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This winter, Kailin Saucedo, 22, of East Moline, Illinois, spent two weeks in Thailand helping animals and learning hands-on what it’s like to be a veterinarian. Traveling with study-abroad organization Loop Abroad, Kailin was selected as part of a small team that volunteered giving care at a dog shelter and 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 veterinarians from the US and Thailand.  For one week, Kailin and her team volunteered at an elephant sanctuary outside of Chiang Mai, Thailand to work with the giant animals and learn about animal rescue and conservation on a larger scale. 

 

The elephants at the sanctuary have been rescued from trekking, logging, or forced breeding programs. Many of them had been abused and suffer from chronic injuries or blindness. At the elephant sanctuary, they are cared for by volunteers from all over the world. Kailin helped to feed and care for elephants, as well as learn about their diagnoses alongside an elephant vet. The sanctuary is also home to over 1,000 animals, including cats, dogs, water buffalo, horses, and cows, and is sustained in huge part by the work of weekly volunteers like Kailin.

 

For the other week, Kailin volunteered at a dog rescue clinic in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The shelter is home to dogs who have been rescued after being abandoned, beaten, or abused.

While she studied under the veterinarians leading her group, Kailin and her team 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.

 

By following a study abroad model instead of a voluntourism model, Loop focuses on educating its students so that they can contribute and serve in meaningful ways. It also works with locally run animal welfare organizations so that students contribute to long-term improvement on the ground in the countries they visit. With programs in Thailand, South Africa, Australia, Belize, and the Amazon and Galapagos, Loop Abroad is able to support animal welfare and conservation around the world because of its students and their dedication to helping animals in need.

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The program’s Managing Director Jane Stine says, “Loop Abroad students come from all across the US and around the world, and from all different backgrounds. But over 11 years of programming, what our students continue to share is their eagerness to learn more about their world and to build their own skills so that they can make an informed, positive impact in their communities and beyond. We love seeing students use what they learned during their program to shape their education and reach their professional goals.”

Loop Abroad has animal science, marine biology, and veterinary programs for students and young adults age 14 to 30, and offers financial aid and fundraising help. Programs range from two weeks in summer or winter to a full semester abroad, and college credit is available. Interested participants can inquire or apply at www.LoopAbroad.com. Admission to veterinary programs is selective and Kailin was selected based on her transcript, admissions essay, and professional references.

Of her trip, Kailin says, “Loop Abroad was an amazing and life-changing experience! Not only did I learn a lot, but the hands-on opportunities were great! I was able to be up close with the elephants, cleaning wounds and providing medical care for them. I got to meet the founder of Elephant Nature Park, Lek Chailert. She opened my eyes to the animal abuse “behind the scenes” of entertainment. This trip has given me the knowledge, tools, and self-confidence to speak out about animal abuse. I also loved being immersed in Thai culture and learning some of their language. I highly recommend Loop to anyone in animal science.”

Kailin is a local Vet Tech at River View Veterinary Service.

Article courtesy of Loop Abroad

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