Wildflower Home and Agape Home
During the first day back from our trek we dove into our last week of service by getting oriented with the two service sites we will be working at: Wildflower Home and Agape Home. Wildflower Home is a home for single mothers in crisis. At the home they are taught important life skills, given shelter, and are aided in caring for their children. Generally women staying in this home are single mothers who were not accepted by their communities and are seeking refuge from domestic violence. The home is sustained through fundraising along with a farm that resides on the property owned by the Wildflower home. The second service site we went to was the Agape Home, also known as Nikki’s Place. This home is an orphanage for children living with HIV/AIDs or who are at a high risk. The home shelters children as young as infants to their oldest child being 23. They provide food, shelter, education, and medical attention. The home houses 105 children currently. The Agape Home raises money through outside sponsorship of children and general donations. Usually ten sponsors are needed per child. Other finances for the home include wages for the staff and money for medication and education.
Later in the day we attended a meditation session and a monk chat. We began by touring the temple and continued the session by learning various different meditation positions. The session mainly focused on the various steps of sitting, standing, and walking meditation. We then moved on to the monk chat and had a short Q and A with the monk. He spoke about his experience as a monk and monkhood in general. The monk also shared knowledge about Buddhism. At the end of the session he demonstrated various different styles of monk robes including those of monks not from Thailand.
We ended the day by heading to a market for dinner and then returning to Tianna to discuss endangered languages in a presentation by Allie. In this presentation we learned about the importance of preserving language and culture and the rapid rate of language extinction in the modern world.
-Maria and Michelle
The past few days have been full of adventure and exhilarating experiences like visiting an elephant camp where we bathed and rode the elephants as well as zip-lining on Asia’s longest zip-line through Thailand’s beautiful rain forests. More recently, we have been getting into the more serious and challenging community service aspects of the trip. Yesterday we started teaching English at an elementary school with students from K-6 grade. Although teaching was tough and new for most of us, the students were very cute and it feels good at the end of the day to know that we’ve stepped out of our comfort zone. Our director Todd told us to always expect the unexpected while teaching which was a helpful warning because our plans would change throughout the day and we would just have to “flow with the go” as our mentor Kees always says. We are very excited to continue working with the students as well as exhausted from our jam-packed days. We’ll keep you updated throughout this amazing journey.
Love Today’s Leaders,
-Mackenzie Moorhouse and Molly Thayer
Although teaching was tough and new for most of us, the students were very cute and it feels good at the end of the day to know that we’ve stepped out of our comfort zone.
July 13th- elephant camp
July 14th- community center for local village (crafts relating to culture and traditional values) / “Flight of the Gibbon” / ziplining (longest zipline in Asia, 800 meters long at most and 70-80 meters high at its highest point, hiking, skywalks)
July 15th – afternoon- taught for first time at schools, taught 2 classes and had recess with one
July 16th – Taught 3 classes at schools in morning / met students at local high school in afternoon / Duke’s and night bazaar at night
A Fun Filled Day
Today was full of new fun stuff. We woke up and had breakfast really early as usual, but then we went to Chiang Mai University and did ceramics! The art students taught us to make these really cool clay pieces with molds and some jewelry/key chains with paper clay. Later in the day we went to Joy’s Farm for the first time. Joy’s Farm is a farm that doubles as an orphanage for Burmese and Thai children from ages 5-17. We met the kids that live there, they gave us a tour of the place, played ping pong and badminton, made paper flowers, and ate dinner together. On the way home we took a much needed stop at McDonalds.
(Hello!) from Thailand!
A special greeting to all of our friends and family that are tuning into our very first blog post from Thailand! We are happy to inform you that all 29 of our GLA students have safely arrived in Chiang Mai and have settled into our comfy cabanas within the Tianna Garden Resort, which will serve as our home base for the duration of the program. Over the past two days, we have been having a blast exploring the city and getting to know more about one another.
Yesterday, we began our first official day of the program and we started the day with fun icebreakers, a brief program orientation, and a very helpful Thai lesson from our incredible Thai staff. From there, we left home base to eat an excellent buffet style lunch at a Siripanna Hotel. Following lunch we hopped in our vans and went on a tour of important monuments around the city of Chiang Mai such as the Wat Chedi Luang and the Wat Chiang Man. We concluded our tour by taking a Thai cooking class in the city where we made our own pad thai, green curry, and sticky rice with coconut milk and mango!
Today, students left home base after breakfast to take part in a scavenger hunt within a local Thai market. Students were given a list of five items written in Thai, and then encouraged to walk around in groups around the market to search for the items. They were forced to rely on their new Thai vocabulary, list of items, and smiling faces as ways to approach Thai merchants and ask for their help in obtaining the necessary items. Following this activity, students had the opportunity to reflect on how they were treated by local Thai people as well as how they treat tourists and foreigners in their home countries.
For lunch, we went to a Thai noodle house and had the opportunity to try some of Chiang Mai’s finest noodles! After that, we came back to the home base and had a lesson/taste testing session on the famous fruits of Thailand. It was delicious! Following a few hours of downtime in the pool, we came back together for evening activities that prompted discussions about stereotypes and the danger of a single story.
Overall, these past few days have been amazing and have truly set the tone for the type of energy students will carry on throughout the rest of the program. Thank you for tuning in with us for our very first blog post! Additionally, thank you for all of the support you have provided for us to take part in such a unique and engaging learning experience!
Jai Yen Yen (No worries/keep a cool heart),
-The GLA Thailand Team
All students have arrived in Thailand and are ready for an amazing program! Stay tuned for blog updates and photos!