First, like I learn every time I go on a GCW trip, I have learned new things. I learned that I CAN actually do things that I and other people would never imagine I could. I could not carry my own luggage up to my room when we first arrived, but I was able to at the end of the trip. I have also learned that I have no breaking point. Many people want to see you fall and you will fall. But tripping and falling do not mean you break. There are certainly emotional events during the trip that weakened me; however, the fact that I carried on the building and teaching projects until the end and that I’m here – writing this – means I did not break. This, even though is very unexpected and is not about GCW’s purposes – is the most challenging part and is rewarding. To live and grow despite obstacles and fear – I cannot ask for a better experience.

I have also learned that we all can make great changes. My fellow classmates have done such an amazing job in both teaching students and completing what last trip has left off. To see the beautiful tree painted on what everyone has worked so hard for since the first day and the smiles on the little kids’ faces make this trip worthwhile. No doubt, the school we have helped build itself (including the supportive teachers and the lovely students) has contributed to my most rewarding moments. Every single one of ISB students in this trip, though has had or created drama (as some may believe), deserves nothing but admiration and praise; to wane or disagree with this statement is absurd.

As for cultures, I learned that the culture that I thought was my culture is not mine at all. The Thai culture there was different – more traditional, unlike the third-culture, modernized culture I am living in. I am proud that such a culture still exists but I know I can never truly understand or be a part of it. I have also learned that this third-culture environment more. Even in the same environment, I now know I cannot expect other cultures to understand mine and that I, too, cannot expect myself to understand others’. Nonetheless, I have learned how strong Thai beliefs – and other beliefs – are. You cannot change nor understand unfamiliar beliefs, but you surely can respect them.

At this point, I would like to thank the trip’s supervising teachers. I know it was not an easy trip, as we all experienced. I know we all wanted a good trip. But hey, that’s life and it was giving us each a lemon. So let’s all make lemonades! My special thanks and regards go to Ms. Barclay – thank you so much for being there for us girls.

Bottom line: I could not be happier, finally knowing that I am strong and have become stronger – physically and emotionally – as a result of this unforgettable trip.

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