Family and friends of May Term Thailand participants have asked us many questions about this trip. Questions such as what we’re going to do, how we’re going to stay safe and healthy, and why we’re going to Thailand are some of what is asked of me. These are very important questions for friends and family, knowing that we’re going so far away to a country that is so different. So to answer some of these questions, I have compiled a little FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) post here. If you have any further questions, please feel free to comment on this post, and I can answer those questions as well.
By: Amanda Phillips and Kenzie Mitchell
As many might know the two of us have played volleyball for most of our lives, so you can imagine our excitement as we arrived at the school and saw the volleyball court in the middle of the school yard. The first day we ate lunch, took a short tour of the school and then it was game time. We definitely underestimated our opponents when our twelve year old competition beat us 25-17 in the first set. After that it was on Amanda and I may have become ball hogs, but we did come through with a win. You could say it was the Kenzie and Amanda show! We were really impressed with the talent of these girls that have been coached to focus on basic passing skills, which has really payed off. From coaching this same age group in the states we were really impressed with the skill level, and their coachability. Even with the language barrier we were still able to communicate and teach these girls through hand gestures, mimicking and demonstrations. We were also very impressed with how much they wanted to learn and so willing to work hard to improve. We had lots of fun teaching the girls to snap their wrists when they hit, and to follw through with superman hands when they set. Then we played with some of the faculty and mixed our team in with them and a couple of the girls. It was all fun and games until Kenzie, who was having a little too much fun trash talking the teachers, accidentally hit one of the little girls in the face. We really enjoyed playing every day until the downpour came and were mudded off the court. You could say we lived every volleyball girls dream playing volleyball everyday in the mud in Thailand, although our feet may still be slightly stained red from it.
By: Lisa Swift and Kirstie Savage
Deep in the jungle, in the village of Ban Nam Hom several students and I went on a late afternoon hike. As an avid backpacker in North West America I can honestly say that I have never experienced such an uncomfortable trek. All and all, the hike was hotter than Patrick Swazi in Road House. The intense humidity made us feel like we were hiking in a sauna. Aside from the hot and humid conditions, I was suffering from abdominal cramps wile hiking because I had acquired some bad bacteria during our travels. Overall, Hiking in Thailand can be an uncomfortable experience, however; it’s an experience that I would highly recommend.
During the hike we saw many unique Buddhist shrines, flowers, fungi and insects. We also crossed paths with many rice farmers who wore ninja looking outfits. At summit we all caught a glimpse of the entire Ban Nam Hom village. After hiking several miles we made it back to the school of Ban Nam Hom just in time to shower our sweaty bodies and eat the fantastic dinner that was prepared by the local villagers.
By: Amanda Phillips and Kenzie Mitchell
When we arrived in Kalasin we found out who was going to be the royalty in the parade. The first king and queen pair was Mary and Justin the cute couple of our trip. The second pair was me, Amanda, and Greg. Our elephant driver was Tyler. The five princesses were Lisa, Sarah Pierson, Sarah Schafer, Teal, and me, Kenzie. The morning of the parade we went to the government building and waited to get ready. We had two stylists who trimmed our eyebrows, primped our faced and got us all dolled up. Between bright purple lipstick, drawn on eyebrows, and more concealer than any of us had worn in our lives we were told not to sweat or touch our faces…It’s harder than it sounds!
Wardrobe began with nude colored leotards for all, boys included! Then we were dressed in beautiful sarongs, big hair pieces, and lots of gold jewelry, any girls dream! As the parade began we encountered some difficulties with getting on our floats and not unraveling our sarongs. I thought I had it rough until I looked up and saw Amanda attempting to get on top of a ten foot tall elephant float.
It was fun smiling and waving to all the villagers as we went by. It was cute to see all the kids who were so excited to see us, and would walk beside our floats the whole way down. When we arrived at the end of the parade we watched some dance performances concluding with our hairdressers all dressed up themselves and doing a funny skit dance where Greg accidentally knocked off one of their wigs. After that we took loads of pictures with all the villagers and then back to the government building to take off our royal attire. The parade was so much fun and it was such a great experience to be a part of this villages culture and traditions. And at the end of the day besides our hairdressers shaving off half our eyebrows we came out of this awesome experience unscathed!
By: Tawni Johnston and YiQi Xin
The refugee clinic was absolutely inspiring. From what we were told, the clinic has grown annually. There were a few buildings that we were told we’re not there last year. They have many different departments within it, even departments that you wouldn’t expect to see there such as optometry. It’s amazing how much they are able to do for such little. They have limited resources and limited staff, but they never turn patients away. This was unbelievable that they are able to do this because in the United States, people are turned away all the time.
In this clinic they are saving people and the well-being of their patients is their reward rather than payment. It’s really great to see that people actually care enough to spend their own money to live in a developing country and do this kind of work with little or no payment at all. The staff knows how crucial medical care is for some of the people who go there. The people walk miles after miles across the border (which is very dangerous) in order to receive medical treatment. This makes us realize how much the people need this clinic. The clinic asks their patients to pay 30 baht when they come, but if they cannot afford it the patients only pay what they can. We were stunned to find out that even if the patients couldn’t pay anything at all, they were still accepted into the clinic. This gave Tawni great insights into what a doctor really should be like. One quality that a great doctor should have is devoting themselves to their patients and their work. it would be so great to be able to do something more for a community in need, such as this.
The refugees in the clinic were physically suffering, but did not get impatient at all. This showed us how respectful the people are here and how grateful they are. The people coming to clinic have had rough lives and just being able to come to a clinic for any type of medical treatment makes their life better and makes them happy. This showed us how doing something like this really can make a difference. Just being able to learn about the clinic taught us so much and changed how we saw things. It also made us really appreciate the life that we live and to want to help other communities that could use the help.
By: Tawni Johnston and YiQi Xin
The villagers in Kalasin were able to share their cultures with us in many ways. One way that we learned more about their daily life was when they taught us how to fish. The villagers have a very different way to fish than Americans generally do. When we found out that we were going fishing, we immediately thought about how we fish back in the United States. We were previously told that we would be catching the fish with our hands and neither one of us could imagine how we would do this. We thought that we would be on the shore or that we would be in a boat. But, this was definitely not the case. They explained how they fished and showed us, which was getting into the pond, throwing the nets, and getting down and catching the trapped fish. Some people were afraid of fishing because they didn’t like the fish, but both of us were very excited to try this new way of fishing. At the beginning many people were a little scared to be stepping around on the nets because this was a new custom for us. But, towards the end, most people were getting really into it and weren’t afraid to jump all over the net in order to find the fish. In fact, people were rushing onto the net in order to find the fish first. For us, it was incredibly fun and it was so amazing that they shared something like this with us.
Some of the villagers came to watch us fish and they had as much fun watching us fish as we did actually fishing. We also caught a good amount of fish for the villagers to eat. The guys who taught us how to fish seemed to enjoy showing us how they worked everyday and how they do this every day to make a living.
We learned how in a new culture you need to learn how to do things their way rather than your own way. You can’t tell people that what they are doing is wrong just because you learned how to do itedit fervently. We need to be open minded which will allow us to get more out of certain activities and learn many new things that we wouldn’t be able to learn on campus or even in America. You need to try new things and now that we are further in the trip we realize that it’s crucial to participate and get as far out of your comfort zone as you can. We had a lot of fun fishing and at the same time, it gave us more confidence to try new things and be more open to the new cultures.
Here is a summary of assignments due before the trip:
- Research project (in teams, posted on the blog)
- Reflection (email directly to Peter)
- Global Learning Assessment pretest
These are all due BEFORE we depart!
By: Tamer Begum
The past 4 days we’ve been staying in a small remote village in northern Thailand. So remote we piled in the back of pickup trucks, with all the gear, then an hour drive trough the bumpy mountain terrain, finally ending at Ban Nam Hom school. The school itself was composed of about 6 medium sized, one floor houses where the kids would study and more often then not sleep. The majority of the children are poor, and live there year round due to the fact that their family house is anywhere from 1-15 miles away. Last year from the fundraising efforts we were able to build a dormitory to house the 100 plus boys. Keeping in mind there are over 200 kids schooling and living there. This year we finished painting it, and helped restore a few other run down houses / fences to improve their quality of life.
By: Spencer Luczak
Blogging… definitely a first for me. Back home I go by Spencer Luczak but on our excursion I am occasionally referred to as ‘Stallion’. Usually my reflections of life are posted in a personal journal or fluffed up for an assignment given out at school. However, there is something about being in a foreign environment where nobody is in their comfort zone that causes me to be open with my thoughts without reservation. My entry for today, although simple in essence, I hope will give others a feeling for the innate love that children posses.
During our time spent painting and playing with the village children at their school in Kalasin I was caught off guard by the tenderness of a young boy and the tenured love of his on-looking mother. While the time we spent collectively designing t-shirts for each student strengthened our bond between the children, I found the actual giving of the gifts to be most enlightening. My intellect told me that the young boy who I would give my shirt to would not fully appreciate what was being done for him, but that is exactly where Continue reading Reflections….
By: Lindsey Dunlap
After Volunteering at the Hser Ner Moo Center and going on the Mayterm Thailand trip, I have realized that an individual does not have to go out of the country to understand that we also have problems in our own backyard. I think that a lot of people think that it’s only the third world countries that experience poverty, poor health, and lack of accessibility to health care. Volunteering at a place such as Hser Ner Moo doesn’t just open your eyes to new ideas of how to help, or where to help, but it really makes you wonder why we don’t address these problems at a higher volume. And these problems don’t just exist in the refugee camps here in the United States, but everywhere. This is where I tend to get stuck on where to start or how to even go about helping.
In the United States we tend to focus on the issues of other countries rather than on our own soil, which only makes problems worse. For some reason, “us Americans” feel Continue reading Hser Ner Moo Reflection