Yr 11 CAS Service Trip to Thailand (Day1-2)
After many months of planning and preparation, our Year 11 IBDP students finally set off on their CAS Service Trip to Thailand! Eighteen of them and five of their teachers arrived at Phuket very early morning on Saturday, 22 April 2017. While waiting for the ground staff of GVI (Global Vision International) to arrive at the airport to pick them up, the students studiously did some Mathematics and Physics questions set by the Principal.
When everyone got to Thai Life Resorts, we were amazed by the natural surroundings and the exotic plants and birds around. After an hour of rest in their own rooms, the students were led to the beach where they had a briefing from their two GVI leaders, Anna and Caroline, about risks during the week, safety precautions and the plan of events. This was followed by an ice-breaking activity in which the students sat in a circle, wrote down their own strengths and goals on paper, and then shared them with the rest of the group. At the same time, the principal had a meeting with the accompanying teachers to divide their duties and then set some rules for the students, pertaining to self-study sessions in the evenings and gadgets during the activities. Then the students were allowed to play with Frisbees and swim at the beach until 4pm when after a quick wash-up, everyone hopped onto small lorries to go to the local supermarket in groups. Students bought snacks, some toiletries they had missed and other essential items such as adapters, then returned to the resort site. About an hour of shower break later, everybody gathered again to walk back to the beach for dinner. The dinner was a buffet featuring traditional Thai dishes including hibiscus and lemongrass juice, fresh grilled fish and fragrant rice fried with mixed vegetables. As students and staff enjoyed the dinner, they were able to enjoy exquisite sunset views of multi-colored clouds and sky as evening descended. Precious photographs were taken and students could not resist approaching the sand to play with the water again. They stayed there and had fun till it got dark. After a few brief instructions for the next day, everyone went back to their rooms and retired for the night.
On Sunday 23 April, everyone had a simple breakfast of fried rice, fried noodles and fruits at 8pm before starting lessons with the two GVI leaders. They introduced us to their organization, the projects they run and what ‘sustainable development’ means. The students were then led to play a game with strings to help them see the connection between different aspects of sustainability issues. After a short break, we all went out of the Resort into the local village for a quick lunch of Pad Thai- a very famous and traditional Thai dish made of fried noodles, tofu and vegetables. Half of the students even asked for second helpings! We then started our walking tour of the village from there. First stop was a dessert shop which makes all kinds of colorful Thai desserts fresh. Next stop was the ‘Base’ or the headquarters for volunteers of GVI when they come to do projects in this area. It was a much-needed toilet and water-refill break, before we continued onto the Tsunami Memorial Park. Over there, the students were able to imagine the impact of the tsunami that severely destroyed the town in 2004 through a constructed walkway with a wall in the shape of a ‘grey wave’ on one side, and the plaques commemorating all the deaths and the disappeared with pictures, engravings and flowers on the other side. There was also a gallery by the beach detailing the natural disaster and all the efforts that went into rescuing the survivors and rebuilding the town. The students then trudged back to the Resort in the company of a few friendly stray dogs as well as the unique sights of local life. A shower break and a lesson on Thai culture and language followed. We learned how to behave in front of local Thai people as well as simple expressions, such as “how are you?” and “excuse me” in Thai. The last activity of the day was a reflection session at the grass in which every student had to use one word to summarize their experience so far, and then the leaders reiterated the rules for the volunteering activities beginning tomorrow. A dinner of Thai green curry followed and the evening ended with self-study of either the students’ IA or EE (Extended Essay).