Tuesday July 3, 2018
Hi Friends and Family,
We are so excited to welcome this amazing group of globe-hopping, world-changing, young ladies to Thailand! The Great Eight have landed in a far away country and are here to make a difference! Although jet-lagged, they’ve hung out with elephants, done some team building activities, and have already tried new Thai dishes!
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 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. Happy 4th of July, America!
In the spirit of adventure,
International Director – Group B
Elephant Village Initiative
Wednesday July 4, 2018
What a great first full day together! We shared a wonderful breakfast together with some delicious fresh mangos, then we spent the morning having our orientation which consisted of introduction activities, code of conduct, expectations, Leader of the day and blog expectation, goal setting and other activities that gave us all a chance to get to know each other better. After lunch we went on our first guided tour of the sanctuary with Jack the founder and owner of the sanctuary who gave us a lot of information about each of the 6 elephants lucky enough to be living in this wonderful place. We then fed the elephants banana leaves and the stems of the banana trees. After another great meal we discussed what it meant to be a leader with inspiration from a short TED talk, then we sat around our 4th of July campfire roasting marshmallows on chopsticks!!! Tomorrow we start our service work and will learn more about taking care of these majestic creatures.
Thursday July 5, 2018
Today was the first day of 3 of the elephant service days. Our group is still on a jet lagged schedule, but we got up, had breakfast and were out doing our first service activity (poo patrol) by 8 this morning. After finishing up poo patrol duty, at 10 AM we were out picking weeds and maintaining the freshly planted grass fields that the last GLA group planted. We went on a tour/observation of the elephants with a tour guide that better helped us understand the way that elephants should be treated and the poor treatment that they get in the elephant camps and tourism industry. On the tour, we learned that elephants hearts beat around 30 beats per minute, and based on observations we learned that elephants pick up and collect their food with their trunks. We got to see the elephants taking a mud bath which was so adorable and got to learn more about how the individual elephants react to certain situations.
After the tour/observation part of the day, we all relaxed and rehearsed for our “The Parent Trap” play due to the fact that our group has been wanting to watch it since the trip begun. After we put on the skit, we played a travel themed get-to-know you game and shared some of our best travel stories.
Leaders of the Day,
Molly and Lindsey
Friday July 6, 2018
Today was the second day of three elephant service days. Most are fully adjusted to the time change. We cleaned up elephant poop for an hour and a half yet again. After that we moved to planting more food so the elephants could poop more. That’s how much we love poop patrol. We had a delicious home made Thai meal before hitting the pit of doom. The pit of doom is a place full of poop and old elegant food. Our job is to separate the dead leaves from the poop and add the leaves to the mulch which we use in the food fields. Then we finished our service by chopping banana trees down to feed the elephants. It was a very sticky yet rewarding task. We rested after our only full day of service and then led a bonding activity for all the girls.
As we do our service, we get to hang out with people who work with the elephants everyday. They educate us in Thai culture and usually we learn new Thai words. Today we learned the word “chai” which means yes in Thai. We are very exhausted from our full day of service, but it is satisfying to complete a full six hours of service in one day, even if it means being knee deep in poop. We are buzzing for tomorrow’s evening market. There, we will buy many authentic Thai articles and see more into the Thai culture.
-by the Leaders of the day – Sophia Coker and Emma Rose Mahoney-Rohrl
Saturday July 7, 2018
We started off the day with a wonderful breakfast with delicious mango. We later and transitioned into our morning service work of poop patrol. It was very hot and extra long today because we did not get split up but it was satisfying to know we were helping the elephants. Peter wasn’t here today though which made us all very sad (we love you Peter). After poop patrol we had a short break and then we weeded around the elephant food. Later, we had an amazing lunch that consisted of sticky rice and veggies among some other yummy dishes.
Then, we did a Q&A with Jack and learned about elephant tourism and how to ethically treat them. Later in the evening we went to a traditional Thai market and got to see and learn more about the culture. we had a wonderful time exploring the night market, where were tried new food and shopped for trinkets and clothing. it was a very unique experience and we all immensely enjoyed immersing ourselves in the local Thai culture. We are all greatly looking forward to tomorrow’s excursions in which we will visit the famous white temple and hike to a waterfall that we will have the opportunity to swim in.
Leaders of the day – Sophie V and Caroline
Sunday July 8, 2018
Today we packed our bags and finished our last day of service at the elephant village, we headed out to view the White Temple where we experienced Thai art and culture. After lunch we headed to the wet muddy waterfall hike. The hike was about a mile long where we had to trudge through the mud and rain until we got to the beautiful waterfall where we all went for a swim we will never forget.
Although the hike was muddy and difficult it was worth it because we got to see the waterfall. After that we dried off we started our long journey to Chang Mai where we will be staying the night to experience an elephant jungle sanctuary camp . We are excited to compare our elephant experiences. We wrapped up the night by eating dinner at a local restaurant where we took a group photo then headed to bed after a long tiring day.
Leaders of the day – Julia & Antonia
Monday July 9, 2018
Today our group woke up in Chiang Mai, had breakfast at our hotel and headed to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary where we learned about that sanctuary and how they approached taking care of elephants. We arrived at EJS and were immediately greeted by 3 elephants, all very friendly and welcoming. We then were taken on a full day tour of the sanctuary starting with an introduction and then a banana feeding to the three elephants that greeted us.
After the feeding and visiting with the three elephants, we had lunch and visited the gift shop. Visiting this camp was part of our observation of the differences between sanctuaries. We then proceeded to leave the sanctuary and return to Chiang Rai to our new location, Chiang Garden Resort, where we will begin the teaching section of our trip. I’m also excited to visit the hot springs and begin teaching.
Tuesday July 10, 2018
Dear friends and family,
This morning we woke up in the new resort and had a wonderful breakfast with some western options as well. Then we went to the hill tribe and observed the way that they treat the elephants. We saw the tourists riding the elephants on a metal saddle and they were having to walk on the asphalt with a lot of weight on their backs. We learned that this is very poor treatment because it burns their feet and can damage their spine.
Then we went to a hot spring near by and went swimming and got coffee. After lunch we did a series of activities including a debate that we called the united league for elephant welfare. We were assigned a stance on the way that elephants should be treated which went extremely well and definitely helped me to look at the issue from a lot of different perspectives. Then we learned about what to expect for teaching which begins tomorrow and we reviewed some simple games that will help the students stay engaged and keep them having fun. Then we had dinner and chilled by the pool. We are all very excited to meet the students tomorrow.
Leader of the day,
Wednesday July 11, 2018
Today was our first day of teaching in Chiang Rai. We started at Mae Chan School at 8:00 AM. We split into groups of two and got assigned to an english language teacher. We worked in the classrooms for about two to three hours and got to walk around and hang out for the rest of the time. From 8-10:30 AM, my partner, Julia, and I planned for our second grade science class.
When we got to the classroom, we were completely unprepared. We assumed the students would be learning very basic English, but as soon as we walked in the room they ran up to us and started conversations in English. We played games to teach the children about animals for an hour. It was very hard to get the students to pay attention to the lesson because they were so excited to see new faces in the classroom.
After class, we ate lunch with our GLA group and then went to the coffee shop and hung out with the students. All of the students were very welcoming. They ran up to us and gave us presents or hugs and wanted to hold our hands. The children took may pictures with us.
After lunch was over, Julia and I planned for our next class. Our class at 1:50 was in the Kindergarten building. They were learning about phonics, so we sang the alphabet song with them many times and played fun games where they learned about vowels. The younger children were much more involved in the lesson and very energetic. We left the school around three and returned to home base where we hung out for the rest of the day.
We are excited to go back to the school tomorrow and make it in time to see the flag raising. This time we will be more prepared for our classes. Everyone is having a great time with the children and we are all enjoying being able to relax in the pool after a long day at school.
Leader of the Day,
Thursday July 12, 2018
Today we woke up earlier than usual in order to see the flag raising at the Thai school. All the children stood in the middle of a field for about 15 minutes and sang the Thai national anthem. It was quite different than what U.S. children do before school. Then, we started the school day. Some people had morning or afternoon classes; however, another girl and I taught in the morning and afternoon. We took the schedule of a teacher who is in another country, so we created our own lesson plan.
The teacher taught English to 6th and 5th grade students; therefore, we taught those students. We had two classes in a row and for those classes we played trivia with American pop culture and some other games. Oddly enough, the children were quite educated in that subject! Then, we had lunch and got coffee afterwords. The Thai children were very touchy and fascinated with us. The kids asked for our autograph many time!
We then had two afternoon classes a challenge to say the least. However, we were able to get through to some of them and still improved their English vocabulary. After school was over we came back to home base and had a discussion about the differences of American schools and Thai schools. One of the differences include Thai schools being less organised and more relaxed than American Schools. I am excited to teach tomorrow and then go to the market in the afternoon!
-written by the leader of The Day: Sophia Coker
Friday July 13, 2018
Today we wrapped up our service by teaching for half the day at school. Although it was hard work teaching to children who weren’t fluent in English, the friendships we made with the children made it worth while. Our group got to experience true Thai culture and found a new appreciation for the privileges we receive in the US. After saying goodbye to our new friends and teachers, we headed to Mae Sai, a local market. We will never forget this experience, we are looking forward to relaxing for the last two days of our trip and exploring more of Thailand.
Leader of the day – Julia
We started off the day today with the black house, where we drew comparisons to the white temple we had toured previously on the trip. At the black house we observed unique architecture, a wide variety of collected animal skins, some live animals, and we were even lucky enough to stumble upon a dance performance.
After the black house we traveled to a wonderful buffet lunch and then made our way over to Singha Park. At this breathtaking tea plantation we zip lined and took in the beautiful views which included a plethora of diverse live-stalk such as water buffalo, long horn cows, and even giraffes! We then sat down at the red barn gift shop for some delicious iced teas and coffees.
Following our experience with Singha Park we went back to our resort for a little break before we traveled to the night bazaar. We all had an amazing time shopping for souvenirs and clothing together as we listened to live music. We ate a dinner of pizza and Pepsi at the food court before returning to shopping. After a few hours at the night bazaar, we made our way back to the resort for a night of rest before our final day of this unforgettable GLA experience.
We have all gotten very close over the past two weeks and we are all so sad to see the trip starting to come to a close, however I know we will all stay in touch and some lifelong bonds have certainly been made. I consider myself very luck to have gotten to be a part of such a wonderful group of 8 outgoing, kind, and adventurous girls; whom I will miss greatly and share memories with that I will cherish forever.
-Leader of the day – Sophie V
Sunday July 15, 2018
Today was the last day of our Thailand adventure. We started the day off at !!! the temple with the huge white statue of a goddess. We went to the top of the head of the statue and saw the beautiful art inside of it. After that we went into the temple and saw a lot of beautiful wooden art and statues. We then went to another temple where we got to see the history of the temple in the amazing museum. Later we went to our last temple which was the blue temple.
It was very beautiful and we are so glad we got to see it. We stopped by Jam’s restaurant where we had a traditional Thai meal which was wonderful. After lunch we went to get ice cream and then headed back for our end of trip barbecue,games,and more! Although we will miss Thailand we are all very excited to come home to our family and friends!
Leaders of the day – Caroline and Antonia