Nothing is as important as our participant's safety. Absolutely nothing.
So, when the troubles in Thailand started about two-weeks ago, we huddled up to evaluate safety and risk. After 39 years of doing this day-in-and-day-out, we're good at it. We know how to evaluate the risk of sending someone to an area with participant safety at the crux of the matter.
In fact, GeoVisions utilizes a customized "Crisis Management" manual that we have written and updated over the years that is used when we do face a crisis and each project is visited and a six-page Site Inspection Check-list must be filled out and approved before even one participant puts boots on the ground.
GeoVisions is uniquely positioned to know what's going on in Thailand because we have an office in Bangkok. We have a strong partner in Hua Hin. And we're a designated sponsor for the J-1 Summer Work and Travel program where we receive hundreds of Thai college students here in the US each year. That means even more boots on the ground and a very close relationship to the U.S. Department of State.
Since everything is still quiet in Thailand and everyone is going about their business, we talked to our teachers there now. No one, from the North to the South, city or rural indicated any issue at all. Our partners and our office in Bangkok reported complete calm. We were satisfied that we would contact our teachers each week for an "on-the-ground-check-up" and use that measure as 50% of our decision on how to move forward. If our teachers, who are all over Thailand, reported calm and if our multiple partners and our office in Thailand reported calm ... we were fine.
But since safety is "job-one" at GeoVisions, we decided to change the hotel we normally use for the first night in Bangkok to a hotel at the airport for now. You can have a look at it using this link.
And keep in mind GeoVisions does not just send teachers to Thailand and bring Thai college students to the US. We also send language camp counselor groups, home-tutors by way of the Conversation Corps, and interns. Thailand is a substantial destination for GeoVisions participants. Making sure everyone is well rested and healthy to begin their project falls into the "safety" aspect of our decisions. Rather than pick everyone up and transfer them 3 hours to Hua Hin ... we like to let people catch their breath and get some reset. Then we make our way to the coast.
So we're using a hotel at the airport for now ... participants will get their rest and will then go out to Hua Hin the next day never even entering or being that close to Bangkok. The airport is 45 minutes outside the city and the road to Hua Hin skirts the city. That one decision created safety, distance and rest. It was a good one.
Once in Hua Hin (the summer home of the King of Thailand) we're home free. Hua Hin is 3 hours away from Bangkok and our language counselors, interns, teachers and tutors are all performing their daily tasks well outside Bangkok ... and they are all safe and happy right where they are.
We will continue to check in each week with everyone, which we think is an excellent barometer on safety, and of course utilize our many partners and staff in Thailand for more support and information to make good decisions ... keeping safety as job-one.
I'm proud of how we calculate risk and safety for our participants who have given a big portion of their daily routine and their money to better themselves and their host community in Thailand. Those participants deserve our full attention to events all over Southeast Asia. I'm proud that we have the infrastructure so that if anything ever goes wrong ... our first priority is our participants.
Should anything ever go wrong at GeoVisions ... our ducks are in a row.