Bangkok, Thailand :: Sarun (India) shares stories and smiles with locals.

Bridges beyond borders

Bangkok, Thailand :: Doulos Hope crew nurtures friendships with university students.

The realisation that thousands of young people from right across Thailand were arriving to study in Bangkok in the 1950’s amazed an American couple living in the country often referred to as ‘the Land of Smiles’. However, they identified a problem: there was not enough accommodation for all the students. So, they came up with the solution of building a dormitory house to host, support and help develop the students. 

Seventy years later, the centre continues to provide a safe place for hundreds of young students aiming for a better future. Throughout Doulos Hope's visit to Bangkok, crewmembers were delighted to engage with the students for six consecutive weeks. Teams from the ship visited the centre to play sports and to connect over dinner.

Cheika (Japan) recently joined the ship and has found communicating in English often challenging. However, when she discovered the opportunity to do some sports-related activities, she was excited to sign up. “As a physical education teacher, I was eager to contribute with my area of expertise. We joined the students and played volleyball and badminton. Afterwards, we joined them for supper. This was a great opportunity to share with students about our stories and why we joined the ship.”

TJ, a dedicated member of the centre’s staff, expressed his gratitude for the various visits. “It meant a lot to our students. They experienced a cultural exchange… a picture of the whole world. Some of the students were really impressed with your stories about serving people from all around the world. They have been encouraged to serve in their own context and lives.”

After her first visit to the centre, Cheika returned the following week with another team. “I was able to connect with one of the girls who was interested in hearing my story and wanted to know more about my country, Japan. I felt that even with my limited English I could share and start building friendships with the people we met.”

As Doulos Hope’s time in Bangkok comes to an end, we reflect on how sports became more than a game, meals were times of sharing stories and how bridges were built. As the ship continues on her journey, the spirit of friendship and service remains, transcending linguistic barriers and cultural differences.