Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
It is hard to begin remembering such an eventful Summer when a look at a picture of any one of our more than thirty participants brings back so many memories at once. We would go off in an air conditioned van and plug in an aux chord to someone’s phone and jam out on our way around the moats and traffic and gazillion temples of Chiang Mai. And we came back to dinners that were sometimes so spicy and squidy that most of us had to supplement them with creamy Jiff peanut butter sandwiches and we had deep dreams and sometimes very vocal demands for dinners entirely composed of french fries and Heinz Ketchup.
There are a lot of moments that stand out most of all: Our time at the Dukes where we couldn’t stand how full we were but kept on eating, that time that Hannah killed a snail (those times…many lives taken), that time we played “Honey I Love You” and Lee told Javin he loved him too convincingly and also that time that Lee picked Javin up by the torso during the Don’t Stop Believing performance and the Thai staff commented on Javin’s six-pack abs and re-watched the video of the performance to point out the abs to the other staff who missed it, when Caitlin named Javin “Javin the Savage” or “Jav the Sav” for short, and I told her she looked like a fox with freckles. That time that Lee danced to that French EDM song in the van and accidentally broke his AC unit, when Caitlin made Ryan an Instagram with a photo of him at the pool party with flowers in his hair (or rather tucked behind both ears, because his hair is gone), that time Kira looked like a young mother with her kids at Nimmit Asia and when she took a class solo when her team was sick, and when all of the girls—especially Kira and Caitlin and Hannah and I—cried our eyes out when we screened the movie Up at the hotel because it was just soooo beautiful! That time that Selin didn’t say that much and was adorable and cuddled best, and Katie was the only one who read voraciously at night in secret, and Sam sassed somebody, and we played so many slap card games and variations of Green Glass Door, and Andrew did hard work harder than the people around him and with a great spirit, and Jane freaked out at all the pigeons, Wa wore her hair in braids and looked seventeen, and Rut was just. always. there.
What an amazing time it was and thanks to everyone who was a part of it!
Memories from Ryan:
· Jav da Sav
· Cali the social media manager
· Peyton’s fear of bugs
· Sam playing soccer with all the kids
· Ryan giving a double piggy back
· Unleashing THE playlist
· Brett Dennen! –Comeback kid
· Cheering on Chiang Mai FC!
· Fernanda developing an American accent in Thailand
· Mentor Emely’s little slip
· Ryan’s tear jerking acapella singing on departure day
· Lee playing king of the hill at the reservoir
· Dani’s epic hiding skills
Summer Blog Posts
Our adventures in Thailand have officially begun! After long journeys from points across the globe, GLA students and staff shared a meal together at our beautiful home base, Lanna Dusita. Tomorrow we will hold orientation and then begin exploring Chiang Mai!
Note: Not pictured due to late flights: Emily, Samantha, and Andrew.
Day 1 – Sawadee Ka/Krup!
It has been a very busy day on our first day of programming. In the morning, International and Thai staff began orientation by involving students in a Thai ritual to help protect our new home from any harm and to respect the spirits on the grounds. We burned incense and left flower garlands in the hotel’s spirit houses, before our more formal orientation to Thai history, culture, and language. During orientation, we also got to know quite a bit more about each other, staff, and the expectations for the next few weeks of fun and service.
In the afternoon, after a fancy buffet lunch, we set off into town exploring Wat Chieng Man and Wat Chedi Luang, two of the most historically important and beautiful temples in old Chiang Mai. We learned that Chiang Mai was founded exactly 720 years ago. (Thanks P’Jane!)
In the late afternoon and into the evening we strolled through markets and were given some introduction to Thai ingredients before cooking a full course menu of Thai favorites: Pad Thai, Green Curry, Sweet and Sour Soup, and Mango with sticky rice. Yum!
With full bellies and some tired bodies, we finished the evening with some down time and reflection on the days events and preparation for our adventures tomorrow.
Our second day in Thailand consisted of many fun activities! We visited a temple, shopped in a local village, and spent a lot of time as a group. After a long car ride, we had to work our way up a long flight of stairs to get to the temple. Once in the temple we were blessed by monks and we got to take photos of the amazing views.
Then we walked through a local village, where we were able to shop and have tasty frappuccinos. We also were able to sit in an outdoor cafe and enjoy the view of the land. Once we all got back to base, we threw on out swim suits and jumped in the pool. We played waters games and drank from coconuts. At the end of the day we all felt closer to one another 🙂
Another Update – New Photos from Cooking Class and More!
Today the students split into two groups and traveled to two different activities for the beginning of the day. Group One went to the Akha Village, a rural village in the mountains where the community is fully self-sufficient. They enjoyed the tour around the town and the lunch provided by a welcoming family of the community. Group Two went to a day market where they tried Thai snacks and did a little shopping. For lunch the group went to Tesco Lotus, a grocery store and mall combined, where they had the opportunity to try new Thai food and shop even more for souvenirs. After that, the group had time to explore the Royal Garden in Chiang Mai, it was very hot and humid, but still beautiful. Once the students had time to regroup at home-base after their morning adventures, we all ventured to a Chiang Mai FC soccer game. The crowd was extremely energetic, which made the students even happier to be there. In the end, the game was a tie, but we still had tons of fun.
-Hannah Cohen and Andrew Richardson
Today we started off with another beautiful breakfast at the Home Base to energize our bodies for the adventure awaiting. After a nice van ride, we began our ziplining adventure that was filled with rope courses and a 40 meter drop. Everyone had a smile on their face and the zip lining was thrilling. After lunch, we planted some trees in the ziplining area next to a waterfall. After a small break at Home Base we headed to the night market in central Chiang Mai. There was just about everything at this outdoor market including food, clothing, jewelry,and souvenirs. Everybody came back with a full bag and a smile. Overall it was a successful day
-Danielle and Selin
Our first day of service was a success! After a nourishing breakfast at the Hotel we began our fruitful day. We visited the Thai version of Costco, where we gawked at all the wonders the store had to offer as we participated in a normal outing for a Thai person. The other half of our group had the opportunity to experience yet another lifestyle, but instead this was the lifestyle of an Akha citizen, an indigenous minority group. Later on the afternoon was just as enriching as the morning. We all got to begin our service at the orphanage which will continue for 5 days. We repainted a building, attempting to get most of the paint of the wall instead of on us, and plastered a fence. We are thankful to have all of the experiences and knowledge that came from this day and we look forward to spending more time with the orphans and other people of Thailand.
-Pike and Caleigh
June 22, 2016
Today we went to a small but well known Thai pottery village. At the village we observed multiple Thai pottery techniques. Ranging from large coil pots made by hand to small vases made electric wheels. It was so interesting to see how everyone in the village had a job. One woman had been making the pots for almost 70 years. While age certainly hindered her, she was still able to deftly mold clay into beautiful works of art.
After touring the village, we then had a chance to attempt at making our own small cups. Working in partners, various levels of success were reached. After leaving the pottery village we continued our normal routine of service after lunch.
We went back to our service sites at Nimmit and continued to plaster and paint buildings. Group one almost finished painting the building while group two had a little more trouble with plastering. The heat and the bugs made a tough combo but it was amazingly rewarding to play with the kids after all of our hard work.
By Sofie and Javin
June 23, 2016
In GLA we attempt to throw ourselves into new situations so constantly that it becomes the new norm. We have been planning as a group a cultural exchange with Sacred Heart College, an all-girls Roman Catholic school. It has taught us new ways of cooperation, teamwork, and ways of exploring our culture.
Today we were able to present our song and dance that we chose to exemplify our culture. It was fantastic to see how well they responded to our actions and how many relations were built in the processes. They taught us tradition thai dances, flower cone making, and cooking. Afterwards, we were able to join them in three different class of our choice: Fruit carving, Thai language class, and PE. All were interesting to say the least and we learned more about ourselves and the culture. When all the planned programing was done, the girls started to dance to KPOP. They were very good and the whole school was somehow involved. It ended up being a huge dance party and we were all sad to have to leave.
We ended the day with service work in our respective places and almost completely finished the job. When we were done working for the day, we played more games with the children at the orphanage and made more friends.
June 27, 2016
Today was very eventful, filled with service and cultural immersion. We started the day with a tour of the Thai public schools where we will be teaching English. The tour included a meet and greet with the school’s headmaster. The students showed excitement towards the next week of learning. It was interesting to see the similarities and differences between our schools at home and the Thai schools. After saying a temporary goodbye to the students, we got on the bus and headed to a Thai Umbrella factory. At the factory, a tour guide showed us the complex process behind the making of the beautiful and durable Thai umbrellas. After the tour, we got the chance to design and decorate our own umbrellas.
While some students were more artistically inclined than others, it was a fun and challenging experience. Students then had the opportunity to get their belongings painted several designed by Thai artists, and shop at the factory’s souvenir store. Some students got really interesting designs done on their backpacks, phone cases, and water bottles! Next, we went back to our service sites and finished our plastering and painting of the orphanage, and played with the cute children. However, our play date got cut short by the fierce torrential downpour of northern Thailand.
After a wet bus ride home, we showered and enjoyed a hot dinner, followed by mentor groups and a frustratingly long game of sardines. Students then slipped into their pajamijammies, enjoyed a steamy cup of hot cocoa, and slipped into bed, eager for the events to come.
-Fernanda and Lee
June 28, 2016
The days now seem to be flying by in a whirlwind! We have been able to have days filled with fun as well as service at our school sites. We started our day again with an early start and breakfast and piled into vans to teach another day at our respective schools. As there were a few people that felt a bit sick and needed to rest at the home-base, some of us had the unexpected opportunity to teach classes with minimal prep time and even to fly solo. While this produced a bit of anxiety at first, it really served to boost the confidence of those of us who got to step up. It was fantastic to see people stretch beyond their comfort zones and feel the reward of taking on a challenge against time and lack of resources and succeed.
After a brief refresher at home-base after our classes, we had a really enjoyable afternoon at a 3D art museum called Art in Paradise. It is a museum full of giant murals that create illusions. As we were told from the information at the starting area “an illusion is a sensory perception that causes a distorted or altered impression. Since illusion is not the opposite of reality, the effect of illusion one experiences is neither true nor false” A lot to think about there! But also, it was just really fun to position ourselves and take cool trick shots.
After our museum visit, we were able to get a real Thai massage. It was very authentic and we could tell that local Thai people were regulars to the place we went. We had to get our feet cleaned and soaked and change into simple clothes like pajamas, before spending an hour having a full body massage. During the massage, we were stretched, cracked, and pushed in interesting positions. Most of us thought it felt pretty amazing, but a few of us found it a bit rough (don’t worry no one injured).
We stopped briefly at a local park to feed the pigeons on the way to dinner. The pigeons were numerous and very persistent with us, trying to get our food, which made for a fun time.
Finally, we made it to THE DUKES! An American restaurant everyone had really been looking forward to. The food was amazing…nachos, pizza, onion rings, French fries, chicken sandwiches, carbonara pasta with garlic bread, ribs, and brownies. After a serious gorging, we took home 12 extra boxes of food. Just, wow!
We shopped at the nearby market and bought a few more souvenirs before coming back to home-base a bit later than usual. It was a really wonderful day.
July 1, 2016
English Camp Day
Today was our final day of teaching (and of service for the entire trip), so we spent the day hosting an “English Camp” for the students. Everyone led a different activity, with stations such as peanut butter and jelly, sports, dressing, song and dance, and numbers/letters. It was a really exhausting day; everyone had about 5 shifts of 50 students of various ages. At the end of the day there was a closing ceremony where the school thanked us for teaching and said goodbye. We all loved teaching and the students were so sweet. It was sad to leave them behind but we were all happy to have connected with the students so well. Half of us sang journey
July 2, 2016
I made a friend today. She wasn’t a human friend. She was…….. an ELEPHANT!!!! Today we got to meet some elephants! In the morning we learned a lot about how elephants in Thailand are often treated cruelly treated, especially in the tourist industry. Luckily, the elephant camp we went to was one of the more responsible ones in Chiang Mai. We each got paired with an elephant at the beginning of the day, and we spent the rest of the day feeding, washing, hiking, and playing with that elephant. We wore some funky outfits and almost drowned sometimes, nice. Elephants enjoy eating AND pooping. Also swimming, farting, and spraying water. I see three lizards right now!! Three!!!!!!! Hot chocolate only works in the morning, but you really want it at night……………………………………….just like how in life, sometimes the things you want only come to you when they are things you need.
July 3, 2016
Biking and Kayaking Day
Today we ventured outside of Chiang Mai to go biking and kayaking. First, we went mountain biking through rice patty fields and rural roads. It was an exhilarating ride for about an hour and a half. After biking, we drove over to a reservoir nearby. We got to kayak to our lunch, and that time nobody fell in. After a filling lunch of cold coke and ice (also food) we got to the swimming. Swimming was a wild time. There was a floating trampoline and tower and we definitely played King of the Hill. Many mentors were knocked off of the tower and many people fell in. But, it didn’t matter, because we were all wearing giant orange life vests that were attracting bees! Then we kayaked back to our destination, and two students knocked one of the Thai staff and another student off of their kayak. What a fun time. After we got back and cleaned up we went out and bought gifts for everyone, you’re welcome. Thai gifts thai gifts thai gifts thai gifts thai gifts thaiiiiii gifts. It’s actually 9:37. Beautiful.
-Claire and Katie
July 5, 2016
Our last full day of programming has been very special. We had the opportunity to relax at a reservoir and to reflect on our experiences together. We had a really great buffet lunch floating in small huts on the water and we listened to sad music. We were able to play a few games to keep our spirits up, but started to feel the heaviness of having to say goodbyes at our last formal dinner. We all got dressed up, and most of us even sprung for some lipstick! We went to a really nice place on the river and had many courses of food, but I think all of our minds were on it being the end of our trip. When we got back to home base we danced together by the water and exhausted ourselves, some of us were already getting really emotional. The staff surprised the group with fireworks and sparklers for everyone to celebrate the holiday. We were a bit late getting to the final photo slideshow of our trip, and the technology wasn’t perfect so some of the photos were rotated wrong, which made it a bit less heavy and more funny.
We are all very sad to leave each other and the staff, but know we will keep in touch. It is interesting how close you can get to people in such a short time sharing so many experiences. Thanks to everyone for such an amazing experience this summer! I know we will never forget each other.