Time Capsule Letter
We can’t believe it has already been so long since our Thailand trip ended! We’ll never hear “I want it that way” without thinking of your group, and who can forget the infamous “oop” or the impact that Lil Peppa and Aquawoman and her crew had on our group.
It seems like yesterday that we were moving sand at EVT (very efficiently) and playing with kids at our school. You’re probably back at school (or starting college) but we wanted you to know that we are still thinking of you and the memories we made this summer in Thailand.
Thank you for your commitment to making a positive impact on the world. I encourage you to continue learning all that you can about issues that you are passionate about at home. And more importantly, the knowledge YOU gained on this trip will serve you and your community for the rest of your life! We now know how complex animal and environmental conservation are.
And we were inspired by Dada’s inspirational leadership as she endeavors to highlight the culture of community, empower local artisans, and treat elephants as her brothers and sisters. It is truly inspirational to witness someone step into leadership with grace and strength to do better for themself and for their community (animal and human!).
Another thing I can’t forget is how much fun we had together! You guys were a huge part of making this trip so fun by being a really close knit group. We experienced Thai culture by learning to haggle at the market, prepare delicious Thai cuisine, and pick up a few key Thai phrases. What a joy to do all of these things with beautiful landscapes around us!
We worked really hard and also had a blast together. Whether it was trips to Poo Poo Island, to the White Temple, or the bonfire at Phu Chi Pha we all had a great time be learning, growing and exploring together!
Thanks for helping to make these special memories in an amazing place and good luck as you become the change!!
Melissa, Emma and the GLA Thailand team
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Friday July 19, 2019
Sawadeekah (Hello in Thai) to all of our readers of the Global Leadership Adventures Elephant Sanctuary Project blog!
Today was arrival day in Chiang Rai, and we have successfully picked up all of the tired but excited members of our group from the airport, and brought them back to our lovely homebase. We ate a delicious dinner of fried rice prepared by our talented homebase chefs, and students are resting up for orientation tomorrow.
Check out our first group picture! (Note: we are missing Cayetana and Gabriela, as they arrived a bit after the group photo, but they are here and all settled in as well!)
Tomorrow we will kick off orientation activities, start learning about Thai language and culture, and explore a local market!
-Emma, GLA Program Staff
Saturday July 20, 2019
This morning we had orientation. After lunch, we had. Thai language and culture lesson an met a monk at a temple. Finally we did a scavenger hunt in a market. Student blogs to follow beginning tomorrow.
Sunday July 21, 2019
Today we were able to visit the incredible Elephant Peace Project. We were welcomed with open arms by Dada, her family, and the other members of the Elephant Peace staff. We began with a short hike through rice paddies to reach the Elephant Peace camp where the elephants reside. Dada introduced herself and the hill tribe she identifies with, as well as others around the area. She explained to us the importance of elephant conservation in northern Thailand. This included the struggle between moving away from elephant riding and that being the family’s only source of income to be able to feed the elephants they own. The knowledge and experience Dada shared with us was life changing and touched us all in different and individual ways.
After introductions we were able to prepare sugar cane, banana trunk, and grass roots for the elephants to eat. Throughout feeding them we were given the opportunity to get up close, take pictures, and pet the elephants. After feeding the elephants, we were able to eat the delicious food prepared by the people as well as have an open forum with Dada where we were able to ask questions and dive deeper into our understanding of her life.
We then took a short hike down the small river to find a pool where we were able to bathe the elephants. We used small buckets to splash the elephants and scrub them clean. This was another opportunity for a photo op with the elephants. As it began to rain we headed back to the main center and were given the chance to shop around in Dada’s gift store. This was a great way to end the incredible day we had at Elephant Peace. Everyone came out of this adventure having a deep connection and respect towards Dada and the positive attitude that she puts out into the world.
-by Zoe and Mikayla
Monday July 22, 2019
On Monday, we began teaching English to some of the Thai students. The night before we were split up into two teaching groups, one group for grades 1 through 3 and one for grades 4 through 6. Each group had to create a lesson plan for different topics depending on the grades they were teaching, and we all had a lot of fun preparing them.
We woke up a little earlier than normal, in order to arrive at the school with enough time to plan a little more as well as get an introduction from one of the teachers.
The teaching was a challenge at first, but once we made it through a class or two many of us started to get the hang it. The kids were very energetic and excited to see us! They loved to play games, especially the younger kids, and many of them were super competitive. But they were the best kind of competitive, since they mostly just cared about the competition and not who won.
It was and probably still will be difficult to break through the language barrier, but overall we provided a positive experience for the kids while learning a lot about ourselves in the process. And despite the difference in culture, as the day went on we realized many of the kids act very similarly to American elementary school kids. We also learned a lot about our own personal strengths and weaknesses in regards to our teaching skills. Many of us probably learned more than the students! After teaching, we stopped at a grocery store, in case anyone needed supplies, before heading back to home base.
By Max and Linden
Tuesday July 23, 2019
After three days of teaching English and creating amazing bonds with the students, we woke up this morning bright and early for our final day of teaching at our Thai school. A group of students were also sent to an anuban, or kindergarten class to meet and play with the kindergarteners. Doing activities such as songs, games, lots of dancing and running. This being our very last day it consisted of a lot of wrapping up our lessons and saying the toughest goodbyes.
After leaving the Thai school we set out on our next activity. When arriving at home base we prepared to play a game to teach us about leadership strategies. We were tested as a group to make it across a path that took communication, patience and teamwork. With lots of trial and errors the time started ticking. It was past dinner by the time we finally made it through. It was well worth it though because we passed the time by doing the wave and singing.
At one point in the Leadership game we were nearing the end when numerous people had to be sent back to the beginning. We struck a deal and the boys agreed to perform a song and dance if they didn’t have to start from the very start of the game. After about an hour we were all set to watch them perform. They definitely went above and beyond our expectations. It was definitely a night to remember.
-Ashley and Bri
Wednesday July 24, 2019
Simply put, last Tuesday was a banger of a day. Starting with an extravagant feast consisting of sunny side up eggs,rice, and toast. This gave the energy boost needed to carry out the rest of the day. We then traveled to the school and prepared for our first task. We were divided into to two groups to teach two different sets of kids.
One group took the playful and energetic 1-3 graders, while the other group handled the more mature 4-6 graders. While one group was constructing a plan for the kids, the other would be in the class room instructing. Some problems that arose during the teaching was the language barriers and the kids lack of cooperation. We overcame the obstacles and taught the kids things such as fruits and animals.
To start off the afternoon we had delicious chicken fried rice with a side of pineapple. Three hours of of teaching remained. The kids were ready to learn! Some games to get the kids engaged were apple apple grape(duck duck goose),board slap, and a card pickup game. Although they struggled at first,the kids were great at pronouncing words such as grape. After an exhausting day teaching the group left to get some juice. The heat seemed to fade away after a refreshing sip of some fresh squeezed Thailand juice.
We were unexpectedly informed by our leaders that would take a trip to a local Thai market. The group was ecstatic that we would be able to shop for Thailand merchandise. In the market local vendors sold lots of hand made crafts and bracelets. A group favorite was the rings. After an exciting shopping run it was time to go back to home base. We all snuggled into our bed covers and called it a day.
-Randy & Bradley
Thursday July 25, 2019
Today we woke up to the sound of rain and headed to breakfast at 8am. During breakfast we had eggs, rice, pineapple, toast, ham, and steamed veggies to choose from. While we ate, we listened to announcements about our day and gained some more information about the cooking class and drive to Mount Phu Chi Fa that we would be having that day.
At 9 we finished up breakfast and loaded into the vans to head to our Thai cooking class. We arrived at a market where we met our cooking instructor. From here we split into two groups and we taken on a tour of the market which doubled as a chance for us to pick up the fresh ingredients we would be using in our dishes as well as sample Thai street food. Once we had gathered all of our ingredients we loaded back into the vans and drove to our instructors house to begin cooking our meal.
Using our ingredients from the market we prepared Spicy Green Papaya Salad, Tam Ka Soup, Green Curry, and Bananas in Sweet Coconut Milk for desert. To prepare these dishes we split of into pairs allowing one person to make the Spicy Green Papaya Salad and Tam Ka Soup and the other person to make the Green Curry and Bananas and Coconut milk. Even though each person only made two things, we were able to try everything because we prepared enough of the dish for two people to eat together. Once we had finished making and eating our Thai food, we began our journey to Phu Chi Fa.
During the three hour drive we talked to friends, listened to music, and watched the interesting views from our window. We arrived to the village just in time for dinner where we ate rice, fish, egg, green beans, and chicken. After dinner we were treated to a performance by the locals. This performance consisted of men and boys showing us their warrior acrobatic routine and traditional dance.
After the performance we had a quick bonfire and then went to sleep in our rooms that overlooked the mountains.
Friday July 26, 2019
We woke up in Phu Chi Fa and our beautiful mountain view was covered by a thick fog. A breakfast of vegetable, meat, and rice stew was prepared by the hill tribe people of us. Shortly after breakfast we departed, we were going to go on an early morning sunrise hike and swim in a waterfall but due to weather conditions we had to change our plans.
Everyone got on their buses and drove to a cute coffee shop with many funny statues. We continued driving and then stopped at a grocery store for lunch and some snacks. We got back in the car and headed to another Thai market which was right on the border with Thailand, and Myanmar.
After the market, we got back in the bus and set off to Elephant Valley Thailand, where we will be spending the remainder of our time here. When we arrived, everyone immediately loved our new home base. We had an amazing dinner and we saw and are excited to continue seeing elephants right outside the fences of our eating area.
We all ended the night with a game of jeopardy testing us all of Thai Culture, Thai Language, GLA Students/Staff, Elephants Trivia, and Random Knowledge. After a tough battle and countless vegetable offs, team Starships managed to take the victory. Everyone headed back to their cabins and we’re overjoyed about the extended sleep for breakfast at 9 tomorrow.
-Carly & Peyton
Saturday July 27, 2019
Saturday, we woke up in the Elephant Valley Sanctuary. We had breakfast in the diner, which has the amazing view of the elephants. It is very cool because in here, we are the ones who are in a ‘cage’ and the elephants are ‘free’.
After breakfast we had a GLA activity in groups; we each had a role assigned of different types of elephant parks and sanctuaries, each with different ideologies. Here we discussed and shared each point of view, permitting us to see how difficult it is to reach a final decision about the future of elephants.
After lunch we had observation time and we were able to meet Jack. He taught us the elephant’s body language and what each movement meant. For example when the ears are flapping, it means it is happy; also the tail determines the elephant’s heart rate.
After this we fed the elephants banana leaves and stems along with actual bananas. Jack explained to us that they put minerals and other medications in the food for the well being of the elephants.
In our free time, we went to explore our space and we found swings that faced the elephants. It had a pretty cool view :). Finally we ate dinner and headed out to the night market (which only opens on Saturdays). There was a huge variety of things such as food, hand-made crafts and more. At 9 we saw the light show of the Golden Clock were it lit up and music was playing. We returned on the bus signing throwback songs and having a good time. We arrived back and it was 9:30 and time to go to bed.
This day was very unique because it was the first time we learned more in depth about elephants and were able to have a fun time in our new household (Elephant Valley Sanctuary).
We are so excited for the next last days enjoying our time in Thailand.
-Cayetana and Gabriela (from Ecuador)
Sunday July 28, 2019
Today was an early day for GLA, starting with breakfast at 7:30. After a quick bite to eat, we slipped on boots and gloves and began a solid hour of poo patrol. We worked alongside two amazing staff members who taught us about what it takes to care for the elephants here at Elephant Valley, Thailand. We took a quick break filled with laughs and dance parties then grabbed our hoes and garden gloves to start weeding out invasive species that have grown in the elephants’ habitat.
Our work was exhausting and hot, but extremely rewarding. Seeing the final product was worth every sweaty second.
After stopping for a lunch break, we joined Jack, one of the leaders here at Elephant Valley. He helped us observe the body language of the elephants and taught us about each of the elephants’ special traits. The elephants took a quick swim in the pond, which fascinated many members of the group and was a great opportunity for us to get a closer look at the animals.
Following observation, we interviewed a local Thai woman who works at EVT. JJ was able to help us better understand youth in Thailand and how culture and tradition change over time.
We then fed the elephants again, which was a highlight for many. We are all extremely excited to make these last few days in Thailand count, meaning we are all pushing ourselves to do our best in service and self growth.
Jaiden and Taya
Monday July 29, 2019
Monday July 29, we started out our day at 7:30 with breakfast. Following breakfast was elephant poop scooping duty. After scooping poop for about an hour we moved on to our next task.
Our biggest goal for the day was to clean up the space that Zach has been living in. Zach is an elephant that is experiencing musth which is a period of time where male elephants produce higher doses of testosterone causing them to become a little extra aggressive in a drunken state and requiring distance from other elephants.
We started by scrapping all the mud that had been contaminated by Zach’s feces and moving some branches from fallen trees. Then we enjoyed a delicious lunch while the sun dried out the newly cleared area.
After lunch we began sand duty. Sand duty consisted of us moving loads of sand and packing it into Zach’s area. Even though this work was pretty demanding and we were all dripping sweat by the end of it, we all had a lot of fun and felt really accomplished by the time we were done!
After our hard work we got to walk over to a local market and got some snacks. Once back at home base we had the opportunity to talk to Tee, one of the sanctuary workers. Following that we had dinner and later a GLA activity. Finally we had some free time which consisted of most of us playing Uno or spoons!
Photos coming soon!
Today we woke up pretty early for breakfast at 7:30. After breakfast we went for our last day of poop patrol, you know we’ve been doing poop patrol for too long when most people could recognize Thongin’s poop.
Then, we had our last day of service and we all worked extremely hard weeding. We thought the first day of weeding was hard, but the roots on these plants were the size of our water bottles. After service we all took freezing cold showers because we somehow used so much electricity that our bathroom electricity stopped working.
We had observation after lunch and it was the best day yet. Jack, the manager of elephant valley, gave us two tires chained together to give to the elephants to play with.the tired were left in the elephant’s area and the elephants quickly found their favorite toy. Ka moon, one of the smaller elephants, loved to kick the tires and chase them. Mor poo too, a newer elephant, was scared of them and kept telling them to go away by smacking her trunk on the ground. May noy went back and forth between being scared of the tires and wanting to play. Watching them play was an amazing sight.