06 March, 2015


I have just returned from an absolutely wonderful trip to Chiangmai, Thailand with half of our 5th grade class.  My first trip to Thailand, and I was so excited to be chosen to go as a supervising adult, but I was so underprepared for what an impact the trip would have on me.

 We stayed at this international boarding school and worked with this fabulous organization.  The trip was such a wonderful mix of cultural and environmental learning and I honestly think I got more out of it than the kids.

 The setting for our accommodation was superb.
 Our first day we visited an organic farm connected to the school.
 Teak leaves held together with bamboo to create roofing.

 A small remnant of a teak forest on the farm.
 The kids cooked us a traditional Khantoke style lunch over small clay pot stoves which was delicious.

 In amongst this gorgeous setting they learned about soil, composting, effective micro-organisms amongst other things.  These city kids got to muck in an shovel goat poo, and I learned so much about small organic farming.

 After a day on the farm we had a swim in the school pool before a fabulous bonfire that night.
 The following day we headed up the tallest mountain in Thailand and learned about water systems, the Thai Royal projects, experienced some nature before meeting up with our Karen people guides and hiking down into their village.

One of the few photos of the kids I can show as their faces are hidden.

 We showered and were fed dinner by our host family and then settled down to sleep in their one roomed house (although upstairs).  This is where I had to sleep with 5 10/11 year old boys.
 Our host family had a cousin who spoke some English and he came to talk with us for a while.  Such lovely people.  Such a great experience for the kids, even though we didn't get much sleep; roosters, dogs, chickens making noise all night.  They had fantastic coffee though!
 The following day we took the kids to an orphanage, a prosthetics factory (where they donated ring pulls that go towards making them), a reforestation project where they got to plant trees and Doi Suthep temple.  It was hot and a pretty exhausting day.  I took lots of photos of the kids, but really enjoyed the photos of the temple (after catching my breath from walking up 200 odd steps )
 I love the scales of the Naga (snake) that run all the way up along side the staircase.

I had been really looking forward to the temple visit, and although it was very beautiful, it was by no means peaceful as it was fairly packed with tourists.  In between all these visits were long bus rides, and a fun picnic lunch.  For dinner we headed into Chiangmai city and treated the kids to some pizza hut and the night market.

I really enjoyed connecting with the kids in this way.  We went with 70 or so kids (and came back with the same number!) but separated into 3 smaller groups.  We had 25 in our group with 3 teachers and 3 Barge guides.  It was fabulous.  I don't actually teach these kids (my grade 5 students are going in 2 more weeks) although some I knew from 4th grade.  I just found it so much more fulfilling being with them in this way than 40 minute structured lessons.  The moments for learning were there all the time; teaching about culture, science, environmentalism, religion, art etc.  I really didn't want to come back!  Not to mention that I bonded so much with our guides; it felt like being an exchange student again.  I even had a little bit of a cry when I left.  It has made me realize that I may have to try to find other ways of teaching.  I have been thinking about community based teaching for a while, and I really feel like I need to try to pursue this line.

As for Thailand, I feel that I must go back again some time...soon.  As for camp; I can't wait to go again next year!


  1. Such wonderful things, George. You've given me some ideas for work. I love that you're thinking about other ways of teaching / learning. I love the teak leaf roof and the snake bannisters, and I love that sleeping room. We must get together and talk about it some time... XXXX

  2. Haven't been here for awhile due to a total lack of time for anything other than work, but felt very inspired by this post. What an amazing experience you had! Love adventures like this. :)


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