After living in Thailand for 15 years, I was able to experience the culture in a new light. Being exposed to a new culture in a region I had never been to before was helpful in gaining insight and perspective on the different customs within Thailand. Firstly, a major shock to the entire group was the campus and education system within the school. We witnessed a school far inferior to our own, with an education system that barely seemed sufficient. In helping to construct another building for the school, our entire group was able to see the benefits as the school was in obvious need of a reformed campus. However, when helping out with the children in the classroom, our group experienced much frustration as it seemed as if the simple lesions we were teaching the children was not sufficient and what was needed was a much larger reform of the system. However, throughout the course of the week, I felt that we provided for the children to the best of our capabilities. While it was not possible for our school group to transform the education at the school, or even the entire hill tribe education system, we were able to give the children memories that will carry through with them. I also believe that we may have posed as role models or an inspiration to the children to work hard in school and be successful.

Throughout the week our group was able to grow as a whole and individually as the experiences we had provoked self-reflection as well as growing group interactions. One of the main aspects I took away from this trip was the ability to reflect on my own life in comparison and appreciate not only my own life but also the opportunities our group was given to work in such a remote area with such amazing children. This week also brought our group much closer together as a whole. We learned how to cooperate together, whether it was passing buckets of cement down a line, or listen to a leader when rafting down a river. In my opinion, it was the reflections on the day at the end of each night that made us all appreciate our experiences and one another. On a personal level, this trip brought me much closer to many people including myself and I am appreciative of this aspect of the trip.

I believe that this week was inspirational for many of us. The opportunities we had throughout the week to connect to both the children and our own group were truly unique. I believe that this experience brought us all to a much closer understanding of the hill tribe cultures in the north of Thailand and how little support and help they receive, whether it be in their education system or home life. Our presence in their lives, while for only a week, deeply affected all of us as the goodbyes were unbearable. I can only hope that the difference we made that week stays with these children and motivates them to achieve their potential. I believe that we made an impact on a very special group of people that definitely changed my life.