Hello,

I am Lorelei Peterson, a math, education, and psychology major at Hamline, and wish to be a math teacher when I graduate this May.   This trip has been absolutely amazing! Last night we stayed Rimkok Resort which is the most beautiful yet.  Kok is the name of the river nearby and rim means edge, so named because the gorgeous Kok River runs through the hotel grounds. I spent the morning on our room’s private balcony, it was perfect.

Today we had a later start, and left the hotel around 10:30.  Paul Hancock joined us, he heads a foundation that teaches teachers in local schools Montessori style.  The first stop we made was at a Thai government school that Khom Loy, Paul’s foundation, had transformed. We saw two preschool classrooms with about 15 students. They have independent learning time everyday from 8-11, which has proven to improve self-motivation in students. Then we stopped by the office and training center, where they have taught around 40 schools their methods. This program has reached over 900 kids.

Then we went to the Starfish, Chiang Rai location.  We ate a very nice lunch here. The building had rooms for girls to live, and they would attend local Thai schools.  Here we also saw the handicrafts that Paul and his wife, Patricia, help local hill tribe women sell.  Then Paul talked about how he and his wife started their foundation. Then we heard from Koy, the only Akah lawyer in the world.  She works for Starfish finding children who need to get out of their homes for safety. She also trains local hill tribe people the law.  Today we saw a ceremony where over 10 hill tribe people became paralegals. This program is so valuable to the hill tribe communities because they don’t know the rights they have.

After these talks, we met up with the Starfish children and went to the local KFC.  The children have been looking forward to this dinner for a month! Tonight was our last night with Dick.  We are so grateful for the experiences he has given us these last couple weeks.

We cannot believe there are only 4 days left!

Lorelei

Hi everyone,

It has been awhile since we last updated you about our fantastic Thailand experience. Since our last day at the Starfish School we have visited two different Northern Hill Tribes, had a free day in which we all ventured out to do different things, and travel to Chiang Rai (our current location). We have done a lot, but I’ll try to highlight the major events !

After our last day at the Starfish School we traveled up a mountain near Chiang Mai to visit one of the Hmong villages. Let me first start off by saying that the view from the top of the mountain is amazing. From the top, the steep agriculture fields filled with Japanese egg plant, lichee trees, and more and the expansive green forest can been seen stretching out below the village. When we reached the top the older kids from the Starfish school were already there setting up a children’s day for the Hmong children. The Hmong villagers were dressed in their beautiful traditional beaded and embroidered clothing. At the children’s day the starfish students hosted games and handed out prizes to all the participants. Some of my favorite games were blindfolded makeup and a game similar to hot potato but instead of a “hot potato” it was a bottle of baby powder that ended up being sprayed on an unlucky someone’s face when them music stopped. After the festivities, the villagers kindly opened up their village for us to walk around in. Poverty was definitely prevalent, and yet everyone we met had a smile on their face.

The next day was our free day! This was our day to do whatever we wanted and to explore the city. Some of us went mountain biking, some ventured farther into the city, and some of us when zip-lining. I went zip-lining and it was an amazing experience. I only heard good things from everyone else about their day too. When we go back from zip lining and our other fun day events, most of us stopped by the Saturday Walking Market. This market was full with unique crafts, delicious food, and kind smiling people. This market covers one street on Saturday and no cars are allowed to travel through. At one point during the evening the national anthem comes over the loud speakers and everyone stops to stand at attention and listen. It was very cool to see everyone just stop whatever they were doing and listen to the anthem. Overall, our free day was full of excitement and fun!

The next day (yesterday) we traveled to Chiang Rai. It was a rather long bus ride but we stopped at some beautiful sights along the way. Our first stop was at the hot springs. At the hot springs there were ladies selling eggs that were boiled in the 95 degree water. We relaxed with our feet in a little stream that was not quit as hot. Our next stop was the magnificent white temple. This white temple is not only a tourist destination for foreigners, but also for Thai people. The temple is still under construction with only three temples built and six more on the way. The temple is completely white and inside the murals are of the controversial issue of today. Personally, I think it was the most beautiful temple we have seen yet.

After the white temple, it was a short ride to Chiang Rai. Once in Chiang Rai we met up with Dick an some of the children the Starfish home located here. These children were Akha Hill Tribe members. They kindly allowed us to visit their home. The Akha village looked very similar to the Hmong village earlier. There were some housed made of wooden slabs and some made of cement. It appeared that some of the houses had running water and electricity while others did not. The Akha people were very welcoming; by the end of the visit we had been given two bunches of bananas and a bag full of starfruit. Poverty was prevalent once again, and just like in the Hmong village almost everyone was smiling.

The past few days have been full of adventures and new experiences. I have only highlighted a few of the major events.  I hope the last few days continue to be as great! We will be home soon!

Sincerely,

Aileen 

Hello all! 

We have had some very busy and fantastic days! And with hat we have gotten a bit behind in the blog. We should have some longer posts up in the next 24 hours. 

We just arrived safely in Chiang Rai and are all excited for our final few days! 

-Margot

Study Abroad Colleague

Hey all,

We have reached about halfway through our experience here in Thailand and today was our second to last day at the Starfish school in Chiang Mai. All of us have had some highs and some lows throughout this whole experience. Right now is the point where some of us are getting sick with sore throats. Even though they are sick, the people that sick are extremely positive and excited to be here. Overall I think that everyone is having a great time and are learning a lot about themselves and about the world. Through this trip we have had opportunities to do things that we would most likely not be able to do in the states, such as riding elephants. I think at this mid-point in the trip some people are beginning to hit a wall within their experience in Thailand. Now that we are in the city we are beginning to experience and see a different side to Thai culture that is surprising to many, such as the poverty and the issues of globalization and westernization. This is a large contrast to the rural parts of the country that we stayed in for the first couple of days of our experience in Thailand.

Today we had an early morning because we had to be at the bus at 7:00 am to begin our one hour journey to the school. We actually got to the school a little early, and went straight into our busy day with the kids. Yesterday we were with the first through sixth graders, but today we were with only the kindergarteners. The energy of the kids was electric; the only problem was that the kids only knew English to the extent of saying their name. We decided to pair up the Hamline students so that each group of Hamline students would have about 6 or 7 kids. Because today was supposed to be English day, we spent the whole two hours playing English games. They loved it. We played different games such as red light/green light, mother may I, duck/duck/goose, a scavenger hunt, and taught them various songs that made them use the English vocabulary that they had. I was surprised at how fast the children caught on to everything. There were even children that were speaking good English, which was amazing because they were only 5 or 6 years old. The whole time we were with the little ones, you could see the smile radiating off the faces of not only the children, but also the Hamline students. After our individual time we got to teach the children different songs as one large group, such as I’m a little tea pot and Old McDonald. Then we went and had an amazing lunch with the kids prepared by the school. It is amazing because each student washes their own dishes and then does their individual chores. After lunch we probably spent another 2 hours with the children playing games and practicing their English. I know that we will all be extremely sad when we have to leave the students this weekend. After the lunch/playtime, Dick presented to us different techniques that he uses to help teach math in both Thai and English to the kids. The tricks are very useful and probably would have been great when I was that age.

After the school we had free time in Chiang Mai. I spent all my time wandering with different people around old town and Chinatown. I have realized that those are the areas that I like the most about the city because they are furthest away from all of the craziness and tourism. Chiang Mai is a beautiful place to be, especially the further away you move from the tourist hub that is the area around our hotel.

Sincerely,

Kristen

This afternoon we went to Starfish Country Home School to work with our older students.  The older students are p1 (first grade) through p6 (sixth grade).  We have been thinking of multiple interactive ways to teach the students over this past weekend.  It is such a thrill each time we see our students that they are just as excited as we are to learn from as they are to learn from us, even with the language barrier.  The smile’s we see on their faces as we arrive are priceless every time!  We got into our small groups of students, about 4 to 5 students per each one of us to do our lessons. Many of us partnered up with one other groups to make the games more entertaining. I played a number game with my group and am so surprised every time they are able to catch on so quickly. We are quickly learning how to act out some of the vocabulary we use when working with the students. It definitely makes it more easy for them to comprehend what is going on as we’ll as fun. We played a few large group games like pulse. In which there are two equal lines of students and the objective is to squeeze the person to the person to your left’s hand as quickly as you can once you have received a squeeze from the person to the right of your hand creating a pulse. The first line to complete the pulse through their line first wins. The students were having a blast with this and didn’t even want to stop playing to eat cake, which says something!  We played “duck, duck, goose,” or as some may call it “duck, duck, grey duck.”  The students also enjoyed learning how to play frogger. In which there is a detective sitting in the middle of the circle trying to figure out who the frogger (1 student) before they lick up a fly (all the other students).  We did a get to know you game with a couple of groups as well, where they had to stand in the middle of the circle and state there name and something they liked. Whoever liked the same thing ran into the middle of the circle to give someone a high five. We then got to swim for a little bit with the students before heading back to Chang Mai.  It is so wonderful to hear from Dick that the students have been practicing their English just to talk to us more! You can tell just from the week we have spent with the, how much more they have opened up to us. They are already starting to get sad about us leaving and wishing we could stay longer as do we!  

It was also our last day with Jeff our amazing tour guide we have had throughout our trip this far. We had a great experience with him and were sad to let him go. Our new tour guide will be Kim.

Brenna

The Day has Come: The Elephant Camp

Today was the day most of us had been waiting for, riding the elephants. Our time at the elephant camp was first spent taking a bamboo raft down the river. The sun peaking over the green mountains and the elephants sun bathing made it a peaceful morning. After the raft, we sat down to watch an elephant show. The elephants did all their amazing tricks, and even painted a picture.  After lunch we took an ox cart ride to the elephant loading dock. Two by two we all got on these gigantic animals feeding them bananas and sugar cane before we sat on the chair attached to their back. The ride was bumpy and as we entered the river I was sprayed by an elephant trunk. It was such an exciting day, and I am so happy to say that I got to ride an elephant in Thailand!

Tuk!Tuk!

We’ve arrived.  Tuk Tuk, songtao, rickshaws, took us around the city.  We explored temples, markets, and got a glimpse of Chinatown.  Today we experienced a blessing by a monk at one of Chiang Mai’s most famous temples.  The rest of the day was ours to explore.  Today Amber and I got a much needed Thai massage for 200 Baht.   After exploring the night market last night our bodies were exhausted and a massage was exactly what we needed.  Life in Chiang Mai city is much different than the rural areas of the province, but each have their perks.  Today was a bit of a free day so we were able to explore our new home.