Today we embarked on our trip to Chiang Mai. We arrived and went to the supermarket to buy necessities for some needy families. We were given a budget and we had to choose some items that these families would require and purchase it. It was a meaningful experience because we got to learn how to spend money according to a budget. It was also an eye opening experience when I discussed with my groupmates on what were the necessities that the families would need. We realised that what was considered daily necessities to us in Singapore could be considered a luxury here. After the supermarket, we went to have dinner, with a wide spread of yummy thai food. We stayed at a village homestay and got to experience what a village life was like. -Jamie Cheong-
I felt quite worried initially as i was not sure if i would do a good job in the trip. However, I feel that I should do my best and give it my all as this is a good learning opportunity for me. After we arrived in Chiang Mai, we went to the supermarket to purchase basic necessities for some families in need, with a given budget. The most meaningful part of this experience was that we had to choose what they needed rather than what would be luxury items that they would not use as much. From this, i have learnt to prioritise what is important. After a scrumptious dinner, we proceeded to the homestay village. The Villagehead and his family were very welcoming and kind to us. Even though we arrived quite late in the night, they still waited to greet us. -Joann Lim-
After a very restful night, we woke up to a beautiful sunrise which made me very thankful for the beauty of the nature surrounding us. I was happy that a change of place did not affect me. For breakfast, we were expecting a simple meal, but our hosts went out of their way to prepare for us a sumptuous meal to help us start our day with energy. From this I learnt that, the Thai people take, giving their guests the very best, seriously.
At the village school, the children were so welcoming, which made me realise that the Thai people, regardless of age, wanted their guests to feel at home. The school’s senior teacher, told us more about the school, and how regardless of where the children came from, education is a right for them. I thought about education for us in Singapore, is a basic necessity, but realised that for Thai children from the villages, it’s a luxury.
My group did arts and crafts and the children we met were very excited to see us. This made us really motivated to teach them. Some children did not understand what we were saying, so it was challenging to give them instructions, but we persevered. After this, when we went for lunch, and when I saw the food provided, I was determined not to waste any of it as there must have been a lot of effort put in to making the food and bringing it all the way to the school. After lunch we did the painting project. There was some minor mistakes, but we learnt to cover the areas and to move on. From this we learnt that it is ok to make mistakes, but we have to come together to solve the problem and overcome it. -Melvina Rajkumar-
I woke up in the morning to the greatest view outside my room. Looking at the scenery of the hills and greenery gave me a sense of peace and serenity. It was something that I would never see back in Singapore. During breakfast, our hosts served us a sumptuous spread and I felt appreciative of our hosts as they had put in a lot of effort into preparing the food for us so early in the morning. I was feeling very nervous when we were on our way to school as I had the fear that things would not go according to plan, and that interacting with the children would not be easy. However, when we reached the school, I immediately saw many waving hands and smiles from all directions. These simple gestures made my morning and encouraged me to adopt a more positive attitude to face the day. Interacting with all the children was something I really enjoyed. Seeing their bright smiles made me feel very warm inside. They also participated in the activities enthusiastically. I felt very happy to have been given the opportunity to interact with the children from the school. I felt very contented to be able to make their day a little more eventful. At the end of the lessons, before lunch, all the children whom we had taught in the morning, waved to us, gave us hugs and high-fived us as we walked past them. Our visit had made an impact on them and we felt happy that they remembered us. I almost felt like crying. My first day at the school went better than I had expected and I am excited to see what happens over the next few days at school. -Elizabeth Gomez-
We were in-charge of games today. Overall, it was a really fun and successful experience. There were a few challenges, like miscommunication due to the language barrier between us and the children. As a group, we managed to adapt and change the games and even tried different ways of explaining the games to the children. There were also some games which did not work out because they were too easy and boring such that the children did not enjoy them. We managed to change the games and think of new games which they would enjoy more. We had to be flexible thinkers to ensure that everything went smoothly. -Zanea Sanchez-
Today at breakfast, the owners of the homestay taught us on how naturally found fruits and plant can have numerous uses apart from functioning as food. I feel that the Thai people are really resourceful as they are able to find natural remedies and uses for the plants and fruits and flowers found in their surroundings. The butterfly pea flower is used to brew a tea which improves eyesight and a green fruit was given to us which was supposed to make a cough better. It tasted bitter at first, but after drinking water, it had a sweet aftertaste. I found it really cool that the Thais steam their sticky rice in bamboo poles. I learnt that the Thais are very adaptable as they are able to take advantage of their environment to their benefit and they take good care of their environment so that they will have a continued supply of such resources. From this experience, I am more determined to be environmentally friendly and take effort to protect the environment.
In the classroom, I was worried about the responsiveness of the students based on prior feedback from the other groups. To my surprise, they were amazing to work with. They are really fast learners who are able to replicate the origami we taught them after just one demonstration. I think, more than teaching them, opening up to the kids is really important and I went around asking them for their names and having simple conservations with them. I noticed that the Thai children really love high-five and are open with their affection. The girls came and hugged me after class and it really made my day and got me thinking about how I could learn to be more open to interaction and to show my appreciation. - Audrey Loke -
After the school activities today, we went to pass the needy families from the Angel Network the basic necessities that we had purchased for them on our first day in Chiang Mai. We walked to each of the families’ houses from the school, carrying the items we purchased. I realised the students had to walk long distances and even climbing up small hills to reach the school from their houses everyday. This made me appreciate the transportation infrastructure in Singapore. At first, I wanted to give up halfway as I was really tired but I put myself in the children’s shoes and told myself to persevere on. When we reach the home, our guide, Shirley, explained more about the situation of each child where some of them have only one parent, others had homes made of bamboo and straw which would not sufficiently protect them from the chilly nights. We had to walk on dried mud to reach some houses. From this, I learnt to really be grateful for my life in Singapore and appreciate the small luxuries I usually take for granted. I felt really blessed that the children opened up their houses and shared their stories with me and I am really thankful for this experience as I have learnt a lot. - Nabila -
Today marked the last day of the activities at the school. I feel extremely blessed to have had this classroom experience and interaction with the children. It has been a memorable experience as through this, I have been able to bond with the Thai children and also am better able to relate to what my own teachers experience in my classroom. I realise the difficulties in leading the class through activities and getting everyone to participate. I have learnt to treat the teachers in my classroom better and be more respectful towards them. I have learnt this from the Thai children and in their interactions with us, and the respect and affection they bestowed upon us in such a short span of time. I will really miss the children.
After lunch we embarked on a nature trail with the hosts of the homestay we were loding in. We explored the plantations around the area and learnt about the different plants and fruits and their uses. We also learnt more about agriculture and how the Thai people grow their plants and vegetables. The Host even dug out sweet potatoes for us from his plantation. I feel this experience is very unique as it cannot be replicated in Singapore. I loved learning about the process of harvesting the different fruits and vegetables and even rice. Usually, I do not think about where and how the food that I consume daily is produced and thus, this experience was indeed an eye opener for me. -Siobhan-
One thing i learnt from today was sincerity. It was our last day at the school and during our final interactions and lessons with the Thai children, they started to cry and told us not to leave them. I was extremely moved by this. Even with the constraints of language and cultural barriers, the Thai children opened their hearts and actively tried hard in the activities and bonded with us. This was despite english not being their first language. They tried their best to understand and learn from us and this willingness to learn and be open taught me alot. In the short time we spent together, we made an unforgettable and special bond with the Thai children. In their place, I am unsure if I would have been so open to a group of strangers speaking another language that I do not understand. Their openness, willingness to learn and affection has created lasting memories for me which I will never forget. The sincerity of the Thai and their genuine respect and affection is something i want to adapt. -Napim-
I learnt a lot today. The Thai children we met at the school really warmed my heart with their open affection. They showed us a lot of respect and when I contrast it to Singapore, i feel there is a lot that we could learn from the Thai children. Even though the children had their mobile phones with them, they tried their best to be present in the activities and were not engrossed in their phones. I feel that I can learn a lot from the children. Having seen their circumstances and hearing their live stories, I was moved and surprised that they still had smiles on their faces and were open to having fun with us and bonding with us with such open affection despite whatever problems they were facing. I realised that they were focused on the positive and the present to bond with us and enjoy our company. I learnt a lot from that. In Singapore, I realise that we tend to focus on the negative and on our problems or what we do not have rather than the positives in our lives. I have a new perspective and am happy that i got to go on this trip.
In the evening, we had a cooking lesson from the Hosts of our homestay. We learnt how to make Pad Thai and Tom Yum soup. I got to participate and help the host prepare the dish. I am looking forward to try and recreate the dish at home for my family. I was moved by the kindness of the Hosts as they went out of their way to make us these delicious food and to share their knowledge with us.-Nisa-
The elephant sanctuary was very interesting, especially for me, as I felt that the visit opened my eyes to the elephant conservation and care for these majestic animals. I used to think that elephants were not of much use but I learnt that back in the old days, elephants were used for transport and in war. I remember bathing the elephants and getting sprayed by the elephants.
I noticed that there was one elephant that behaved in a peculiar manner, it kept swinging its head. Khun Anan told us that the elephant named Kusun is mildly autisitc. He shared that when Kusun was just a little baby, her mother stepped on a landmine and debris from the explosion penetrated her eyes, legs and skull, which caused Kusun to be partially blind and still causes great discomfort. This has also resulted in her growth being stunted. I almost broke down when I learnt of this as Kusun was only 5 years old but she has already been through so much in life.
Initially, I was very apprehensive and felt afraid to go near the elephants as they were big animals but when I saw that their eagerness to interact with us, I was at ease. Khun Anan told us that elephants are affectionate and sentimental animals. They respond well to constant care and affection from humans. When I stepped up, gave them a hug and told them I love them, the elephants responded with a hug with their trunks. This made me realise the importance of love, not only to us humans, but also to animals. We went for lunch at the elephant park as well but I was shocked to find out that there were elephants that were used to ferry tourists around on their backs. This contradicted with the park’s aim to conserve and protect these majestic animals. It made me question what was their purpose of setting up a conservation corner, yet using these animals as transportation modes for tourism.
After lunch we went to King Kong village, where we observed huge animal sculptures made of straw that amazes me. These huge sculptures, although made of straw, were able to withstand really heavy weight. We ended the day’s tour with some Northern Thai cuisine that featured a series of Thai traditional dances, which we took part in, and a visit to the local night market. As we sat in smaller groups, it gave me the time and space to interact with the other girls from other groups. All in all I feel that today was a very exciting day.-Tasha-
I feel that this trip really changed my perspective on animals and really allowed me to understand them better. The visit to the elephant camp was a very surreal experience as i would have never thought that I would be able to interact with elephants, face to face. I felt it was important that we learnt about the basics needs of elephants as there are not many left in the world. Through this, I would be empowered to educate more people about elephants and raise awareness about their issues. I loved being able to hug, feed, bathe and even get a kiss from the elephants through this activity. I will definitely cherish this experience.
The King Kong Village was very quaint and cute. The structures of various animals were made of recycled straw which was very unique and special. The straws are biodegradable which made the structures eco-friendly. I learnt how materials could be repurposed to avoid wastage and be used in innovative ways to benefit the economy or people such as the structures which served to attract tourism in that area.
The traditional Thai dinner and cultural performances elevated my experiences from this trip and deepened my knowledge of Thai culture and customs. It broadened my perspective and aided me into becoming a more cosmopolitan person. -Siobhan-