Tuesday July 3, 2018
They made it! Session 2 is in full swing! After stepping off the plane into the Chiang Rai humidity, the group traveled to their home base, settled into their rooms and then enjoyed their first taste of Thai green curry for lunch.
The afternoon was a combination of resting by the pool, naps and a few hours of getting to know each other and the program. Everyone headed to bed early after dinner, ready to start resetting their jet-legged body clocks. It was a good and exhausting first day in Thailand.
Goodnight from this side of the world.
(not pictured: Ava Mulrooney because she arrived after dark. More pictures to come soon!)
Wednesday July 4, 2018
Sawat dee kha\krup (hello) from Chiang Rai, Thailand! After a much needed night’s rest and receiving some lost luggage, we’re settling in nicely here at Chang Garden Resort. Our first full day began with instant coffee and a filling Thai breakfast, followed by some activities in the sun to help us get to know each other a little better. After warming up, orientation gave us the chance to talk everything GLA, Thailand, and what this adventure is going to look like over the next two weeks.
We got a great introduction to working in Thai schools and came up with some student activities, and later caught a sneak peek at the elephant sanctuary that we’ll be working with, called Elephant Valley Thailand. We can’t wait to dive into these opportunities and are thrilled to share them with you all!
Thursday July 5, 2018
Hi! We are Cassie and Ava and today we visited a school in Mae Chan.
At first it was challenging because the classrooms full of children were very chaotic. It’s very different from American schools. Culturally, the children are independent from the teachers, which stems from the idea of Thai school being a business, because parents pay for their kids to be in certain classes. According to a teacher, kids have more control than the teachers because of this. Kids also aren’t as enthusiastic to learn after certain ages.
The kids are very respectful and treat you like celebrities. We signed so many arms today because the younger kids wanted autographs. Memorable experiences included receiving bouquets of flowers from the kids, playing in the field with the kids, and buying tea with them.
Once we returned to the homebase we had free-time to swim and relax after a long day of crazy, fun kids.
Overall it was a very fulfilling day and everyone is exhausted. Let’s see what tomorrow holds!
-Cassie and Ava
Friday July 6, 2018
Starting the day early, we left for the school at 7:45 in order to see the daily flag raising at Baan Mae Chan. The students all recited the national anthem in organized lines. Following the flag raising we all went to our assigned classroom to assist the teachers. The students enthusiastically participated in games of hangman and tic tac toe to teach them english. During lunch at the school we all made personal connections with the children playing games. The kids loved being picked up and swung around by us and begged us to autograph their arms. We sadly had to say goodbye after lunch but we ensured the kids we will return on Monday.
We piled into the vans and drove 30 minutes to the traditional Thai market at the border of Myanmar. The shops lined the streets filled with everything from fresh produce to sunglasses. We split into groups and explored the market, each of buying different souvenirs and new foods to try. After an hour and a half of shopping and exploring, we started our drive back to home base. A long day of teaching left us tired and in need of some relaxation. We all went swimming at the home base before heading to dinner, where we had spaghetti.
Saturday July 7, 2018
Hey guys, this is Gaby and Paige from GLA Thailand. Today we took a break from the schools and did some touring around the beauty that is Thailand. First, we started out at the white temple, which is not only a temple, but an amazing art instalation. Everyone enjoyed themselves and got some insta-worthy pictures! While we were there, many of us also got gifts and souvenirs for family and friends and drank some authentic Thai smoothies in some different flavors such as watermelon, coconut and durian. After that, we got to experience the more natural beauty of Thailand at Khun Korn, a waterfall, which was definitely worth the one mile hike there and back. The water was freezing yet refreshing. Afterwards, we all got some delicious ice cream that helped us cool down on this super hot and sunny day. Finally, we all had time to relax after this eventful day and get some very good dinner.
-by Paige Lillibridge and Gaby Morgan
Sunday July 8, 2018
Today we started off by going to the Black House which was an art instillation and museum that included live water buffalo, various bones and remains of dead animals including giant snakes and alligators. Then for lunch we went to Jam’s family restaurant (She is one of our counselors) and had chicken, sticky rice, and the famous papaya salad. After a delicious lunch we headed to the beautiful Blue Temple (and yes, it was super blue). The next stop was to the Big White Buddha which isn’t actually a Buddha, it’s the Goddess of Mercy in Buddhism. The statue was so huge that most of us saw it from the plane ride in.
We were all able to go up to the 26th floor and look out of her third eye and see the view of Chiang Rai. We then visited the jade temple and museum to get an idea of what a real temple is like. It was a lot less touristy and the Buddha itself was green. Throughout these visits it would pour rain. We ended our day by going to the Walmart of Chang Rai also known as Tesco, where we loaded up on snacks, and then ate an awesome American style meal with burgers, fries, chicken, and other good stuff.
We love you and miss you!!!
From Sydney and Rachel 🙂
Monday July 9, 2018
Today was our last day at school. It seemed to be a bit more hectic than the other days, but still successful! The kids were very excited to see us as always and were engaged with us. After school we drove to Chiang Mai which was about a 3.5 hour drive.
We are at the midpoint with our time with GLA in Thailand. After reflecting on the past week we feel we were successful in assisting the teachers, and giving the Thai students something they can take with them in their future education. Along with our service being successful, our excursions to the waterfall and to the temples were also successful and a completely new and exciting experience for all of us!
So far the GLA experience has been enjoyed by all, and we are looking forward to the second week and new service and setting. Hopefully the second week will be as enjoyable and successful as the first!
John Wielbruda and Olivia Nacht
Wednesday July 11, 2018
Our day today began at 8:30 breakfast where we enjoyed some eggs, mangos, and toast. Afterwards, we had a discussion about our experience with the elephants in Chaing Mai. For an hour or so we had free time to either nap, chat, read, or play ping pong! Freetime was followed by lunch which consisted of curry, rice, and tofu.
When we finished eating, we separated into two groups and walked throughout the sanctuary observing the elephants eating. Afterwards, we fed the elephants banana tree pieces. Free time followed until dinner at 6. We ate rice, chicken, fried mushrooms, and cooked greens. We capped off the night with another GLA activity. Looking forward to the service tomorrow.
-by Evan and Talia
Thursday July 12, 2018
Today Is our is second at EVT. Here are a few things that we did during our service time today; it was a great learning experience for everyone.
Cleaning the elephant areas
Thai target shopping (small, traditional Thai store)
Cutting down banana trees to feed the elephants
Planting elephant grass
Feeding the elephants
Eating some rice, traditional Thai dishes, fried chicken and Pad Thai
-by Drake Anthony and Brianna Newberry
Friday July 13, 2018
Hey it’s Sarah and Alyssa!
Today we worked together and put in a lot of hard work and effort. Our activity’s included golden nugget pickup, cutting grass, banana trees, and planting grass. The grass that we planted will be used to feed the elephants when it’s fully grown.
Our favorite moment of the day was when Peanut the elephant was being goofy and not lining up for snack time in the correct order. She also kept missing her mouth when she was eating the banana trees.
Today we also got to experience selfie time, where we all had 30 minutes to focus on our selves in separate locations. We both decided to take a little nap on the tile floor – which was very refreshing! A lot of our members were able to cut down the banana trees with one axe swing – very impressing.
Alyssa and Sarah
Saturday July 15, 2018
After an amazing two weeks of service and adventure, our trip has come to an end. It has been life changing and great to meet an amazing group of people and experience a new culture alongside them. Over the course of the last couple of days, we had some super fun trips. On Saturday, we started our day finishing up our service with the elephants (nugget pick-up). We then did a final observation of the elephants, which included watching the elephants and learning some facts about them. After the final observation, we had some free time which we used to all hang out as a group. At the end of the day, we went to the Saturday Night Market where we all got some nice souvenirs to remember our trip to Thailand.
On Sunday, we had the treat of sleeping in. After a delicious breakfast, we headed out for the hot springs. On the ride there, we made a stop at an elephant riding camp. This was very hard but eye-opening for all of us to see. Then we finally arrived at the hot springs. Some of us chose to get massages while the rest of us swam. We had a buffet lunch at a Thai restaurant. It was delicious. We then had our final dinner together.
This trip was the trip of a lifetime. We have all become best friends on this two week adventure! Experiencing every aspect of Thailand, from the kind children in the school to the hillarious elephants, has been so amazing! We will miss the temples, food, elephants and friends in Thailand so much! We have gained a significantly better understanding of Thai culture, life outside of the United States and ethical interactions with elephants. We cannot wait to share our experiences with you in person! Thank you to all of the parents who helped us get here and enjoy this wonderful trip!
-by Reagan, Morgan, Dani, Mariesa
Two weeks passed in a blur…heat, autographs and golden nuggets defined our session.
Thank you for choosing to challenge yourself on this journey and step into the growth process. We hope your time in Thailand memorable.
Singing off-Brendan, Mattie and Suzannah
(Rachel, you know you deserve the key for this picture)