*We are sorry for the delay, there have been wifi issues until today and the internet connection is slow.
Hello family and friends across the globe!
Wow! Only day 2 and already it feels like our group has been here for weeks. After some very long travel days, our lovely 13 ladies 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 lychee and rambutan, 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. 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 most impressive one in Chiang Mai. Then we headed to the local fresh food market and met our cooking instructor, Mac. He described the foods we would be using to cook and let us smell, touch and taste them. We made our way to the open air kitchen to take a stab at cooking a few Thai dishes. At the beginning, we were ready and raring to go but after cooking and eating the first two courses (Tom Yum soup and Pad Thai), jet lag started to set in and we cooked the third and fourth to go.
An early night to get ready for another big day tomorrow!
– Andrea, International Program Director
Today we woke up bright and early to do some group bonding experiences. This then led to a very deep and engaging group talk about cultures and how society and cultures can be extremely different in different parts of the world. Then we sat down to a delicious Thai lunch right at homebase. We then gathered all of our things for the day and headed out. First, we made a pit stop to exchange money and then headed to a lake. We all immediately jumped in the warm but refreshing water and swam for a few hours. At the end of the day, we all headed back to homebase and ate a delicious Thai meal for dinner.
– Lily Neal-Boyd
I probably speak for all of us when I say that yesterday was one of the best days of my life. Getting to be so in touch with elephants, feeling so close to them, was beyond anything I’ve ever done before. It was a little bitter sweet though. To see these majestic creatures mistreated hurt all of us. But seeing them roll around happily in the river kind of made us all feel a little better. At night we went to the market. We all bought around 12 pants. Still worth it.
– Kaela Van Der Vaart
Thailand, as I have already learned over the past five days, is a country thriving with lush greenery scattered throughout every bit of city and country, making for a scenic view that is close to unforgettable. As a side effect of the incredible landscape, the air has a thick consistency and lacks any motion of breeze creating a sedentary and sticky feeling every time a door is opened. In particular, this morning a heavy fog was settled in the near horizon and therefore the beads of sweat began immediately as my foot took one step out the door. This heat was not the most encouraging as we began our first day of service work, however as it turned out, it made for an energizing storm this evening. All us girls were separated into two groups. One took a van to a women’s shelter to perform some tasks that sounded pretty grueling and the other half filled our paint brushes and headed to a small orphanage where we were asked to paint the entry gate. Overall, the day made for some more amazing memories!
– Shanga Rose Meono Juckas
Today we had breakfast at 7:30. Our diet consists of mostly mangos, rice and heart-shaped watermelon. After some lesson planning for next week, we started our second day of service. We made a lot of progress in painting the fence at the orphanage and making it an even happier place. Over at the women’s shelter, they had a minor setback after the storm but were able to move forward and make more progress. It’s been an amazing week in Thailand and we are all excited for another two. Shout out to lily for being the best roomie ever!
– Morgan Schneider
Today we woke up for an early breakfast at 7:00am before departing for the Akha Hilltribe. When we arrived, we were given a tour of the village and were informed of the culture by Niti. We were also given the opportunity to try authentic Akha food and buy Akha attire after our visit to the hilltribe. We headed straight to our service sites. At Nimit (the orphanage), we made progress in painting the entry gate, while at the women’s shelter, they are almost done filling in the ditch. Overall, it was another great day in Thailand. Also, happy anniversary to Allie and Morgan.
– Mackenzie Simon
Today we got a quick look at the elementary school that we will be teaching 3rd, 4th, 5thand 6thgrade next week. When we arrived, all of the students were dancing and playing, so everyone is pretty ecstatic to start working with these kids. We then traveled to a museum about Chiang Mai and the Three Kings Monument. Then, we all packed into our vans and traveled to the service sites for our last day of service. Us girls at Wildflower shoveled away and worked through the exhaustion to complete our goals. We were rewarded with ice cream from 7/11 (which is a pretty big deal here) and the night off to recover from the exhaustion that every single person in the group felt.
– Allie Cantaffa
Day 10 in Thailand was yet another unforgettable day. Waking up each morning greeted by a lush landscape of mountains and river just doesn’t seem to grow old. As always, the day started with a delicious breakfast, then the two groups piled into GLA vans 1 and 2 for their last visit to Nimit and Wildflower. Each group spent a few hours at the service site in the morning teaching English and spending time with the people that they had grown so close to over the week. After, all of the children from Nimit, the women and children from Wildflower and entire GLA group traveled to a cultural center for an irresistible lunch and got to learn about traditional Thai style of clothing. All of us were given a traditional Thai outfit to wear, although I can say they weren’t the most comfortable things to put on, seeing all of the adorable Thai kids dressed up was priceless. After dressing up we were offered a wide array of Thai snacks followed by a lunch, I don’t think the word “full” does any justice to describe how we were feeling after all the delicious food. Later on we had to say goodbye to the women and children, the goodbyes were hard as so many relationships were cultivated and so many memories were made. I can confidently say that all of us are so thankful to have spent so much time with these incredible women, children and their constant smiles this past week.
– Kayla O’Shea
We woke up bright and early today and ate another great breakfast around 7:30am so we could head off to the ZIPLINE! While we cruised through the trees we were able to get a better view of Thailand. The scenery was spectacular and all the different obstacles was a huge bonus. While being up in the trees for 3 hours we were definitely satisfied. Afterwards we gathered up and did last minute changes to our lesson plans for this week and then headed to the Sunday night market. Overall, we had a great day!
– Cat Zagyva
Today was our first day of service at the school. We will spend the next 5 days teaching English to grades 3-6. We stopped by a high school where we played games, danced and interacted with other high schoolers. We came home to a delicious dinner, met with our mentor groups and went straight to bed after another exhaustingly wonderful day in Thailand.
– Morgan Schneider
Our second day of teaching came with a renewed sense of confidence and fluidity in the teaching for each group. I was pretty surprised at the high level of English some of the students have from previous lessons. After our second day of teaching, we headed to “Muay Thai,” this is a wrestling class. We we arrived, we were met in an old garage set up with a wrestling ring, a line of punching bags and a small man in very unculturally-acceptable shorts which (I think) shocked us all. However, we warmed up to the idea of the booty shorts and began the strenuous workout this little man was shouting at us. After repetitious rounds of burbies, squat jumps, push-ups and more, we were instructed to put on the giant punching gloves and cushions so that we could get into partners and perform the tasks thrown at us. Even though at the end of the day my wrists were beat up and my whole body had a growing aching sensation, it made, once again, for an incredible day of memories and we’re down to single digits with the countdown of leaving. A melancholy feeling is just beginning to rise amongst the group, a hesitation of leaving all the bonding connections we’ve created in the past several days behind in this one summer.
Shanga Rose Meono Juckas
HAPPY 18thBIRTHDAY KAYLA! We started the day by giving a big surprise to Kayla after she finished her run. The face she made was priceless! After that, we all headed down for another delicious breakfast by the river. We finished breakfast and we left the homebase and headed to the school. After our 3rdday of teaching, we headed to the museum, Art in Paradise where we were able to interact and be a part of the exhibit. Next came the part of the day we had all been anticipating since the intense day of Thai boxing the day before; Thai massages. After the relaxing massages, we drove back to the homebase and settled in with some comfort food such as mashed potatoes and salad. To add even more excitement to this great day, it was ended with a surprise pool party to wrap up Kayla’s 18thbirthday.
– Chloe Vermette
Today was pretty spectacular! We were able to have another day teaching English with the kiddos. We have all grown to love them. Supachai will always be in our hearts! After our last day teaching in the classrooms, we had the opportunity to chat with a monk. Lots of questions answered! He showed us around their university and we are full of knowledge that we didn’t have before. The time spent with the monk ended with some meditation.
– Cat Zagyva
We’re done! The service part of this trip is over, which is both relieving and sad. As exciting as the English camp was, saying goodbye to all the adorable little Thai kids that we have built bonds and relationships with was actually very difficult. To restore our excitement and energy for the upcoming days, we had dinner at an American restaurant “The Dukes.” We all enjoyed a delicious meal with no complaints. After dinner, we were able to wander around a local night market. We love Thailand!
– AnnaMarie Tepe
At 8:30am today we were off to the city to begin our scavenger hunt. We were all looking forward to it as our mentors had kind of rubbed off their excitement (and they were REALLY excited!). We split up into teams and the competitiveness was palpable (or maybe it was just me). Once Andrea screamed “ready, set, go!” we all ran like mad women (plus Ben) and set off into the heart of Chiang Mai to rack up as many points as we could. It was amazing getting to discover a few of the many special nooks and crannies of this unique city. We got to interact with so many people: locals and tourists alike. After lunch, we headed to a place where we learned how to make traditional Thai umbrellas, and got to paint our own! It became very interesting when our guide turned into a fortune teller. Some of us are happy with the knowledge that we will be very, very rich, while others were told to work out so as not to become obese. It was a solidly dope day. Trill, man. Trill.
Kaela Van Der Vaart
All students have departed and are on their way home!