Does my skin color affect my chance of traveling/volunteering?

It’s been 5 months since I started saving for my summer trip in Thailand. Although I still have 4 more months until the departure day, I already feel super excited about it. Yet, a recent incident has occurred and it may cause me to change the whole plan.

In the beginning, everything seemed to run smoothly since I’d found out about a website called Workaway – a place where people can find projects to work in return for free accommodation (or even food) and cultural exchange while traveling. I soon signed up for it, sending out my requests to potential Thai hosts (though I know that it might be too early to do that but I couldn’t help myself). After a few days, I received 2 replies saying yes, decided to go for one, had some exchange with the host and extended my trip from a week to a month.

To be honest, at first, I was so scared of the idea that I might be not getting any acceptance just because…I’m Asian. I was made to believe that those Thai hosts preferred white people to join their projects since I could hardly see any Asian’s feedback on their pages. Some even make it clear that they only accept “white people”. Yes, they use the exact words: “WHITE PEOPLE”. I can totally understand if many hosts need English native speakers for their English teaching projects. But “WHITE PEOPLE ONLY”? I’m quite intrigued by the reason behind. Is that the “white fetish” people’ve been talking about? Is “white fetish” even a thing?

Anyways, I was glad that I found a perfect project to work for. It would be in a small province in the suburbs of Bangkok, definitely not a touristy place with sunflower fields and golden temples. Not to mention the host, she seemed to be trust-worthy with all the positive feedbacks. I felt so lucky – “So maybe this racism thing is not as serious as I thought it was. Maybe I was just overthinking.”

And as the host and I mailed back and forth, I was so sure that I got my “reservation”.

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there. As soon as I informed the host of my exact arrival date (because she insisted me to), she turned over and said that all positions had been occupied.


“Why it has to be right after I booked my flight tickets?”

“Doesn’t she know that I decided to extend my staying (which eventually led me to book my flight tickets in accordance with the dates) just because of her assurance?”

“Doesn’t she know that I’m very poor and it took me a lot to eventually have this trip?”

A full-blown panic attack.

Back to this moment, when the panic attack is gone, I’m still quite confused and nervous. A lot of questions are being stuck in my head and mostly around whether I’m able to find another decent project/host. Even when I’ve calmed myself down and started to send out new requests on Workaway, I feel lost. Negative thoughts keep filling my head no matter how hard I try.

So my story is going nowhere. Hope I could soon find direction for it. I really don’t want to blame this on racism because it’s not. But since I have to get back to the search again, racism is definitely taken into account.

For now, I’ll just continue breathing and hoping for the best.


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