Hotchkiss Student Amelia Smith of Millerton, NY Travels to Thailand to Save Elephants

 

This summer, Amelia Smith, 15, of Millerton, NY, spent two weeks in Thailand helping animals and learning hands-on what it’s like to be a veterinarian. Traveling with the Boston-based Loop Abroad, Amelia was part of a small team that volunteered giving care at a dog shelter and then spent a week working directly with rescued elephants at an elephant sanctuary.

The Veterinary Service program brings students to Thailand for two weeks to volunteer alongside a staff veterinarian. For one week, students volunteer at the Animal Rescue Kingdom dog shelter in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The shelter is home to over 100 dogs who have been rescued after being abandoned, beaten, or abused. While the dogs can be adopted, any who aren’t will be cared for by the shelter for their whole lives.

While they learned what it’s like to be a veterinarian, students made a difference in the lives of these dogs. By providing check-ups and cleanings, diagnosing and treating ear and eye problems, taking and testing blood, administering vaccines, cleaning and treating wounds, and helping with sterilization surgeries, the students were able to help support the health and well-being of these dogs.

The group also spent one week at the Elephant Nature Park in northern Thailand to work hands-on with the animals and learn about animal rescue and conservation on a larger scale. The Elephant Nature Park is home to over 40 elephants who have been rescued from trekking, logging, or forced breeding programs. Many of them have been abused and suffer from chronic injuries. At the Elephant Nature Park, they are cared for by volunteers from all over the world. Students were able to feed, bathe, and care for elephants, as well as learning about their diagnoses alongside an elephant vet. The Elephant Nature Park is also home to over 400 dogs and 100 cats, as well as rabbits and water buffalo, and is sustained in huge part by the work of weekly volunteers like Amelia.

Of her trip, Amelia says, “My Thailand experience was extremely eye opening. The opportunities that I was exposed to from neutering dogs to trying durian fruit during a Thai snack challenge have made my trip so memorable. I don’t know any other place where I would be able to wake up in the morning and eat breakfast while watching elephants pass by the patio. I have learned so much about myself, veterinary medicine, and Thai culture. It is impossible to return from this trip and not have a passion fro animals deeper than what you came with and a will to make a difference.”

Amelia is a student at the Hotchkiss School.