Currently resident in Chiang Mai, Diana Edelman has for the past year helped raise awareness about the plight of Asian elephants as the PR and social media coordinator for Save Elephant Foundation. She also writes for her own site, d travels ’round, and supports herself with freelance travel writing jobs.
I’m sure you’ve never heard this before: where are you from?
Originally, I am from Maryland (just outside of DC). I moved to Las Vegas in 2005 and lived there for about five years, minus a year-long stint in Atlanta and a solo backpacking adventure/career break for seven months in 2010.
And what did you do there, then?
In Las Vegas, I worked in the PR industry. I handled a wide range of clients from restaurants to shows to medical professionals to builders and more. In Atlanta, I also worked in PR but it was more corporate based. My last time in Vegas, I was the director of communications for a restaurant group and also a freelance travel writer for many online and print publications.
How did you end up in Chiang Mai and how did you find your job?
I ended up in Chiang Mai because I wanted to work with SEF and its founder, Lek Chailert. I had visited Chiang Mai in September 2011 and volunteers at SEF’s Elephant Nature Park for a week. While I was there, I fell in love with the elephants, the foundation and Lek and made it my goal to return to the country and work with her. We stayed in communication and about five months after I returned to Vegas, she and I spoke about coming back to Thailand and the foundation.
What experience or qualifications do you have for the position?
I’ve been in the PR industry for more than a decade, have been writing my entire life and have been working in social media for a long time, too. Because of my PR background and my blogging background, I am able to work with a large variety of writers to help bring attention to the park, as well as partner with them to spread our message via social media.
Are you doing the job for love or money?
LOVE. One hundred percent. There is nothing better for me than being with Lek and the elephants and seeing how big her heart is and how much one person can truly change the lives of both humans and animals.
Tell us a little about your average day?
My average day revolves around answering e-mails, meeting with Lek, scouring the Web for stories on elephants, researching publications to pitch for various stories, interacting with our supporters via Facebook and Twitter and giving love to the rescued animals in the office. Then, there are the other days where I get to go visit the elephants at Elephant Nature Park and take photos, tour the park with media and more.
What are the best bits of your job? And the worst?
The elephants and Lek are the best. The worst? I don’t think there is anything I would classify as “worst.”
So, have you ever wanted to throttle anyone?
Definitely no one I work with.
If you had to compare your boss to a famous person, who would it be and why?
I consider Lek to be pretty famous in my book. There is no one I would compare her to. She is loving, caring and has the biggest heart of anyone I have ever met in my life.
Are you in this job for a while, or planning to move on soon?
I always tell people I will stay until it is time to leave. Right now, I have no plans of leaving.
Do you do any other work in Chiang Mai? How do you support yourself?
I run my site and also do freelance writing projects.
Tell us a little about Save Elephant Foundation and why our readers should consider volunteering with them?
SEF is a Thailand NGO dedicated to protection Asian elephants. Not only does the foundation rescue elephants and other animals in need, it also works to educate locals and visitors about elephant living conditions, how they can help save the Asian elephant, responsible tourism, sustainable tourism and more. I volunteered with them and it changed my life. In my mind, being able to give back to these animals who have suffered so much is an amazing thing. Also, being able to help Lek work towards her dream of letting these elephants eventually be free from human interaction, is so fulfilling. Volunteering not only lets you learn so much about the elephants (like how they have very similar personalities to humans), but also instils a deeper respect for living things. As a volunteer, you get to interact with the elephants, help prepare their food, maintain the park and more. Plus, there are hundreds of dogs that need love and walks, too.