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Sawatdee kaa (hello) from Thailand!
After many hours (or even days) of travel, everyone has arrived and is ready to go! Our first day in Chaing Mai was full of food, fun, and making new friends.
On our walking tour in the old city we visited temples and learned about Thai culture from our amazing local staff.
At first of many market visits we learned about what ingredients are used in Thai cuisine and tried our hand at making some typical Thai dishes like green curry, pad Thai, and tom kha.
Today we embraced the Thai saying that, “We only eat one meal a day. It starts when we wake up and ends when we go to bed!”
Cultural Kaleidoscope began with an artistic twist to several thai pottery factories. There, we took a group lesson and were given the opportunity to create our own “masterpieces” of sorts, imitating the other beautiful Thai pottery surrounding us. All the while the amazing Thai staff discretely found amusement in our mishaps.. We extended our day of relaxation to _____ lake where partook in bonding activities and enjoyed another taste of Thai cuisine in the Buegaios. After returning to the base we engaged in more group activities where we got to learn about our peers through our newfound skills– active listening. For the final act of the day we were split up into mentor groups where we were asked to contemplate our reasons for being here, Overall, it seems that Thailand is shaping up to be our greatest adventure yet!
By: Maria, Biancat Ethan
June 25, 2017
We began our day with a Monk chat at Wat Suan Dok. Praha KK taught us about the four noble truths and the noble 8 fold path along with the other fundamentals of Buddhism. Afterwards, the group had a long Q&A with KK and asked many important questions they had about Buddhism, KK, and Thai culture involving Buddhism. We also learned Praha KK’s favorite method of meditation and cleared our minds during a group meditation with Praha KK following with a small your of the temple including MCU Buddhist University. After our special time with Praha KK, we went for the lunch the boat restaurant. Once we were all filled up, we headed over to House of Blessing Children’s Home to begin our FIRST DAY of service!!! Julie and P’Nut gave us a brief history of House of Blessing Children’s Home before we split into two groups. One group sanded down old playground structures in order for the sets to get a shiny new coat of paint! The other group helped start construction on a new laundry facility by digging large 6 foot holes and painting beams (with plenty of girl power involved). Everyone had a great group sweat while working hard for the kids on each of their projects. Finally after working super hard in the heat and sweat, the kids arrived back at the home after their long day of hard work at school. As they drove in on the buses, every kid had the biggest smile, waved, and ‘waied’ to all the GLA students as we returned the gesture. The kids all exited their buses and immediately ran to greet us. All of us GLAers we’re just as excited to meet and play with the kids as they were to meet and play with us! The playing commenced and games of ping pong, soccer/football, tag, and duck duck goose all broke out. There was laughing; so much laughing. Each child was grabbing for one of our hands and a couple GLAers developed some pretty cool fan groups. Every single human there had the largest smile plastered to their faces throughout the entire time we had together. To wrap up our day, we split up into mentor groups and discussed how rewarding all of this service would be after working there for four days.
By Meg Fordyce
June 30, 2017
July 1, 2017
This morning we were all very happy to have a late breakfast, which started at nine instead of seven. After breakfast, we started some lesson plans so we could present our plan to our mentors, ensuring our plans were okay. Then we went to the Chiang Mai Night Safari with the kids from House of Blessings, and no it was not at night, it was a walk around zoo. Afterwards we went to the mall to get some KFC, which is a treat here in Thailand. The children were all very excited to enjoy some tasty food. Some people who like veggies went to go find subway but we found out that it actually moved, so we ventured around the mall to find some good thai food. In this insane mall that people were mistaking for an office or hospital, there was a bowling alley so we took the kids bowling and it turns out none of them had bowled before. It was pretty chaotic as the kids crowded together to get their turn, but eventually we had a system established and all was well. We then slowly made our way out the mall trying not to say our goodbyes yet. Too soon, it was time to leave and some tears were shed as we said goodbye to the children we’d spent the past week with. back at homebase, we watched a documentary called the Last Elephants in Thailand showing the treatment of elephants in tourism in Thailand. We found out that a lot of cool things happen and that there are people working to save the elephants and protect them. This one lady Syriah had opened the first elephant hospital and has an elephant with the prosthetic leg after it was blown off after stepping on a landmine. We discussed how we felt about the video and then talked about what we’re going to do at the elephant place tomorrow. We ended the night was some more teaching prep and are all excited to meet the new children.
July 2, 2017
July 3, 2017
July 8, 2017
Today we went on a bike and kayak adventure!
– 17 kilometer bike ride where we saw friendly locals, rice farms, and mountains!
– 8 kilometer kayak adventure!
– Bouncy slide in lake and jumping platform!
– “Shout out circle”where we shared things that we love about each other!
June 23, 2017
Throughout the day 29 students from Greece, the UK, China, and the United States arrived in Chiang Mai. With droopy eyelids and a lot of luggage we settled into our home base for the next two weeks. There is much to do, see, learn, and eat in the coming days, but first SLEEP! Let the adventure begin!
June 25, 2017
Leaders of the Day:
Hunter, Phoebe, and Rhi:
June 26, 2017
After a day of experience , our teachers were able to build strong bonds with their students as well as each other. We were able to accurately observe our classes and adjust our lessons to give the students a fun and informative experience with GLA. Following a long day of difficult but gratifying work, we took out our stress rather unconventionally with a traditional Muay Tai class. Despite a few of us having to extra push ups, we were able to connect with friends and family at an Internet cafe. We finished up our day with a couple rounds of broken telephone and learning a traditional Chinese fan dance from our Chinese students. Though we were tired from a long day of teaching and punching we finished the day feeling like celebrities amongst the students signing countless autographs and being surrounded by so much love and positivity. We really look forward to continuing our work with the students as well as out Cultural Exchange tomorrow where we will be performing Party In The USA and The Cupid Shuffle.
Today leaders were Gianna S. Millie and Lily
June 27, 2017
Leaders of the Day: Jaden, Kendall, Sam
Sunday, July 2nd
Leaders of the Day: Grace & Alexa
Today was a day that we are sure none of us will ever forget! We had the chance to bond with our friends while flying through the jungle zip lining. It might have seemed a little scary at first, but all of us found a little piece of our wild side. After zip lining, we had the chance to make a positive difference in the world by planting some trees. We finished off our day by getting together as an entire group and learning a little more about the interesting and beautiful lives of our mentors. Although we are sad that we only have one more full day together, we are fully prepared to have the best day so far!
July 5, 2017
Our goal today, as leaders of the day, was to make everyone remember the positive traits of all the people that joined us on this life changing and eye opening experience. Some of us visited the Ahkha Village while others toured the Warorot market. Then we went to lunch at Tesco and were able to re-unite at the cafe, where we did our surveys. The evaluations allowed us an opportunity to think back on the amazing times we spent on this awesome trip. At the end if the day we spent a wonderful time having dinner on a dock and chatting as a group for the last time. Since we had dinner outside of home base, we were still able to do shout outs, which made many of us openly emotional. Overall we achieved our goal of ending this divine trip with an activity that made us all reminisce on the great adventures that we were privileged to experience in the past two thrilling weeks.
All students have arrived in Thailand and are getting a good night of sleep. Check back soon for a group photo and more updates!
July 11, 2017
After a good night of overdue sleep we have started our Cultural Kaleidoscope adventure. Following orientation and a Thai buffet, we are in to a tour of the oldest and biggest temples in Chiang Mai. Later today we will take a cooking class and visit a local market. Staying busy is the first step to beating jet lag!
July 12, 2017
We started the day off at the spiritual house here at our home base. We asked the spirits past and present to bless us and watch over us. After a mentor group meeting exploring The Danger of a Single Story, we were off to lunch and Borsang, an umbrella making factory. We got to paint our own umbrellas and do some souvenir shopping. Tomorrow is the launch of our Leader of the Day program, so stay tuned for the daily blog written by students! Good night from rainy Chiang Mai!
Sawasdee ka from Thailand! Today, we began our day with breakfast in the Great Hall, part of our Hogwarts-themed schedule. We visited Hmong Village in the mountains and ate lunch at a local place. After, we walked through a market filled with handmade goods, ranging from purses to jewelry. Everything there was beautiful and it was also amazing to know how much work went into it all. After this, we drove back down the mountain a little and visited the beautiful Temple Doi Suthep on the side of the mountain. It was 550 years old and beautifully made. Knowing that people built this with their bare hands (including the 306 steps leading to the temple) was also really cool. While we were there, we were able to get our fortunes, be blessed by a monk, and pay our respects to Buddha if we chose. Overall it was a very fun and eventful day and we’re all satisfied.
-Leaders of the Day: Jenna, Lexie, Alex
July 14, 2017
Hey dudes, be quiet, sit down and listen to our adventure of the day. Spoiler alert: bugs may have been consumed. Breakfast started at am , then we split up into two groups. Half of us went to Ahaka village and the other half went to Wororot market. Compared to Target and Walmart, the market was unusual, yet an awesome experience. We ate everything from worms to the king of fruits. Meanwhile in Ahaka village, rumor has it that under the blazing sun, many had to walk millions of miles, encountering wildlife and snacking on plants along the way. After lunch both groups meet up at pottery village for a tour and first hand experience making pottery. As we arrived back at home base many were eager to chill poolside while others took a quick nap before dinner. After dinner we got into mentor groups and played a silly game of night at the museum.
In conclusion, Live love Thailand (heart emoji).
Leaders of the Day: Hannah, Kate, Callie
July 15, 2017
Have you ever heard of durian? Durian. noun. The king of the fruits; extremely smelly; has the consistence of mashed potatoes.
Leaders of the Day: Macy “Mama Ca$h” & Rachael
Listen up! Dance captains here! AKA Leaders of the *year*. Today was our first day if school! We educated some super bubbly, energetic, Thai kids. It was a great experience, and we can’t wait to continue our intriguing lessons and games. We left after lunch and squadded up with the other group at the Monk Chat. There we were enlightened on the Buddhist philosophy and were given wise words by a super cool monk. We left the chat with a new perspective on Buddhism. Overall a great day.
Heyo peeps in the USA! (or other) Welcome to the GLA Thai life today! We ’bout to tell something great so listen up and get ready to be amazed!
Today was one of the best days of the program so far. One reason was that most students started settling into the role of teaching. We were also given the opportunity to meet other high school students that attended school here, in Chiang Mai. further, the kids are finally bonding with all of us as teachers more, and never want us to leave when the classes are over. When we met the Sarasas International High School students, they were really excited to meet us. We all got to learn about their culture and way of life here in northern Thailand. It showed the GLA group that even though we are living in different countries, their high school experience is similar to ours. Overall it was a very exciting, educational, and rewarding day for us as students and teachers.
Although our days of Thailand are becoming limited, these last days have become the most memorable. We just ended our days of teaching the most incredible Thai students you can ask for with English camp! It was so amazing, there were SO many activities that the kiddos got involved in that were ultra fun to be a part of (even if we got a little tired!). The children and the service is by far the best part of the trip (even beats the elephants). Leaving them was SUPER hard but the closing ceremony was very special and the experience will always have a special place in our hearts! The closer the days draw to an end the closer everyone is getting to know each other. Oh i forgot to mention this morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How it got into my pajamas i’ll never know.
At the beginning of this trip everyone came in not knowing what to expect. Over the past two weeks we have gotten to know many new people, bonded over lots of laughs and inside jokes, created close friendships, and had a unique and once-in-a-lifetime experience. Today was our last day in Thailand with each other. We started off the day with a 35 station zip line course that challenged us all, especially Gurdip. Despite some close calls, we all made it out alive, with only some minor injuries. We ended the day with our farewell dinner overlooking the Ping river. We returned to home base, where most of us had probably just started our packing, ignoring the advice of the mentors. We ended our night with a late bed check, meaning lots of late night fun to close out our two weeks of thrill and excitement abroad. We will miss all the amazing people who changed our lives, all the memories made, and the impeccable food we ate each day. This trip was an incredible adventure that we won’t forget!
July 14, 2017
Sawasdee Kha from Thailand!
After hours of travel across the globe we have arrived in lovely Chiang Mai, smiles still blazing. Since most of us came on the same flight in the morning, we gained a day of fun activities!
We started off by eating some classic but delicious dishes ranging from pad thai, fried rice and curry to the most famous dish only served in the north, khao soi. Full and eager to see where we were, we ventured to Wat Umhong temple in the forest. We explored the ancient tunnels, fed the fish and birds, and were blessed with good luck by a monk who sprayed us with some water.
We’re headed back to home base now for some relaxation (aka, swimming in our fancy pool) and then on to buffet dinner! Thai people always say that there is only one meal a day eaten in Thailand; and it starts when you wake up and ends when you go to bed.
That’s all for now! Looking forward to welcoming Kharra, who arrives in a few days, to our already incredible group!!
July 15, 2017
Our group jumped right in and shared fun facts about ourselves, talked about expectations for this program, ourselves, others and staff and really set the bar high and the tone positive.
Today, we woke everyone up at 7:48 am for breakfast. In the past, the wake up calls have been quite startling so we decided to wake people up with just a knock. It didn’t work as well. We finally got everyone to breakfast and then took off to a pottery village. While we were there, we saw many different potters that specialize in specific pots. One lady was the third generation to make her specific type of pot; she was 68 years old and has been doing it since she was only 10 years old. Her pots only sell for 90 cents and she only makes about 6 dollars a day. The lady seemed very content with her life and continued to have a huge smile on her face. Many of us were shocked at how small the amount of money she makes for how long she works. In the United States, many schools have pottery wheels that we take for granted. These potters were hand spinning the wheel and molding the pot at the same time. After we watched the potters, we gave it a try. Our pots were horrendous. Luckily the potters were there to help and were able to change our lump of clays in beautiful pots.
After visiting the Pottery Village, we went to a restaurant for lunch. I’m not sure how to write it in Thai but it means “the vegetables love you” in English. The restaurant grew its own crops so everything we ate was as fresh as it gets. We had Pad Thai and we went to the ice cream bar.
Right from lunch, we went to the Wildflower home. In case it hasn’t been explained before to you, Wildflower home houses moms and their children. Usually women go here if they are pregnant or have kids and suffered through an abusive relationship. At the Wildflower Home, we are making a pavemented sidewalk between the different housing areas. Working at this home helps me to see how lucky I am to have a family that I can fall back on if something goes wrong. These women don’t have that and that’s why they have to resort to a shelter. Two women who live in the house helped us lift heaving buckets of sand and water. One of them was pregnant and has cerebral palsy. Another had a walking disability. It was amazing to see struggling women work so diligently on a project that they should have no part in building. The pregnant women refused to stop even when we tried sitting her down just for a water break. Thai people work very hard even if the outcome is small.
- Caroline D. and Stephanie
Photo Credit: Jack Guptill
This morning we had a wonderful Monk Chat. Not only this the Monk teach us about the main teachings and principles of Buddhism but also got us thinking. One
Thingthat really resonated with the group was the fact that you do not have to convert to become a Buddhist as well as that there are two kinds of suffering which are mental and physical. Then we took a brief tour of the Wat and had some time to explore the stunning grounds and temples. After going to lunch, we headed back to Wildflower for another day of service there. With the strong suggestion of another volunteer we created an assembly line (Ford would be proud).
July 24th, 2017
Today was our first day teaching. In the morning, when we first got to school, the kids had a ceremony where they played the King’s song while they raised the flag, similar to our pledge of allegiance. After, they had a mass prayer and it was interesting because in America, religion does not mix with public school. But seeing as most Thai people are Buddhist it was nothing unusual. All of us each had to teach two classes with a partner. Some of us taught about animals, colors, foods and many more topics. Teaching was more difficult than we all expected it to be due to the language barrier between us. But after a tiring, but fun, day of teaching, we were all looking forward to coming back. In the afternoon, we went to the “Art in Paradise” museum. A museum consisting of interactive, perspective, illusion paintings. On camera, the paintings appeared to be 3D which allowed us to pose with them and be a part of the art. From the museum we went to an Internet cafe and that was the end of our eventful day.