Sunday June 17, 2018
They made it! After a relaxing night at a hotel and a good breakfast, the ladies are ready to go! Still fighting a little jet lag, everyone will spend the day going over program logistics, getting to know each other and begining service at Elephant Valley Thailand.
Monday June 18, 2018
What a great first full day together! Another two group members joined us, Payton and Samantha (yay!), we further explored what the next two weeks has to offer, collaborated on group agreements, learned about Elephant Valley Thailand’s mission, watched and fed the elephants AND explored what I means to be a leader. It was an exhausting day! Tomorrow we start our service work and will learn more about the Thai culture.
Tuesday June 19, 2018
Today was an incredibly busy day. It was the first day we did service with Elephant Valley Thailand, which consisted mainly of hoeing, raking, and gathering. We started the day by sweeping the trails where the elephants walk and cleaning up their poop. But, don’t be too jealous yet because the fun doesn’t stop there. We also cleared out a field of vines and long grass so that we could use the land to plant grass for the elephants to eat. As we were clearing the field, many of us got bit by ants that were crawling up our legs on top of being drenched with sweat and covered with dirt. Luckily, we got to take a break and eat some delicious Thai food before we went back to work. After we cleared the field, we started to dig trenches and plant Elephant Grass that the elephants would later eat and then stomp on to help it to continue its natural growth cycle. After we got a solid start on what would be tomorrows full day of work, some of us split off to trek through sharp, tall grass to get to banana trees. We cut down about ten of them to use for the elephant’s dinner. We used every part of the tree: the stock, the leaves (And of course) the bananas. It was hard work, but feeding the elephants made it all worth while.
It was a sweet ending to our long day of work. Seeing the elephants reach their trunks through the fence out to us made us realize why we’re here and how our hard work helps keep this amazing place going. But the moment didn’t last forever because when we were done feeding the elephants, we found out that there was no electricity. No electricity means no showers, no hand washing, no fans and no flushing toilets. This came at a bad time considering that we were all sweaty, smelly, and filthy. Luckily we didnt have to sit in our filth for too long because just before dinner, the electricity came back on so that we could be clean and relatively cool while we had Thai Time with John. John is an amazing man who lives in Thailand and answered all of our questions about Thai culture. Overall the we had a tiring, but fulfilling day and we can;t wait to do it all again tomorrow!
By: Alyssandra DeSeranno & Kate Laughlin
Wednesday June 20, 2018
Today, our group accomplished a lot of wonderful things. For starters, our group finished planting grass in a field that we worked hard on both today and yesterday. The field was overwhelming when we first encountered it, but it became far less intimidating as time went by and we continued to work hard as a team. To accomplish our job, we hoed, cut out unwanted plants, and planted new elephant grass. Banana trees were cut down with great effort once again by the group.
Our group also got to feed the elephants their delicious plants and bananas. Jack (the founder of Elephant Valley Thailand) graced us with his presence and knowledge of both the Thai culture and elephant life. It gave everyone in the group a broader understanding of how unique and interesting his elephant sanctuary is. Our group is having an exciting excursion to the night market tomorrow evening. The girls cannot wait to see the different treasures and souvenirs that will catch their eye and remind them of their time abroad in Thailand.
Thursday June 21, 2018
Today was riveting! We completed our final day of service at Elephant Valley Thailand before heading off to the night bazaar. We watched the elephants playfully taking a swim. We even observed what appeared to be an elephant drowning another one, but they were in fact just messin’ around (#elephantsbeingelephants).
After lunch we watched a jarring video detailing the horrors that occur in abusive elephant camps. We’re incredibly grateful that we get to experience a genuine elephant sanctuary that allows elephants to be in as natural of an environment as possible. Before everyone could completely erupt in tears, we discussed how we could prevent further elephant abuse in Thailand. After dinner, we grabbed our baht, hopped in the party vans, and drove to the night bazaar.
There, we all bought presents for our families (you’re welcome) and got to sample some tasty Thai food. Today we had to say goodbye to our newfound elephant pals, but they’ll always remain in our hearts. We’re looking forward to the scenery we will see and school children we’ll meet in the week to come!
P.S. Fun elephant fact: An elephant’s trunk can hold up to five liters of water! Also, elephants can die of a broken heart :,(
-by Anna and Thalia
Saturday June 23, 2018
Olivia Danner, Audrey Lamey, Caruna Gillespie, Sydney Dicker, Rebecca Unruh
We left our first home base yesterday morning, and our highlights of the past two days were visiting temples, camping, a sunrise hike, hot springs, and reaching our new home base. Friday morning, we visited three temples named Wat Phra Kaew, the White Buddha, and the Blue Temple. An interesting fact we learned at the temples was taking fun pictures, having Buddha tattoos, as well as house decor are considered very disrespectful. You can travel up into the White Buddha via a long staircase. After the temples, we had a three hour car ride to a mountain camping site. Our tents overlooked a beautiful valley view. For dinner, we made a traditional Thai dish over a coal fire, picnic style. The following morning, we went on a hike up a hill to view the sunrise. We were in the clouds, and we got glimpses of mountains, forests, and rivers below us. It was very slippery coming down, but we made it. After eating a savory Thai breakfast, we drove three hours to the hot springs, with two stops for snacks, and a buffet lunch of Western and Thai foods. The hot springs were hot. We had the option of a large pool, or smaller three-person pools, and Thai-style massages. We walked past a traditional elephant camp, and after staying at a true elephant sanctuary for a week, it was heartbreaking to see elephants chained up and rocking back and forth with lifeless eyes. While strolling through the Hill Villiage Tribe, we visited different shops and got ice cream. Then we arrived at our new home base, and were pleasantly surprised with air conditioning, a pool, and an abundance of showers.
Sunday June 24, 2018
Today, Sunday June 24, was a fun-filled, relaxing day for us girls at GLA. Beginning with a healthy breakfast including rice, eggs, and veggies, we then quickly moving in to our first activity of the day. We started off with a few fun games like “Captain’s Coming!” and “Metamorphisis” that brought us together as a group. We also discussed how important it is to use social media for the right reasons when engaging in trips like these and how important it is as young teens to not further stereotypes and generalizations as we travel in other countries. After that, we ate an awesome lunch and took some selfie time.
Selfie time is a period of time in the day with no talking and technology to allow time for personal reflection. At around 2:30, John (the Local Director) came in for orientation of Thailand education to teach us the ways to communicate with the kids when we go to the school tomorrow. We had a group discussion about how Thai school systems categorize students and other specifics to be aware of when we enter the classrooms tomorrow. We then had a few hours of free time and at 6:00, ate another amazing dinner here in Chiang Rai!
-by Chloe Campbell and Sabrina Castle
Monday June 25, 2018
Today was our first day at our Thai school. We were all really nervous but we didn’t need to be, it was super fun. First, we woke up and ate breakfast at home base- delicious rice and pineapple. Then, we took the bus to the school just in time to catch the flag bearing ceremony. We then got assigned teachers and got split up into different classrooms. We were so excited to meet the kids! All the teachers were super nice and welcoming. We followed our teachers to different classes like mathematics, science, physical education, health and English. During lunch time we got the chance to go to a Thai tea cafe to order some yummy drinks and get wifi.
After the lunch, the fun continued with more classes. The kids were super enthusiastic to have us there; all of us had sore hands after giving out so many autographs.
After a fun filled day, we were all drained and came back to home base for a surprise…a later breakfast the following day which meant we got time for a (needed) few extra minutes of sleeping. Most of us then took time to prepare some educational activities for the kids we would be working with tomorrow.
This consisted of making flash cards or drawing fruit to introduce and quiz the children on new vocabulary. Once our little homework assignments were finished, we had a delicious dinner during a light drizzle and even got to see Flat Ears, the resident dog. We spent some time together doing a GLA activity and finished the night with some free time before bed. As the trip is coming to an end, we realize how lucky we are to have this amazing experience and we are so grateful for this service opportunity.
See you soon!
-by Dannie and Sami
Tuesday June 26, 2018
This morning we got to sleep in and then went back to the school to teach the children. We taught the children new songs and games. All of our groups got to know their children better. We played and took photos with the kids. They loved to do peace signs in all of the photos. The kids each gave us flowers and clung to us. We signed even more autographs than yesterday. We then went back to class. Everyone had success in teaching classes. The teacher even treated us to tea. We then made our way to the Masai Market. Everyone bought as much as they could, including lots of ice cream. We ended our trip to the market with more tea at the coffee shop. We headed home and went straight to dinner. We were all shocked to see pasta instead of rice for dinner. We stuffed ourselves with pasta and then had time to relax before mentor groups. We discussed our day at the school. We learned about the pool party for tomorrow and we couldn’t be more excited!
-by Sarah Happy and Elena Kreger
Wednesday June 27, 2018
When we woke up this morning we were surprised by the chilly fog that hung over the home base. None of us were inclined to pull ourselves from our slumber, nor get to work. This groggy feeling was quickly swept away by the excitement of the school children. Our group was split first thing as some went with the Thai teachers and the rest followed an international teacher to their next adventure. We then had waffles and a surprise dance party during the lunch break. Our group spent time frolicking in the bright gym and listening to live Thai music with the kids of the school. After lunch of lunch we split up into two groups again.
Nine teens headed back to the classrooms to create new memories at the school. The remaining thirteen teens ventured to the tiny tea shop on campus and spent there time bonding with their fellow GLA participants. We met up for the final time with the kids and departed from the school at 3:30. On our arrival back at home base we searched deep into our souls for our final service reflection. We ended the day at dusk with a divine dinner provided by the delightful resort cooks.
-by Sophia and Emma
Thursday June 28, 2018
Today started off with the surprise of getting to sleep in until 8. After a healthy breakfast of fried rice, eggs, toast, and fruit we started off towards the white temple. After we arrived at the white temple John then tasked us with a photo scavenger hunt around and in the temple. During our time at the White Temple we discovered that it is actually an art installation with influences of the Buddhist religion. Inside the temple there were many paintings with references to the American pop culture such as the Avenegers and George Bush.
Around lunch time we ventured off for our second surprise of the day…PIZZA! After a quick stop at Starbucks we left for the third market of the trip, The Chaing Rai Local Market. This market was similar to the one in Mae Sai, however it was more cultural, fewer cars and motorbikes, with more food and the lovely stench of the local fish. With the shopping all wrapped up we headed back to home base at the Chang Garden resort to relax for the rest of the evening.
-by Julia and Thea
Friday June 29, 2018
Sadly, today is our very last day of fun with Global Leadership Adventures in Thailand. Our day began with a yummy breakfast at 8 am with toast, fruit, and eggs. After breakfast we were off for the waterfall hike. The hike was slippery but well worth the trek once we got to the waterfall. The waterfall was breathtaking as we climbed down the hill and felt the mist hit our skin. The water was refreshing to swim in and was very fun to stand underneath as the water dumped on us.
After the hike, we jumped back in the van and ate a delicious lunch on the water. Some of the students even made friends with a cat who tired to steal our chicken! Next, on our agenda was visiting the Black House where we saw water buffalo and lots of different pieces of art. One room was filled just with crocodile skins! Finally, when we arrived back at the home base to start packing, looking at our flight agendas, and eating our last meal together as a group.
All of us are very sad to leave, but are so grateful for the adventures we embarked on in this amazing country. Thailand is a beautiful country surrounded by beautiful people and we are so lucky to have experienced this amazing culture. We all are looking forward to eating cheeseburgers, sleeping in our own beds and snuggling with our pets. We will always have a special place for this unique trip and the friendships we have made.
-by Kaitlin Violette and Payton Curley
So long, fair well…it has been a beautiful journey and we will miss you all dearly. You are all officially on your way homeward towards new an exciting adventures. Thank you for bringing your individuality and unique perspectives. Thanks for being a great group to start the summer.
Mattie, Brendan and Suzannah (And Peanut and Flat Ears)