Time Capsule Letter
We can’t believe it has already been so long since our Thailand trip ended! I can still imagine those amazing dishes that we shared, from pad thai and green curry to fried chicken (or tofu) and that awesome khao soi.
It seems like yesterday that we were digging in the dirt, mixing concrete, lesson planning, and playing games with students. You’re probably back in school (or starting college!) but we wanted you to know that here in Chiang Mai we are still thinking of you and the impact we made this summer together.
Our time spent together here truly did make an impact. You should all know you left Chiang Mai a better place than when you came. The cement slabs at the children’s home that you contributed to building will help ensure that the children and staff don’t have to waste time re-washing clothes.
Your lessons at the elementary school helped give those third through sixth graders a tangible way to use their English, potentially sparking a lifelong love of language learning! And more importantly, the knowledge YOU gained on this trip we hope will serve you and the communities you go on to be in for the rest of your life!
We hope that you are doing well with your One Meaningful Goal of practicing gratitude and offering recognition to those around you every day and checking in with each other weekly.
Another thing I can’t forget is how much fun we had together here! You guys were a huge part of making this trip so fun by being such an incredible group.
We experienced Thai culture by learning to cook (and eat), learning about Buddhism, meditation and Thai language, and trying our hand at different traditional crafts.
We also got to visit local markets and walking streets to buy paintings, gifts, and so many pairs of elephant pants (we hope they’re still in one piece!). We explored the city, temples, and nature of Chiang Mai and the surrounding area.
We worked really hard and also had a blast together. Whether we were practicing Thai, hanging out with elephants, learning line dances, flying through the jungle canopy, trying to untangle a human knot in record time, or lip syncing our hearts out — it was that much fun because we got to share it with all you guys — the 2019 GLA Thailand In and Beyond the Classroom group! Thanks for helping to make these special memories in an amazing place.
10 special moments from our trip:
• Determination while removing concrete posts, leveling the ground, and being agitators
• Visiting with Charlie the baby elephant
• Customizing all of our belongings (and umbrellas) at Bor Sang Village
• Comparing Thai teas everywhere we went
• Games and laughter with the children at Baan Praporn
• Getting relaxing (and very different) Thai massages
• Laughter (and sweat) while teaching Thai students songs and games
• Amazing mentor group lip sync battle performances (you’re rockstars!)
• Trying new Adventure Foods™ everywhere we went (even 7-eleven)
• Sharing our shopping hauls after colorful evenings at the Sunday Walking Street
You were an amazing group and we feel truly blessed to have been able to spend time with you in Thailand, guiding you through so many activities and watching you grow!
Wishing you all the best,
Rachel – International Director
Lori – Mentor
Friday July 12, 2019
Hello! Sawadee Kha!
We are so happy to welcome the students to Thailand! Everyone (except for our three delayed/late arrivals) has arrived, safe and sound and full of smiles! We are so excited to meet our 21-day “In and Beyond the Classroom” group! After a full twenty-plus hours of traveling for everyone, today’s focus was on resting, bonding with roommates, getting to know each other, and getting the feel for Woodfield Resort (our home for three weeks)!
Rachel, Lori & Emma
GLA Program Staff
Saturday July 13, 2019
Our first full day in Thailand began with all the students feeling rested and ready for adventure. After a hearty breakfast we had orientation and a cultural lesson by our wonderful Thai staff before heading in the vans to the Chiang Mai Grandview Hotel. There we enjoyed a delicious buffet lunch where students enthusiastically sampled different and new foods.
The afternoon was quite hot so we were thankful that we have comfortable vans with air conditioning and coolers with ice cold water for us to refill our personal water bottles. We stopped at two different temples and Pii Jane told us the story of Buddha. Next we went to a fresh food market to learn about the different ingredients that we would use in cooking our own individual dinners.
We walked through narrow streets to the cooking school where we divided into two groups to prepare our meals. We started by making Pad Thai, followed by Tom Ka Gai soup, then green curry and finally sticky rice with fresh mango. Needless to say we were all full and are excited to try cooking these dishes again when we return home.
Sunday July 14, 2019
Everyone has finally arrived and we started the day with a offering to the resort’s shrines which keep away evil spirits and will keep us safe. Then we had a fun van ride with throwback music to the market which consisted of three stories high in two different buildings. Afterwards we went to a modern cafe to get out of the blazing sun. We then took a journey to the Huay Tung Tao Reservoir where we sat in bamboo cabanas and ate lunch together. Some students tried new foods such as jumping shrimp and fried bamboo worms!!!
Then we visited King Kong which were animals made out of straw. After a van ride back to the resort we had free time which for some was cooling off in the pool. Next was our first group leadership activity which was using team work to complete a goal together. We ended the day with a nice dinner and our first leadership lesson about elephant issues in Thailand. We are super excited to see what else this trip will provide us! Kawp Kun Ka!
~Madeleine & Natalie
Monday July 15, 2019
Today started out a little later as we were able to sleep in half an hour! Once we woke up and ate breakfast we loaded into the vans and headed off to paint umbrellas! After we all finished our umbrellas we got a chance to have the workers to paint various personal belongings! Once we finished at the umbrella factory we headed for an amazing lunch at Satesnip Restaurant. After sitting and eating lunch we headed for our first day of service work at the children’s home where we got to pull out eight cement poles, two of them were a solid team effort from everyone, but unfortunately they would not budge so we had to cut the poles with wire cutters. All the hard work paid off though because we got all the poles out!
After we finished with the poles we moved the new poles and cement bags off of the truck and placed them by where we’re going to place them tomorrow. Unloading everything was a solid two hours of hard work and sweat!!! Once we finished the work for the day we sat and had snacks and hydrated a little before the kids came home from school. After about fifteen minutes of relaxing the kids arrived from school and went and changed. Within five minutes all the kids were playing with us and braiding our hair and making us rings and bracelets out of flowers! We spent about an hour with the kids and then we had to leave for the day. Once we left the children’s home we made a quick pit stop at a seven eleven to grab snacks and drinks for our rooms.
On our way home we got stuck in traffic, but it gave us time to talk and reflect on the day and the whole trip so far. Once we got to home base we all had about half and hour to cool off and take showers and get ready for dinner. When we finished dinner they announced tomorrow’s leaders and we headed up to the Flora room and did our leadership activities, and started learning a dance that we’ll be doing for a high school on Friday! Finally we headed to bed to rest up and get ready for more hard work tomorrow! Hope all is well at home and we can’t wait to talk to you guys about our trip!
Tuesday July 16, 2019
Today was an adventure for sure! We started off the day with a beautiful drive. We visited a hill tribe called the Hmong where we learned about their very different lifestyle. We were welcomed into the village and given a tour by the chief where we hiked up to a beautiful garden and were shown inside of a man-made home of wood, brick, and cement. We were then taught the difficult yet rewarding art of needlepoint by the chief’s wife. After, we drove to and ate a scrumptious lunch at the beautiful restaurant, Krua Ban Chan.
After a delicious lunch, we went to our service site at the children’s home. Today we had to level out all the ground so concrete could be poured evenly. It was tough but we got it done. Jaelyn was top notch at evening the ground, and will henceforth be known as “The Leveler”. After a quick water break and a little more work, we got to play with the kids. They showed us how to count to ten, make flower crowns, braid hair and play Chief. Tonight we’re practicing for our cultural performance coming up and doing a cultural awareness seminar.
We’re having a blast!!!
Remi and Liam
Wednesday July 17, 2019
Our day started with a village called Tai Lue. Upon our arrival, we were given a blessing. This blessing continued, with each student receiving a hand made cotton bracelet. We then explored the Tai Lue family house, and learned how to hand make cotton clothing. After our cotton tour, we headed to Baon Lauang Nua. While there we learned how to make rice crackers and the art of wood craft. We learned this by painting our own petite wooden animals.
By this point in the day, all the students and staff were famished, so we ventured back to the cotton house for a hand made lunch. This lunch consisted of: pad thai, omelets, mango/chili salad, rice crackers, and spicy fried rice. After lunch, each student created their own bag with charcoal and classic Thai designs. While creating our bags, we joined along in singing their local Lanna folk song.
Soon after we departed from the village, we arrived at the children’s home. While there, we created the concrete base of the new laundry area. Finally, we closed out the day with our leadership meeting and rehearsal for our cultural exchange.
~Ari & Noel
Thursday July 18, 2019
Today was an action packed day here in Thailand! We started off with an informative meeting with Todd discussing teaching in Thailand. We learned about the different grade levels and effective teaching techniques to aid us in our service next week. From there, we got in the vans and visited the school we will be teaching at, Watgongsai School. We met with the director of the school and learned about the history, the staff, and what a typical school day consists of.
We then left the school and had a tasty lunch at Coffee Bus. Students enjoyed some unique soda drinks and of course, delicious coffee. After a fulfilling lunch, we got transported to the Children’s home for our service activity where we mixed and poured more concrete for the boys clothesline building. After 2 hours of hard work, we played with the children who had just come from school.
Once we returned back to home base, we showered and recharged. We then met back up for dinner and bonding. Soon after, we were led in an enjoyable leadership activity, and ended the day with our dance routine practice for our cultural exchange performance tomorrow! Wish us luck 🙂
-Ella and Quan
Friday July 19, 2019
First we woke up and had a great breakfast then we took the vans to the Chiang Mai Thepbodint School for a one day cultural exchange. We were welcomed with many traditional dances and activities. They presented a traditional song with drums and two dancers then we preformed a dance for the Thai students that consisted of the Cupid Shuffle, Cotton Eye Joe, Cha Cha Slide, and Dancing Queen. Next we partnered with two of the high school students and made paper jellyfish.
After the activity, we watched a traditional bamboo dance and were taught how to do the basic sequence in makeshift pants. Then we watched a performance of Thai Boxing, Muay Thai, and we were even able to learn a few moves. After and unexpected workout, we took a lot of pictures and were given gifts. For lunch, our partner(s) from the school showed us around their canteen/cafeteria and what they like to eat for lunch. They had a lot of variety with their food and lots of different choices and things to buy, even bubble tea. They even had a little store where you could buy snacks, stationary, keychains, and ice cream. Before we left we had time to play basketball and volleyball with them.
After hanging out with the students, taking lots of photos, and giving out Instagram usernames we had a quick pit stop at 7-11 where many snacks were bought #AdventureFood! Next we went to the children’s home to do our last day of outside service aka our last day of mixing concrete. After service and playing with the kids, we headed back to home base, had dinner, our leadership activities, and went to bed. :))))
-by Gabby and Chloe
Saturday July 20, 2019
We woke up to another wonderful breakfast at the resort. After which we stopped at a market to get a few things for teaching (which starts on Monday)!! We went to the children’s home to play and have lunch with them. From there we were able to take about 35 children with us to the Tube Trek Waterpark! Being able to share this time was the children was something unforgettable.
As we were saying our last goodbyes, it was a very emotional time. Some of us even cried. It was very hard to leave the children we have been building bonds with for the past week but we can’t wait to continue our adventure! We ended the night with another delicious dinner at Home Base and more lesson planning for the upcoming week! We hope you guys are missing us because we sure are! See you guys soon!!
Sending lots of love,
Abbey and Aiden
Sunday July 21, 2019
Hey what’s up you guys! Sydney and Jailyn here- your leaders of the day. We’re writing this blog as we’re zip lining through the Thai jungle. The scenery was beautiful, but not as beautiful as the new friends we made. Shout out to Dee and the amazing zip lining crew- for anyone that was wondering, Dee’s favorite color is NOT blue. Next, GLA students took on the Sunday market where we improved our bargaining skills and bought a bunch of gifts for ourselves (and family, of course). We also ate a bunch of Thai street food that did not necessarily sit well with our stomachs. For those who did not want to embark on that same adventure food journey, our meeting spot was Burger King, Chiang Mai. See you next time. PEACE.
-by Jailyn Serrano
Monday July 22, 2019
Today we started by getting up earlier than usual with breakfast at 6:45 am. We then arrived at the Wat Gong Sai School for our first day of teaching. We went through three class periods which consisted of grades 3-6. When we finished our teaching for the day, we ate lunch which was specially made for our group because of food allergies in the staff work room.
After lunch, we left the school to go to a temple and have a monk chat. The Monk, Pra Ajarn kk, spoke to us about the history of monks, lifestyle of a monk, and that Buddhism wasn’t a religion but a philosophy instead. Afterwards we went back to home base and played human knot which we finished in only 5 minutes giving us extra free time to play Indian Chief. We also had another hour of teaching prep and will end our day with lights out at 10:00. Having a blast!
-by Natalie and Ella
Tuesday July 23, 2019
Sah watt dii ka!
Today, we kicked off with a lively breakfast followed by the short van ride to school. At 8:30, we were welcomed into classes by the lovely students at the Watkingsai School. By 11:30, every teaching group had taught 2 classes. We were then provided a scrumptious lunch by the school which revitalized us for a rigorous afternoon.
Immediately after school, we hopped in the vans to Chiang Mai Muay Thai Gym, where we had a blast learning the difficult art of Muay Thai Boxing. With the help of the dedicated staff, everyone got a chance to get a few helpful moves down and some punches in. It’s pretty safe to say we are now masters of the art. After, we walked over to a self-serve Boba shop.
Although it was hectic, everyone ended up getting a delicious, personalized tea. Once back at home base, we were happily surprised with a whopping three hours of free time! After, we headed down for dinner then participated in a leadership activity. To conclude the night, we will prepare for our lesson for tomorrow. See you soon!
XOXO, Mads and Remi
Wednesday July 24, 2019
Today was interesting to say the least…We started out with breakfast, then we headed to the school where taught the students in p3-p6. After a successful day of teaching our lunch in Thai tradition was lunch. After our scrumptious lunch we headed back to home base to ready ourselves for the rest of the day. Once we all got changed we headed to Art in Paradise, a 3D museum, where we ran into another GLA group!
After an hour and half there and countless pictures we went to what everyone was looking forward to, which was the very refreshing, and rejuvenating massage! Afterwards we headed across the street to a western supermarket to buy the goods we have been craving from home. Once we all got back to home base we talked about all the food we got, our upcoming English camp at the school, and our final day of teaching! Hope all is well wherever you are! See you in a week!
Q&A (Quan and Alexa)
Thursday July 25, 2019
Hello parents, we woke up bright and early this morning to get ready for our last day of teaching. After our final lesson we devoured a fabulous lunch. We then scouted out our stations for English camp tomorrow. We then returned to base camp with two hours of free time, most of which was spent painting Quan and Liam’s nails! We then spent the next few hours planning our games and activities for English camp. We finished the day with another amazing dinner and leadership. See y’all tomorrow.
Love Ari and Aiden
Friday July 26, 2019
Today was one of the most rewarding days so far! We went to school and had English Camp (basically like Field Day but for the English language). The 14 GLA students split up into four different stations that built on what we taught the kids over the week. The stations consisted of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich making station, animal charades, a speed dress-up station and a partnered market race. All the students had to listen and comprehend instructions totally in English.
Seeing the children yell in excitement brought smiles to our faces. After a super sappy closing ceremony, we all said bye to the students and some of us were surprised when we were given handmade paper cards and cut-out hearts as gifts. Also we can’t forget about all the selfies we took!!! We felt incredibly tired but gratified knowing that our hard work over the week had paid off.
Later today, we had a group activity and another leadership activity. From here on out, we’re super excited to get some extra time in our day and really get a chance to explore Thailand. Until then,
-by Abbey and Liam
Saturday July 27, 2019
Sup ya’ll! We started our morning a little later than usual at 8:00. Afterwards we headed up the Doi Suthep mountain to experience one of the iconic and most beautiful views in Chiang Mai. We walked 306 steps up to the Doi Suthep temple where we got our fortunes told and took LOTS of pictures.
Next we visited another Hmong Village where we indulged in some quality coffee and Khao Soi. We also couldn’t resist doing a little shopping along the way. Speaking of shopping, we also headed to the Night Bazaar where we finally got some good ol’ American food at The Dukes. We think it will hold us over for the remainder of the trip. At the Night Bazaar, we did a lot of haggling, shopping, and even had our feet cleaned by some nibbling fish.
Overall, it was a very successful day and a great way to celebrate our first day off! Spoiler Alert: Be prepared for LOTS of pictures with elephants tomorrow! PEACE!
-by Jailyn and Chloe
Sunday July 28, 2019
Remi and Gabby here reporting on the day we had all been waiting for, elephant day! After the long 1½ hour van ride we reached the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. We were taught a bit about the elephants by the hilarious Kate (not our P’ Kate btw), who then aided us in feeding them along with the other mahouts. About 45 minutes and a lot of watermelons later, we then ate a delicious lunch with a mountainous view and the elephants right in sight.
After our feast, we learned about and made medicine balls then fed them to six more elephants. This included Charlie (dubbed Charlie after biting a finger), a charismatic yet naughty one-year-old elephant. Afterwards, we had a little mud spa session with the elephants. We hopped into the muddy water with the elephants and covered them with mud as they rolled around gleefully.
Next, we, along with the elephants, hopped into a less muddy river. We splashed and bathed the elephants with a few water fights along the way and the constant wonder where Charlie’s trunk would pop up next. After playing in the water, we all rinsed off and got changed in the stalls which might have been the hardest thing we have ever done.
As soon as the day seemed as though it could not improve, we took off to the impressive Sunday Market after resting for a bit at home base. After having spent the last of our money, we returned to home base with souvenirs in hand and dreams of biking and kayaking tomorrow.
We out, Gabby and Remi ✌️
Monday July 29, 2019
We started the day with another amazing breakfast before heading to Srilanna National Park for an exciting day filled with adventure. We arrived for our first stop, biking! After getting fitted for bikes and helmets we got a quick review on riding from our guide. Next we set out on a 10 kilometer ride through beautiful rice paddies.
It was pretty hot and luckily towards the end of the ride we got a chance to ride through a huge puddle of water at the bottom of a hill which cooled us down and was a lot of fun. After getting back from our tiring bike ride we had pad thai and fruit smoothies for lunch. We then took the vans to a reservoir where we kayaked and swam around. We ended our kayaking adventure with a race back to shore (the winners were Ari and Sydney). We finished our long day with leadership.
-Chloe and Aiden
Tuesday July 30, 2019
What a bittersweet day. We started off the day with a leisurely 8:30 breakfast time so we had a little extra rest. Then we took a never ending 2 hour van ride to the rafting site. I’m pretty sure everyone dozed off at some point after a quick stop at 7-11. After we made it, we had a great lunch of rice and curry to get fueled up for the biggest adventure still in front of us- white water rafting!
I’m tired just typing out the words “white water rafting”. We very quickly learned that rafting is not as easy as it looks. Thankfully we had some great guides to steer us in the right direction down the river. We had some pretty close calls today and a few almost ejections, but our guides were on top of both safety and fun. At some points when the water was a little more calm, we were allowed to get out and float along the river. Think lazy river but with beautiful scenery. Oh, and also elephants.
Yes you read that right! Elephants came in the water for just a few groups so we got another chance to play and relax with the gentle giants of Thailand. Later tonight we’re rehearsing for our lip sync battle. Expect some great marriage/sweet 16/blackmail videos tomorrow.
~Alexa and Liam
Today was one of the most emotional days yet. We started the day with a late breakfast and then performed our very own Lipsync Battles!! Also some of us got to show off talents (if you would call them that). Then we headed to lunch and got to spend the last of our baht at a bakery. After lunch we walked over to an internet cafe. This cafe was no ordinary cafe, there were computers everywhere! This is where we completed surveys evaluating our experience here in Thailand.
Following this we headed back to home base to finish up packing and getting ready for a farewell celebration. The farewell celebration was a gorgeous riverboat dinner. We all sang and danced the night away (and cried)! Realizing that we were all leaving new forever friends was very touching. Tomorrow we will all be 38,000 feet in the air heading back to our hometowns!!
Póp gan prûng níi!! (See you tomorrow)
Abbey and Madeleine
Thursday August 1, 2019
Good byes are bittersweet. Halfway around the world in 21 days lifelong friendships were formed during a Thai cooking class, at the Huay Tung Reservoir eating jumping shrimp and bamboo worms, umbrella painting at the Bor Sang Village, service at Baan Praporn Children’s Home, visiting the Hmong Village, the Cultural Exchange at the Thepbodint Wittaya School, Tube Trek Waterpark with the children, prepping for teaching, zip linning at Eagle Track, teaching at the Wat Gong Sai School, the Monk Chat & visits to many temples, Muay Thai Training, Arts in Paradise Museum, Thai Massage, English Camp, biking & kayaking, ELEPHANTS, Sunday Night Walking Street, more shopping, climbing 306 steps of Doi Suthep, whitewater rafting, delicious Thai food & even an American dinner at The Duke’s, pool time, movie night with microwaved popcorn, playing cards, the Lip sync Challenge, and free time & roommate chats at the Woodfield Resort….memories that will be shared for years to come but can only truly be appreciated by those of us who were there.
After tears & lots of hugs all students have now departed Thailand and are on their way home. Stay in touch with each other and best wishes for many more adventures ahead!
Lori, Rachel, P’Jane, P’Tehh & P’Kate