22 March, 2017

⅖ of the family in Thailand

An old photo from a previous trip. This is David's fourth
trip to Thailand with senior classes.
David and our eldest son are in northern Thailand with the school's seniors (about 50 or so students) right now. They left last Friday and will get back this Saturday. It is the school's highly anticipated "Senior Ministry Trip." 

But is quite different from the sort of year 12 trip done by most schools in Australia and Japan.

The primary focus of their time in Thailand is service to the Hill Tribe people (Lahu) in Northern Thailand. "This is a tribe from northern Myanmar that was driven from its native homeland and has migrated to northern Thailand where the tribe is living among the Thai people." (Quote from one of the handouts we were given.)

As far as I understand it, this tribe doesn't receive support from the Thai government as they are like illegal immigrants. CAJ Seniors have been going to this area for quite a number of years now, mostly helping with building projects, especially at local schools.

This year they are helping build an extension for a nursery/day care centre (for young children) at Huay Kok Moo school. They're also working at Thomas House, an independent school for special needs children. Last year's seniors laid the foundation for one building in this centre and this year the students are making bricks to form paths between buildings, sanding window and door frames prior to them being varnished etc. The students also take turns in groups to play with the children.

They've been very busy doing the above, plus hiking, going on a bike ride, and learning about the local culture and history too.

The school's professional photographer is with them and is posting some great photos by him and one of the very talented seniors on a private Facebook page.

Another focus of the trip is leadership development and class collaboration. This is one of the things the school focuses on especially in middle and high school is leadership development. Collaboration is a school core value. So they've been doing real life problem solving activities and other things like a ropes course, confidence course etc.

Japanese schools tend to take trips that are about the culture and history of their own country or pleasure trips, like to Tokyo Disney or some private schools go for a fun trip overseas. I suspect Australian schools just take pleasure trips, although I'm quite removed from that scene, so I couldn't be sure.

A Christian International school is a different context and you can see that reflected in many ways throughout a school year. In this case, one reason they choose Thailand, I believe, is that we almost never have a Thai-speaking child graduating, so the students who are used to dealing with cross-cultural situations are completely out of their comfort zone. This is quite relevant as many of them will be going to another culture after graduation for further studies. Even if it is their passport country, they will find that it is a challenging change from an international high school.

From the home-side point of view, we're missing our two guys. We're getting along okay, but not without some nasty times (particularly Monday night and Tuesday morning). It is the first time that David's gone away for a longer period like this with one of our boys, so being a single mum to just two boys instead of three is a noticeable difference. We're looking forward to their return on Saturday, but know that they will be tired.

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