Saturday August 4, 2018
First day of arrivals is complete! We are waiting on the arrival of two young ladies in the morning and then our group of 23 will be complete. Today’s group settled into their new bunks, ate dinner and most headed directly to bed. Tomorrow will be a full day of orientation and elephanting!
Sunday August 5, 2018
Hi Friends and Family,
We are so excited to welcome this amazing group of globe-hopping, world-changing, young leaders to Thailand! The Terrific Twenty-Three have landed in a far away country and are here to make a difference!
We’ve gotten to know more about their individual strengths and what they can bring to the team! We have a diverse crew that is learning about their upcoming service projects: having an authentic Thai school teaching/learning experience and volunteering at an ethical Elephant sanctuary by prepping food and maintaining the grounds.
Through learning about teaching techniques, elephant social/psychological development and issues within the tourist industry, we are certain these ladies and gents will come back to their home community with a new series of skills and ideas of local and global issues to begin addressing with passion, commitment, and targeted determination.
We look forward to a great session and will keep you posted.
In the spirit of adventure,
Elephant Village Initiative – A4
Monday August 6, 2018
This morning we started the day off with some delicious breakfast. Afterwords we headed out to the elephants’ fields to pick up some elephant compost. All the compost is transported to the pit of doom, which is an experiences in its own. It consists of purely elephant poop leaves and some creepy critters. It was a little challenging transporting the carts filled with elephants dung to the PIT OF DOOM but it was definantly a fulfilling job. Once the dirty work was done, it was off to clearing a portion of a field to prepare it for Elephant Grass planting. A few of the group got sucked on by leaches which was a little grody if I’m being honest. Back to the field clearing, it was very hard work clearing out giant pieces of bamboo and the tall vines, weeds, etc. I was shocked to see how much work the group got done as I did not think we would clear the whole field, but we sure did. Before we could plant the grass we actually had to go and cut grass so then it can be replanted and spread through the new field. While the grass was being cut the sight of a life time happened, an elephant ran at full speed and even trumpeted a little bit. It was one of the gnarliest experiences of my life today was a great finish to one exhausting yet beautiful fun filled day.
Sami and Carson
Tuesday August 7, 2018
Today was a blast! We had many adventures. After picking up lots of elephant “nuggets”, we set to work digging trenches and planting hairy grass for our lovely elephant friends to eat as well as laying down sand over the puddles in their eating space. After a flavorful lunch consisting of sticky rice and assorted dishes, we had the exciting opportunity to continue planting grass!! We managed to complete the planting process after a bit of rain, a bit of grass, and a lot of sweat. Most of us walked over to a convience store down the road and splurged on some fun Thai snacks, costing an average of about 2 U.S. dollars. All in all, day was very eventful and a great experience for everyone. 🙂
Thursday August 9, 2018
Today is August 9 and we left Elephant Valley Thailand bright and early after breakfast. We headed to Elephant Peace Travel which is a group that allows for up close interaction with elephants including bathing and feeding. Before heading to the elephants, students dressed in traditional Thai clothing. To get to the elephants we traveled single file through rice patties ending in a Hilltribe area. We spent the morning cutting food for the elephants and feeding them all while GLA students were given an opportunity to be up close and personal to the elephants. The group continued to bathe the elephants in a river. We were fortunate enough to experience a traditional Thai style lunch at the Hilltribe grounds. After lunch the group proceeded to assist in concocting a herbal medicine for the elephants health. A Hilltribe elder then blessed the elephants and students. We proceeded to the new home base at Chang Gardens and students settled into new houses. Students enjoyed their first dinner at the new home base. The group ended the night with mentor groups and a bit of free time before heading off for a good night’s rest.
-by Corey and Jules
Friday August 10, 2018
Welcome to day 8! We are so excited to share the details from our first day at the new homebase location.
We woke up at 8:30 for our first breakfast at Chang Garden before loading the buses to go to a Buddhist Monk school. We were enlightened on the basics of Buddhism after a chat with one of the monks. Did you know that monks in Thailand have to follow 227 different rules?
After some more insightful questions from us, we left the monastery to go to a fancy buffet lunch where we got to try Thai desserts for the first time. Again we loaded the buses and visited several temples. The Blue Temple primarily just displayed art for tourists whereas the Emerald Buddha temple was a site featuring several buildings for worship and even a museum for the tourists that explained many of the Buddhists traditions.
In the shops surrounding the temples, many of us tried unique Thai coconut ice cream and different fruits. The third temple we visited was of a huge goddess called Guan Yin, who is the goddess of mercy. For 40 Baht, most of us took the 26 floor evaluator ride to see out of the goddess’ third eye.
Later tonight we will have a movie night and hopefully do some swimming tomorrow. We miss all you parents!
~Alex and Emily D.
Thursday August 11, 2018
Today’s first adventure, was heading to the white temple, a beautiful solid white bedazzled structure looking like it came straight out of Narnia. Everyone was given a list of odd objects such as Hello Kitty and Captain America that were incorperated into the temple. Once your group found all the objects, you were allowed to receive WiFi, a clever reward to motivate 21st century teens to look closer at the temple. Once we all finished the scavenger hunt, we enjoyed the coffee shops and market style streets. We then gathered and headed to a Shabu (hot pot) restaurant, where we had the opportunity to cook our own meats and noodles in a boiling pot of broth.
After finishing our delicious lunch, we headed to our next stop, a beautiful waterfall. Upon arrival, we changed into culturally appropriate swim wear (T-shirt and shorts) and after a short hike, we arrived at the waterfall, Huay Mae Sai. Everyone quickly ran into the refreshing pool of water and a few climbed their way through the strong current up the slippery rocks to enjoy the view from behind the waterfall. After the waterfall, we loaded the vans and headed back to home base enjoying some sing alongs on the trip home. Once at home base, we had a great time playing games in the pool while we waited for dinner. Overall, another amazing adventurous day around Thailand.
Much love from your leaders of the day,
Sophia and Katie
Sunday August 12, 2018
What a journey we had today. A perfectly orchestrated tourist adventure that emphasized Buddhist tradition and put daily Thai life into perspective. The long awaited van ride to our second stop at a market boasted unexpected reactions. The Border Market which rests directly between Myanmar and Thailand was created as more of a American Walmart than some tourist plaqued souvenir shop.
We truly understand the experience of shopping for one’s lively hood rather than foreign amusement. Students purchased anything from a blanket to a speaker. The leaders of the day had some fun with the delegation by telling them to eat a big breakfast as the lunch for today was going to be an extremely traditional Thai meal. Little did they know that boxes of pizza would satisfy everyone’s thirst for some good old southern charm.
Next we drove through countless rice patty farms listening to Country Roads for the next stop at the Golden Triangle. This was in fact the exact point where Thailand, Myanmar, and Loas meet, adding another two countries to our visual travel list. The area provided for a well spent afternoon which included a lot of pants shopping and nearly a million steps. We hiked to a temple at the top of the mountain which was shining in all its glory. Then we learned there were even more stairs. This time to a Buddha statue created in 1301 that was placed in front of the greatest view you could imagine.
After the fun day looking as American as possible and being stopped for countless pictures with Thai strangers as they marveled at our fair skin, we wrapped up the day with some group activites, dinner, and mentor groups back at the resort. Thanks for staying tuned and we will see you tomorrow.
-by Chloe and Billy
Monday August 13, 2018
Today, we started off on a relaxing note at the spa and hot springs. The mineral water smelled like sulfur and eggs were for sale to boil, making it truly an eggcellent experience. We had the choice of either swimming in the mineral pool, a personal bungalow, or receiving a Thai massage. I, Juliana, personally chose the bungalow and had a great time relaxing with friends. I, Mia, chose to swim in the pool in which the temperature perfectly complimented the weather.
After leaving the serenity of the hot springs, we headed back to Chang Garden for lunch and an introduction to teaching. We learned a lot about the Thai education system, as well as some activites we can implement in the classroom to make the learning fun and effective. We then discussed some helpful travel trips along with the distinct differences between traveling as a tourist opposed to as a traveler and truly immersing in the local culture. We then followed up with the differences between help and service and applied this concept to the work we have done thus far in Thailand.
Thanks for keeping up with our fun times, Juliana and Mia
Tuesday August 14, 2018
Today was our first day of teaching! We had our earliest morning so far so that we could watch the flag raising ceremony at the school. From there, we split into groups of three to teach the students. Different groups taught different age groups and we found that some classes were much more enthusiastic than others. The kindergarteners loved to be swung around and wanted to give everyone a hug while in some of the older classes, some of the teachers didnt even show up so many of our groups had to take initiative and think quickly to create a lesson plan.
We were treated like celebrities by the children—they would ask us to sign their arms, take pictures, and every time we walked by they would wave, smile and offer us high fives. All the excitement of the day left us exhaughsted and ready for the extra free time given to us by the staff. After a long nap, we ate a delicious dinner and headed off to our last mentor group session of the trip. Looking forward to our last two days of teaching but also sad to see the trip coming to an end.
Cheers, Jenna and Allison
Wednesday August 15, 2018
Greetings from Thailand!
Today was our second day teaching at the local Thai School. Even though our first day left us exhausted, we were still up and ready to teach another day at our 8am breakfast. For most of us, today was so much easier and smoother. The first and second graders were much more eager and ready to participate and we feel like we made a small impact to enrichen their English vocabulary. The kids still love to give hugs, kisses, braid hair, ask for autographs (even on their arm!) and take many pictures with bright smiles. The high school students were more laid back, but just as eager to meet us and talk to us about American culture.
Both of us are so excited to have experienced going to a Thai school and learning about the education system and the kids. We have two short days left in the wonderful land of smiles and although we are sad to leave this beautiful country, we cant wait to share our amazing experiences back at home!
Love from Thailand,
Azra Pleuthner and Emily Johnson <3
Thursday August 16, 2018
Today was our last full day in the beautiful, wonderful, amazing Thailand. We spent our morning teaching again with the beautiful, wonderful, amazing Thai children. We all seriously considered taking some home with us. We really enjoyed the energy of the kids, and it was a sad day saying goodbye. After lunch, we went on a beautiful, wonderful, amazing 30 minute walk to Tesco Lotus, (otherwise known as the Thai Target) and got some snacks for the long journey home.
We all are going to miss the beautiful, wonderful, amazing culture of Thailand as well as the group of people that have become family. The beautiful, wonderful, amazing scenery is something we will never forget. Going forward, we are excited to return home with our beautiful, wonderful, amazing stories, and thank you to all who gave us the opportunity to come on this life-changing trip.
With heavy hearts as we say goodbye to our second home, your leaders of the day,
Julie, Audrey, and Walker
Two weeks of elephants and playing with Thai kids have come and gone. Everyone had smiles coming in and smiles (along with a few tears) leaving; it was a great adventure. Thanks to everyone who made this session possible and thanks for a great finish to our summer. Here is a comparison of our first day group photo, and our last.
-Suzannah, Brendan, and Diana