Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
Hello Group 3 Rockstars,
I hope this letter finds you in good health mentally and physically. Have you processed this summer and the amazing experience we had with the elephants? Is your elephant rash healed? I am just beginning to reflect on the experiences of our trip, and I am very thankful to have shared such a unique experience with all of you.
We talked a lot about community in this program. Each of you contributed a special asset that helped create this community-whether it be you enthusiasm, intelligence, athletic ability, humor, illness, or crabbiness! We were all fortunate to meet one another and create a community for a short time. Always know that you can reach out to this community and share you ideas, thoughts, dreams, and struggles. This group had exceptional (and contagious) enthusiasm that you all brought to every activity. From the bottom of my heart, thank you all for creating such a positive community for all of us to share in.
We have many things to be grateful for. Meeting each other, spending time together. Cheers to the amazing staff at Thai Elephant Home that took care of all of us by providing delicious food, keeping us safe around elephants, and showing us a window into their world. The true stars of the trip were, of course, the elephants. They are such interesting animals- cute, yet gross. Strong & dangerous, yet well trained and accepting of us. Elephants are endangered. They need people to care about and support their plight. Please never forget that, and think of them often. We saw and discussed lot of complex things on this trip, and at times it can be frustrating and feel hopeless. Just know it is not. You can make a difference now and in the future. Harness you power and get out there to make the world better.
Sending love to you all,
SBD (powerful quiet girl) raft!
Phucome’s crazy antics ( and Evan and Cassandra’s bravery)
Rachael’s impromptu headstands (seriously dude, be careful)
Matthew’s quest to eat weird things
Enlightening discussions about elephants
Another Time Capsule Letter – October 2016
Sabai di mai?,
was for me. It was a pretty remarkable and unusual experience that we shared this summer. Not many people know what it’s like to stand on a mountain in Northern Thailand and hunt for bugs while listening to the sounds of elephant bells clonking in the distance or understand how much the bellows of pachyderms sound like ferocious dinosaurs roaming the Mae Tang Valley. Not many people get to examine the complexity of environmental stewardship from such a unique and close up perspective. I hope that the lessons you learned about yourself and the world help inform the next adventures in your lives. Don’t forget to keep exploring, embracing the discomforts of personal growth, and using your critical thinking. It was a pleasure being your mentor this summer and I wish you guys all the best!
Summer Blog Posts
July 23, 2016
Day one in Thailand and all of the students have arrived! We spent the day completing orientation, and then took a city tour to two different temples. The students then went to Elephant Parade (An organization that emphasizes the creation and selling of art as a way to raise money for elephant welfare and care) and painted beautiful ceramic elephants to take home. That night, we went to the famous Chiang Mai Sunday walking street market for dinner and shopping. Laura, Sam, Mai, Joon, Honey, Chicken, and myself are so excited to begin with this group, and are looking forward for what is to come.
July 24, 2016
Day 2 in Chiang Mai was amazing! First we woke up and took an hour long fun-filled van ride to the first elephant hospital in the world! There we met Motala and Mosha, two elephants that got their legs blown off my land mines and now have prosthetic legs. We also learned about the uniqueness of the hospital and everything the Thai government does to conserve this sacred animal.
From there we took a trolley to the Elephant Conservation Center. We watched a short film about elephant conservation and the history of their museum and learned more about elephant biology and history. Fun fact: Only the king can own white elephants which cannot be seen by other people.
Then we went down to the river and got greeted by a line of elephants and their mahouts! It was very emotional for everyone to see and interact with elephants for the first time. Then we watched a demonstration on how the mahout work with and train their elephants. It was amazing! We even watched the elephants painting and we got to buy some of our own at the end, with all the money going to elephant conservation!
At the end of the visit, we got to talk to a representative of the center who answered many of our questions about working with the elephants as a career. After returning to our hotel, we ended the day discussing the rest of our goals for the trip and how we felt when we met the elephants for the first time (each of us felt on top of the world!). We can’t wait for what the rest of the trip will bring!
July 27, 2016
Today was our second day at Thai Elephant Home and our first day of service. We woke up early at 5:30 am. We helped our Mahouts clean each elephant’s area, bathe them, and feed them to get them ready for the day. After a delicious breakfast we divided into Emma’s Water Buffalo and Sam’s Bird Eating Spiders. The Bird Eating Spiders built dams deep in the jungle with only a shovel, a machete, and a saw. Other than that, the resources from the jungle were all we had. Chopping bamboo and filling dirt with bags, the group pounded their bamboo into the dirt and put the bags of dirt in between to keep sturdy. The other group cut tall elephant grass and bundled it for the elephants to eat. Although we over filled a truck, the food will only feed the hungry elephants for a little while. Everyone put in 100% effort and did not complain despite the heat. After service and a filling lunch, the Elephant Olympics began. We were split into groups and faced mental and physical challenges. The Cannibals won after a sudden death trunk war. In the evening, we rode our elephants to the water and bathed them. Some brave people did flips off their elephants into the water. After dinner we learned about elephant biology, and continued to broaden our horizons about elephant conservation. It was a fun and tiring day, and everyone is looking forward to more fun days ahead. -Maggie and Rachel
July 28, 2016
Today we woke up and cared for our elephants per usual, then after breakfast we split into our work groups. Emma’s work group went to grass plant, it was tough and took a lot of effort but the amount we planted was really satisfying to look at after it was done. The heat wasn’t terrible considering the rain, it cooled us down significantly. The truck ride there and back was magnificent, the breeze was refreshing and it was a lot of fun with all of my friends. We got Thai massages which were really relaxing as well. Next came the river with the elephants which is always the highlight of the day. A very relaxing day full of service and fun and friends.