Tag Archives: Student Assignment

How to Start a WordPress.com Account

For your pre-trip research blog post and your trip report blog post, you will need a WordPress.com account to post on this blog. Here is a quick video on how to do that. I will send you email invitations. If you don’t get one, please let me know and I will send it to you again.

Remember, you don’t need to create a blog (WordPress.com will ask), you only need an account.

Course Assignments 2017

Here is a summary of the assignments that you will need to get credit for the course:


Pre-trip Personal Reflection

All students will submit a 2-3 page pre-trip reflection where students will reflect on their traits as a global citizen; how they learn about and respect other cultures,beliefs, values, etc; ways in which they address global issues; and a self reflection on one’s own beliefs, culture, language, religion, and more. Please submit this to Canvas on May 11.

Short Research Assignment

This is a 3-5 page research report on a topic relevant to the trip. This will be done in groups of 2 to 4, on a topic of your choice (as long as it isn’t a topic someone else is doing). This report will be posted directly on this blog. Make sure that the report is referenced and cited correctly. Since this is a blog post, please include illustrations and hyperlinks to other sites whenever appropriate. This is an informational post, so keep it general. As for the audience, this should be for those looking to travel to Thailand to learn and experience a different culture, rather than just to frolic on the beach. It should be informational, and in-depth enough for college students who want to know something about the culture, history, cuisine, language, economy, politics, and other aspects of a country so that they can truly have an educated travel experience. Have fun with this one! If you need guidance, please ask Han, or check out the posts done by students from previous trips.

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Buddhism: understanding of self, karma, rebirth, enlightenment, and nirvana


By: Elise Reckinger & Sarah Gammella

Buddhism is a religion that originated 2,500 years ago in Northern India in the fifth century B.C.E. The origin is traced to Siddhartha Gotama known as Buddha, meaning the “enlightened one.” Siddhartha Gotama observed the suffering of the world and set out to find an antidote.  Through meditation he attained an enlighten state that marked the end of attachments and therefore suffering. The spiritual pathway of Buddhism begins with The Four Noble Truths and it is said that within these truths all of Buddha’s teachings are interwoven: the understanding of self, karma, rebirth, enlightenment and Nirvana.

Thomas Knierim, Webmaster and Editor of the “Big View” blog, describes the Four Noble Truths as a gradual progression. Below he interprets the Truths, giving awareness to those of us seeking relief from the suffering we encounter in life.

The Four Noble Truths

1. Life means suffering.

Human nature is not perfect, nor is the world we live in. Inevitably we endure suffering both physically and psychologically. There are different degrees of suffering; life is imperfect and subject to impermanence; this means we need to learn to accept the ebb and flow of life’s circumstances (Knierim, 2013).

2. The origin of suffering is attachment.

The origin of suffering is attachment to transient things and the ignorance thereof. It goes beyond objects and includes ideas and all objects of our perception. We create suffering by searching for things outside ourselves to make us happy and holding tightly to those “things” which will inevitably change and cause suffering (Knierim 2013).

 3. The cessation of suffering is attainable.

It is said we can end our suffering by attaining dispassion, by becoming devoid or impartial to our conceptual attachments. Attaining and perfecting dispassion ultimately results in the state of Nirvana, freedom from all worry and troubles (Knierim 2013).

4. The path to the cessation of suffering.

This is a gradual path of self-improvement, which is also the path to end suffering as described in the teaching of the Eightfold Path listed below. We find relief in seeking out the middle ground between self-extremes; hedonism (self-indulgence) and asceticism (self-mortification). The path in ending suffering can occur over many lifetimes through the cycle of rebirth.

In understanding the Four Noble Truths, Buddha’s first sermon also described the Eightfold Path. According to O’Brien, Buddha’s teachings are to help us understand the oneness of life, end suffering and lead us in the right direction. She divides the eightfold path into three main sections: wisdom, ethical conduct and mental discipline.

8 fold path

Right View and Right Intention cultivate wisdom. The Right View is about seeing the true nature of ourselves and the world around us, keeping us free from prejudice. Right Intention refers to the energy and commitment in our mind to have pure and good thoughts in the world (O’Brien 2013).

Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood are the ethical conduct path. This calls us into action, to refrain from harmful speech and to see that our deeds come from peace and goodwill and that we earn our living in such a way that we avoid bad karma (O’Brien 2013).

The mental discipline is shown through Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. As we practice these disciplines we learn to see past delusions and overcome destructive desires. We cherish clarity or a good mind, for all that we think, and do. We practice the teachings of Buddha to the best of our abilities (O’Brien 2013).

Karma is another important concept of Buddhism. The theory of Karma is a fundamental doctrine in Buddhism based on the law of moral causation. The theory of Karma was prevalent in India before Buddhism. However, Buddha explained and formulated this theory in detail. Buddha started to form this theory when he had unexplained questions: What is the cause of the inequality that exists among mankind?  Why should some be blessed and others cursed from their birth? Why should others be congenitally blind, deaf, or deformed? According to Buddhism, this inequality is due to Karma. Karma is defined as any mental, verbal or physical action in past incarnations of life that can determine one’s destiny in future incarnations.  Karma is the result of our past actions and our present doings. We are responsible for our happiness and misery. We create our heaven or hell. We are the architects for our own fate.

Nirvana is the ultimate goal of all Buddhists. Nirvana can be achieved through following the eight noble paths and the four noble truths. It is the path of enlightenment, which leads to the cessation of suffering. Suffering is caused by our desires and expectations of how life should be.  Nirvana is achieved though meditation and the practice of changing our patterns of thought and behavior, so that our mind and mood is not controlled by our desires for fulfillment. Achieving nirvana requires wisdom, ethical conduct, and mental discipline. Once nirvana is obtained, you are in a blissful or peaceful state of mind.  By achieving nirvana, you can escape samsara, the cycle of reincarnation and stop accumulating bad karma because you’ve transcended it.

Currently, in Thailand nearly 95% of the population practices Buddhism of the Theravada school. Theravade is defined as the teaching of elders. It is the oldest surviving Buddhism branch.  More information about Theravade can be found on this website: http://buddhism.about.com/od/theravadabuddhism/a/theravadabasic.htm

APA citations:

Karma. (2013). Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition, 1.

Nirvana. (2013). Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition, 1.

O’Brien, B. (2013). The eightfold path. Retrieved from             http://buddhism.about.com/od/theeightfoldpath/a/eightfoldpath.htm

Knierim, T. (2013, April 08). The four noble truths. Retrieved from


[Web log message]. (2013). Retrieved from             http://www.manitobabuddhistchurch.org/sangha/dharmaschool/eightfold-     path-for-children.html





Thai Traditional Medicine

By: Sarah Pierson and Leah Jeglum

Thai traditional medicine is defined as “the medical processes dealing with the examination, diagnosis, therapy, treatment, or prevention of diseases, or promotion and rehabilitation of the health of humans or animals, midwifery, Thai massage, as well as the preparation, production of Thai traditional medicines and the making of devices and instruments for medical purposes. All of these are based on the knowledge or textbooks that were passed on and developed from generation to generation”.  (Chokevivat,2005) Thai traditional medicine began during the Sukhothai period (1238-1377) and continued to the early 20th century.  It then was dismissed and replaced with western medicine became integrated back into the Thai culture in the 1970s.

There are four elements of the body involved in Thai traditional medicine: earth, water, wind and fire.  If there is an imbalance of these then it can cause illness.  Illness can also be caused by: supernatural powers, power of nature, power of the universe and kimijati. Health can also be influenced by: the elements, the seasons, age, geography, time and inappropriate behaviors.

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Commercial Sex Workers in Southeast Asia

By: Sarah Troester

Commercial sex has become a major business in Asia, it has acquired many characteristics of an industry. It is highly organized, wages for work, factory-like atmosphere, anonymity and a complete alienation at the workplace.  According to reports from International Labor Organization, in spite of Asia’s economic crisis, the sex industry wont be slowing down because of the economic and social forces.  This industry wont even be affected in regions with high unemployment levels.

Generally, sex work is usually better paid than most of the option available to young, often uneducated women, despite the stigma and dangers with the work.  For many women, sex work is the only viable choice when experiencing poverty, unemployment, failed marriages or have family obligations.  Commercial sex works tend to be less time consuming than factory or unskilled labor.  For single mothers with children, the hours are more flexible than factory work.  Women also get paid better than they would for unskilled labor. Average monthly earnings in the middle range were estimated at around US$600 monthly and US$100 at the low end (“Sex Industry assuming massive proportions in Southeast Asia”, 2).  Commercial sex workers are not usually found in small towns or villages where they grew up. The young women leave the town or village for the city, to find their first-time job in the urban areas. The foundation for Women in Bangkok said that official policies promoting tourism and migration for employment, particular among women, encourage the growth of prostitution (“Prostitution a Major Industry in Southeast Asia”, 2).

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Education System in Thailand

By: YiQi Xin

Education plays an important role in the development of a country. The understanding of education system will give us a glimpse of the overall picture of Thailand. In my following paper, I am going to introduce the history of Thai education system and the basic structure of school level in Thailand. The status quo of Thai education system will also be discussed with focuses of English education in Thailand, standard tests in Thailand, school uniforms, and government school holidays.

Education in Thailand began in 13th century, when Ramkamhaeng the Great created Thai alphabet. In the early period of Thai education, members of the royal family and nobilities received education from Royal Institution of Instruction (Rajabundit), while commoners received education from Buddhist monks in the temples. In Thai’s traditional education system, village temples were places where most young boys received basic education. Such village temples received boys from the age of eight to serve in the temple as dek wat (which means “the children of temple”). The dek wat helped to do some housekeeping works in exchange for instructions in reading and writing. Scriptural texts were used as textbooks for educating commoners in traditional Thai education system. The traditional education system prevailed until the 18th century (Ministry of Education [MOE], 1998).

A Thai 100-baht banknote with a background theme of education system

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The Health Care System in Thailand

By: Joey Garzarelli and Tawni Johnston

Thailand’s health care system needs many improvements.  There are several areas that could be enhanced.  There are problems with this system in the urban areas, but they are even worse in the rural areas.  In the urban areas, they have problems with the types of doctors and the accessibility of the doctors.  On the other hand, the rural areas have problems with the amount of time the doctors are there, and also the means of transportation to the clinics.  Many villagers cannot get to the hospitals because they are too far away. The clinics in the rural areas are also very small, but service a large amount of villages, some even 14 km away from the hospital.  The Thais have started to improve their health care system by making it more universal.  The majority of the population is covered under the Universal Coverage Gold Card, but there are still problems with this system.



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History of Buddhism in Thailand

By: Jane Dahle and Rob Caesar

The development of Buddhism in Thailand has a long history. In order to go into detail about its history, it is necessary to divide it into three different key periods of time, all which have greatly influenced this religion and the spiritual founder Siddhartha Gautama. These three time periods that we will look at include: Theravada, from the Asoka period; the Mahayana period; and finally, the Theravada from Sri Lanka. Siddhartha Gautama’s life accounted for his life discoveries, monastic rules practiced, and path to enlightenment, which is followed by current Buddhists.

First, we will look into the period were Buddhism first started in Thailand during the Theravada from Asoka’s period. Buddhism was introduced and established by King Asoka in Patalilbutta City during the 3rd century B.C. King Asoka sent monks out of the country to follow and learn about Buddha’s teachings. While other monks were learning the ways of Buddha, two monks stayed behind in Thailand to teach people there. During this period, the first signs of Buddhism were seen in Thailand and became very prevalent.

Since the introduction of Buddhism in Thailand, it became noticeable that these beliefs also started to spread to other areas of Asia during the Mahayana period. King Kanitsaka the Great had the intention of spreading Buddha’s teachings farther than just his kingdoms. He began to send groups of monks throughout Central Asia in order to help spread the word. Once Mahayana’s Buddhism expanded into Thailand, it became widely accepted by the people.  Mahayana’s Buddhism spread from the southern regions, to the north via the central areas of the country. This created a large multicultural society, with different dialects that still, today, inhabit the Thai language. The spread of the beliefs of Buddhism had officially begun in Thailand.

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The History of the Sukhothai and Ayutthaya Kingdoms

By: Victoria Valencia and Elinor Coleman

Thai history is said to have began in 1238, when the Sukhothai kingdom was established. The Sukhothai kingdom, which contributed major architectural structures, was a loosely organized state in which Buddhism and the government were intertwined. However, the kingdom was short-lived. It fell apart after the death of its most famous ruler, king Ramakhamphaeng. After its fall, the cities of Lopburi and Suphanburi united, creating the Ayutthaya kingdom. This kingdom, which flourished in international trade and diplomatic relations, lasted for over four centuries. Its success can be attributed to the great organizational skills of its leaders as well as the benefits of its geographical location. Unfortunately, these alliances with foreign nations led to conflict within Ayutthaya and an eventual revolt. Less than a century later, Burmese forces invaded and overthrew Ayutthaya’s government, thereby ending the great reign of the Ayutthaya kingdom.

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An Escape Along the Thai Border: Burmese Refugees

By: Siri Wieringa and Kaylene Moulton

Burma is home to one of the longest running secret civil wars in the world. Lasting over 50 years, the country has been run by a succession of military governments (Bowles, 11). The violence that has been tearing Burma apart has caused citizens to flee the country. “Nearly one million people have fled Burma for relative safety of Thailand over the last two decades” (Lang, 369). Many go to refugee camps along the border of Burma in Thailand. “At the beginning of 1994, 72,000 refugees lived in 30 camps, of which the largest housed 8,000 people; by mid 1998, 110,000 refugees lived in 19 camps, with the largest housing over 30,000 people” (Bowles, 11). Refugee camps along the Burmese and Thailand border have become more and more prevent as the years have gone on. “About 142, 000 Burmese refugees reside as a ‘temporarily displaced people’ in one of the nine official refugee camps, while an estimated two million live and work outside the camp, either legally registered as migrant workers or more likely illegally”(284).

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