GROUND Team

The GROUND team is located around Asia – working closely with our partner communities as possible to facilitate long-term, sustainable development. Our local staff are experts on their own countries, and are always nearby supporting our groups and facilititating activities. As you’ll see, our team is comprised of many nationalities and everyone brings a lot of varied experience to GROUND. We’re sure travelers will love to get to know us as much as we love to get to know them!

LAUREN GROVES – GENERAL MANAGER

Lauren Groves – General Manager

GROUND Asia

Lauren, born in the UK, has a passion for educational travel and first hand experience of transformative travel from her trips teaching English in rural China, as well as studying and working in both Poland & Germany.

Lauren is passionate about responsible tourism management and has led several projects in the field, the most recent one being a tech project in Indonesia focusing on clean drinking water and reusable plastic bottles.

Lauren joins GROUND after spending 6 years in Budapest, Hungary where she worked for a tour operator, youth hostel and DMC. In Budapest she held various management roles covering both sales & marketing, HR and operations.  She is currently completing her MSc in Responsible Tourism along side her work with GROUND, convinced that tourism can have a positive impact on both people and places, when done right.

Contact Lauren: lauren@groundasia.com

JAYNI GUDKA – ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER

Jayni Gudka – Assistant General Manager

GROUND Asia

Former Londoner Jayni loves responsible travel and a good story, especially when they come together in a way that has a positive social and educational impact.

Whilst working on various different community-focused projects in Indonesia, Myanmar, rural India, and the UK, she has kept returning to tourism-focused projects in various capacities. More recently she spent six months in The Gambia working on developing content for a new community-based trail, and also set up the Responsible Tourism Minglers Association for youth and student activists whom she continues to advise.

In her spare time, Jayni sits on the Board of Directors for London-based social enterprise Unseen Tours who work with homeless and formerly homeless tour guides, and is also studying for an MSc in Responsible Tourism Management, having recently completed an MSc in Asian Politics too.

Contact Jayni: jayni@groundasia.com

Ammway

Ammway Kongsuk – Finance & Administration Coordinator

GROUND Asia

Though born in Bangkok, Ammway spent her formative years living in the USA and graduated from the University of Montana with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, minoring in Finance. With the support of her family, Ammway has been able to travel to countries like the UK, Australia and started her career in finance at Missoula Federal Credit Union in Montana, USA.

After many years of life and work experience abroad, Ammway has returned to her motherland and join the GROUND Asia team as Financial and Administrative Coordinator to further pursue her career in finance. In her spare time, Ammway enjoys hiking, skiing (when she can find snow!), spending time with her family and enjoying the amazing beaches in Thailand.

Contact Ammway: ammway@groundasia.com

LINDA OUM – TOUR DIRECTOR

Linda Oum – Tour Director

GROUND Cambodia

Linda is known for her motivation, dedication and friendly smile. She was the driving force behind Khiri Travel’s educational travel division before helping to launch GROUND. She has been working tirelessly on our flagship community development programs in Cambodia since 2008. Linda has worked in the travel industry for almost ten years and has been instrumental in sharing her expertise on program development with other countries in the GROUND network.

Linda was born in a Thai refugee camp. Her childhood was very difficult but she has converted this tough experience into positive energy for building development projects that benefit her home country. Her work in community development has also been instrumental in making GROUND a unique and transformative program for explorers.

Contact Linda: linda@groundasia.com

PATCHARAPORN CHAIMUANGRAJ (WAN) – TOUR DIRECTOR

Patcharaporn Chaimuangraj (Wan) – Tour Director

GROUND Thailand

Wan has worked for many years in the travel industry as a travel director with experience in B2B, B2C and Community Based Tourism (CBT). As the former Thailand specialist for Phuchan Travel, Wan can craft any kind of itinerary, for any travel style, tailored to any budget.

She has also built a successful community development programs in the north of Thailand to help modify homes for the elderly to address their special needs. Wan recently completed the Travelife Sustainability Training Course for tour operators and travel agents.

Contact Wan: wan@groundasia.com

YOANA WIDA KRISTIAWATI – TOUR DIRECTOR

Yoana Wida Kristiawati – Tour Director

GROUND Indonesia

Born in the multi-cultural country of Indonesia, Yoana spent her childhood exploring and interacting with people from diverse backgrounds. She studied Intercultural Communication during her university years and was a founding member of a student organization, AIESEC Universitas Gadjah Mada. that organizes volunteer opportunities for international students. Yoana previously worked as a Project Manager for a Japanese educational NGO that focused on youth exchange programs.

Yoana wants to use her experience to build cultural understanding and erase stereotypes. Her focus is in bring people together and helping them work across cultural boundaries. As a native of Yogyakarta, she seeks to inspire and empower people to create positive change by contributing to her local community.

Contact Yoana: yoana@groundasia.com

NGUYEN THI PHUONG (PHUONG) – OPERATIONS COORDINATOR

Nguyen Thi Phuong (Phuong) – Operations Coordinator

GROUND Vietnam

Phuong comes from Bac Ninh, Vietnam, famous for Kinh Bac traditional culture and Quan Ho folk songs. She is a young woman who loves travelling and supporting people as well as the environment. Phuong often joins several volunteer activities at school, such as; tree planting, road construction, helping deliver educational materials to school kids in remote areas. She also used to working as a tour guide and was able to travel all around the country.

She especially has a strong interest in traditional performance arts, such as ‘quan ho’, ‘cai luong’, ‘ca tru’, ‘don ca tai tu’. As a GROUND team member, she wants to dedicate her love and experiences to help introduce Vietnam’s beauty to the world and also, to help local people in each region to have better life and broaden their horizons.

Contact Phuong: phuong@groundasia.com

NATARIKA NGAMWONGWAN (NAT) – TOUR DIRECTOR

Natarika Ngamwongwan (Nat) – Tour director

GROUND Thailand

Nat’s hands-on experience in volunteer work as an undergraduate student lead her to join GROUND Asia as a Tour Director, and she applies her knowledge to design experiential learning journeys that are combined with community projects. Her passion is to develop local community projects and to build opportunities for increased cross-cultural understanding among young groups of travellers from around the world.

For Nat, the transformation of both local communities and participants is very important, believing it builds resilience and leadership skills that reflect her own experiences.

Contact Nat: nat@groundasia.com

SIYIN LAY – PROGRAM COORDINATOR

Siyin Lay – Program Coordinator

GROUND Cambodia

Born and raised in Banteay Meanchey Province, Siyin’s love for travel inspired her to enrol for a diploma in Hospitality and Tourism. She gained some experience as an intern at Intrepid Travel Cambodia, before joining Khiri Travel Cambodia’s Operations team and then onto GROUND Asia.

With years of experience working in the travel industry, Siyin gained more knowledge about her homeland thus transforming her interest to engage in an operation that focuses more on experiential travel and community development. Joining GROUND Asia team has made a blessed impact on her life as she loves learning new things getting the chance to work with travelers from around the world.

Contact Siyin: siyin@groundasia.com

NGUYEN THI VAN (VAN) – SALES COORDINATOR, VIETNAM TEAM LEADER

NGUYEN THI VAN (VAN) – Sales Coordinator, Vietnam Team Leader

GROUND Vietnam

Van comes from Bac Ninh province in Northern Vietnam. When Van was a third-year student at University of Languages and International Studies, Van found her passion for travel and tourism. This led her to enroll in the Faculty of Tourism Studies, University of Social Sciences and Humanities. During Van’s student life she had many part-time jobs and experienced aspects of tourism such as working in restaurants, hotels and managing events.

Van feels happy to be a part of GROUND so that she can use her skills and knowledge to design educational journeys that bring travellers unique and memorable experiences as well as contribute to sustainable development of local communities.

Contact Van: van@groundasia.com

DOUNG LONH – PROGRAM COORDINATOR

Doung Lonh – Program Coordinator

GROUND Cambodia

Doung comes from Siem Reap Province in Cambodia. After graduating from High School in 2014, she enrolled in the Paul Dubrule École d’Hôtellerie et de Tourisme (School of Hotel Business and Tourism) for a foundation year course. After a foundation year of basic academic training, Doung enrolled in the school’s Tourism Certificate program because she wanted to work with people from other countries. She enjoys exchanging knowledge with people from around the world, especially the amazing history of her country.

During her studies at Paul Dubrule, she learned some French with a professional teacher. To improve her skills, she practiced with a friend and the professional team of a tour company about the attractions of Siem Reap. Doung also had the opportunity to do an internship with Khiri Travel Cambodia for three months. She really enjoyed learning a lot about how to work with people and how a tour company works. After her internship, Doung passed her program’s final exam and will receive her Tourism Certificate on 27 July 2016. She continues to study as much as she can to improve her skills in English.

Contact Doung: doung@groundasia.com

MADARA KULATUNGA – TOUR DIRECTOR

Madara Kulatunga – Tour Director

GROUND Sri Lanka

Born and raised in Sri Lanka, Madara has over 5 year experience in the tourism and hospitality industry, starting out her career as a tour coordinator focusing on experiential travel. Her passion for creating positive impact for both local communities and international travellers has grown as she’s developed her knowledge and experience in responsible tourism.

Having organized several volunteer activities in her previous jobs, including educational trips for underprivileged local students, tree planting and reforestation, beach cleaning and programs focusing on waste recycling, Madara joined GROUND to launch our programs in Sri Lanka – our youngest destination.

Contact Madara: madara@groundasia.com

DUONG HONG HANH (HANH) – PROGRAM COORDINATOR

DUONG HONG HANH (HANH) – PROGRAM COORDINATOR

GROUND Vietnam

Hanh, born in Phu Tho province, was a student at Faculty of Management and Tourism, Hanoi University. A combination of studying tourism at university and her personal volunteering, tourism and hospitality experiences inspired her passion for volunteer-based activities that bring sustainable benefits to local communities. Hanh finds the opportunities she has to communicate with and make friends with new people, and travel to now places in her day-to-day work, particularly enriching.

Hanh took her first steps in GROUND as an interpreter, then an intern and now works as a full-time staff member. She looks forward to contributing to tourism and local community development in Vietnam in her role at GROUND.

Contact Hanh: hanh@groundasia.com

NGUYEN TRANG (TRANG) – PROGRAM COORDINATOR

Nguyen Trang (Trang) – PROGRAM COORDINATOR

GROUND Vietnam

Trang lives in Hanoi, in the north of Vietnam. As a little girl, she loved travelling with her parents and yearned to travel further. Later on, she had more opportunities to travel around Vietnam, enjoying the beautiful nature and landscapes, and connecting with people along the way. As a result, her passion for travel and her love for people and country continue to grow day by day. As a university student, she used to lead a volunteering club as part of Vietnam Red Cross Society, actively took part in and organized many volunteering events, particularly those that benefited the less fortunate.

Trang has had many part-time jobs related to education, travel and tourism and at GROUND she found herself at home, joining us full time after graduation, after previous experience as an intern and interpreter. She is proud to be a part of GROUND, and hopes that she will be able to help improve people’s quality of life and develop communities in a sustainable way.

Contact Trang: trang@groundasia.com

NGUYEN PHUONG THAO (THAO) – FINANCE & ADMINISTRATION COORDINATOR

Nguyen Phuong Thao (Thao) – Finance & Administration Coordinator

GROUND Vietnam

Thao was born in Hanoi, Capital of Vietnam. For her, Hanoi is a paradise of foods. She really loves bun cha, bun thang, pho, and spring rolls. She graduated from Ha Noi University of Industries with a bachelor’s degree in finance. Even though she started based on her parents’ suggestion, she began to like numbers and found finance is her genuine passion.

Thao travels in her leisure time. She visits natural places, does adventurous activities, and takes photos. She naturally loves to interact with people and join social activities. Her most memorable volunteering was in North Vietnam where she worked to provide clothes and food supplies for local communities.

Working with GROUND Asia is a wonderful chance for her because she can combine her passion for finance while continuing her contribution to the local community. She is also looking forward to introducing Vietnam’s beauty to the world.

Contact Thao: accounting@groundasia.com