I’m proud to have been in the group that collaborated in building the Mae Salak School, as well as bringing joy, unity, and change to the lives of less-fortunate hill tribe children. Unlike the two previous WWW trips that I have been to, Jordan and Japan, this one obviously had a different feel to it. Less of a cultural and traveling trip like Japan, and less adventurous and once-in-a-lifetime like Jordan, what makes Maekok unique in its own way is the strong bond and friendship we have built with the children at the school. Getting to teach the kids, build a room for them with our name etched in, and just simply playing with them surely left me with memories I will never forget.

This trip was almost as mentally demanding as it was physically. Teaching the kids was not an easy task, frustrating to be more exact, because I wanted to give them the best I can offer. However, many of the kids did not seem as enthusiastic as I expected or did not always pay attention, so many things did not go as planned. A great were very shy and quiet. On the other hand, when I discovered that the kids liked to draw and participate in outdoor games, I learned that I have to adapt my teaching to fit their style more. I also learned that a majority of the kids did not really expect much from us teaching as they wanted us to play with them. On the last day, I implemented this strategy and the kids seem to enjoy the day-care atmosphere more.

I was most proud of building the multipurpose activity area, seeing as it progress from a mere base, to one where the children could perform a show for us! On top of that, we all carved our names into the cement, as a mark that this is our work; a true gift from the International School Bangkok. From shoveling the sand to mixing the cement to laying the bricks, this has been a great and meaningful experience because it allowed me to do manual labor and seeing it every day until it became a finished product. To enhance its meaningfulness, since we teach and play with the kids every day, we know who exactly that will get to use the room we built, so we are assured by knowing that it will be of great use by the children at Mae Salak school.

One moment that struck me really hard was when we had to say good bye. The kids asked us if we will ever come back to visit them again. It was a very hard question to swallow, for it’s not easy coming here to this very small school in the midst of Chiang Rai’s mountain range. Furthermore, it will not be the same even if I came again- it is not the same big group, with many other people, some who could entertain the kids one way or the other. It’s not going to be as fun for me without all the friends I had on this trip. Plus, there would not be enough to maintain a fair game of soccer also. So my answer to the kids who came up to me, all shiny eyed, was “If I came back, would you remember and welcome me again?”

Looking outside the yellow “limo” we rode, everyday, but this time for the last time, I realized how remote this little international school was from the outside world. We passed numerous agriculture fields, rivers, mountains- it was not a short ride at all. And unlike some other schools where ISB would annually visit, I felt that the children at the school was very lucky to have us be with them, even for a short while. How many other schools doing their community service could have offered them the bond we have built for 4 days? Like a single star in the sky, there are many other schools in Thailand that need ISB’s help, so we need to move on to those other stars. Although we may not be there to help the kids again, we can be assured that our contribution will be there for the children in the years to come. :)