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Monday June 18, 2018
After many hours spent at airports and on airplanes, everyone is finally together at Tianna! We will rest and sleep tonight with many Thailand adventures to look forward to tomorrow!
Tuesday June 19, 2018
We had our first ‘taste’ of Chiang Mai today. From a delicious breakfast at Tianna Home Base, to a buffet lunch at the Siripanna restaurant, followed by a shopping trip to a local market to find out about the fresh ingredients for our afternoon Thai cooking class. Lovely food, all the more special as we made it ourselves. In between the eating, we learned about the history of the Lanna region and the Buddhist temples. A great day!
Wednesday June 20, 2018
Our day started by going to an umbrella making center. It was fascinating to see the effort and skill required to make a wooden umbrella. We each got to paint our own umbrella and it was really interesting to see the different GLA student perspectives on creativity and art.
We then had an authentic Thai lunch at Setthasri to prepare for Muay Thai boxing later that day. We didn’t expect that good of a workout, but everyone was really invested in doing their best and trying to learn a new sport. We tried the different fighting styles and learned about the art behind Muay Thai.
On returning to home base we had swim tests in the pool. In the evening we discussed our thoughts on Thailand in our mentor groups.
It was a great third day of the program!
Thursday June 21, 2018
This morning we had Todd, the country co-ordinator, come and hyped us up about teaching the Thai students for the service part of our program. He showed us the ropes, before we started on our lesson plans. After a delicious lunch, we went on a tour of the schools we will be teaching at. The kids were adorable!!
In the afternoon, we headed over to the old Chiang Mai food market to try different foods, including durian and worms!
After a busy day we came back to Home Base and took a dip in the pool. We ended the night with a debate on mega sporting events and the impact their development has on the lives of local children. It was really interesting to hear different viewpoints.
Friday June 22, 2018
Today was our first early morning at Tianna and we awoke with eager anticipation for the many activities of the day.
After our ever delicious breakfast, we began to prepare for the journey to the Hmong Village. After the twisty drive up the mountain in Mae Rim, we arrived at the village and were introduced to two men who have high rankings among the indigenous Hmong. We split into groups for the village and mountain tours and saw many different sights: pigs and chickens, puppies, small farms owned by individuals, and of course the lush forests of Mae Sa Mai. Ending up back together in the main meeting hall of the village, we then enjoyed a craft seminar, local lunch and a musical rendition by one of the Hmong villagers.
In the afternoon, we visited the 3D mural Museum, Art of Paradise, where we were tasked with creating a dramatic video, interacting with the artwork. We ended the day with a super relaxing traditional Thai massage. In the evening, we reflected on the people we had met and what we had learned, challenging some preconceived beliefs.
Saturday June 23, 2018
It is day six of GLA Thailand and it has been quite the adventure. It started off with a race up the 306 steps to the Doi Suthep temple. From the top we could see the entire city of Chiang Mai.
We then went to a nearby Hmong village, where we had some very delicious Khao Soi for lunch. This was followed by a stroll through the beautiful botanical gardens, and the temptations of handcrafted souvenirs from local stall holders.
In the evening we headed to Chiang Mai’s famous ‘walking street market’. Here we were able to look for gifts for family and friends, and also get a taste of authentic Thai street food.
Overall, we had a great day, further immersing ourselves into Thailand’s unique culture. We can’t wait for more activities tomorrow.
Sunday June 24, 2018
Today was full of elephants, mud and lots of laughter. We went to an elephant sanctuary, which was an AMAZING experience.
We began by learning about the elephants, their trainers and the work that the sanctuary does to protect them. We got the opportunity to actually feed the elephants! We fed them bananas and sugarcane and were able to observe their behaviour and how dexterous they are with their trunks.
We then hiked down to the camp with the elephants and made medicine for them by hand. We then got into the water and bathed them. This was the best part of the day! It was muddy but totally worth it because it was a once in a lifetime experience. We covered them in mud and then cleaned them off with fresh water (we were covered in mud too).
To end the adventure, we hiked to a beautiful waterfall that was located near the camp.
After a long ride home, we ended the day making our lesson plans for our first day of school tomorrow. Everyone is nervous, but super excited – we can’t wait! This week of service is going to be a challenge, but we can’t wait to see what lies ahead.
Monday June 25, 2018
We kicked off the second week of adventures with our first day of service.
Split into two groups, we went to our schools. The children greeted us with a traditional Thai ceremony, making us feel very honored. We all had smiles on our faces throughout the challenges of teaching such young children. They loved to play games like tag with us at their break time.
After school, we went to the Buddhist University for a monk chat. The monk enlightened and taught us about the philosophies of Buddhism. He made connections with us and told us his personal stories. We also explored the university grounds, which was home to a beautiful white temple.
In the late afternoon, we headed back to homebase to prepare our lesson plans for the morning and our performance for the cultural exchange, taking place on Wednesday.
We have had such a lovely time in Thailand so far, the food is amazing and the country is so beautiful.
Tuesday June 26, 2018
We began the day by eating a unique breakfast of rice and various meats. There were some familiar features like eggs and fruit. We then prepared ourselves for the daily adventures of teaching.
The students received the lessons magnificently, and the children were left with bright, shinning faces despite the few bumps in the road. Although there were struggles we quickly learned what it meant to be a good teacher.
After the tiring but joyous day at school, we trekked to a small pottery village. We created our own pots as well as learned how the villagers lived day by day, sustained by the pottery business.
After immersing ourselves in the Thai culture of pottery, our famished group continued on to dinner at the American-styled Duke’s family restaurant. The group demolished the food placed in front of them and burned it all off by walking through one of Thailand’s lively night bazaars.
The night was concluded with preparations for the cultural exchange, which you will read about tomorrow.
Wednesday June 27, 2018
Today was, yet again, another great day in Thailand. We started our early morning, dining by the river with our usual eggs and toast. Then, the third day of teaching English – colors, numbers, the alphabet, occupations, sports and culture – to the cutest kids on the planet. Our favorite part of the school day is recess, when we get to play hopscotch and tag, and share popsicles with the children in the courtyard.
After lunch, we headed off to the local private school where we engaged in a cultural exchange with Thai teens our age. After hearing their versions of Ed Sheeran, Stevie Wonder and an authentic acoustic Thai song, we shared our own performances. This consisted of our own rendition of Cotton-Eye Joe and the Cup Song from Pitch Perfect. Following the ceremony we tasted traditional Thai food such as Papaya Salad and Khanom Bueang, and bonded with the high schoolers (many of whom spoke English better than us).
We returned back to home base for a well deserved two hours of free time and celebrated Mariel’s 18th birthday with cake and perfectly pitched singing. We ended our night discussing leadership with our mentor groups, preparing for our last day of teaching, and planning for Friday’s English Camp.
As we enjoyed another amazing day in Chiang Mai, we find ourselves dreading the end of this life changing adventure.
Thursday June 28, 2018
This morning, we had our last teaching classes at our schools. We had time to play with our closest students after lunch and said our goodbyes to the younger students, who won’t be at the English camp tomorrow. There will be various stations where we teach vocabulary related to different topics, including how to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, dances to American hits like the cha-cha slide and cupid shuffle.
We had lots of time to hang out with friends at Tianna this afternoon. Some of us went swimming and others hung out with friends around the resort. After dinner (which included crinkle fries and garlic bread), we all gathered in the meeting room and had a heart-to-heart activity that helped students relate to each other with stories that have impacted who they are today.
Friday June 29, 2018
Our final day of service was an English Camp, the aim of which was to reinforce the English we had taught over the week.
We have made friends with the children, and so when it was time to say goodbye, it was very emotional. This week of teaching has made a huge impact in all of our lives because of the welcoming nature and eagerness of the children. The experience has touched us all very deeply, and we are thankful for the opportunities we have been given.
Note – due to poor internet connection tonight we are unable to upload photographs.
Bags packed. Time for goodbyes and looking back … buddies; cooking Thai food; eating Thai food; temples; monks; different cultures, new ideas; Muay Thai; ABBA – SOS; elephants; markets; zip line; teaching; the children; Tianna; new friends … happy memories.
Wishing everyone a safe journey home.
GLA Team – Tianna