Category Archives: Student Assignments (archived)

Water Issues in Thailand

By: Caitlin Lemmon and Mariah Hartle

Water is a very important resource for the people in Thailand. With a population of over 68 million people, things such as urbanization and industrial expansion are impacting water quality for the Thais. Untreated waste, from growing industries have been steadily increasing in the water. Because of this their main source of income, agriculture is being strongly affected. Many farmers have not been properly taught how to conserve their water use when they plant their crops, therefore much of the water available is being wasted. If a proper solution was implanted for these farmers, and waste was cleaned from the drinking water, this crisis could be solved quickly.(Suwal, 1) Continue reading Water Issues in Thailand

HIV/AIDS in Thailand

By: Chloe Withers and Lacy Carter

AIDS or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome is one of the worst pandemics the world has ever known. AIDS is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus or HIV. AIDS broke out in the early 1980’s and in just over 30 years it has become one of the leading causes of death worldwide. AIDS has resulted in the deaths of over 28 million people that we know of, resulting in a significant global impact (Bosner, 2001). As awareness rises and research progressed the outcome of people living with HIV/AIDS continues to improve around the world. Continue reading HIV/AIDS in Thailand

HIV and AIDS in Thailand

by: Natalie Bliss and Alyssa Hill

​Human Immunodeficiency Virus is a disease that was discovered in the 1980’s. Research has shown that the source of HIV was likely from chimpanzees and jumped over to the human population around the 1800’s. HIV attacks the immune system killing the T cells. A lack of a strong immune system leaves the body more susceptible to common sickness because it cannot properly fight it off. HIV positive individuals go through different stages of the disease. One of these stages is when the immune system becomes so damaged that it can start developing major infections and infection related cancers and is called acquired immunodeficiency syndrome also known as AIDS (FDA 2012). HIV is spread through body fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal fluids, and breast milk. The most common ways of contracting HIV is through anal or vaginal sex or sharing drug injection equipment with an infected individual. There is currently no cure to HIV however there are medications called antiretroviral drugs you can take to help your body fight infections (CDC,2013).
​Living with HIV/AIDS is a very challenging task among all cultures. People from Thailand specifically face a few obstacles that the average HIV positive individual from the U.S. might not have to face. Thailand has seen HIV/AIDS statistics that are much higher than any other country in Asia. “In 1998, there were approximately 23,000 HIV-positive women who gave birth in Thailand. In 2007 there were 250,000 HIV-positive women, aged 15 and over in Thailand” (Liamputtong, 2013). Seeing these rates helps us determine that not only does Thailand have a problem with this deadly disease, but it has also expanded to the point of an epidemic.
​Emotional challenges have been tied to this disease in many cultures. Symptoms such as anxiety, fear, self-blame, and social stigmatization are common. In Thai culture, they put a special emphasis on appearances and morals. This causes the symptoms of emotional challenges to be much more severe. Because of the emotional challenges present in this culture some natives are known to commit suicide upon discovering they have tested HIV positive. Though Thailand does not persecute for different religious beliefs, the majority of the Thai people practice Buddhism. Part of the Buddhist religion has to do with the idea of Karma, that any good or bad action done by a person causes a good or bad consequence in return. The main source of HIV infection for women in Thailand has been shown to be from sexual intercourse in monogamous relationships according to studies that have been conducted so far. However, because HIV is spread through bodily fluids it can therefore be passed to an offspring if the mother is positive. This is a big issue in Thailand because many women do not know they have the disease until they are already pregnant (Liamputtong, 2013). Due to the social isolation this disease causes, family in Thailand is essential to the management and care of this difficult disease.
​Thailand has a high burden of HIV and AIDS with as many as 610,000 people living with HIV by the end of 2007 (Ishikawa, 2010). People living with HIV/Aids in Thailand face multiple challenges including coping with HIV-related disclosure and stigma and maintaining positive family relationships. HIV disclosure has been identified as a key stressor for people living with HIV in Thailand (Li, 2010). In addition to disclosure, it is necessary to address stigma as an HIV-related stressor. It has been documented that a high level of perceived stigma exists in Thailand, and a significant association between stigma and depression is prevalent (Li, 2010).
​Since Thailand is a strongly family oriented society, and typical Thai families are tightly knit, the treatment of those dealing with HIV affects the entire family. Due to the social support offered by family the treatment of those dealing with HIV is substantially better than those dealing with the disease individually (Li, 2010). The internalized shame of those dealing with HIV/AIDS correlates directly to amount of social and family support these individuals have. The more support, the more likely they are to comply with treatments and regimens as well as have a positive outlook on the management of their disease.
​A study in Thailand was conducted resulting in the conclusion that involving families and implementing behavioral intervention was successful in improving the quality of life of people living with HIV (Li, 2010). Interventions determined by medical staff must be performed in a systematic, collaborative manner to ensure that their culture, religion and most importantly family, were all implemented in the plan of care. Because the Thai family culture is so essential in the lives of those living with HIV/Aids, treatment can become a challenge for the entire family.
​HIV and AIDS not only impact those who are infected, but also on their family members, especially children. It was estimated that more than 289,000 children had lost parents to AIDS by 2001 (Ishikawa, 2010).  Children affected by AIDS frequently experience increased poverty, physical abuse and poor psychosocial health (Ishikawa, 2010). Children affected by AIDS find it difficult to communicate their concerns and anxieties to others, so they remain silently neglected.
​In the article Breaking down the wall of silence around children affected by AIDS in Thailand to support their psychosocial health, a study was completed consisting of 9 families and 8 children. The study was designed to explore a neglected area of study about the causes of poor psychosocial health in children affected by AIDS and how their needs can be meat. The article explains that parents create a wall of silence surrounding their children to help protect them and this study is identifying if this method is conducive to the psychosocial health and wellbeing of children associated with HIV and AIDS. Data was collected from observation and an interview process over a period of 12 months. The topic of AIDS was not discussed in the interviews unless the children brought it up.
​Children’s psychosocial experiences were found to fall into five main categories, bullying and discrimination, isolation and loneliness, parents HIV status and death, concern about own infection risk, and discussion. Results inform readers of this article that children in Thailand are being bullied and rejected because of the status of HIV in their families. The lack of education on HIV/AIDS in the community, especially in the young population, presents children with a clouded understanding of what the disease is and places the children who are affected by the disease in a position to be bullied and discriminated against. Because of the rejection they feel these children isolate themselves to avoid being bullied, creating a void in their social growth. Parents HIV status and death was not communicated very much between parent and child. The parents believed that it was not something that their children needed to be worried about and thus avoided the conversation. The children then feel that it is unacceptable to talk about their feelings with their parents and become emotionally unstable. Due to the family taboo of discussing HIV and Aids in Thailand, children were not educated on the matter and their fears about contracting the virus went unaddressed. Most children in the study new HIV was life threatening, but didn’t understand the transmission process. Several of the children believed that because their parents were infected, that they were automatically infected as well.
​HIV and Aids is a disease that not only affects those who are physically battling it, but it affects those who are most precious to them. This study has shown that family members, children specifically, are psychosocially affected by AIDS. The wall of silence built to protect them prevents them from truly being able to express and understand the disease and how to cope. There is an urgent need to raise awareness in Thailand of the positive role that open communication between families facilitates in supporting psychosocial needs.
​Although HIV/AIDS is an epidemic that requires much sacrifice and courage, the Thai family culture is one of extreme loyalty and support. Although individuals may struggle with the aspect of social isolation because of the strict morals in the Thai culture, the family unit is an essential role in the caring of those who are struggling with this disease. Although the prevalence of HIV/AIDS is rampant in Thailand, there is hope because of the strong family culture and respect they selflessly give.

References:

Li, L. (2010). Improving the health and mental health of people living with hiv/aids: 12-month assessment of a behavioral intervention in Thailand . American Journal of Public Health, 100(12), 1-9.

Ishikawa, N. (2010). Breaking down the wall of silence around children affected by aids in thailand to support their psychosocial health . AIDS Care, 22(3),

Liamputtong, P., Haritavorn, N., & Kiatying-Angsulee, N. (2012). Living Positively: The Experiences of Thai Women Living With HIV/AIDS in Central Thailand. Qualitative Health Research, 22(4), 441-451. doi:10.1177/1049732311421680

Thato, R., & Penrose, J. (2013). A Brief, Peer-Led HIV Prevention Program for College Students in Bangkok, Thailand. Journal Of Pediatric & Adolescent Gynecology, 26(1), 58-65. doi:10.1016/j.jpag.2012.09.011

undefined. (24 April 2013). HIV/AIDS. In Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 1 May 2013, from http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/basics/whatishiv.html.

undefined. (28 March 2012). HIV/AIDS Timeline/History. In U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Retrieved 1 May 2013, from http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ByAudience/ForPatientAdvocates/HIVandAIDSActivities/ucm117935.htm.

Buddhism Encompasses Thai History and Culture

 by: Meagan Gallagher and Morgan Lendway

http://royal-portraits.blogspot.com

All over the world countries that are thriving today have been influenced by a culture that has been around for thousands of years. These religions have impacted the way that society is run all the way down to how people live their lives. In Thailand, Buddhism has been a great influence throughout generations and has really formed the country to be the way that is today.

Theravada Buddhism is the primary form of Buddhism practiced in Thailand.  The expansion of the religion into Thailand began when the King of Burma sent monks to Sri Lanka to re-establish Theravada Buddhism.  This created a strong religion affiliation between Burma and Sri Lanka.  Missionaries were sent to Thailand from Burma during the eleventh century.  The religion is widely accepted by Thais and became the official religion of Thailand in the fourteen century after Thailand won independence from the Cambodian Khmer rulers (Mitchell 90).

Ever since Thailand adopted Buddhism as their state religion, it has become a significant part of Thai history.  Thailand’s Kings are one of the most influential and powerful leaders of the country.  In the mid to late 1800s when King Rama IV was the leader of Thailand, he began a reform within the Thai Sangha, called the Dhammayut movement.  The king’s history of being an ordained monk for thirty years before he took throne inspired the movement.  The reform helped standardize Buddhism in Thailand but also stripped monks of some of their major roles.  The king created a secular educational system where the lay people were the teachers.  Up until this reform, the monks were the teachers; however, the reform created a national organization for the Thai Sangha and the Prinee-Patriarch wrote a series of text which standardized information about Dharma, or the doctrine.  Ancient texts were brought to Bangkok, and if they didn’t align with the new text, they were burned.  If the king viewed certain monks from other places as a threat, he was entitled to bring them to Bangkok for interrogation and would potentially arrest some of the monks.  This action helped the movement even though it seems to contradict the most basic teaching of Buddha, which is to be good (Robinson and Johnson 152).  The action of King Rama IV increased the practice and study of Buddhism within the Sangha, increased the general population’s respect for Buddhism, and prevented Thai Sangha from becoming politicized.  The role of Buddhism in the state and government continued to become more defined throughout history.

King Wachirwut, whom ruled from 1910 to 1925, made Buddhism a civil religion by his influential slogan, “nation, religion, king” (Buswell 832).  The king’s relationship with religion is to: “control monastic appointments, appoint secular officials in charge of crown-sangha relationships, donating land and building royal monasteries in the capitol and provinces, and to ordain as monks for a limited amount of time, and help settle sangha disputes” (Buswell 832).  The Kings are practicing Buddhists which emphasizes the importance of Theravada Buddhism in Thailand.  Today, the King is Bhumibol Adulyadej and he is respected by many.

In Thailand, a wat is a Buddhist temple, which can found in almost every Thai village.  The temple is usually the dominate figure in many Thai villages and represents the “physical structure of Theravada Buddhism” (Hopfe & Woodward 114) and serves as a representation of community and worship.  The bot, or a hall inside the wat is used for teaching, preaching, and meditation and contains a statue of Buddha, candles, alters, and incense (Hopfe & Woodward 114).  In the temple there is usually a stupa, a bodhi tree, images of Buddha, and traditional representations of Buddha, such as sacred foot prints.  The temple is a place for prayer and meditation but also reflects Thai art.  Carvings and painting cover the temples inside and out to tell the story of Buddhism.  The temples are decorated with images of the Buddhist legends, Buddha’s former or final lives, as well as images of Hell (Buswell 838).

The worship of Buddha during special holidays shows respect to his teachings and life.    There are numerous holidays or spiritual celebrations that commemorate Buddha and play an important role in Thailand’s traditions and culture.  The Festival of Wesak, or Vesakha Puja is an annual holiday that celebrates the Birth of Buddha, Buddha’s enlightenment, and Buddha’s death.  Devout Buddhists gather at temples where they raise the Buddhist flag and sing hymns that honor the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, his disciplines.  This holiday emphasizes the importance of bringing happiness to those less fortunate.  This may be done by giving money to a charity that benefits the poor, ill, or handicapped (Buswell 228).  Vesakha Puja is one way that Buddhism creates a sense of identity for most Thais. Thailand worships Buddha with personal practice but annual holidays are a festive and important celebration of Buddha.

Buddha Gautama is the major influence of Thai art and architecture.  Thai art dates back to the sixth century C.E. and was influenced by Indian images, which reflect Buddhist religion (Buswell 782).  Sculptures and painting depict the teachings of Buddha as well as the historical Buddha.  Sculptures are made out of stone, bronze, or wood and are many different sizes.  Buddha sculptures must not be located anywhere other a monastery, museum, or private home alter (Buswell 843).  Images of Buddha are worshiped with offerings of flowers and incense because they are viewed as a representation of truth.  Art and images are an important part of Thai’s worship rituals because images or sculptures of Buddha are viewed as sacred.  Although he is no longer alive, his thoughts and beliefs are thought be tangible via images of Buddha (Buswell 839).  This explains the importance of art in Thailand.

Buddhism’s history has shaped the history of Thailand and has defined the country’s celebration and culture today.  When Buddhism first became intertwined with Thailand, it influenced the action of kings and helped shaped Thai’s government.  The teachings of Buddha define how most Thais treat family, friends, and strangers.  The phrase, nam jai, or “water of the heart,” means, don’t view strangers as threatening or suspicious, reflect Thais genuine acceptance and respect towards others (Carlson, Englar-Carlson, & Emavardhana 1).  Art in Thailand is influenced by the worship of the Buddha.  Holidays and times of celebration for Thais are based on Buddhism.  Buddhism encompasses Thai history and shapes Thai culture.

Thai culture is complex but it is in fact very interesting. Many things that have been mentioned in this paper can be used to enhance our Thailand experience. It will be able to help us understand the history when we see temples as well as gaining a greater understanding with the people of Thailand.

References

Buswell, Robert. Encylopedia of Buddhism.  New York: Macmillan Reference, 2004.  Vol. 1 and 2.  Print.

Carlson, Jon, Englar-Carlson, Matt, & Emavardhana, Tipawadee. “Individual Psychology in Thailand”. Journal of Individual Psychology.  68.4 (2012): 398 – 410. Academic Search Premier.

Hopfe, Lewish and Woodward, Mark.  Religions of the World. New Jersey: Person Education, 2009. Print.

Mitchell, Donald.  Buddhism: Introducing the Buddhist Experience.  New York: Oxford University Press. 2002.  Print.

Robinson, Richard and Johnson, Willard.  The Buddhist Religion: A Historical Introduction.  Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1997. Print.

Free Burma Rangers by Brooke Bellows and Toby Koch

Who are the Burma Rangers?


  The Free Burma Rangers (FBR) is a multi-ethnic humanitarian movement determined to assist the displaced people of Burma by offering shelter, food, protection and love.  Free Burma Rangers are volunteers that are trained in education, medical care, or other areas of expertise and sent into war zones to provide emergency medical care, spiritual and education resources as well as shelter, food, clothing, and documentation of human rights to the displaced people of Burma. The Free Burma Rangers also collect evidence of human rights abuse and military violence and distribute these information among outside humanitarian groups as well as the UN and media groups.

There are 3 requirements of Free Burma Rangers:

1.       Love – this is purely volunteer work and is very taxing on each individual.  There must be true passion and love behind each individual’s motives in order to be a Free Burma Ranger.

2.       Ability to read and write – this is necessary for medical and legal documentation.

3.       Physical and moral courage – physical strength and endurance is necessary to travel to areas under fire, as well as assisting with possessions or physically unable refugees.  Burma Rangers are also expected to stand in the face of danger and remain with their refugees if the people they are helping cannot flee.

Since 1997, when the FBR was organized, over 110 teams have been trained and used in multiple conflict zones throughout Burma, conducting over 350 mission of 1-2 months within these conflict regions.

The mission statement of the Free Burma Rangers:

“To bring help, hope and love to people of all faiths and ethnicities in the conflict zones of Burma, to shine a light on the actions of oppressors, to stand with the oppressed and support leaders and organizations committed to liberty, justice and service.”  (Free Burma Rangers, 2013)

The logo of FBR:

“Love each other.  Unite and work for freedom, justice, and peace.  Forgive and don’t hate each other.  Pray with faith, act with courage, never surrender.”  (Free Burma Rangers, 2013)

History of the Burma rangers

  The creator of the Free Burma Rangers has remained anonymous due to the nature of the work he does, but is known as Father of the White Monkey or Tha U Wa A Pa in Karen. He is a retired American Special Operations Officer who discovered the plight of the Burmese when visiting his father in Thailand. He started off crossing into the Thai-Burmese alone carrying in supplies to fleeing Karen people. His initial goal was to simple. To help and make a difference for at least one person. His modest goal has now expanded to 59 active free burma ranger teams.

 Since 1997, when the FBR was organized, over 250 teams have been trained and used in multiple conflict zones throughout Burma, conducting over 350 mission of 1-2 months within these conflict regions. In 2010 they supplied medicine to over 100,000 patientsand continue to expand and connect Burmese refugees to one another. Since its origins 13 burma rangers have died in the field, including one who was caught and tortured to death by the Burmese Army.

Functions of the Burma Rangers

  The Free Burma Rangers (FBR), conduct relief, advocacy, leadership development and unity missions among the people of Burma. The FBR doesn’t supply rangers with weapons and are told not to engage the Burma Army if possible. However they are free to carry weapons if they wish.

  Relief: Free Burma Rangers are trained to provide medical,educational, spiritual, and general aid to Burmese people being oppressed by the government. They carry in supplies, create communication networks to warn people about attacks, FBR teams go on one to two month missions two to four times a year.

Leadership: During these missions they also conduct leadership training among the displaced and oppressed people in order that they might also help themselves and others. They document human rights violations and report them to the authorities.

Advocacy: FBR reports regularly on the situation inside Burma, sending information to supporters, news media, other NGOs and governments. In addition, FBR supports the annual Global Day of Prayer for Burma.

How do you get involved? 

Every Free Burma Ranger is a volunteer and is not paid money by the organization.  The Free Burma Rangers are a non-profit organization that is supplied purely by volunteers and donations.

Many volunteers come from other humanitarian groups that join forces with the Free Burma Rangers. To become an active FBR takes about 1 month to a year depending on which training program an individual pursues.  

There are about five different training programs:

“• Northern Karen State: FBR’s largest training, conducted in the fall, generally includes multiple ethnic groups and a one-month follow on mission, including the GLC school tour. Training includes both basic and advanced classes.

• Southern Karen State: training of Mergui-Tavoy FBR teams, generally conducted in late summer, lasting for one month.

• Shan State: training of Shan and occasionally Karenni FBR teams, conducted in the spring, lasting approximately 6 weeks.

• Other trainings: conducted as logistics, personnel and time permit, on invitation from specific groups.

• The Jungle School of Medicine-Kawthoolei: pilot medical school program to provide a one year training for beginning medics that includes a clinical setting.”  (Free Burma Rangers, 2013)

The organization also accepts donations or other contributions which help to allow the FBR’s to continue their assistance in Burma and acquire proper supplies to properly care for the refugees they help.  (Free Burma Ranger, 2013)


Free Burma Rangers Video 

More information on the Free Burma Rangers can be found on their website at www.freeburmarangers.org

 

Citations

Alex, Ellgee. N.p.. Web. 2 May 2013. <http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/110224/burma-myanmar-karen-junta&gt;.

“About FBR Free Burma Rangers.” Home Free Burma Rangers. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 May 2013. <http://www.freeburmarangers.org/about/>

Adam, Skolnick. N.p.. Web. 2 May 2013. <http://www.outsideonline.com/adventure-travel/asia/myanmar/The-Jesus-Kissed-War-Fringed-Love-Swirled-Rangers.html&gt;.

Mechai Pattana Bamboo School

By: Hannah Hegwood

The Mechai Pattana School is for the rural poor of Thailand. Many children from other rural schools end up migrating to the cities for a better education, the Pattana School aims to keep these children at home. This schools mission is, “to create a generation of honest leaders who will improve rural Thailand” they achieve this mission statement by “promoting the following values: environmental protection, education, poverty eradication, philanthropy, integrity, democracy and gender inequality” (mechaifoundation.org). They achieve these goals by encouraging creativity and imagination, which develops the whole individual, not just the intellectual abilities of this person. This school is not only for the children; this is a life long learning center for members of the community. The community members can use the school as well to improve their knowledge of agriculture, business and vocational skills. “This will guarantee that within three years, no family that has children at the school will be in poverty” (mechaifoundation.org).

CommunityThai

(Community members learning about democracy)

The Mechai Pattana School encourages the interaction and involvement of the students in every step of their education. One way the students are involved is that they have to earn their lunches and tuition. The students earn their tuition and lunches by community service; one lunch equals one hour of community service and to pay for tuition the students and parents must plant 400 trees and do 400 hours of community service. The students are also involved in teacher selection, they get participate in the interview process and help make final decisions. Students also get to choose incoming students; students in the eighth and ninth grade decide on the incoming seventh graders. Another way the students are involved is that two students get to be on the school board and all students can be involved in the schools purchasing and auditing committee. Mechai believes that being apart of these committees helps illustrate real world situations. All of these interactions provide an irreplaceable experience of responsibility and leadership.

ServiceThai

(Students performing community service)

The two most impressive aspects of this school are that during the student’s education they will operate their own businesses and also get to decide what they want to learn. “Students understand the link between entrepreneurship and philanthropy, and they start many businesses of their own” (mechaifoundation.org). The profits that the student’s make through their businesses provides scholarships for needy children in other rural villages, they also provide these children with tutoring and mentoring. From running a business where they provide for the community, they not only learn how to manage money but also a sense of social entrepreneurship. The other very impressive part of this school is that the children choose which projects and activities they would like to learn more about. The teachers then help facilitate the learning process; they have to think how they can incorporate math, sciences and languages into the subject chosen. Also, the school rarely uses textbooks, they believe the knowledge is limited to what the writer wanted to say, instead they use the Internet where the knowledge is endless and can be unbiased. The students are asked to think for themselves, which develops strong critical and analytical processes.

ComputersThai

(Students using the Internet along with textbooks)

The Mechai Pattana School is creating a generation of children who are globally conscious, well rounded individuals who can think for themselves. Mr. Mechai Viravaidya the founder of this astounding school describes the Dragon Bridge To Knowledge, which truly sums up his philosophy of education. This is a literal bridge built over a canal that symbolizes your walk from ignorance to knowledge everyday.

DragonBridgeTHai

(Dragon Bridge To Knowledge)

Each morning you walk from ignorance towards knowledge and you have this            water, and you should look down and see who’s ignorant and you will see your own face.   Then in the evening you come back from knowledge to ignorance again, so we always have to rewind and do it again. There is no end to learning (Mechai Viravaidya).

The Pattana School aims to create good citizens who want a good life, know how to earn it and how to share. This school creates well rounded individuals which is worth so much more than an IQ number on a piece of paper.

“The Mechai Pattana School.” MechaiFoundation.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2013.

The Karen

By: Amanda Phillips & Kristin Harko

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http://abeautyglorious.blogspot.com/2008/11/beauty-around-world.html

Due to war, persecution, or violence many people are forced to flee their own country.  Everyday these people fear persecution based on race, religion, nationality, group membership, or political standing.  More often than not, these people cannot return to their home countries and seek refuge in a second or third country permanently.  These people seeking refuge are known as refugees.  An expanding group of refugees found in Salt Lake City, Utah is the Karen refugees from Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand.

Continue reading The Karen

Traditional Thai Medicine

By: Erin Ward & Heather Stuart

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Worms will not eat living wood where the vital sap is flowing;

rust will not hinder the opening of a gate when the hinges are used each day.

Movement gives health and life.

Stagnation brings disease and death.”
– proverb in traditional Chinese Medicine

(“Thai yoga history,” 2013)

The origins of traditional Thai medicine remain as mysterious as the Thai people themselves. One popular theory suggests that the Thai people migrated from China around the 8th century C.E. With neighbors such as Burma, Vietnam, and Laos, their indigenous culture is sure to have been influenced by the outside cultures of their new surroundings.  Consequently, traditional Thai medicine is extremely diverse, and is grounded in two traditions: the Folk tradition and the Royal tradition.

Continue reading Traditional Thai Medicine

Macro-Economics and Thailand’s Poor

By: Kendall Brannen, Westminster College, B.S. Economics, May 1, 2013

My interests while studying Economics at Westminster has been economic wellbeing of communities and what it takes for those communities to be sustainable and self-serving. When I was initially thinking about this assignment I wanted to look at the macroeconomic situation that is specific to Thailand. In this paper I will look at the descriptive statistics that surround the macro-economy and attempt to extrapolate more of the story that lay within each statistic/variable. As you can imagine there are a lot of factors that surround each observation, which for this observation paper I will simplify assumptions and take a high level approach.

I began researching to understand the economic conditions within Thailand and how it compares to the world economy with general descriptive statistics of the major economic indicators used globally. Thailand’s Gini Coefficient, a measure of income equality distribution, ranked 14th highest among 140 countries. That number rose between 2002 and 2009 from 42 to 53.6.  From this observation Thailand is becoming increasingly more unequal in its income distributions.  There is direct correlation between income distributions and poverty, when the lower quintiles have a larger percentage of the population within it, the income disparity widens and because of this the gini coefficient is a great indicator of a country’s poverty level. Below is a simple graph to help explain the concept of equal income distribution. It assumes a one to one slope for income to population as a fair measure.

Continue reading Macro-Economics and Thailand’s Poor

Phanom-Rung

By: Lara Gallacher & Erica Houck

Why is it an important place to visit?

Khmer refers to an ancient kingdom in Southeastern Asia which, was in it’s highest power during the 11th century. Phanom-Rung is one of the most beautiful and important of the Khmer historic areas in the country of Thailand. It may have been a prototype for another significant site called Angkor Wat. The location enough provides a reason to visit as Phanom-Rung was built on top of a 1256 foot tall inactive volcano. Similarly, it has a historical importance as the resting area for pilgrims traveling from Angkor to Phimai. This Hindu temple complex represents the largest and most comprehensively restored historical park. The structures in Phanom-Rung have been well preserved by avoiding use as a battlefield and by limited overgrowth of that area. Other Khmer monuments have been largely reclaimed by the jungle but this park is neatly groomed and protected from environmental reclamation.

Significance of various parts of the park:

Main SanctuaryThere are several areas of the park that are especially important as religious, historical and architectural artifacts. The general layout of the park represents Hindu beliefs. The buildings line up all the way to the main pagoda, which represents the layout of Hindu heaven centered on Shiva. Also important historically and architecturally, are the religious carvings found on the outer surfaces of every building. These most frequently depict stories of the gods. It also has Buddhist elements from the era when it was adapted. Buddhist influences are visible in the later 17th century additions to the park including the pagoda, the stairway and the Naga bridge.

Continue reading Phanom-Rung