Grade 9 Cultural Discovery in Chiang Mai

Nov. 11, 2017

Day 4 - An Unexpected Event 

Emotions/Feelings on the event & the Reaction/Solution to event

"I did mountain climbing and repelling today. Before I completed this, I thought that both tasks would be relatively easy to achieve. But it turned out that both were a little challenging for me. For the mountain climbing, I realized that it was very difficult for a climber who doesn’t have the height. Not only did it take me a long time to get to the fifth mountain top, it was also super challenging for me to get to the Jackie Chan mountain. 

"I was panicking because when I reached a small platform for the Jackie Chan, I was already feeling unsure about climbing further up. My shoes kept on slipping and my legs had difficulty with keeping my body in between the two mountains. Although, I had my team mates behind me encouraging me not to give up! I thought that it was impossible. I was holding my friends up and I thought it would just be easier to let others go in front of me! I also have knee problem and I wasn’t sure whether would add salt to injury. For the repelling, I thought that it was difficult because I wasn’t able to keep my legs straight while trying to make my way down the mountain. Overall, it was quite an entertaining experience (in retrospect) and I am very proud of myself for completing the task and getting over my fears."

#FlashbackThursday to Day 3 (cooking & farming) 

A Grade 9 Student's Story: 

Today we gave back to the community! We began the day by cooking our own Thai-food, which lucky enough we got to enjoy soon after. This was only the beginning.

Following lunch we headed to the backyard where we had to place soil into hundreds of bags. We then sorted ourselves into three separate groups: the pig, the cow and the chicken. Each group had a task: 

  1. Catch fish with baskets 
  2. Attend to the water buffalos 
  3. Catch fish with a net

There was only one thing that was pretty unexpected — there was tons of cow poop in the pond. Everyone knows I am the kind of person who is afraid of dirt. However, since we had to do the work, I had to get closer to the cow poop. Now, while we were sorting the soil into the bags, I was practically wading through poop. But then, the staff told me something I did not expect - the soil is made up of cow poop! That was a funny revelation. 

We then had to catch fish in the "cow poop" pond. This was a very painful experience for me. I can still remember the feeling of when I was trying to walk through the pond and the mud (cow poop) was so slippery and soft - even a little bit warm. I am pretty sure that was from the water buffalo who was standing next to me pooping. However, as time went on, I was trying to focus on the task at hand - catching the fish - not the cow poop. I started to slowly look at the surface of the pond to see if there was any fish movement. As the number of fish increased, the less fear I had on the dirt (cow poop)!

Day 3 - Student Feedback 

How did you work as a team member today? 

When we went to the elephant nature park today, our first activity in the morning was to unload watermelons off a truck. During this activity, I was in a group in front of the trunk of the truck. My role within the group was to pass on watermelons to the next person that was with me on the second line. After that, the other people in the line could pass the watermelons all the way down and place them on themselves.

In the afternoon, we did two other services for the staff and elephants in the elephant nature park. After lunch, our grade was split into two groups again. The first service that my group did was unload pumpkins from the shelves and my role was to help with the washing process. During this process, I stood in front of the tub, and once the pumpkin had been passed down to me through the line, I put them in the tub filled with water for the other members to wash. 

The second activity for the afternoon was picking u garbage around the elephant park. My role during this service was to hunt for garbage and put what I found in garbage bags that my other team members were holding.

What did you learn about the other ways of life? Why is this useful?

Throughout the day in the Elephant Nature Park, I was assisting the staff by unloading watermelons. After nightly reflections, I learned that some of the staff members working at the park were actually kids around my own age. When I found this out, I was actually really shocked. When I was passing watermelons around, I felt tired just by doing it for about an hour. However, some of the staff members at the park do this for a living - approx. 6 hours a day! These kids had to work as they were born into families whose situation and living conditions were no where near mine. It made me realize how lucky I am to have the opportunities I have; to have an education and choice. It made me open my eyes to how others live and to appreciate what I have, develop self awareness and understand that not everyone has the same advantages I have in life. - I am very lucky! 

Day 2 - Farming & Cooking 

Second day of Chiang Mai and the Grade 9's headed off to a local farm which was about 1-hour drive from our hotel. The scenery along the way was very interesting for such a short drive. Lots of markets, stores and traditional Thai hotels lined both sides of the street. 

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"Chiang Mai presented such a vivid and lively image on such a pleasent and gentle morning."

Grade 9 Student

Chiang Mai's unique and exotic style was fascinating to the tourists who visited her. Although a few of the Grade 9's had been to Thailand a few times, they could still find something different in what they saw. 

The climate is mild and the group really noticed how friendly the people are. One student said, "it is not because the residents seem so used to the tourists, but because the residents are shaped and deeply influenced by such a nice environment." 

An examples shared was when they were buying ingredients for cooking Thai dishes, the sellers did not put the price up of ingredients due to the fact they were tourists, but they charged based off local price and treated them as locals. Although the residents couldn't speak English, they were still trying to confirm if the items the group bought from them were exactly what they needed.

When the group approached the farm, on first impression, the students didn't know what to make of it. The gate of the farm was small and the roads stretching into the farm were muddy. But as they drove into the farm, the natural village scenery attracted their attention. There was a natural breeze, special details and lush greenery which produced a natural beauty. 

Food was on their minds, which was perfect as the next stop was cooking lessons! The chef taught students three different Thai dishes. Some of the dishes seemed simple to cook but the hard part was memorizing each step including the time to put in each ingredient, which ingredient goes in which dish  and the quantity of each ingredient in each dish. 

At the end of the field trip, the Grade 9's went fishing! It was not easy for some... the fish were surprisingly heavy to lift out of the water. The group learned some useful fishing methods from the day's experiences. Who knows when you may need this survival skill next?!

The students learnt from their day's experience to be aware and observe whats around as there is always something new out there and something you haven't tried before! 

Day 2 - Rock Climbing

One group went to the rock-climbing park! They climbed three different levels of slopes on a rocky mountain with protections. Some students faced physical mental challenges; 

"I was terrified of climbing, because once I had fallen because a person who was spotting me didn’t hold the strings properly. I hurt both of my knees and because of this, today, I was totally scared about climbing." 

But students challenged themselves and pushed themselves to face their fears. The three slopes were of different difficulty levels. This is what one of our students in Grade 9 experienced. 

"Since we were randomly picked for going to one of the three slopes, with my luck, I was chosen to climb the hardest one! I was panicking before the climb. I tried to convinced myself not to panic and focus on every step I was taking. I finally I reached the top and survived. I was super excited because in my mind, I couldn’t make it. Once completing the climb, I realized I had just conquered the hardest mountain! I broke through my fears and felt pretty proud of myself because only I could understand how hard it was to prepare myself for the challenge of the climb."

"Overall, I was surprised that I actually achieved what I did and the only problem was that there were too much mosquitoes. I came to the conclusion that they like biting people with higher body temperature (that's me) and by the end, I was sick of them! Despite the mosquitos, it was still a great day. I just hope there will be less mosquitos buzzing around in the next few days." Lucy, G9

Day 2 - Domesticated Elephants 

"When I arrive back to ISNS I would like to share my story and spread more information about the truth of domesticated elephants. I want to tell others to not ride elephants and that elephants are not meant to be ridden, also that it hurts the elephants. I think that it is necessary to pass this information on to others in our school in order to spread awareness about how the elephants are treated. These elephants shouldn’t be treated like what I have seen and heard about and people know too little about the backstory of how the elephants have been treated. People should know that when they are paying to watch an elephant perform or pay to ride an elephant, it is actually inflicting pain on the elephant. I would take action by making a video myself as I was shown a video today at the Elephant Nature Park and it raised the issue with me. I would persuade others to visits the Elephant Nature Park to learn more about this issue and to really experience and learn more about the suffering of elephants in our world today." Kiara, G9

Day 1

Day 1 of Chiang Mai for the Grade 9's had them applying numerous skills to multiple activities including cooking classes, rock climbing and farming! 

From the first activity to the last, it was unanimous that communication was the key to collaborate as a team, form bonds, and complete activities successfully. 

"When all else failed, communication was the one skill we relied on to introduce ourselves, express how we were feeling, and to understand one another.”

Grade 9 Student

When taking part in team activities, the group used communication skills to connect with teammates and share ideas in order to finish the task at hand and achieve their common goal. 

Students also discovered how important it is to collaborate with one another. For afternoon activities, students needed to complete tasks as a group. In order to reach their goals, they worked together, communicating, cooperating and trusting one another. The consensus of the day "...without teamwork, we would not successfully complete the mission."