INTREPID explorer Claire Mitchell will fulfil a childhood dream next month when she begins a year-long adventure in Thailand.
Claire (17) will head east on August 24 with the charity Project Trust to teach children English and take part in social work projects. It’s all new for Claire who has just left Linlithgow Academy and wants to travel before studying Sociology at Stirling University next year.
She said: “I wanted to go somewhere completely different from here, and I was attracted to Project Trust as they do 12-month projects. You can really get involved in the community, and become part of the place.”
As part of an 18-strong team, Claire will be one of two volunteers based in the small village of Phana in north east Thailand, an hour away from the larger town of Ubon Ratchathani, working in primary schools four days a week, and a secondary school once a week. Claire signed up with Project Trust last June and from the 20 countries they go to, Thailand was the country chosen for her.
She added: “I was surprised when I was given Thailand as I thought it might be Africa, but it’s exciting and definitely different! We’d learned about Buddhism at school and 95 per cent of the population there are Buddhists, so that should help me understand some of the culture.”
Claire was doing a five-day training course this week to prepare her for the year ahead.
She added: “I’ve got more nervous recently, but I’m really excited – it will be good to be totally independent – even when I’m at uni I’ll be able to take my washing home, but out there I’ll have to do everything myself! You just get thrown into the project – we start work as soon as we get there so it’ll be hard, but fun!”
Over the past year Claire has been fundraising for the £5100 needed for the trip, and so far she has reached £3000. Her next fundraiser will be on July 29, which will be a charity show at a local club from 1pm-5pm, with a buffet and live singing. Her grandfather Dickie Gibb will be joined by Malcolm Dougal, Gordon Wilson and friends for the day of entertainment and £7 tickets are available from the Coffee Neuk.
Claire’s mum Laurie, of Barkhill Road, and sister Abbie (8), have also been very supportive and are planning a visit, before she returns on August 15, 2013.
She added: “Ever since I was little the thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to travel.”
Cheques made payable to Project Trust can be sent to Claire Mitchell at 24 Barkhill Road, Linlithgow.