During the Global Citizenship Week, I participated in the Maekok River Trip along with Mr. Bentley, Ms. Barclay and students of the same class. There, we worked on the community service project that has been running for the past five years. We not only helped build a stage for a local school, but also created our own lessons for the students in the school. We were separated into groups of three to teach class by class each day. The students at the local school could barely speak any English. Therefore, we mainly focused on teaching them basic English grammar and vocabulary. Before this trip, I had many experiences on teaching students in school located in Northern part of Thailand. However, a lot of schools I have been to, the students were able to speak mandarin, which is my native language. This is different from this school that consists of mainly Thai students. At first, it was a challenge for me to test their English skills with hardly any communication. Luckily that there was a native Thai speaker in my group, so we started off by speaking them in Thai. This was very effective since the students were very shy at first, but after we have introduced ourselves in Thai the students felt more confident on speaking out loud back to us. From this, I have realized and learned that although I have had many experiences in teaching younger students, I still have many lessons to learn. Communication with the students could be a big issue if our languages are different. Furthermore, every night of the week, we participated in different night activities which mainly focused on teamwork and team spirit. One night in particular was very interesting and memorable. We were brought to a ropes course that was quite difficult. At first, nobody was willing to even give it a try since there was a big chance of falling into the water. I still remember what the teacher said, “You all are definitely afraid of this course at this moment, but I guarantee you that once you have tried it, you will do it more than once.” I did not believe him until it was my turn to give it a try. At that moment, I did not want to get wet but I still had to try it. Although the whole course took me a long time to complete, but it was definitely true that after trying it, I still wanted to do it again. From this activity, I learned another lesson. Even though I have heard many times that it is always better to give things a try rather than just avoiding it. But this time was my first time feeling how much of a difference it would make to try things. Overall, this trip ended up different than I expected it to be. From similar activities that I have done before, I still had many new experiences I have never had before. The most important thing is I also had a lot of fun.

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The trip to Maekok was an amazing experience that took my fears to the next level. As being put in spot as a teacher we had the opportunity to teach first graders to fifth graders. The school that we taught in was called Mae Salak, which is a school that was located in the center of an area were kids from different hill tribes can travel down to learn. Each grade level was a different challenge to teach. When teaching the first graders it was challenging due to the fact that they wouldn’t listen and just climb all over you. But than as we moved up the grade levels it got easier to teach them due to the maturity level. After teaching the kids we had the opportunity to play soccer with them, some of them were really good and made it a challenge for us. We did this for 3 days and one day I accidently fell on top of a boy. I felt so bad when the accident occurred because as me being 6 feet and the little one being 5 feet. When teaching the kids English it was a surprise due to the fact that most of the kids were able to pronounce some of words in the topic that we me taught. The topic that we taught was body parts and another topic we chose was family. The kids were able to sing the song head shoulders knees and toes with no help from us as we walked into the class. Apart from teaching the kids, we helped build a multipurpose building that can be used for school actives and for the villages meeting area.  As everyday outside working on the area was a challenge due to that everyone working there hardest just to try and finish it. It was amazing to see how everyone cooperated together in making a pattern in dumping the sand and cement. When the stage was done, we had the opportunity to paint the building. When the last layer of paint was put on we had the chance to paint a symbol that would help represent the school. The symbol that we chose was a tree and we wrote inspirational quotes around it from great idols. Other than building and teaching we had the chance to do team games at the resort and obstacle courses. The obstacle course that was the most challenging was being able to go through a set of stages that caused us to challenge our self. The course was called “The Confidence Course.” On the last day the kids did a nice presentation of different types of dances. It was a way for them to say thank you to us. Overall the trip was a good experience for students put their positions as teachers and overcoming their fears.

 

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There are many things that I experienced from the global citizenship week trip. Although it was a rough week for all of the people that went to the Maekok River Village to help out some little kids, overall I think I had a lot of fun meeting new people and trying out new things. I first went to this trip thinking that it would be a relaxing trip for the students. I was wrong. It was pretty rigorous in that we had a tight schedule everyday to either do community service or activities prepared for us.

For the community service part, I learned that there were many kids that were in the need for a contact with people who can actually speak fluent English. We gave the children in the trip an opportunity to talk with people who have been exposed to English for many years in their lives. I think that this may have helped the children in the school to understand the behaviors of strangers that come from outside of their region.

I also learned that my culture is pretty different from the culture of the people we visited. I was raised in an urban area my whole life so I would not know how living in the rural parts of the world would feel like. I still think that I am lacking the experience of living in different places, but this trip made me realize that there are other regions in the world that I need to acknowledge.

I learned many things about myself. I thought I would be a lazy person. But I think I have done a lot of work on my part. I realized that I continued to give my service to those in need until I truly got tired. Although it may not seem like much, I believe I attended to the small details of the construction of the building, whether it is moving material out of the ways so that people can pass through without harm or inconveniences. Also I learned that my art is somewhat useful. I was surprised when people said that I can draw well, so I used this new gained revelation to help out on the after works of the construction.

I think matured as the week progressed on. There were stressful events to many people in the trip but I think that people held it together till the end by knowing their responsibilities to the group. I grew to be more flexible in my actions and thoughts because sometimes they wouldn’t match up to what the other people thought.

The experience from this trip was something completely unexpected. Similar to this trip, I went to Vietnam last year to teach little kids and build a structure for the school. I think that wherever I go, there will be a new experience waiting to be discovered.

It was challenging to keep together my thoughts for the whole week because a lot of things were going on. I was not particularly informed on many things because of my habit of floating off to some imaginary land as someone speaks on something important. However, everything that I experienced in this trip allowed me to realize many important things and this made it the most rewarding part of the trip.

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As a Thai citizen that one lived in Thailand for 3 years, this is the first time I visited Maekok. To be honest I don’t even what Maekok was at first or in other words, never heard of it. I never expect the place to teach the way I look at people because of how the village people live. The community was so far from the main city of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai It’s located in the mountains, not maybe people recognized it and this is why I think the government does not recognized it’s own issues. Spending time in Maekok with the villagers, I see the main global issues that firstly appear are poverty and access to education.

Poverty may not be the huge global issue for the villagers because as part of their culture they live a sustainable life so the houses they live in is made with natural things such as bamboo tress that can be found in the forest. However I feel that poverty leads into health and hygienic issues. As I was walking around the villages on our morning hiking trip on Wednesday, I saw many rubbishes lying around the houses or basically everywhere in the villages. It may seem normal for the villagers animal’s waste lying around the ground and just wait for it to dry then it turns into fertilizer but in my opinion the animal’s waste should be scrapped off to one place and leave it in a specific place for it to dry off and made into fertilizer. Also there should be rubbish bins around the village so the tourists and the villagers can throw rubbish in the bins so it does not lie around the village. This should be improved to help the health and hygiene problems in the villages. I understand that the government and volunteers are trying their best to help improve education for the villagers and the people there. However as I still heard from the education center that some village children couldn’t be enroll to the school because they do no speak Thai. Since the villager’s culture and background allows them to speak Mandarin, their own village language and many languages. They should still know how to speak Thai too as they are living in Thailand. Therefore, I think that the government to allow trainers or university students who studies to be teachers should intern as a teacher in the villages to teach the village children to speak Thai and have access to the language.

By going to this trip, I have learned that being hardworking is the most important thing that one should capture in our lives to achieve what we want. In order for the villagers to get water, they have walk down the mountain then walk back up carrying 2 liters of water. I respect how hard they have to work just to get water for their family. Also for them to have a certain amount of electricity, they have to go down the mountain to charge the car charger (which they use fas a electricity plug), and come back up for the family to watch television and have lights. After hearing all of this, I realized how easy my life is compared to the villagers and I hardly have work as hard just to get something that is handed to me in one second such as water. Therefore, I want to finished up that I it does not matter where you are from, who you are, how you are brought up; the only thing that matters is how you treat your opportunities that are given to you and the amount of hard work you put into achieve something you want. This is someone who is likely going to achieve his or her goals in life.

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This trip was another memorable one for me. Going there, I did not expect to gain a lot other than experiences relating to community service. Though what I gained was a lot more than that.

First, doing the construction works such as ‘demolishing’ walls, helping each other carrying the sand and painting walls, taught me something more than just construction. I have learned how hard it was for construction workers to do their job. Being in their shoes even if it was just a small part of it made me appreciate things in life more. I now appreciate all their hard work and effort, which they have put into each block and each site they have built. Also from teaching the children, I have realized how difficult it is for teachers to be able to actually teach. Trying to get all the students to listen and to participate was the most challenging part for me. It was almost beyond my ability as being in the position of a ‘teacher’ was not an easy thing to accomplish even though. I have to say that teaching children was both physical and mental challenges for me though I did manage to get them to by adapting my lesson plans around according to the situation faced. I never realized how tiring teaching was and this made me really appreciate all the teachers’ effort in teaching us. I also learned how important school facilities such as building of the multi-purpose building that we built and education are. Without these things, children would not be able to learn, experience and see new things. It is opening the children’s eyes to a new perspective of life, which is one of the factors that will allow them to progress in life improving themselves, their families and their community.

Not only did I learn new experiences inside of the building sites and in classrooms, I also learned from spending time with the children outside. Seeing them filled with happiness enjoying themselves without things that we take for granted, such as nice clothes, shoes and homes, stressed the fact that I am fortunate to have what I have in life even more from experiencing it first hand. Thus, as a result, I can say that I have grown into a better and more mature citizen of the world from this course, which was both unexpectedly better and worse than I expected. This is because I got the opportunities to do things that I would not have had a chance in Bangkok such as teaching hill tribe children and rafting in the Maekok River. And From facing challenging events with all my friends, I have developed an even tighter relationship with all my friends whom I have lost some connection from all of the academic chaos at school. And all the things that I have gained from this trip that I have already mentioned are the most rewarding things for me. The trip was basically a break of reality at school allowing me to further truly develop myself as a “world citizen”.

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This year’s Global Citizen Week to Maekok River Village in Chiang Rai has been an unforgettable experience. Arriving at my third GCW with all my closest friend, I expected the trip to be flawless. We all longed for an excitement; a better chance to bond with one another, and to finally experience a homework free week! However, little did we know then, that our wishes were already granted.

GCW Maekok River Village was a trip for educational and recreational purposes. It is considered one of those “all-in-one community service” package trips. All the students were given the opportunity to be able to partake in a variety of community services, this included: teaching students, building schools, and painting walls. The teaching experience was a priceless one. From that, I have first-handedly and truly learnt the meaning of the expression “as little as one can change the world”. Initially, beginning in a different culture was somewhat intimidating. However, after some ice-breakers with the students, it would be fair to say that our lesson plans were successful. It was effective, and we bonded with the kids as if we had known each other forever. The happiness that reflected off of their eyes, and their excitement to have us on their campus told that we were doing a great job.

Apart from all the hard work and effort every single one of us had put into improving Maesalak School, the other activities we were engaged in were in the same was just as memorable. These activities included; team building, hiking and the confidence course. We of course, like in every other trip, did experience some rough moments, be it mentally or culturally. However we managed to pass through together as friends. After the trip ended, I feel like me and my friends are so much closer, and I truly hope that this affiliation between us will never end wherever we are in this world.

As a representative of ISB and as a Thai native, I feel like it is a duty to help the people of my country, and be a good global citizen. My goals were not only to help others but also to help myself make a better understanding of this world we live in, after all one can make a big difference. From this trip, I therefore, feel like I have fulfill this duty, and have achieved my goal through singing elementary songs, nursery rhymes, whilst teaching the students and reliving my childhood. From the laughter that filled the room and the happiness that warmed our hearts. I can truly say that happiness comes in many forms, wealth is just the small part of that, but love can make even the poorest man happy.

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On my arrival upon the Maesalak School in a rural area of Chiang Mai, I remembered making slight comparisons between the school that those children –assembled from diverse hill tribe villages –go to, and the prestigious school that I am privileged to have the chance to go to. The classrooms, the chalkboards, the toilets, to the dried up grass field. How many of the children had to walk for several hours to get home, sometimes through the pouring rain. There was also an issue of how the school was only licensed for a number of children to learn at the school, however, the school is currently instructing more than they are licensed to. As I taught these children, I cannot help but to notice their eagerness and yearning to learn, perhaps it is because they realize the value of education more than more fortunate students do. They would fully participate in the activities that I had planned for them. Along with my friends and as my volunteer work to help the children advance their educational experiences, I assisted in teaching English to students of many grade levels and constructing a multi-purpose building for the school. Once the construction of the new building was finished, a mural with inspiring quotes was painted on the wall. Hopefully these quotes will encourage the children to want to learn even more than they already do.

As a Thai citizen, I feel even more obliged to give back to the community since the future of Thailand depends on these children and I have no doubt that they will have bright careers waiting for them in the future. Spending a week with the children at the school, I admit, at first sounded like it was going to be hard work. And although it was as I had expected, it was in many ways better than that. The children were friendly and very energetic. For the week, I was their teacher, friend, and sister. I taught them English, I played games with them, but most importantly I was there for them to give them the attention and love that they equally deserve.

The most challenging part of this course would have to be the effort, both physically and mentally, put into the construction of the multi-purpose building and the planning of English lessons for each grade level. From demolishing an old building, mixing cement, and painting walls to choosing terms to teach the students, coloring animals, and playing memory games with the words with the children. I never knew before how physically demanding construction would be and also how hard it is to successfully plan and carry out lessons. On the contrary, the most rewarding part was to see their dance performances for our group in the newly-built building and the smiles on the faces of the children during their English classes. In the end, the time and energy spent on the building as well as the lessons were very much worth it. When the time came to say goodbye, I knew that those small details of happiness are ones that I am sure I would not forget.

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The experiences I had come upon in Maekok not only helped me me grow as an individual but also as a global citizen. This year GCW trip, I went to Maekok, up north of Thailand. We spent a lot of time teaching at a local school and we also went to visit a local tribe. By teaching at the school and visiting the local tribe, I became more familiar with  Thai culture. Also, I learned that not everyone is as privileged as we are. The school and students do not have all the resources that we have. This trip made me appreciate what I have and knowing that there are a lot less fortunate people in the world.

Even though this trip requires a lot of work, I had a  lot of fun communicating and cooperating with my friends. On one of the night, we had to complete a “confidence course”; while one person is completing the course, others are on the side cheering and giving support to his/her friend. We also built a raft out of bamboos and rubber tires. Without the team, the raft would have never been built; we worked together as a team to complete our assignments. During our stay at the school, during construction, we mixed cement and carry buckets and buckets of sand down the line. These activities allow us to interact with each other and have a better connection with one another.

The first day that we arrived at the school, the children were afraid of us and ran away. However, as we visited the school more often, we’ve become closer to them. We played variety of games together. Other than playing games with the children, we taught them english. We had the opportunity to teach variety of grade levels, from elementary school to middle school. We use different teaching strategies in order to keep the student interested while maximizing their learning. For instance, we played hangman and pictionary with the lower classes; the students are having fun while learning english vocabulary. It wasn’t easy to teach in front a class due to many factors and it made me realize the amount of work teachers have to deal with everyday in school. In that case, I was happy to have gained this experience on this trip.

On the last day, the children danced and sang for us; in return, we sang the song “We are the World” for them. When we are about to depart, the looks on the children’s eye are very clear. They do not want use to leave. Although we were there for only a short period of time, it gave me a life time experience. I will never be able to forget the experiences that come upon this week.

 

 

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This year’s GCW, I went to Chiang Mai, which is in the Northern part of Thailand. There were 20 students and two teachers on the trip. On Saturday, we flew from Bangkok to Chiang Rai, as Chiang Rai’s airport is closer to the place we’d be staying at. We then travelled by van to Maekok, and stopped at the Outdoor Education Center, which is a part of the Maekok River Village Resort.

There, we participated in many community service projects. We built the foundation and painted the walls of Mae Salak School’s multi-purpose room, which would be later used to hold meetings and assemblies. While there, we also taught English to the students. After our jobs were completed for the day, we would have free time. During this time, we would hang out at the Bamboo Club and buy food and drinks. Although there was a swimming pool, no one swam. I liked this GCW course a lot since I got to hang around with my friends. Not only that, this GCW was a great community service course filled with different community service tasks.

Most of the week was spent building and teaching at Mae Salak School. During the last GCW, I was also painting and teaching children, so I was somewhat accustomed to the tasks given. The construction part of GCW Maekok was similar to the Habitat for Humanity builds I have been on, while the teaching reminded me of my times in Bali. On the first day, we smashed walls out of a school in the area. During this task, the swing of the hammer accidentally hit my finger. At this moment, the bruise has not completely healed. The debris gotten from the wall smashing was brought to Mae Salak School. Everything was poured onto the floor inside the multi-purpose room. We were to fill the room with the debris. We did this by forming lines and passing the buckets of debris to the room. This was efficiently done, and surprisingly we didn’t use up that much time. During this time, we learned a lot about constructing buildings.

The other half of the time was spent teaching the students. I wasn’t as nervous about this because I also taught the year before in Bali. Since I am Thai, communication was much easier than last year’s GCW. I was able to communicate to the students what I had wanted them to do. My group did pretty well with the older students, but someone struggled with the younger ones. I now know how frustrated teachers would get when his or her students don’t listen to him or her. We improvised when the students didn’t listen, and had to change our plans. This has taught me to “think on my feet”, as nothing ever goes 100% according to plan.

Apart from the community service aspect of the trip, we also went hiking and rafting. The hiking took us up to a village inhabited by mountain tribes. Although they were technically Thai, their traditions differed from what I was raised up in. Not only that, the people seemed perfectly content even though they did not have all the conveniences we did, which made me realize that my complaints are mostly self-centered. On one of the nights, we were introduced to the Confidence Challenge course. I passed successfully after gathering all of my determination. I guess it really did affect my confidence positively. I have learned so much from this trip about myself as I’ve done so many things I’ve never thought possible.

 

 

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This year’s GCW was a trip to the Chiang Mai region of Northern Thailand. As a group of 20 students and two teachers, we flew from Bangkok to Chiang Rai airport and traveled northeast in a van to Maekok. We stayed at the Maekok River Village Resort for a whole week during which we performed service to the local community. We constructed the foundation of an outdoor meeting center for the Maesalak School and we also taught the elementary school students English while we were there. We were given some free time after several hours of work each day and during this time we were able to relax and enjoy the facilities provided at the resort. This course was a great community service trip and a fulfilling learning experience.

During this trip, we spent most of the week building and teaching. This was my second time working on a construction and my first time teaching children. Both were exciting learning experiences for me. Work on the construction of the outdoor meeting place was similar to what I did in Vietnam last year. We smashed down and demolished the walls at the old classrooms of a school then moved the debris to Maesalak School where we continued and completed the construction initiated by last year’s group. While working on the construction, we learned to move debris, cement, and sand into the site by forming lines and passing the materials along. This is an example of how cooperation can increase the efficiency of doing work. While mixing the cement, the instructors at the worksite taught us the correct ratio between sand and water to create the most suitable cement for the floor of the meeting hall. We learned a lot about the basics of constructing buildings during this process. The second most important service we performed is teaching English to the children at Maesalak School. Teaching was a first-time experience for me so I was quite nervous before the first day. However, the success in the first few lessons reduced my anxiety. After the first day of teaching, I discussed with the other group members and made slight changes to our teaching plan. I learned through this experience that teaching is not an easy thing to do and that it requires a lot of planning before class, some improvisation, and time management.

During the week, we spent a day hiking, rafting, and visiting a nearby village. Visiting the village and seeing the lifestyle of the locals was a stunning experience. Their lifestyle is very different from ours but the villagers seemed very content with their lives. I learned from this visit that a lifestyle as simple as that of the villagers can give people an equal amount of happiness and satisfaction as an urban lifestyle. During the trip, I realized that while the way I live may seem privileged to others, other lifestyles are just as great if the people living those lifestyle are able to feel content and enjoy their lives.

The most challenging part of this trip for me was getting used to the living and the teaching environments. The living environment was quite different from what I had expected and so it took a while to adapt. It was difficult to adjust our teaching based on the English level of the students. However, after the first few days, we were able to make adjustments quickly and teaching became a more natural process for us. In the end, this course was an entertaining learning experience and a great opportunity for me to contribute to the community.

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