Stand UP Thailand: Shabbat, Waterfalls, & Soccer

Here’s a recap of our last week and a bit of what our participants have to say about Shabbat, waterfalls and volunteering!
This past weekend we celebrated our first Shabbat in Thailand at the hotel in Chiang Mai. On Friday, we went out for dinner and photos then came back to the hotel to hold a service. For me, this was a different experience. I regularly only attend services at BBYO conventions where I’m used to having a song leader and some sort of theme for the prayers and talking parts, so for me this was unusual. Though it was a change for me, I enjoyed this different Shabbat style. This service was a lot more personal and each prayer was led by a different person or duo. This enabled us to hear a variety of tunes. We were also blessed with an amazing sunset over the mountains in the background of where we were sitting. Then on Saturday evening, with the help of my friend Drew Kassman, I led Havdallah. The two of us taught some of our favorite versions of the Havdallah prayers to the group. Overall this was a truly unforgettable Shabbat and it was one of my favorites. I would like to give a quick shoutout to Liv, Avi, Sophie B, Sophie G, Oreen, Lauren, Andrew, and Jaclyn for helping create this amazing memory. Signing off, Aaron Kirkpatrick Northern Region East DC Council
A couple days ago we went to a waterfall. Before we went, our tour guide Kit told us that there was a lot of line in the water so we could walk up it but I wasn’t really sure what that would be like. We we got there the whole thing was really beautiful. Just on this trip in general we’ve been surrounded by such beauty in nature. Anyways, we spent the whole morning climbing up waterfalls with the help of ropes. After taking plenty of pictures, we went up to a grassy area and had a delicious lunch. Then we headed back in the vans to head to the airport to go to Mae Hong Son. The day was overall amazing and it was a great way to end our first chunk of time in Chiang Mai. – Charlotte Beede
When we got off the trucks that took us to the long neck village, we stood in a line in-front of the ~45 kids and told them our names and then they performed a dance and song that was truly beautiful. We were then split into 3 groups, I was in group two, and we each rotated together throughout the day.
My group first was the group who would teach the kids in the classroom, so our group of 10 teens split up into 2 sub groups and the two groups each had their own classroom. The school’s floor was made of dirt and rock and the entrance of thick bamboo and the walls of the school as well as the roof(which also had metal) was made of intertwined and woven bamboo. My group went to the younger kids room. First, we introduced ourselves again and then they went around the room, sitting on stumps with one long wooden table per row, and they introduced themselves. Their main language is Burmese but all of them speak some levels of English and almost no Thai since they are not even citizens, instead they are stateless and their parents are in refugee camps or working in Mae Hong son to send money back to the school. 
Back in the classroom, we taught them some games like slaps and we also played other games with them like singing head shoulders knees and toes which every one of them already knew. We also went over basic English some of which they didn’t know like colors and body parts and then in return they taught us how to say all of them and also the numbers in Burmese. We also taught them the cotton eyed joe dance and the mackarena which they loved. They were all so happy that we were there and the whole time they were laughing and smiling. 
After an hour and a half of teaching, my group went to build the chicken coup so for about half and hour a number of us went with some of the older teens from the village to tell us what to cut down. Each of us cut down a bamboo stalk probably measuring around 50 feet. To do this we were given machetes that were so fun to use but were also a lot of work to operate and we really worked up a sweat. In the upcoming days we will be using the bamboo to make a fence around the coop. After a good lunch of rice and noodles with vegetables provided by our tour guides mom who owns the school and a lot of the land, we went back to building.
 For a while I shoveled dirt into a large pile to use to level out the ground. Then I began sawing the bamboo into smaller pieces and stripping the pieces until they were flat and about and inch in width. Then we went to do the most fun thing today which was playing soccer with the kids. The teams were a two BBYO teens and 7-8 kids versus another set of BBYO teens and more kids. The kids are very small but also amazing at soccer. By the end I was so sweaty it looked as if I had just jumped in a pool or shower fully clothed. I was also disgusting from the woods as well as the mud from getting the ball out of bounds and the dirt from the ground when I got juked so hard by a kid I fell.
The final score was a tie (8-8), I scored twice, but that wasn’t what was important. What was important was that the kids were having a good time and after every good play we were high fiving and saying good job. Also it was great and inspirational to see that community and these kids who only see their parents once a month and play soccer using goals made from bamboo having so much fun and were so excited. After we said goodbye to the kids for the day, we filled up our waters and that’s when it started to downpour which felt so nice and was so cold. We had a quick tour of the village in the rain and saw many women wearing the rings around their necks to push on their collar bone which is why it’s called the long neck tribe. — Andrew Bosworth 

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