Stand UP Thailand: So Much To Do… So Little Time

We hope you’re all doing well! With so much going on in Thailand, we got a bit behind on our updates to you and we are sorry about that! We’re sending updates for the second half of the program so you can hopefully read more details of our amazing experiences before your kids are back with you!
This update will cover the time we spent in Mae Hong Son and the surrounding area as we focused in on the service-learning portion of the trip. Having two amazing Thai guides throughout this trip, Kit and Faith, has helped us connect more specifically with the country as they have provided so much information while sharing with us the different villages and cities they grew up in, where they went to college, and where they live now! One day after service we even got to spend time in a beautiful Chinese village in the mountains by a lake, called Ban Rak Thai, where Kit’s grandfather came when he left China. There we spent time at a traditional tea shop and enjoyed hot pots for dinner! In our last update, one of our wonderful participants, Andrew Bosworth, wrote a very detailed account of our first day working with the Long Neck Tribe in Northern Thailand and the information he shared is a great overview of our general itinerary each day of service. 
The community is made up of Burmese refugees who were forced out of Burma (which later became Myanmar) over the past few decades due to civil war, a dictatorship, extreme poverty, and violence. And yet, everyone we met was incredibly welcoming and willing to share their stories and way of life with us. Kit’s mom has worked with this particular Long Neck Tribe for over 20 years and they spent a lot of time over the year working with community leaders to figure out what project we could help with that would make the largest positive impact. The community wanted a chicken coop and chickens so they can use the eggs for protein and to sell for many years moving forward. So many of us were in awe of the kids and adults using bamboo and their other resources with such expertise and precision to build this coop with us and this reminded us that there is so much that we can learn from them.I was also blown away by our kids’ desire to learn as they asked tons of astute questions about history, culture, and how the community has worked to survive and care for each other despite very difficult circumstances.
Over the 4 days we spent learning from and with members of the community, we got to watch your teens step out of their comfort zones and take on challenges (such as coming up with and leading creative activities that were educational and engaging). Teaching as a team with language barriers, for example, is extremely hard. And despite it being new and kind of scary, they worked together, adapted when things didn’t work as they hoped, and led amazing activists that were educational and incredibly fun. By the end of the 4 days, we all learned a lot, worked alongside community members to complete the beautiful chicken coop, donated chickens and tools needed for them, and created some really great bonds and memories that we’ll carry with us moving forward. There were some tears, lots of hugs, and a really wonderful collective feeling of appreciation as we drove away on our last day in the community.
More details to come about our adventures in the days following our service!
All the best,Emily, Nina, and Noah

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