By: Madison Denkers
The most important thing I learned on the Thailand trip is that no matter where you go all people are the same and equal, in every way, except for their passions and outlook on life. Most service trip you expect to be these knowledgeable people going in to these poor rural villages helping a struggling community but what you find is that you’re the ones who need help. These communities don’t necessarily need our help, they’ve been doing this work and surviving for hundreds of years with the same methods. What they do need is help providing more education and health promotion among the community so that members of the community can become more knowledgeable so that the village and adapt to the changing world around us. It’s a nice idea to think we can go in and help build part of a school, paint, clean, and repair roofs but the reality of the situation is that they’re way more efficient at doing their own work. The thing about us going in to theses kinds of communities is that it creates a sense of partnership for them as well as us, to be apart of this global citizenship. If we go in to the villages expecting to learn something about ourselves and our lives, there can be this mutual growth between both of us. By building this relationship with these villages makes them feel more connected to the world around them, it’s nice to know some people across the world care about your lives and are willing to come participate and help grow their community. These trips help ground students and open their eyes, to show that me and that villager are one in the same, maybe I have more material goods but he/she has an entire community looking out for their wellbeing. Once you realize you both have something to learn from one another it becomes this extended network of learning. Sure, I can teach them some english or assess some health problems but they can teach me how to fish and plant rice.
The biggest take away from this trip is that there’s so much more I could be doing for my own community at home. You can’t go in to another country and tell them how they should do something because nothing will change, it has to come from within the community in a way that caters to their culture. The funny part about it is that you need to go across the world to learn how to actually make a significant difference in the world. These trips are built in a way to make you reflect and provide service on yourself more so then the villages we visit. When you get to see how a community like that functions as this whole entity you reflect on how you can implement that in to your own life at home. That’s why traveling is so important, it lets you review and reflect on your own community and how you can promote education and healthcare at home. This trip made me realize how important children are to implement change and how education plays a critical role for the future of our world.