Mrs. Laders: Right, 12 students gave up their spring break to serve a small community in Thailand and we had an incredible time.
Mr. Musselman: We thought we would simply have a conversation about the purpose of the trip, what we did and most importantly, what we learned.
Mrs. Laders: Not only that, but this is something we hope to do EVERY YEAR! So, we’ll share some information about our hopes for next year and how you can get involved! Trust me… you will want to join us.
Mr. Musselman: So, where do we begin… Why did we go in the first place Mrs. Laders?
PURPOSE OF TRIP
Mrs. Laders: The purpose of the trip was multifaceted, as a service learning trip, as well as an authentic cultural Thai experience. In school we talk a lot about 3rd world countries and the need to help. But often times our vocabulary surrounding these people is (most of the time, unintentionally) filled with pity and sadness. This was an opportunity for our students to see first hand how people outside of Korea live, and what people from other cultures value. Many times these values are drastically different from our own, and that can be very eye opening for students as well as chaperones.
WHAT WE DID
Mr. Musselman: Yes, exactly Mrs. Laders. So, let me tell you a bit about what we did. One of the most fulfilling service projects we did was to build a wall around a local elementary school that has problems keeping stray dogs off the property. Mixing cement and laying bricks in the hot Thai sun is extremely hard work, but over the course of three days we built about 10 sections of wall, completing the project! We also put our construction hats on in order to build a greenhouse structure that would block the sun so a family could grow peppers to help support their family.
In addition to this project, we really came together teaching the local youth english and the important life skill of swimming. In northern Thailand, the number one cause of childhood death is drowning. Through the lessons that we provided, it is hoped that we can ensure that statistic is drastically reduced. As a teacher, I was amazed by our students ability to engage the students despite the language barrier.
On a few other occasions we cooked and delivered meals to those in need. We purchased food from the local markets, chopped and cooked traditional thai food and then hand delivered it to the community. This allowed us a rare opportunity to see how the Thai people lived and converse with those receiving our donation.
When we weren’t working the team got a lot of down time to swim in our private swimming pool, play sports or relax. The food was out of this world as a private cook prepared all of our meals! We also got a taste of the culture. We had a question and answer session with a Buddhist monk, learned to become Muay Thai champions, and enjoyed several markets!
You can see our pictures here!
WHAT WE LEARNED
Mrs. Laders: On the last night we shared what we learned with the group. Some students shared that they were really happy they got to meet Thai people around the neighborhood we were in, and got to ask questions. Many were surprised to learn how happy and upbeat the locals were, even though they live much different lifestyles than many of us do. Students were also happy to learn some new stuff about Thai culture, like the language, the silkworm process, the different types of food (especially crickets and frog!), religion, etc. Finally, students learned that they could push through the hard work, and many commented on those hard times making the rest of the trip more memorable and significant. The work we did was not easy, especially in the heat; some days were 40 degrees! But students had the opportunity to experience what people who do this for a living go through on a daily basis, and how difficult it can be.
Mr. Musselman: Yeah, it was great to hear about everyone’s experience and something that they took away from the week. One of my favorites that you didn’t mention though, was that one student hoped that the group would still be friends when they went back to CDS. I know that I’ve been able to reach out to more people this first week back than I have before, so I hope students have as well!
Mrs. Laders: Oh, I forgot that one! That was a good one. So, what comes next, Mr. Musselman?
Mr. Musselman:In 2019-2020 we hope to get more people involved! We want YOU to join us!
Mr. Musselman: We will be looking into having two trips next year. One to Thailand (yet again), and the other to Fiji. However, instead of traveling during spring break, we will travel during the 4th week of winter break!
Mrs. Laders: You heard him right, the fourth week. That means, there can be no excuses about having to go to academies, or that the APs and SATs are approaching. You’ll have three FULL weeks to go to academy before joining us on this incredible week long vacation.
Mr. Musselman: So mark your calendars, we are looking at going January 4th - January 10th of 2020!
Also, on April 18th, a Rustic Pathways representative will be at our school to help us plan for the future. This would be a great time to ask questions if you have any about what next years trip might entail.
Mr. Musselman: If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org (Mr. Musselman) and email@example.com (Mrs. Laders). We love these trips, and believe that they are incredible valuable and worthy experiences that you should be considering when thinking about your future. A majority of students who have gone on these trips write about them in their college essays as they are incredibly impactful.
Mrs. Laders: That is all! Thank you all for joining us, and have a great day!