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Thursday July 5, 2018
Good morning from Thailand! Everyone landed safely last night and went straight to bed. Here we are at breakfast ready to take on our first full day in the country!
Written by Kathy Youngkin, International Director
Friday July 6, 2018
Sawadii-kha to everyone back home!
Today was all about getting to know Chiang Mai, both its history and its food culture. We explored a museum dedicated to the history of the city and then learned more about Buddhism after visit Chiang Mai’s oldest temple, Wat Chiang Man. Our history lesson was sandwiched by a buffet lunch at Siripanna restaurant and a shopping trip to a local market to learn about the fresh ingredients that we would be using in our evening Thai cooking class. At dinner we tried our hands at cooking Thai food and surprised ourselves with how delicious everything was. What a great first “taste” of the city and Thailand.
Saturday July 7, 2018
Hello! We can’t even begin to tell you how amazing Thailand is, how much fun we’re having, and how much we’ve learned already.
Today, half of our group went to the village of Hmong Mae Saa. When we arrive we explored the village and learned about the lifestyle of the local Hmong indigenous group. Then, we took a hike touring the farm of one of the village leaders who grew over 100 different varieties of healing herbs and many other fruits and vegetables, including coffee beans. We ended our visit by making our own wax design and trying some local food.
The second group went to a local market where they tried new, local foods such as: durian, bamboo worms, and other Thai candies. We also had a chance to explore, buy souvenirs, and practice their bargaining skills.
To end the amazing day, both groups got the opportunity to tour a pottery village and then make their own clay pots under the guidance of one of the local potters.
– Leaders of the day: Emma P., Rachel R.F., Amanda S.
Sunday July 8, 2018
Today, we split up into our two groups from yesterday to visit the local market and the Hmong village. At the market, we had the chance to try durian which we had expected to be disgusting because of all the terrible reactions from the last group, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as we had thought! Luckily, there was an assortment of exotic fruits, which were extremely delicious. We had the chance to bargain with the locals, which proved to be difficult at times. While we were exploring the market, the other group had the opportunity to hike and explore the Hmong village. They listened to the village elder play a local instrument, tried batik art, and bonded with kids in the village.
Our local administrator, Todd, returned to Tianna to teach us how to teach our students for the first day of school tomorrow! We learned to use our “teacher voices” by screaming at each other across the room😉. Then we split into our teaching groups, planned out our lessons for tomorrow, and also began practicing routines for our high school cultural exchange.
By leaders of the day: Taylor and Isa
Monday July 9, 2018
Today was our first day of service!
We woke up nice and early, gulping down our breakfast within minutes so we could jump on the vans to start our first day of teaching! We split into two groups to teach at two local primary schools, and as our vans pulled up on the school grounds, we were greeted by the bright smiles and enthusiastic waves of the students at Wat Phra Non School and Wat Rong Oor School.
The three class periods that we taught went by in the blink of an eye as our students learned occupations, animals, numbers, sports, colors, and more! We had a delicious lunch with the students at school and then ran it all off at recess as we played tag and soccer with the kids. We also played jump rope with the students at Wat Phra-Non School, and the kids even gave us flowers to put behind our ears which were the absolute cutest! When the buses came to pick us up, we were overwhelmed with happiness and love while hugging every student in our path goodbye for the day.
After that, we drove to Wat Suan Dok Temple for the monk chat. It was super eye opening and inspiring, we got to know all about the lives of monks and the teachings of Buddha and its history and philosophy. The monk (which is ‘pra’ in Thai) had a great sense of humour and was happy to answer every single on of our questions! We then went on a beautiful tour of the temple, and walked through the graves of the Royal Chiang Mai Family.
We ended the night preparing for our Wednesday cultural exchange and for classes tomorrow! We can’t wait!
-By leaders of the day Adele and Lydia 🙂
Tuesday July 10, 2018
Everyone loved their second day of service! Once again, our students greeted us with warm smiles and never-ending enthusiasm.
Our teaching groups of four of five volunteers tackled eccentric classes up to 49 students! We used feedback from yesterday to make today’s lessons more clear and fun for our loving students. After class, we saw many of the same faces coming to greet us with hugs and smiles during recess. We can’t wait to see what the next few days of teaching will bring as we better ourselves in the classroom.
After school we went straight to Muay Thai. We got to learn about Muay Thai boxing from experiential professionals as well as try it out ourselves! For most of us who were trying something completely new, all of our peers gave it their all! Not to mention the hardcore workout we all got.
Our dinner tonight was a special treat of Western food that gave us all the energy we could need to haggle prices at the night bazaar. We walked around countless tables of handmade crafts and souvenirs as we start to stock up presents for home.
We ended the night with our final prep for the cultural exchange tomorrow. We couldn’t be more excited!
Love, the leaders of the day,
Aine, Jillian, Teerith
Wednesday July 11, 2018
Today was day 3 of teaching. The kids are still so excited when we pull up to school, and the opportunity to teach continues to be just as rewarding.
After our service at primary schools in the morning, we made our way to Sacred Heart College, a local, private, all-girls Catholic school in Chiang Mai. During our visit, we got insight into Catholic Thai culture. The students performed traditional Thai dances for us, and in return we performed “The Cup Song” and danced to “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars. It was so fun to watch how excited they got by our performances. We made so many new friends and won two out of three friendly basketballs games with the Sacred Heart students.
We finished the day by preparing for Thursday’s classes. We can’t wait!
Thursday July 12, 2018
Today we started the day with breakfast at Tianna. After breakfast we jumped into the vans and headed to school for our last day teaching in the classroom. The games that we prepared, such as charades, songs, and Simon says, left the kids with big smiles on their faces. After teaching, we enjoyed playing football and running with the kids. The kids were excited to have us sign their books and sent us off with endless hugs.
After teaching and returning to Tianna, we enjoyed free time at the pool. When free time was over, we met back to prepare for English Camp. To prepare, we came up with new dances, scavenger hunts, and fun ways to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We then enjoyed a nice dinner which included pad thai and chicken wings. Evening games we played after dinner included human knot, partner shoe tying, and the human bridge. To close the night we watched a Ted Talk about happiness and reflected on how we view our own happiness. Groups finished polishing off the rest of their English camp materials and are excited for our last day with the children.
-by Nathan and Gracie
Friday July 13, 2018
Today we had English Camp. This wasn’t a normal teaching day, it was our last school day. We first started off by doing an ice breaker game. The Wat Phra-non School made a 100+ person conga line, and it was super fun! Meanwhile, Wat Rong Oor School played rock, paper, scissors.
At each school we set up 4 stations. At both schools the kids’ favorite station was making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They were excited to make and eat them. Watching them smile when they bit into the sandwich was heartwarming knowing that our American food was good to them. We really bonded with our kids even more when we did the stations. Knowing that we could give the kids such an amazing time felt awesome.
Leaving the kids at the end of the day was the hardest part. The kids lined up one-by-one so we could give them individual hugs. There were a lot of tears from the students and from us. It was evident that the kids taught us as much as we taught them.
– Leaders of the Day: Faye, Hudson, Juliette
Saturday July 14, 2018
Today we got to sleep in and enjoyed a late breakfast at 9 AM. After breakfast, we jumped into the vans and drove up windy road to Doi Pui, another Hmong village in the mountains. We got to explore a beautiful botanical garden and then tried a delicious Northen Thailand curry dish, called khao soi (pronounced cow soy), for lunch. After lunch, we walked through a museum and then another botanical garden before a coffee break.
Then, we drove a little down Doi Suthep to Wat Phra Thot, the “Golden Temple on the Mountain,” where we did fortune sticks and were blessed by a monk. For our last activity of the day, we finished our drive down the mountain to a walking street market where we bought food and shopped for a little. Finally, we returned to home based for a brief round of games before bed.
From Leaders of the Day Hannah, Paige and Nicole
Monday July 16, 2018
Today, we explored the ancient art of umbrella-making and we learned first hand about the process. After, we got to experiment through painting umbrellas of our own. When we finished painting, some of up got our water bottles, phone cases and other accessories decorated by local artists. At a shopping mall nearby that umbrella making center, we ate lunch and purchased some popular Thai snacks.
After our delicious lunch, we went to a 3D museum in which we completed a scavenger hunt. We later rewarded ourselves with coffee, smoothies, and other treats. Once we were fully hydrated we split into two groups for our traditional Thai massages. The massages made us feel rejuvenated and ready for tomorrow’s ziplining extravaganza!
-by Chloe and Álvaro
Our final day before departures kicked off with one of the most anticipated activities of the program: ziplining. After another great breakfast at our home base of Tianna, we piled into our vans and set off for one of the nearby mountains. Once at ziplining, we got suited up and set off on a 35 platform, 2.5 hour adventure in the trees. We zipped across rivers, tackled high ropes courses, and pushed ourselves with guided drops of up to 40 meters!
After ziplining, we headed to an internet cafe for some wifi time before heading back to home base to get ready for our farewell dinner. Our farewell dinner was located at a restaurant just a couple minutes down the road, and still on the Ping River. We listened to the rain as we ate a delicious meal of Thai food and chatted with our friends. We finished the evening back at home base with karaoke and a viewing of our scavenger hunt photos from the 3D museum. Tomorrow is the day we are least looking forward to: leaving Thailand and saying goodbye to our new friends.