.


While I still wonder at how my students could be so naughty yet so adorable while being so naughty, I can only hope I gave the children I had the opportunity to teach as much as they gave me. Ban Thin Dung has an amazing community, and Jack, his family, and my wonderful students created and unforgettable experience for me. After volunteering and being welcomed back with my mother to visit, I know I will always have a home in Thailand with Jack and Isan Survivor.

Loi Krathong Festival