Many months ago, when I decided that Thailand would be included on my trip, I booked a week-long volunteering gig at Elephant Nature Park. ENP is a brilliant organization in Northern Thailand founded by Lek Chailert. Lek has made it her life goal to rescue and rehabilitate as many elephants (as well as dogs, cats, water buffalo, and monkeys) as she can from the tourism and logging industries in SE Asia. She is an incredible woman who works extremely hard for animal and human rights. She fights back against inhumane practices, educates locals about better ways to treat/train animals, and works closely with the Thai government to try to enact laws of protection for elephants. When you hear her speak about these issues, you realize that Lek herself is the embodiment of love, strength, perseverance, and determination. She is an inspiration to everyone who meets her. She spoke to our group for about two hours one afternoon about the abuses that elephants face here in SE Asia, about the struggles she encounters when trying to fight against these abuses, about the slow but positives changes that are being made, and about how horrific animal tourism is. For two days following her presentation, I would just burst into tears every time I thought about it. I still, as I’m writing this, feel on the verge of tears. But I’ll get more into the awful truth later. For now, I’ll tell you about what is was like volunteering at ENP.