All students have arrived safely!
Hello family and friends across the globe!
It’s only been a few days but already it feels like our group has been here for weeks. After some very long travel days, our amazing 28 students finally arrived! Shell shocked but smiling, exhausted but excited!
Yesterday morning we enjoyed breakfast in our outdoor dining area. Built beside a winding river with mountains behind, it creates quite the impressive start to the day. After munching on mangos and other newer fruits like dragonfruit, rambutan and passion fruit, we jumped right into orientation. Our amazing local Thai staff helped us learn some important cultural norms and Thai phrases.
For lunch we went to a delicious buffet with lots of opportunities to try Thai specialties, especially from the North. Ball, Mim, Wa and Nutt (our local staff), guided the students through the maze of new foods. One of my personal new favorites and a specialty of the area is Khao Soi, a mix of soft and hard noodles with a coconut curry sauce, veggies and meat with raw onion, bean sprouts and lime to top it off! Delicious!
In the afternoon we had the chance to visit a couple truly incredible temples, including the biggest and oldest temples in Chiang Mai. After dinner, the students were divided into three groups. They met in their mentor groups for the first time – a great way to meet in a smaller setting to continue processing and discussing all the leadership and cultural activities.
Today we started some important prep work for teaching English starting Monday at a couple local primary schools in the area. In the afternoon we headed to a small fresh market in Chiang Mai for an amazing cooking class lead by a few very entertaining locals. Everyone left stuffed to the brim after making and chowing down on tom yum goong (spicy and sour soup), pad thai, green curry and mango sticky rice!
We’re all excited for more adventures in beautiful Thailand!
International Program Director
Monday was by far the most exciting day of the program. We finally started our volunteer work at local elementary schools. We were quite nervous about meeting the kids and taking the responsibility of teaching them some English.
Our service hours turned out to be exhausting, but also satisfying. We got to know our pupils and how to cater to their needs, while teaching them English at the same time.
After having lunch at school, we went straight to the Muay Thai boxing course. We spent a couple of hours getting to know our physical limits. Unfortunately, Ashley and Chris went past theirs and an appointment with a physician turned out to be necessary.
In the evening, we completed an exciting leadership activity by training our listening skills.
– Rael Samaria and Kinga Jurkiewicz
Today we taught at the primary schools for the second day and it went a lot smoother than the first because we weren’t as nervous and we all loved the kids. They were so cute and the younger kids especially loved to just run up and talk and hug us. We then went to get massages which felt amazing. Then we went to the Art in Paradise museum where we took so many photos with us against the wall paintings. Most of us had time to get a few minutes of wifi and contact our friends and family which was good to see what was going on at home. Overall, everyone had so much fun although we are still sore from Muay Thai boxing yesterday.
– Allie Colglazier and Ashley Lamoreaux
Today everyone had a fantastic day. In the morning, everyone was woken up to the amazing song “She Knows.” At breakfast, there was an amazing strawberry smoothie that lit everyone’s hearts. Sadly, there was no bacon but we will always hope for the best. After our delicious breakfast, everyone got in their vans and we all headed off to teach more English! The students are starting to get to know all of the teachers, even asking for autographs! Yes, they all want to live the American dream! We hope that after learning English they will want to visit America someday and realize how great a country it is. After the hard work that we put in at the schools, we all drove to learn how to make Thai parasols (umbrellas). This was such an enlightening experience as the man who taught us how, was also a psychic. For example, the man told Elliott that he was perfect and that he was going to be rich at 32. For others, it wasn’t as happy as one girl was told she would have menstruation problems with growing old! It’s okay, after all it’s just a fortune, we never know what will really happen! After painting our hearts out, we all drove home to the GLA homebase and had a great dinner that topped our breakfast. In conclusion, a fantastic day, with the exception of a few minor blips.
– Elliott Tang and Jake Buck
Today started out as a normal day in our schedule for the week. We got up, ate breakfast and headed to school to teach English to the adorable students. Unfortunately it was our second to last day of teaching and it was our last formal lesson.
After teaching, we headed back to homebase or some much needed resting/free time. Since English camp was happening the very next day, we spent some time figuring out our stations and preparing for our performance for the schools.
As we were wrapping up with our preparations, the staff surprised me with cake and a pool party to end my birthday. I would like to again thank the staff and the program’s participants for making my birthday so special.
– Anwen Griffiths
Woke up this morning #blessed because I realized that I was in Thailand #blessedx2 but I also felt super bummed because it meant it would be the last day to hang out with some awesome kids we bonded with throughout the week, so the main goal for me was to make the best of it. After we finished breakfast, we hopped in the vans on our way to the school. As soon as we got out you could see kids smiling and waving as we got closer to the school. It seriously was the cutest thing ever. I was super exhausted but I knew that I wanted to have fun and make sure the kids were going to have fun as well. There were a few bumps that our group hit but we still managed to keep it fun and enjoyable. At the end of the day, the school performed for us and I just knew they worked really hard and I felt so honored to be there. To finish things off, the teaching staff (us) decided to do the cha cha slide and sing party in the USA, which was awkward but more fun at the same time. Sad to see that I will never see the kids again, but I’m happy that it happened and I got to meet some awesome kids that I will remember forever. Dinner was good as always but tonight, even better. We got a taste of home, which most of us were missing. The day was draining, but we are all excited to be able to experience something new when we go visit the elephant camp tomorrow.
– Pilar Guinazu Dolan and Georgie Gonzales
Today, Rachel and I got the pleasure of being leaders of the day. I was most looking forward to the elephant camp. We woke up later than usual which really helped everyone regain some energy. We had fried rice for breakfast and went to the elephant camp which was amazing, besides the smell and getting soaked in poop water (Thanks Elliott). The first thing we got to see was how they make dung paper (yes, poop paper). After lunch we had a frightening but fun experience riding and feeding the elephants. To finish our visit at the elephant camp, we rode bamboo rafts down the river placed in a beautiful scenery. To top off our beautiful day, we got three hours of free time and a great meal.
– Xen Delacruz and Rachel Furman
Well, we made it. Today’s the last day that a blog will be written. Everyone’s feeling pretty sad but we’ve all come to terms with our departures. At least we will all stay connected! These past couple of days we’ve been involved with arcades, bowling alleys, zoos and aquariums. It’s been a fantastic couple of days and none of us would trade it for anything. Even though these last days have been extremely sad for some of us, all of us will still remember to not worry and be happy. Thailand 2015has taught us all to live in the moment and enjoy our own lives to the best extent.
If you want to stay tuned, most of us will be in Tanzania next summer around the same time!
Trip motto: “non sibi sed alis” (not for self but for others)
– Elliott Tang
All students have departed and are on their way home!