Claregalway 21-years-old Rachel Maher leaves Galway this week for the trip of a life-time to Thailand.
Rachel has won an eight-week EIL Travel Award to Thailand, fully-funded by Cork-based EIL Intercultural Learning, which organises cultural and educational travel programmes worldwide.
Rachel, who has worked as a volunteer with her local community over the years and currently volunteers with the Galway Regional Youth Federation Ltd, impressed the EIL judges at an interview in March, securing her a place on the EIL Travel Award programme.
She leaves on Saturday for Thailand where she will live in a local community and work on an art-relief programme that supports vulnerable members of the local community, such as indigenous groups, refugees and children with special needs.
Rachel says she is “absolutely over the moon”.
“ I have always wanted to go to Thailand, the culture there really interests me. I volunteer quite a bit here so I am really looking forward to the experience of volunteering in Thailand. I hope I will have a positive influence on the programme and I will make a difference.
EIL is a not-for-profit organisation that is recognised as a "Peace Messenger" by the United Nations. The Cork-based organisation celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and is marking this with a number of celebratory programmes and activities.
EIL Intercultural Learning director Kevin Hickey says the trips are satisfying for the both the organisation and the participants.
"It's great to see the change in people from when they go away to when they come back. Meeting them again, hearing their stories, feeling their excitement, and listening to how they're going to apply what they've learned in their future endeavours is very satisfying for everyone at EIL."
Further information on EIL is available through www.eilireland.org