Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
Our days at Lanna Dusita were so full. We all woke up to calming music (usually soundtrack music we would be singing without realizing we were because we heard it so often) and walked around our huge fish pond—trying not to squish snails or lizards—to eat noodles, and fish porridges, and exotic fruits for breakfast. But actually no one ever ate boiled fish except for the director, ever. Oh, and we loved the mosquitos after a while, because after a while we were given those big electric racquets that electrocute them. Zap! We didn’t even feel like bad Buddhists because the Thai staff told us that we were kindly accelerating the life cycle of the mosquito so it could move onward to a next and better incarnation.
We did so many things together. We hiked and biked, zip-lined, muy thai boxed, and shopped too much at markets (of course always with buddies or “truddies”). But, as is always the case, the more meaningful part of our experience was serving in the local community at the schools and orphanage. The kids were so sweet and receptive, always wanting to participate in sports or games or dances. The teaching was difficult, but not so difficult as we had thought. We were always anxious beforehand but during the classes, even the rowdiest, everything always worked out just fine. The snacks the head teacher brought us were sometimes pretty weird and gelatinous, but we appreciated it so much still because she was just so thoughtful and kind. The time painting and plastering was…swampy and muggy and horrible, but when we took the friends we made at Nimmit on excursion and got to really know them it all seemed so worthwhile and so permanent.
What an amazing time it was and thanks to everyone who was a part of it!
Memories from Ryan:
· Getting to know the amazing Thai Staff
· Eating at the DUUUUKES!
· Amazingly successful cultural exchange Song and Dance
· Mountain biking through rice fields
Summer Blog Posts
August 4 and 5, 2016
Despite hardships caused by cancelled flights, the group was finally able to bond during orientation. Our amazing director, P. Nikki, told us about all the rules and regulations that we must abide by while we are in Thailand, and got us excited for all the amazing excursions we will go on. We got to know each other by sharing where we are from and a little bit about ourselves. We are all so excited for what’s to come during our time in this beautiful country.
Following orientation, we were visited by P. Todd. He told us how he ended up living in Thailand from the great city of Cleveland, Ohio. He also gave us helpful tips and tricks on how to teach the local Thai children. Shortly after, we went to a delicious Thai buffet for lunch. Everyone tried new and exciting foods, which pushed us out of our comfort zone.
With full bellies and a great attitude, we began the winding car ride to Doi Suthep, one of the most important temples in Chiang Mai. We were awed by the exquisite ambiance of the golden pagoda.
Nice golden temple
Got a decent Thai fortune
Ooh a Popsicle!
– Group written Haiku
After we left the temple, we came back to the hotel where we cooled off the the pool. We then ate dinner where we discussed the plans for teaching the next day.
After an early rise, we made our way to Watsankayon, the elementary school where we are helping to teach the children. First we were introduced during their morning assembly, then we split up into our teams to teach. We were floored by the adorableness of the children! Following our fun lessons and games, we sat down to eat the best cafeteria food in existence. The super nice head teacher made us fresh chicken and rice. The whole experience was amazing.
As we were traveling to the umbrella factory, we made a quick stop to a cafe. We cooled down with coffee, tea, and smoothies. At 1:00, we arrived to the umbrella factory where we learned about the history behind umbrella making in Chiang Mai. We also had the chance to paint our own umbrellas and get various items of ours painted by talented people after the tour.
Once we arrived back to the hotel, we met the fantastic, fantabulous, wonderful, and cool P. Wa. We then cooled off in the Pool and ate dinner as a group. We ended with some battles with bugs and astrology. Despite all the superlatives in this blog, the last two days have really been wonderful. I’m not being sarcastic. 🙂
Today, we went zip-lining. But first, we signed a waiver to make sure the company didn’t have to pay for any hospital bills (hahaha half-joking). None of us were injured. In order to get to the actual course we rode in a fast truck over a really bumpy road. It was a little bit scary. The zip-lining and ropes course itself was a lot of fun. The instructors were nice but they liked to mess with us and shake the ropes while we walked on the bridges. Our harnesses prevented us from falling, but it was still kind of unnerving. The last obstacle was a 100 foot drop straight down!
After we went zip-lining, we had lunch and then planted trees in the forest near the course. Before we went back to the hotel, we stopped at a café for coffee and snacks. There was a really cute dog inside that we could actually pet because it was domesticated and didn’t have rabies. But about halfway through our meal, it started pouring rain, leaving us stranded outside at our tables with only patio umbrellas to keep us dry (but it was still fun).
When we got back to the hotel, we took a personality test to see what kind of leader we are, and shared our personal goals. After dinner, we all played cards and mafia and ate more snacks. One of the card games we played was spoons, but we didn’t have spoons, so we used leaves. Then we played BS, which was really entertaining because some people had never played and didn’t understand the game. Hanging out and having fun as a group and sharing personal information was a really good bonding activity, and everyone definitely felt a lot closer afterwards.
August 7th, 2016
To start off our morning, the GLA group traveled to the oldest temple within Chiang Mai, Wat Chieng Man. Wat Chieng Man is hundreds of years old, built by the sixth king of Chiang Mai. While we were able to encounter Buddha relics that are thousands of years old, we also learned how to correctly praise Buddha. Our second stop of the day was Wat Chedi Luang, another temple within Chiang Mai. We walked clockwise around the biggest temple around. We donated money to the temple, while being able to write our names on roof bricks in return. It was a sight that will never be forgotten.
Shortly after our temple excursions, we headed off to the market to meet our cooking instructor. We spent a majority of our afternoon learning how to cook Thai cuisine. We started off with a Thai soup. Afterwards, we made Chicken Pad Thai. We were able to try our latest creations before continuing to cook Green Curry and Mangoes over Sticky Rice. In addition to an amazing afternoon with the Thai cooks, we were even given cook books to take home.
After a busy first half of the day, the GLA group took a few hours to regroup at the hotel. With a full week of teaching and a cultural exchange up ahead, there was much to do. We got into our groups and put together our lesson plans with the help of our amazing GLA staff. We have a lot planned for the children of Thailand.
With evening rolling around, we all headed out the Night Market. We spent the next few hours haggling good prices on souvenirs to bring home. The street food was delicious, and the souvenirs bought were extremely eccentric. This day was a success for the GLA group.
August 8, 2016
This morning was extremely eventful! The GLA group was woken up early to set out for a morning of teaching at a local Thai primary school. We ate breakfast at the hotel before hopping in the van to venture off to Thai school. With marathon one through six now our responsibility for a few hours, we were extremely busy. We completed two classes per group each lasting one hour and thirty minutes between 8:30am and 12pm. It was intense.
Because of recent changes within and around Thailand, it has become increasingly important for Thai people to learn English. It is our job to do as much as we can to help children between the ages of six and twelve learn as much English as they can in four days. We do our best to incorporate games and fun filled lesson plans to help them remember what they are taught. That is what we spent our morning doing.
Because we were fed lunch at the school, we headed straight to an older village that is known for their pottery. We spent the afternoon within this little village. We started off with a tour of the ground where we learned the ins and outs of pottery making. We were able to speak with the leader of the village along with a second generation villager. The skills of these people are incredible.
After the tour of the village, we were able to hand spin some of our own pottery masterpieces. We discovered that some of us are more artistic than others. With the help of the villagers, we were able to create somewhat acceptable pieces. The generosity and friendliness of the Thai people continue to shock us the further we get into our program.
With our day quickly coming to an end, we headed to the nearest mall to pick up a few necessities before heading back to the home base. We had a nice dinner with Kevin, a visiting mentor from headquarters. We went on to plan our next day of teaching before heading to bed to get some rest. We have a long day ahead of us.
After a thrilling weekend, it was time to continue teaching the kids of Watsankayom School. Through teaching and playing, we developed strong relationships with the students. On Monday afternoon, we went to learn about the culture of pottery and even made some unique handmade pottery ourselves. After school on Tuesday, we spent time preparing for the Cultural Exchange, working hard on perfecting a song and dance truly representative of our culture. Wednesday afternoon we visited and toured the beautiful Wattanothaipayap high school where we got to experience a traditional Thai dance performance done by the students. We also got to see their indoor museum which was full of magnificent artifacts and elegant wax sculptures. In addition, we made merry and formed friendships with the students through creating art together. Afterwards, we went back to the Home Base and began prepping an English Camp for the primary school students. Thursday morning we participated in a ceremony for Mother’s Day and we set up stations to get the Thai kids excited for learning more about the English language. That afternoon, we sadly had to say our goodbyes. Everyone was full of tears and hugs, but we left knowing that we had made an impact as they had on us. That night, we relaxed at the pool and watched a thought-provoking film which left us truly pondering the meaning of life.