All posts by peteringle

I am a Professor of Special Education at Westminster College in Salt Lake City,Utah. I am currently the Director of the Learning Coalition for the college. I am fascinated by lots of things.

First Days in Bangkok

by: Elise Reckinger

We have spent the last three days in Bangkok.  The first day we explored the mall next to the hotel. The mall had seven stories with a food market and numerous boutiques and even a water park. Bangkok is a very busy city. Everywhere there are many people moving and the streets are full of people. Everybody seems like they are on a “mission.” The  mall is crowded and the streets by the hotel are filled with markets that sell food and clothes. The prices at the mall are relatively cheap: 30baht is 1 dollar. It was been hard communicating with the Thailand people but we have learned to say:

Thank you, or Khoop-khun and hello, sa-wat-dii.

The next day we visited Wat Po and the Grand Palace. First, we visited Wat Po. Wat Po is known for their reclining Buddha. The reclining Buddha is 46m long and 15m high. It illustrates the passing of Buddha to Nirvana. On the feet of the Buddha there are mother of pearl inlay ornaments on the feet, displaying 108 different characteristics of Buddha. In the Thai culture, the feet are considered the dirtiest part of the body while the head is considered sacred. While in the temple we had to sit with our toes tucked away from the Buddha statue otherwise it would be disrespectful. We also had to wear clothes that went below our knees , no hats, no shoes and out shoulders had to be covered. After we explored the Buddhist temple, we took the took tooks to the grand palace. The took tooks are like a Taxi for going short distances. The outside is very decorated with bright colors. While on the took took ride we noticed a few things about Thailand driving culture. The roads are packed with cars and chaos. Everyone is tailgating which is normal here. Nobody honks and everyone is aggressive drivers and there are narrow lanes. We rode the took took to Grand Palace on Coronation day which is a Thailand  international holiday.  In Thailand the country is ruled by a king and queen and the current king is King Rama IX.

On the last day in Bangkok we met the Thai students that we will be traveling with for the rest of the month.  We spent the morning playing funny games that helped us learn the students names and majors. The majority of students are nursing majors and one woman we will be with is a nursing professor. By the end of the morning we already shared plenty of laughs and began learning names.

What We Don’t Talk About When We Don’t Talk About Service

Before we leave we want you to read two articles.

What we don’t talk about when we don’t talk about service by Adam Davis provides some good questions to ask yourself about why you do service and what you get out of it. Throughout the experience we will be questioning who is benefiting? And how are they benefiting? It will be important that we ask ourselves this in a variety of places, with different people, and with different types of service. You will be writing in your journal about this and we will have at least one group discussion on this topic.

Adam Davis essay

4 Traditions of Philanthropy

This reading by Elizabeth Lynn and Susan Wisely offers a broad theoretical framework for considering service. Service can benefit a person or community in a variety of ways. Some are more sustainable than others. This reading enables us to identify the type of work being done and provides some indications about ways to move forward. We will be writing about this in our journals and discussing it at each service site.

4 Traditions of Philanthropy

Lost in Translation

By Kirstie Savage and Lisa Swift


“Honestly is the best policy”

“What you do that for”

“Thank you for Westminster student and Professor”

“Open the light”

“Are you delicious?”

“Shop for goal”

“Safety Food”

“Life and Learn”

“This girl rock!”


During this trip we have encountered several “lost in Translation” moments with the Thai people. Given the extreme differences between the Thai and English language it only makes sense that this would occur.  The slightly butchered phrases listed above are only a few of many that we have had the pleasure of hearing or seeing over the course of this trip.  This has allowed for some additional humor that has contributed to the overall trip experience.  For the sake of fairness it must also be noted that the reverse holds true in the sense that we also butcher phrases when we attempt to speak Thai.  One day I was going through a Thai and English translation book with my mom.  She would read it to me in Thai and I would repeat.  As we went through phrases my dad, close by was cracking up with laughter, which made me laugh.  Overall, this was a fun bonding moment as the humor of my inability to speak Thai brought us closer.

Another fun experience that we had resulted in certain language barriers, or the inability of the Thai people to annunciate certain sounds.  One morning Bright asked a small group of us about the difference between bitch and beach.  However, when she said “beach” and “bitch” both words sounded the exact same.  We had a hilarious time going over the pronunciation differences and definitions of bitch and beach with Bright. We hope that Bright now understands the key differences between “bitch” and “beach” .

Mae Tao Clinic

By: Sarah Schafer and Teal Gibo

Today we visited the Mae Tao Clinic. This clinic serves Burmese refugees and the occasional Thai because the refugees are unable to receive care elsewhere.

Some statistics are:

    • 300-400 patients are seen daily
    • They fit around 250 prosthetics yearly
    • About 15 babies are delivered daily

The clinic offered many different services for the patients. Some of these include: eye care, dental care, labor and delivery, basic surgeries, injuries, prosthetics, pediatrics, nutrient deficiencies, and wellness. The clinic was generous enough to give us a tour of all these different areas. We were taken aback by the large number of patents scattered throughout the clinic.

The majority of prosthetic cases we saw were for land mine accidents. This shocked us because everyday we take for granted the fact that in the US we won’t ever step on a land mine. In addition, vaccinations are a daily norm in the United States while here, it’s a rarity for families to receive simple preventative care.

We were astounded by the differences in American healthcare and what was offered at this non-profit clinic. While the same quality of care was provided, the environment was entirely different. For example, in the United States, our hospitals offer labor and delivery rooms that were about the same size as a room at the Mae Tao Clinic where we observed about fifteen different women who were either in labor or who’d just delivered. This goes to show that when treating patients, you must adapt to your situation. Adaptation is also a critical aspect of global citizenship and it was great to see this in acton.

Grasshopper hunting

By Raychel Hamada and Teal Gibo

The sky was ablaze with bolts of lighting the night we trekked out to hunt for grasshoppers. The seven of us that had singed up for the excursion were prepared, covered from neck to toe and equipped with our headlamps and flashlights. What we weren’t prepared for were the hundreds of insects flying toward the light of the headlamps and into our faces. It took awhile for us to finally decide to remove the lights from our heads and carry them in our hands instead. Once we did, it was an effective remedy, leading us to believe or discomforts were gone..but we were wrong. When our hunting guides led us to the field, we quickly realized our only option for becoming successful grasshopper catchers was to tromp through knee-deep water. With no previous training,  we were clueless as to what proper techniques of catching entailed. At first we were worried about squishing the grasshoppers and used tender approaches, which included a two-handed clasp and/or slowly pinching at the backs of their legs.  After observing the locals and our more talented peers, we attempted different techniques and were finally able to catch some. We found that the best way included 3 steps: 1) spot the grasshopper, 2) reach and grab with no hesitation and 3) while the grasshopper is struggling in your hand, safely deliver it into the insect trapper (aka, plastic water bottle).  Step 4 is presented the following day  and determined upon the hunter herself …to eat the protein-rich, crunchy/fried morsel? Or instead, let fears get the best of her stomach?

Going on a date with a Thai student

By: Joey Garzarelli

Going on a date with someone from a different culture can definitely be an eye opening experience. First off from what I have learned is that dating is not as common in Thailand as it is in the states. You may be taking a Thai college student on her very first date even if she is in her 20s. This was definitely a big shock for me as I am used to most high school girls at least experiencing one date in that time period. You may need to realize that some of these students may have been raised in village like the one we stayed at in Kalasin. This is why you must be prepared for your date feeling like one when you were 15 years old.

The date does not need to be planned out very thoroughly because lets face it you are new to this country. You need to make sure to play it safe because Bangkok can be a very dangerous city especially at night. It is definitely a city that can be traveled at night though, many things to see in a city that never sleeps. I took this experience to definitely show me the differences between dates I the US and dates in Thailand.

Costs of goods in Thailand

By: Joey Garzarelli

There are many differences in prices of goods between Thailand and America. One of the biggest surprises to me is that cars have a 300% sales tax. This means that a car such as a Subaru WRX which would cost about $35000 in the US could cost over $100000 in Thailand. On the other hand there are also many things that are drastically lower in Thailand. The first thing I noticed being much lower in Thailand was food. When  I was in the food court the first day we were here I bought me a plate of roasted duck and rice which cost me about 50 baht. 50 baht is the same as about $1.66 which is insanely low. You can only get a drink for that price in the US. The last necessity I noticed to be extremely low was the cost of clothes. I bought me a total of 13 shirts and all together spent about $65 dollars on them which is practically impossible in the states. Not even at the DI can you get nice shirts this cheap.

I know one of the main reasons that many things are cheap here is because they are made here and the cost of labor here is very low. I also know that cars are taxed insanely high because there is no income tax so the government needs to get there money someway. I just thought that the comparison of the prices were so insane that I needed to share them.

What to expect from your body in Thailand…

By: Sarah Schafer and Raychel Hamada

While traveling around Thailand is exciting, there are a number of discomforts that one should be prepared to face.   Some examples experienced by our group in particular included:

  • Heat Rash: We both dealt with the inconveniences of heat rash throughout a couple of weeks towards the beginning of the trip.  The main expression of this rash includes dry, itching bumps ALL OVER your body.  The bumps are unpleasant both aesthetically and physically but the most annoying part is the migratory pattern.  Everyday Sarah and I would meet each other in the morning and compare where our heat rash had spread throughout the night.  This may seem like a trivial matter, but when one is hot, bumpy and itchy, it can wear you down pretty quickly.
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) Problems: When one travels to a foreign country and is ingesting cuisine different from the ordinary, GI problems are sure to ensue.  Our group was not an exception to this rule and we experienced a range of GI discomforts from constipation to diarrhea on a daily basis.  Our suggestion for conquering the GI battle is to carry Pepto Bismol on your person at all times and possibly take Cipro if symptoms are experienced towards the beginning of the trip.  If symptoms persist for several days, it may be time to consider what you are eating.
  • Bug Bites: Thailand harbors some very large insects that seem to love American blood.  Despite our greatest efforts to deflect the mini monsters Deet does not always live up to our standards.  Creating a barrier between your skin and the bugs is the surest way to prevent bites, but in 90 degree weather with 90 percent humidity that may not be an option.  Since preventing bites proves to be more difficult than one would expect, the best advice we can offer is treatment of said bites.  Toothpaste, ammonia, hydrocortisone and Benadryl are just a few of the anti-histamines used by our group members to manage the itch.
  • The effects of the sun: The sun in Thailand is more intense than most of our group was used to and sweating was inevitable.  Preventing dehydration had been discussed prior to the trip but this was easier said than done.  Realizing the amount of water we had to consume to replace the amount lost was staggering.  Overall, our group did a great job of staying hydrated, but we still think this is a topic that needs to be known before traveling to a hot and humid area like Thailand.  Although we stayed hydrated, many of us suffered minor sun burns especially towards the end of the trip at the beach.  In the states many people forget to reapply throughout the day and this is even truer while on vacation.  The last thing on a college student’s mind while playing on a beautiful beach in Thailand is to apply sunscreen every 2-3 hours, so burns are sure to occur.  To play it safe we recommend bringing, and applying, aloe vera.

We learned a lot on this trip and hope this blog is helpful to those looking to travel to Thailand or a similar destination.

Art of Thai Cuisine

By: Devyn Kerr and Katherine Schwei

Food has always been important part of Thai history and culture. There are five basic flavors Thai cuisine balances which include sweet, sour, bitter, spicy, and salty. Rice is eaten at least once a day, preferably twice in order for Thais to feel that they are normal. There are also a variety of fruits found throughout Thailand, some which are different than found in America. When we came to Thailand experiencing these new variety of foods and type of foods was really Interesting and at times a little nerve wracking to y new things. We didn’t always know every ingredient in the dish so it made trying something an adventure. For Devyn and those with dietary and allergies there were some more challenges but everyone we came across seemed to be ale to accommodate everyone even weird allergies such as onions.

There are over 20 varieties of bananas. Other fruits found year-round are coconuts, jackfruit, guava, lime, kaffiflime, tamarind, mandarin orange, papaya, watermelon, and pineapple. Though mostly eaten fresh these are sometimes dipped in salt, sugar or deep fried. Also there are a variety of soups. The fruits were really delightful to try and one of our favorite was sticky rice and mangos with coconut milk over it. Also the fruit was always fresh especially the pineapple, mangos, and coconuts.

Thai soups fall into who categories: Tom Yam, and Kaeng Jeut each having different seasonings. The first is always used with seafood and often translated into “hot and sour Thai soup” in English. Kaffir lime peel and lime juice is used to give its tang. There are also a variety of herbs and spices.

Fish sauce is used like salt in America. Chilies of many types, red and green are often used to spice dishes up.  The soups that we got to enjoy we both hot, sweet, and spicy. Each were different and had their own touch whether Ethan being adding shrimp, fish, chicken, tofu, or just a variety of seasonings. We also got to learn to make papaya salad and it was really cool to learn how it is made and used to balanced all of the sweet, sour, spicy, salty, and bitter.

There is no “proper” time as day to drink alcohol however, women are much more discreet then men in their drinking habits and any festival, wedding or funeral gives an exceptional opportunity to drink. Though, no drinking is permitted in wats or inside shrine buildings. Finally during the months of late July to October many Thai Buddhists give up drinking temporarily as a show of Buddhist faith. Of course, not all drinks are alcoholic and the fruit smoothies and Thai iced teas were amazing. They also make good coffee, and mocha frappes were our favorite. It beats Starbucks.

In conclusion, food and drink makes an important impact and finds its way into nearly every aspect of Thai culture and life in nearly every part of Thailand no matter what region one is located in there are a variety of local delights. We had the opportunity to try so much Thai cuisine and it seemed like every meal was a feast. It was amazing to try new things and learn more about what other parts of the world eat. It really is an adventure to try new foods and it is sad when some of our favorite fruits or veggies are not found or as good quality in America. Also we now have to learn to make Thai food because nothing is better than what we had here.