Category Archives: Pre-trip Student Assignments

Flooding in Thailand

By Alyson Pinkelman and Cecile Murdock

Bangkok was built on the floodplains of the Chao Phraya River and is expected to be one of the urban areas hit hardest by climate change (Hay, 2017). According to the World Bank, “nearly 40% of Bangkok may be inundated each year as soon as 2030 due to more extreme rainfall” (TED, 2019). In 2011, sixty-five of Thailand’s 76 provinces were declared flood disaster zones,and over 20,000 square kilometers (7,700 sq mi) of farmland was damaged (DHI worldwide,n.d.). This was the world’s fourth costliest disaster as of 2011 and cost 815 people their lives (Floodlist News, 2019). On January 4th, 2019, a tropical storm hit the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat over 200,000 people were affected by the storm with 3 people dead and one person missing (DHI worldwide, n.d.). 35,000 people evacuated their homes due to this storm and many are still residing in shelters (Hay, 2017). Tourist areas were the first to return to normal, specifically the beach resorts in the Gulf of Thailand and along the Andaman sea, while Red Cross volunteers helped locals reassemble their lives (TED, 2019).

To combat inevitable flooding, Thailand is beginning an initiative to build innovative architecture through the scope of mitigating flooding impact due to climate change such as the Hulalongkorn Centenary Park (DHI worldwide, n.d). The Hulalongkorn Centenary Park is Thailand’s first park in many years, which was built to commemorate the centenary year of Bangkok’s oldest university (TED, 2019). The eleven acre park is designed to hold excess water underground to prevent flooding. It was designed by Kotchakorn and is inclined at a three-degree angle so that rain and floodwater flow to its lowest point, a retention pond (Floodlist News, 2019). The retention pond can hold up to one million gallons of water which can be used later in the dry season. The rainwater also flows through the park’s lawn and wetlands where native vegetation filters the water, while its walkways are made of porous concrete to absorb excess water (TED, 2019). More details on this project can be found here:

The Decision Support System (or the DSS) was established by the Hydro and Agro informatics institute (HAII), which is part of the Thai Ministry of Science and Technology (Floodlist News, 2019). The system works by running a hindcast model to reflect the movement, distribution, and properties of the water. It can perform forecast simulations, run meteorological forecasts twice a day, and import rainfall levels hourly, which makes it effective in predicting flooding patterns (TED, 2019). This system is utilized by the Thailand government to forecast floods at 28 locations up to seven days in advance (DHI worldwide, n.d.). The DSS provides flood management along the 160,000 km Chao Phraya River Basin (Hay, 2017). Early warnings and alarm bells issued in flood prone areas give residents more time to plan for and initiate emergency action plans (DHI worldwide, n.d.). By implementing the DSS as well as building parks and other innovative architecture, the Thailand government can prevent millions of dollars in damage and potentially save thousands of lives.

DHI Worldwide. (n.d.). What Thailand did to protect lives from floods. Retrieved from

Floodlist News. (2019, January 7). Thailand – Tropical Storm Pabuk Hits Southern Provinces.Retrieved from

Hay, W. (2017, December 5). Thailand floods: Villagers frustrated over government inaction.Retrieved from

TED. (2019, February 11). How to transform sinking cities into landscapes that fight floods Kotchakorn Voraakhom. Retrieved from

Introduction to Buddhism



By Mikayla Holt and Maddy Todd

The History of Buddhism

Buddhism began 2,500 years ago in India. Today, it is a prominent religion within India, China, and the surrounding countries.



Siddhartha Gautama, known as the “Enlightened One,” developed the teachings that are now known as Buddhism. He was a Nepali prince who was astonished at the state of life outside of the palace walls. Gautama then left his luxurious life with hopes of ending suffering for all. The next 45 years of his life were dedicated to teaching the dharma and creating the sangha. Buddhism’s main goal is to end suffering and attain nirvana.

​Religion Facts. (2017, May 10). Buddhism. Retrieved from:

The Essentials of Buddhism

 Suffering, Impermanance, and No-Self

The Buddha believed that desire causes suffering and that human beings are impermanent. This means that human life on earth is merely a transitory state on the path to enlightenment. The no-self principle is the belief that there is no permanent self within living beings.


Karma is a moral belief within Buddhism. Essentially, good conduct produces a positive result. Likewise, bad conduct produces a negative result.


Four Noble Truths All life is suffering

  1. Suffering stems from desire
  2. Suffering can be ended
  3. The Eight Fold Path is the means to end this suffering

Eight Fold Path

The Eight Fold Path is how one reaches nirvana. An individual must become practiced in these eight aspects:

  1. Right Views
  2. Right Intention
  3. Right Speech
  4. Right Action
  5. Right Livelihood
  6. Right Effort
  7. Right Mindfulness
  8. Right Concentration


Nirvana is the ultimate end goal of Buddhism, but the meaning of nirvana can differ slightly. It is simply defined as the state of reaching total enlightenment.

Encyclopedia Britannica. (2019, February 7). Buddhism. Retrieved from:

Buddhism in Thailand

  • Theravada Buddhism is the most widespread religion within Thailand. Over 95% of the Thai population practices this specific type of Buddhism.
  • The Thai population consists over nearly 300,000 Buddhist monks.
  • Meditation is a large part of the Buddhist religion and is a consistent part of a Thai Buddhist daily life.
  • There are over 40,000 buddhist temples in Thailand.
  • Thai people believe that those who are affluent will receive good karma and those who are of lower socioeconomic levels are believed to have behaved poorly in a previous life and this is the reason they do not receive good karma.
  • Visaka Puja is a Buddhist holiday that takes place in early May. On this day, Thai’s celebrate the Buddha’s birthday, death date and enlightenment.
  • Buddhist monks are revered in Thai culture.

Iverson, K. (2017, March 28). Everything You Need to Know About Buddhism in Thailand. Retrieved from,





A Brief Overview of Health Care in Thailand

By Madeline Gere, Megan Poling, and Lyons Wells

During a primary orientation meeting for the May Term Thailand Course, a question regarding the quality of Thai health care was asked. Han Kim replied, “Oh yeah, the Thai health care system is great. In fact, some people travel there for health care. Medical tourism, ever heard of it?” By many measures medical practice in Thailand is laudable. With a rich history of Thai medical care and progressive advancements, Thai health care has emerged as a leader in medicine.

History of Thai Health Care

Medical care has deep roots in the history of Thailand. Dating back to the early 11th century, there is evidence of intentional efforts to provide healing services to the people. Tools to produce medicines and written instructions for a royal medicinal garden suggest that many empires studied and manipulated the healing properties of their natural environments (Hays, 2008). During the 14th to 18th century, health care continued to grow. Some major advancements included royal drug dispensaries, drug stores and royal documents detailing the effects and directions for using specific medicines (Hays, 2008). The study and expansion of medicine was an integral part of many historical eras in Thailand.

Western medicine was slowly incorporated into Thai health care. The French and Portuguese were responsible for introducing international methods of medicine and Western hospitals to the Thai (Hays, 2008). When King Phet Racha banned foreigners from the

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Tourism in Thailand

By Eli Clarke and Tanner Peacock

Thailand is a small, but amazing country. There are a couple things that Thailand is well-known for. First is the fact that Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia to never been colonized by Europeans. The people within this country take great pride in this aspect of their lives. Since this country has never been colonized, this means there is a very unique culture that you cannot experience anywhere else in the world.

However, due to this unique culture, Thailand has become a huge tourist destination. Bangkok, with 12.2 million expected visitors in 2017 alone, is the third most visited city in the world (behind London and Paris). With the high amount of visitors, tourism has shaped the country in more ways than one is able to think about. Now, Thailand is seen more as a getaway vacation destination than as a country in most visitors’ eyes. The influence of tourism has been divided up into four main sections: economic, social, environmental, and technological. Continue reading Tourism in Thailand

Contemporary Thai Political Issues

By Noor Hamouda, Sophia Moreno, and Kiera Stukey

Death of the King

Over the last year the political climate in Thailand has experienced a new turn that it has not witnessed in over seventy years. On October 13th, 2016, former and beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej also known as King Rama IX passed away.

King Rama IX became the monarch shortly after world war II and was only 18 years old when he gained power. He was born in the United States, in Cambridge, where his father was attending Harvard. He spent a significant amount of his own educational career in Switzerland, but once he returned home to Thailand he stayed. Continue reading Contemporary Thai Political Issues

Thai Traditional Medicine

By Adanna Foley, Mingyu Hu, and Aubrey Louder

Traditional Thai medicine is a practice that has been used for generations. Contrary to Western medicine, traditional Thai medicine makes use of mostly local remedies and local healers. Massage and herb-based healing is an important part of tying the body and soul together. There are three ways of classifying herbal remedies; those takes orally, those applied to the body, and those inhaled (Hays, 2013). Homage is payed to different guardian spirits to ensure that health follows after a healing. These guardians include Shivaga Komarpaj, the Ayurvedic practitioner who treated the Lord Buddha and is considered the father of Thai traditional medicine, Shivago and the unbroken lineage of masters who have kept the tradition alive, and Phra Mae Thorani, or “Mother Earth,” (Hays, 2013). Those who partake in traditional Thai medicine make prayers and offerings, and chant as they collect plants to use in rituals. Small altars are made to honor the guardian spirits.

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Education in Thailand vs. The United States

By Mia Angelis and Carolina Magana

The educational system in the United States varies when compared to other countries around the world. In the U.S. Students attend primary and secondary school for a combined total of 12 years. Students begin elementary school at the age of six, before that, some students are put in a preschool. Going to preschool is not obligated, even though it is highly encouraged. Once students finish elementary school, they move onto middle school which now becomes part of secondary schooling. Students attend middle school for three to four years and then attend high school. In high school, they receive a certificate if they are able to graduate with the credits necessary. Students will then attend college if they wish to do so once they receive their diploma. Continue reading Education in Thailand vs. The United States


By Meghan Garrecht-Connelly , Katie Saad, and Haley Schiek

History and Influences of Thai Buddhism:

There are varying theories about when Buddhism reached Thailand. Some say that Buddhism was introduced to Thailand during Asoka’s (a great Indian leader) reign. He sent Buddhist missionaries to many parts of the world. Others believe that Buddhism was introduced much later. Based on archeological and historical evidence, Buddhism first reached Thailand when it was inhabited by a racial stock of people known as the Mon-Khmer who had their capital city situated about 50 kilometers from where Bangkok is now.

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Modern Thai History, 1932-2014

By: Raymond Bertheaud & Charles Saad


In 1932, Thailand experienced a major and peaceful coup that caused a dramatic shift in its power structure, from monarchy to “a constitutional monarchy. King Prajadhipok initially accepted this charge but later surrendered his kingship to his 10 year-old nephew” (Zebioli 4). Subsequently, a world war erupts. Thais were historically described as an axis power during WW2 because in 1941 they invaded French Indochina to start the French Thai War. The Japanese served to mediate the conflict and brokered a deal a few months later which forced France to relinquish its claims on disputed territories. Thailand signed an agreement to support Japan provided that they return the territories lost to the British and the French. For these reasons Thailand is often branded as an axis power, although its motivations could be seen as being motivated more by anti-colonialism than aggression towards the allies.

There are a few historical events that have resulted from this period in Thailand which served to shape the outcome of the latter half of the 20th century.  Continue reading Modern Thai History, 1932-2014

HIV/AIDS In Thailand

By: Savanna Brown & Abby Sebastian

Brief Pathophysiology of HIV and Aids:

 How it’s spread:

  • HIV is a retrovirus spread through bodily fluids (blood, semen, vaginal and rectal fluids, breast milk) not through casual contact
  • Sexual contact is the most frequent mode of transmission
  • Once in the body, HIV body attacks T cells (which are key component of the immune system), incorporating its DNA into the cell’s DNA, which then enables the cells to reproduce large amounts of HIV into the blood

 Course of infection

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