Senior Danielle Travels to Thailand

Q. You are a busy lady! Tell us about all the activities you are involved in.

A. I play, and have played, on the school’s varsity volleyball team since my freshman year. I am an active member of National Honor Society and Key Club. Every other weekend I go volunteer at a dog shelter called 2 Da Rescue. I also really enjoy singing and playing piano!

Q. You spent time this summer in Thailand. What were you doing there?

A. I traveled to Thailand for two weeks with an international volunteer program called Global Leadership Adventures. We spent the first couple of days in Chiang Mai learning about the culture, visiting breathtaking temples, and learning about the elephant situation in Thailand (they are a glorified animal in Thai culture but the wildlife population is rapidly decreasing). On the third day we moved to the Thai Elephant Home, an elephant conservation center, where we were paired with an elephant to work with for the remainder of the trip (mine was a 40 year old female named Boon Chu). Every morning we would wake up at 5:45 a.m. to feed the elephants breakfast and clean their living areas. Every afternoon we rode them down to the river and bathed them, and every night we fed them dinner. During the day we did different activities, such as visit an elephant nursery, an elephant hospital, plant trees for the community, cut and plant grass for the elephants, volunteer at the village school, and on the last day we had a cultural immersion festival with a high school in Chiang Mai. Words cannot describe how life­changing this experience was; I was able to make a difference and help a community while still having the time of my life and making life­-long friends. I learned to appreciate everything and everyone in my life, I gained knowledge of the world outside of the United States, I stepped out of my comfort zone immensely, I bonded with my own elephant, I did so many things I never imagined myself doing! I would go back in a heartbeat and really hope I can someday.

Q. Travel is a passion for you. What would your dream trip be?

A. Honestly, I would love more than anything to go back to Thailand and do this whole trip again. I completely fell head over heels in love with the culture, and of course the elephants, when I was there. But if I could go on another trip to anywhere else, I would probably do something similar to this trip but in Costa Rica. There is so much diversity there and I’ve heard that it is so incredible beautiful, I would love to have another chance to work with the wildlife and the people there ­especially because they speak Spanish, and I am in Spanish 9­10 Honors, so I think it’d be a cool experience to improve my speaking abilities as well as make a difference in the community and the wild animals.

Q. What are your plans for the future?

A. For college, I am looking to go somewhere out of state. My top two choices at the moment are University of Denver or Lewis and Clark in Oregon; both of these schools have excellent programs for studying abroad, which is what attracted me to them. I am very intrigued by how diverse the world is and all of the different cultures it holds, so I would like to go into anthropology and sociology within different world cultures. I would like to do something that allows me to expand my knowledge and experience of the world. I am also very much into writing, so I have considered careers such as being a journalist for publications like National Geographic.

Danielle is a senior at Horizon Honors High School.

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