By: Dagny Helander
When I think about my past 3 ½ weeks being fully immersed in “The Land of Smiles”, there is only one thing I wish I could have done differently: I wish I could have stayed longer and helped so much more. Only four days at the Ban Toong Ting School was not nearly enough. By the time we left, I was only just beginning to form relationships and bond with young Thai girls at the school. After seeing the conditions they eat, sleep, learn and play in, I didn’t feel 100% content just repainting the two buildings at the two schools and scrubbing rooftops tiles. However, it was a start and the money we donated will hopefully help them to continue building the classrooms and programs needed for the students to build and expand their education. Spending those four days doing health assessments, playing games to teach English, bonding, and getting to know kids despite the language barrier opened my eyes to the public health and education world in a way that I had not experienced before. Leaving Thailand, I now have a much greater respect for teachers and anyone who is a part of the public health profession and the work they do. It has made me want to do more to be a part of it and has taught me a lot about being a global citizen. To me being a global citizen is to be a part of an emerging and growing community as well as being aware of one’s surroundings and able to understand the world in eyes different from your own. Over the last month, everything from the homestays in Kalasin to the Pattana School to the stay at the Ban Toong Ting School and more has been full of experiences and lessons putting me out of my comfort zone multiple times, giving me glimpses of the world from other people’s shoes. This trip has made me not only want to go back to Thailand in the future but also go anywhere that I will be able to make a difference and continue building relationships.