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 34 students finally arrived! Shell shocked but smiling, exhausted but excited!
This 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 Northern region. Ball, Mim, Wa and Nutt (our local staff), guided the students through the maze of new foods. I kept hearing different students say things like, “I don’t know what I just ate but it was amazing!” 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. When we returned to homebase, the students had a bit of time to relax (and enjoy the pool!) before dinner.
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. We’re all excited for more adventures tomorrow!
International Program Director
We started the day with breakfast, then made our way to the elephant camp. Once we arrived, we went on a beautiful bamboo raft own the river. After we had a nice buffet lunch followed by a tour of the elephant dung paper making facility. We were then introduced to the elephants that we were able to feed and ride.
After riding them, we bathed them and played with them in the river. After a few hours of interacting with the elephants, we returned to the base for showers and dinner. After dinner, we watched an informative documentary on the treatment of elephants at various camps as well as learning about elephant hospitals. To end the night, we had mentor groups where we discussed the treatment of elephants and lastly, we went to sleep!
Michael Lavine and Sam Hori
The group started the day with a personality quiz. The quiz determined a color that represented what type of person you are. The next activity was to teach us about cultural awareness and acceptance. We split into groups that each got separate rules, then we mixed together so we understood how it felt to be different in somebody else’s culture. At the orphanage, Nimit 2, we began lacquering the ceiling in the canteen. We then primed the outside of the building so it can be painted a new happy and beautiful color. The kids arrived and we played football, soccer and fun hand games with songs. We were all reluctant to leave but got huge hugs and high fives from the kids.
– Carly Sturm
Today we started our community service project. They split us into two groups with one group at the orphanage (Nimit) and the other at Wildflower, a women’s shelter. I’m at Wildflower where we will be filling a flooded hole. This will help keep the still water from spreading diseases like malaria and dengue. Unfortunately, it rained a lot earlier on, so the women didn’t want us working on this project yet, so instead, we made cards for the women to sell, helped clean and played with the children. Afterwards, we came back to the homebase and had a surprise birthday party for Marc!
– Belle Briatico
We went to a reservoir where we got to swim for a few hours which was lovely because it was hot and beautiful. After, we ate lunch and played with kittens. From the lake, we split into groups and went to community service. The group at Nimit orphanage painted the fence and played Thai games with the kids. The group at Wildflower helped make organic shampoos and shovel dirt. Then we returned to homebase, ate dinner and played a group bonding activity.
– Sam Folger and Margi Weiss
Laundry day! This morning’s yoga was instructed by Belle and Ali while Jeremy and Ben ran some laps #yayexercise. At our breakfast there were eggs, toast, fruit and sausage. Everyone’s meal was enhanced with Calvin’s Nutella. After passing our laundry on to the wonderful Thai staff, we loaded the buses and set off for umbrella making. The umbrella instructor gave us a tour of the factory and told us what he knew about ADIDAS. Next we moved on to painting umbrellas and everybody keyed into their artistic abilities. All of them were so beautiful wtf! We all headed to the gift shop and then to the market for lunch. We all picked out traditional Thai food. After literally hopping onto the buses, we went to Muay Thai. It was a #struggle, but very fun and life changing. It involved a series of punches and kicks. Post exhaustion, people jumped in the pool to cool off. The night ended with a nice spaghetti and onion ring dinner followed by leadership activities. We love GLA!
– Catherine Hudson and Andrew Isaac
Today’s activities began with yoga and running/strength exercises starting at 7am sharp. This was followed by the best breakfast of all time, shout out to the Thai cooking staff. Then the groups split up according to what service site you were at. Those at Nimit visited the “Art in Paradise” museum in downtown Chiang Mai, with interactive 3-D art bursting off of every wall. The museum visit was followed by a deep (and painful) Thai massage. Meanwhile, those who work at Wildflower went to a monk chat and got to ask questions to a monk. It was very interesting. After both groups switched and got to do what the other group did in the morning. Then both groups met up later and headed down to the Sunday Market and had two hours to roam around with friends to shop and explore. It was a great day!
Evan Walker and Cat Willner
Our day began with breakfast before moving up to the big room where we got an extensive and slightly confusing Thai lesson from P.Ball. We then broke into groups and designed mock lesson plans to prepare for next week’s service. We got to teach our lessons to the rest of the groups and got some great feedback from our mentors. After lunch we went to service at Wildflower, it was the first day of everyone digging together. With the help of some amazing women, we made tremendous progress. For the last half hour we got to play with some upper cute kids, one of which made our day by peeing on Isabelle. At Nimit, we primed and painted more of the fence. The kids are adorable and love to play and teach us Thai games. Everyone took much needed naps on the ride home to base and filled up on a great dinner before leadership activities and finally a well deserved rest.
Kat Devine and Julia Guimaraes
(done for the group as a rap)
Woke up early, chowing on rice
Waking up people, not playing nice.
Hopped in the bus, not making a fuss.
Hung out with the mountain tribe,
Chilling with positive vibes.
Bought some merchandise,
We ain’t spoutin’ lies.
Hussled on down to a café,
Wifi made our day.
Ate some floor food with a chill old gal,
Then went to Nimit, all our pals.
We be lacquering and painting,
Working so hard, we close to fainting.
Finished the day with massages,
If happiness is money, we ain’t poor men.
Jackson Devine and Marc Roube
Today we all enjoyed a nice pancakes, bacon and other foods I forgot breakfast. Calvin had Nutella which made it perfect. Good looks bro. After breakfast, we got into groups and got in vans to go on a scavenger hunt around Chiang Mai. Pretty sure we all know which squad won. Next we got an hour at Tesco o exchange money and buy stuff…like food. After Tesco, we were broken into groups to visit the schools we would soon be teaching at. The kids were excited and treated us like movie stars. They were also very friendly. Shaking our hands, greeting us and even comparing skin tones. After a tour of the school we returned to the homebase and had some free time. Once our free time was up, we spent some time prepping for teaching at the schools which was really productive. Then we ate dinner which was pretty good. At 7, we met in the big room for activities which people were excited for, or maybe not, depending on how they felt. Today was also high five Friday which made it all a lot better #insquadwetrust. GLA 2015
Calvin Chappell and Jeremy Walker Jr.
We started the day off with a wonderful breakfast! Then we split up into our two service groups of Nimit and Wildflower. At Nimit, we played English speaking games with the kids. Afterwards, we went to the Chiang Mai Zoo where we saw majestic creatures such as lions and fish. Meanwhile, at Wildflower, we also taught the moms and kids the cha-cha slide, English words and English games. Then at the mall, we ate Thai food, played arcade games and played in the ball pit with kids. To wrap up the day we ended with an awesome bonding activity!
-Robin Truitt and Jen Hughes
As we near the end of our journey, we wake up with mixed emotions. We know that our trip is coming near to its end but we reflect on all the amazing memories we have made with each other in the beautiful city of Chiang Mai. After a pancake breakfast, we start our day at the schools we have been volunteering at all week. Today we rocked English camp, playing various games including making pbj and dress up. Although saying goodbye to the school kids was hard, we immensely enjoyed our time working with them. When we arrived back at homebase, we emotionally prepared ourselves for the goodbye dinner at Baan Suan, the restaurant. The food was delicious and after our meal we had time for some picture taking. We headed back to Tianna resort where we have been living for the past three weeks, and gather in the big room for one last time. To end this wonderful journey I would like to think that we have all been the change.
-Abby Mickelson and Andrew Isaac