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.

How the education system in America is lacking creativity

By: Leah Jeglum and Sarah Pierson

When visiting Cabbages and Condoms, a restaurant founded by Mechai Viravaidya, we learned about a new concept in education, where creativity is put at the forefront of a child’s education, rather than memorization and repetition of mathematics and sciences.  He first showed us this picture of colored balls in trees which turned out to be painted coconuts.  He asked us why they couldn’t be colorful and I couldn’t think of an answer of why not. He also showed us bathrooms that were painted in rainbows of colors, even in the boy’s bathroom!

Since that day, we have wondered why the school system in America is lacking in this creativity. I (Sarah) have only had art class in elementary and middle school and had to follow the art teachers exact instructions and wasn’t fully able to excess my artistic talent. In middle school we were able to take band or chorus but had to follow the group songs.  I (Leah) grew up in a very musical household, especially with my mother being a music teacher and my father grew up playing the string bass from a very young age.  My sister and I were encouraged to think outside the box, but Mechai’s concept of school blew my mind on how a child should learn and progress through life, especially in those essential years where a child absorbs so much new information.

Now there are many budget cuts and  the funding for the extracurricular classes are being cut first because they are not being seen as a necessity to a child’s education.  We want to ask you all; when your school district plans on cutting funding to those programs, do you want your children to grow up to be a person who can recite various mathematical and scientific facts, or do you want your children to be a well-rounded person who is aware of different concepts and ideas, rather than just various facts?

Bucket Showers

By: Amanda Warner

My first experience with a bucket shower was when we were staying in Kalasin. I had heard that we would be taking bucket showers in the meetings we had before the trip. I still didn’t really know what to expectmand trying to take my first bucket shower was an interesting experience. Luckily, I was staying in a village house with a Thai student, Bright.  She was a big help when it came to talking to our parents, and she also helped me figure out how to take my first bucket shower.

I went down to the bathroom to take my shower after our first day in the villages  There was a big tub full of water, and this confused me even more about how to take my shower. I was not sure if the tub full of water was meant to be a bath that the the local people always kept full or if the water was for my bucket shower. I had to go upstairs to where Bright and I slept and had to ask Bright about how to shower. However, we were having language barrier issues, and she decided to come down to the bathroom with my to try to understand what I was asking. We still had some language barrier issues, but I finally learned that I was suppose to stand next to the tub of water and use the little bowl in the tub to poor water on myself.

Bucket showers are not that bad to take. I don’t necessarily feel as clean as I do after a shower just because the water is not always as clean as I am use to seeing. I also feel like I don’t always get all of the soap off of me. However, I believe that bucket showers are beneficial in saving water. I think I use a lot less water during a bucket shower than I ever do showering. Another plus is that we take two bucket showers a day which makes me feel clean after being in the dirt and humidity throughout the day and helps to cool me off.

Why do we do the things we do?

By Mary Rendon and Justin Giles

The differences between Thai and American cultures stretch beyond simply customs and traditions. During my home stay in Kalasin, my “sister,” Boom, really put into perspective the differences in the ways we live our lives. Every night we would stay awake later than we should have and compared our homes, education, and daily activities. Talking to her made me ask myself: why do we do the things we do? I feel like we have a lot of customs in America that we can’t really explain…we do them for pleasure. For example, I explained to Boom that in America, women paid about 1200 baht to have another person paint their toenails and fingernails. Apart from being horrified at the price, she asked me ” why do you do that? Why don’t you just do it yourself?” Her question caught me off-guard…I didn’t know how to answer that. Why DO we pay another person to do something we could do ourselves? She asked me why Americans buy so much furniture to fill up their homes…in Kalasin, she explained, people didn’t have money to buy furniture to fill up their homes. Her home had a dresser and a chest on which her parents set their TV. That’s it. I didn’t know how to answer this question either. For decoration?To fill empty space? I certainly couldn’t say it was out of need. And that’s really what it comes down to: need. Do we need all the things we buy? Will we survive without them? Now, this blog post is not meant to be condescending. I assure you, I will still get pedicures and buy couches for my home. But it’s eye opening to see just how spoiled we are in America. We have privileges that we wouldn’t consider as such because we are so used to them. If I learned anything from Boom and the Thai people in general, it is to be thankful, spend wisely, and never take anything for granted.

Thai folklore

By: Justin Giles and Mary Rendon

Through out the world there are many different cultures that have their own little folk lore stories. These stories range from ghosts to demons and everything else in between. Thailand also has their own scary stories that everyone seems to know, much like common stories known in both America and Mexico. A very common one that many may be aware of is the story or even the name of El Chupacabra. This is the animal or beast that posses a threat to the livestock as well as people in many Hispanic countries.

Thailand’s people are extremely superstitious and this is reflected by the sheer amount of different stories that I have heard; these stories range from stories that many know across the country to very personal ones about colleges or even specific homes.

Nang Ta Nee, a common Thai story, is about a pregnant women dressed in green who lives within banana trees and waits for a man to take as her husband. Nang Ta Nee goes to men in their dreams and tries to get men to fall in love with them. If the men go with her in their dreams they die in their sleep to her. Thia story has led to a few of the more superstitious men and boys to grow a long pinky nail and paint it red to trick Nang Ta Nee into thinking that they are female.

Another popular story is that of Phee Kra Sue. Phee Kra Sue is one of the oddest stories that I’ve heard in a long time. Phee Kra Sue is a ghost that is the head of a woman with lungs and intestine attached to it. Phee Kra Sue flys around in the sky flashing brightly looking for food to eat. Oddly enough however this ghost poses no harm to people, she simply looks for feces, and placentas to eat.

It was extremely interesting and fun to talk to the Thai nursing students and listen to the huge amount of stories that they have in relation to ghosts and paranormal activities.