Time Capsule Letter
We can’t believe it has already been so long since our Thailand trip ended! I can still remember the delicious meals we shared at Chang Garden and EVT. It seems like yesterday that you all were slathering elephant poo on trees and playing with kids at our school. You’re probably back in school (or starting college or in Japan!) but we wanted you to know that we are still thinking of you and the memories we made this summer in Thailand.
Thank you for your commitment to making a positive impact on the world. I encourage you to continue learning all that you can about issues that you are passionate about at home. We saw an impact at the school, where the kids gained confidence with foreigners and felt comfortable taking risks in English class. You’ll be thrilled to know that EVT got a 5th elephant!
And more importantly, the knowledge YOU gained on this trip will serve you and your community for the rest of your life! We now know how complex animal and environmental conservation are. And we were inspired by Dada’s inspirational leadership as she endeavors to highlight the culture of community, empower local artisans, and treat elephants as her brothers and sisters. It is truly inspirational to witness someone step into leadership with grace and strength to do better for themself and for their community (animal and human!).
Another thing I can’t forget is how much fun we had together! You guys were a huge part of making this trip so fun by being a really close knit group. We experienced Thai culture by learning to haggle at the market, prepare delicious Thai cuisine, and pick up a few key Thai phrases. What a joy to do all of these things with beautiful landscapes around us!
We worked really hard and also had a blast together. Whether it was trips to Poo Poo Island, to the White Temple, or to the beautiful view at Phu Chi Pha we all had a great time be learning, growing and exploring together!
Thanks for helping to make these special memories in an amazing place and good luck as you become the change!!
Melissa, Emma and the GLA Thailand team
Monday June 17, 2019
Our group has arrived safely in Thailand. We’re excited to learn about Elephants and conservation, as well as to stretch our comfort zones!
-GLA Program Staff
Wednesday June 19, 2019
Today, we taught English and received a warm welcome from our students. A highlight was connecting with the Thai students. We’ll write a longer blog tomorrow about our great day at school tomorrow because we’re so busy preparing for our classes tomorrow. But here are some pics!
Thursday June 20, 2019
International air travel is complicated. Time zones are complicated. The Thai language is complicated (a few numbers, thank you, and hello take over all my brain power). But saying I’m having a great time is easy. How could I not be? Eating good food, having great company, being surrounded by adorable kids, and amazing scenery is absolutely breathtaking. Everyone here is so nice and accepting of us annoying American tourists.
Our first full day of teaching started with one of my roommates jumping on my bed to wake me up at the excruciating hour of 6:30. After a delicious breakfast, we got on a bus for a forty minute trip to the school. When we got there, we were greeted with the sight of tons of kids waving at us (which was probably the best welcome any of us could think of), and then we were led to a meeting room. We were then introduced to the students during their flag ceremony, which is an event which happens every morning in Thai schools.
We then went to our first class, which for me and my group was the sixth grade class or prathom six in Thai. We spent an hour playing various games with the kids to help them learn their English vocab. We used games like Simon Says, a modified tic-tac-toe, and, the crowd favorite, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes. After our sixth grade class, we were led to our next class, which was fourth grade.
The fourth graders got really into the games, and we ended up having them doing a relay race for the last few minutes of class. After that we had lunch, where for the first thirty-ish minutes we ate and then we got to go see how all the kids spent their lunch. First, we went and saw the first graders, who were very interested in Hattie’s dance moves. Then we split off (leaving Hattie to dance with the kids for a little while). We ran into a few of our fourth grade students who led us around the school and to the library, where we sat with them for a while.
Towards the end of lunch, we decided to go to a small drink shop right outside the school. We walked a little ways past our meeting room and were met with tons of kids who called all of us teacher and gave us hugs and high fives even though most of us hadn’t seen a lot of those kids before. It’s so sweet to see how excited all the kids get when they see any of us. When we finally left the gang of kids, we got our drinks and then headed to our next class. Next, we taught the fifth graders. We taught them greetings, things like hello, good morning, how are you, etc.
After our last class, we went back on the bus and stopped by a grocery store to pick up snacks and other things, before returning to our home base. When we returned, we had a quick meeting with our group to see what we thought we could improve on the next day and then had dinner. I have to take a second here to rave about the food because it is so insanely good, it’s pretty much all we can talk about when eating.
Afterwards we planned for our classes the next day, and then went to our houses. My roommates and I showered, then tried tons of Thai snacks and candy we had bought that day. We’re all extremely excited to see what else is to come in our short two weeks here!
Sawa di ka!
by Lucy Oxford
Saturday June 22, 2019
Yesterday (21 of June) was a whirlwind! It was our last day volunteering at the school. We left for the school at 9, and I had my first class with pratom 3. Then, I had pratom 2, who I had taught the day earlier and it was so fun to teach them again! Some of the kids even remembered my name-it was so cute. We had lunch with two teachers, and we got to ask them questions about their profession, and what it is like to work as a teacher in Thailand. Then after lunch, we had our last class, and I taught pratom 1. When we left, the kids followed us to the van and chased us while we drove away! I’m really going to miss the kids.
This morning, we got up early and went to the market with a tour guide to start our cooking class. There, we gathered ingredients to make a four course meal! While we were in the market, we got to try sticky rice and a thai dessert made of taro root! I didn’t like the dessert’s texture, but it tasted really good. It was cool seeing all of the local foods and fresh vegetables, there were so many things we don’t have in the United States. In the class, we made papaya salad, Tom yum soup, and green curry!
In the afternoon, the group went to a beautiful hidden waterfall! The cool water felt nice after our long and hot day. After swimming in the water, exploring the river, and watching locals jump from the top of the falls, we headed back home while watching the amazing sunset through our car windows.
-by Mary Grace Hall
Sunday June 23, 2019
I don’t think I’m alone in thinking that Sunday held one of the colleat experiences of my life. The gang woke up early that morning and left for the hills of the Karen Tribe. There, we met a wonderful and inspiring woman named Dada, who created the Elephant Peace Project, which was the place we spent the first half of our day. After giving us traditional hill tribe clothing to wear, Dada led us to the living space of her beautiful elephants. At Elephant Peace, we chopped up elephant food, fed the four elephants, and walked them upstream to give them a bath in the river. My personal favorite part about this experiences were all the hugs and kisses I gave to the animals. They were such sweeties!
After feeding and bathig her elephants, we had lunch in a treehouse while Dada explained to us how she started this project and the complexities of elephant conservation. Her story and view points were truly inspiring to the group. Her passion and love for the elephants made me all the more excited for the days to come.
After leaving Elephant Peace, we headed to Phu Chi Fa, which is right on the border of Thailand and Laos. The hill trive people in Phu Chi Fa gave us a show from their local marshall arts school that night. We were all amazed at the flips and tricks that seemed humanly impossible!
At 5 in the morning, we hiked up to a cliff to watch the sunrise. Technically, that morning, the gang was in Thailand AND laos! We can all agree that our trip to Loas was so amazing, it felt like it only lasted an hour! Well, it did but still it was pretty amazing. So far, I’ve grown to love the people I’ve met, both from Thailand and in the GLA program. We have gone through so many adventures together and Iam excited for what is to come. Next stop: Elephant Valley Thailand!!
Tuesday June 25, 2019
Yesterday we had to wish our old home goodbye and move to our next task at hand, the elephants. At this new location we finally got to meet the elephants we will be rooming with for the next six days. So far we’ve put in a lot of hard labor, from cleaning up after the elephants to simply just observing them, but in the end we know it will pay off. The lack of AC at our new crib has inspired us to rap about our last 48 hours.
Now, this is a story about how
My life got flipped-turned upside
And I’d like to take a minute
Just sit there
without further ado
I’ll tell you how I became the prince of an island called poo poo
We rolled up to the new joint
Exhausted at this point
But it was worth it
Because this place is lit
We fed the Ellies
Filled their bellies
When the sun rose
We didn’t oppose
To scoop the poop
We mixed the goods (poop stew)
And spread it on the woods
We stopped for a break
And watched the Ellies play in the lake
We’re about to drop
But we decided to shop
Poop Stew Recipe
50lbs elephant poop
50lbs authentic Thai mud
20L well water
Mix ingredients well with Hoe for about 30 minutes
Then distribute final product onto trees to prevent elephants from making the bark into a meal
-by Two Elefantz (Hattie Harden and Amber Sites)
More pics from Tuesday:
Yesterday our day started with picking up elephant poop (it’s not as bad as you’d think). After a short break, we worked for an hour or two in the sun, pulling weeds out of the elephant’s food. Then we had some lunch, another short break, and spread elephant poop and mud all over the trees. Some of the mixture got in my hair, arms, and some even landed on my face! Despite how it sounds, it was a really fun day. Knowing that I’m helping the elephants makes everything so much easier. By the end of the day, we were all exhausted but I felt so great about the work I had done.
Today was a whirlwind we woke up, had breakfast, and started our last day of service with picking up elephant poop. After a short break we pulled more weeds that were growing in the elephants grass, then had another break and started packing (Lizzy and Dylan showed everyone how to fold properly) until lunch. Then we had observation where we sat in the grass with Jack (the owner of the sanctuary) and he talked to us about his life and how to be successful and passionate about what we believe in. Then we had dinner, and had chow circle where we told everyone how much we appreciate them and wrote letters to our future selves about our trip. Then “we went to bed” most of the girls had a sleepover on our living room floor and prepared for our last day together.
-by Elizabeth Smith and Tiana De Selva