Thursday, March 26, 2015

Student at USU awaits service trip to Thailand

By Sadie Hughes

Laney Cork, a student at Utah State University, will immerse herself in a culture she has yet to experience when she leaves to teach English to children in Thailand. Cork will leave for her four-month endeavor on May 4.

Cork’s last final exam for this semester is on May 1, and three days later she will board a plane to Thailand. Jennifer King, the head teacher for the trip, is among six other women who will go with Cork. They will return to Utah on Aug. 19.

ILP is the International Language Program that organizes service trips like this one. “ILP hosts several schools in other countries for children who otherwise would not receive schooling,” Cork said.

“I’ve always absolutely loved volunteering and working with younger children, so the ILP was perfect for me,” Cork said.

Cork and the other volunteers will spend each day teaching children ranging from three to six years old. Cork has worked at orphanages in China and Nicaragua in the past and said those experiences were good preparation for the trip to Thailand.

"It took about half a year of interviews to be accepted into the program," Cork said. Last semester, Cork worked to earn money for the trip while going to school full-time.

Leslie Searle, one of the seven women going to Thailand, said her preparation has involved getting immunizations, saving money and gathering supplies like story books and glitter glue.

Cork also attended a two-day seminar on culture training. There, she was able to learn what is respectful and acceptable in Thailand.

"Growing up, I was always very active in service projects and opportunities that came through either church or my community," Cork said. "I worked at the soup kitchen in my hometown every other week with my family."

Cork moved to Utah last August from Savannah, Georgia. She has a 10-year-old adopted sister from China and believes the eight years she spent living with her will also help her in her volunteer work with people of a different culture.

Searle expects the most rewarding thing about the trip to be developing relationships with people from a different culture.

"I'm a sucker for all things traveling and have been to several countries," Cork said. "I'm beyond excited to volunteer there."

Searle has met Cork once before. "She seems like a very friendly, outgoing and accepting girl that kids will respond well to," Searle said.

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