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Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2012


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Sawatdee families and friends,

Team Thailand left Bangkok this morning and is currently in route. These last six weeks have been absolutely incredible. We want to thank each student for putting their all into this trip and making the most of each experience. We love you all and will miss you.

Xxx

-Derek, Lotte & Hillary

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Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2012

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Team Thailand Is Coming Home

Team Thailand,Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2012

Description

Sawatdee families and friends, Team Thailand left Bangkok this morning and is currently in route. These last six weeks have been absolutely incredible. We want to thank each student for putting their all into this trip and making the most of each experience. We love you all and will miss you. Xxx -Derek, Lotte & […]

Posted On

08/8/12

Author

Team Thailand

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    [post_content] => Some people journal everyday. Some do not. I am one of those who do not. But per Derek's suggestion, I'm going to try. I've heard of people who hike or climb mountains and they all say though it's grueling the way up, there's a certain high, a certain euphoria once you reach the very top. I've had my doubts, but now I have a first-hand experience to back it up. I'm not ectastic, but compared to how I was coming up, I just feel so awake and happy and full of energy. Of course, there's still the way down, but whatevsies. Now I'm out of things to say. As if I would write my innermost thoughts on a page. I really like this pen. It's a very nice green. [insert green scribbles here]
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Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2012

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High Moment

Angela Sim,Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2012

Description

Some people journal everyday. Some do not. I am one of those who do not. But per Derek’s suggestion, I’m going to try. I’ve heard of people who hike or climb mountains and they all say though it’s grueling the way up, there’s a certain high, a certain euphoria once you reach the very top. […]

Posted On

08/4/12

Author

Angela Sim

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    [post_content] => The sound of the waves crashing against the sand echo through my ears. While the strings of the hammock cacoons me and gently rocks me into the gentle ocean breeze. My feet sink into the perfect untouched sand while the water erases my past footprints. The sand against your fingers encourages childish imagination, large man made sand sculptures lie beneath the dark green palm fronds and low hanging coconuts. As I walk along the oceanside four small paws trot behind me and wait while I stop to collect small seashells that lie hidden beneath the sand. Mind, body and soul relax into the swing of island life. As we walk along the wide empty streets of our small island town, not another soul can be seen for miles around but that no longer bothers us but instead acts as a comfort in our own private island away from society. Just our Dragon clan all alone among the waves and the breeze.
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Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2012

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Koh Mak: Deserted Paradise

Priya Balkissoon,Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2012

Description

The sound of the waves crashing against the sand echo through my ears. While the strings of the hammock cacoons me and gently rocks me into the gentle ocean breeze. My feet sink into the perfect untouched sand while the water erases my past footprints. The sand against your fingers encourages childish imagination, large man […]

Posted On

08/2/12

Author

Priya Balkissoon

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The rain found you in the morning,

Knee-deep in the sea.

The waves broke before you,

Water lapping at your feet.

Knee-deep, you waited

For the tide to come back

As it waxed andwaned with the moons.

Barnacles will cluster at your fingertips, my dear,

And seaweed will twine around your throat;

The tide will come back, believe you me,

And you will part your lips to watch

The saltwater flood your lungs.

Drowning feels a little bit like dying,

A little bit like being rocked to sleep;

It gently reminds you of fear,

Of cold darkness seeping into your bones.

Rest your head, my sweet,

And don't wake before it is done.

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Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2012

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Koh Mak

Angela Sim,Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2012

Description

The rain found you in the morning, Knee-deep in the sea. The waves broke before you, Water lapping at your feet. Knee-deep, you waited For the tide to come back As it waxed andwaned with the moons. Barnacles will cluster at your fingertips, my dear, And seaweed will twine around your throat; The tide will […]

Posted On

08/2/12

Author

Angela Sim

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    [post_content] => The cave was probably not the smartest place for us to choose our beds. Of course we didn't know about the rats that call this place home also. They played mind games with us all night long, and the end scene in room 101 in 1984 was running through my mind all night. We barely got four hours of sleep, but it didn't matter much because we were going to get up at 4 : 30 anyways. The next morning seemed liked a dream, all of us dressed in the white garments one wears when taking the five precepts. We stepped out of our cave, the air was cool, thick with morning dew, the sky slowly starting to glow as the sun's rays started to curve around the earth. Immediately we sit down and bow three times to the Buddha, and we sit very uncomfortably on the tile floor. What is twenty minutes of chanting seems like an eternity, knees screaming at you for a change of position, but any pointing of feet toward the Buddha is considered the worst offense, so we suck it up and continue to sit still. The pick up truck ride to the town seems like a blur. When we get there the flash of saffron in the new sunlight catches and embraces the eye. We dutifully march behind them, waiting for the dedicated monks to hand us the alms they just recieved, the plastic bags containing the gems of Thai cooking. We stuff them in our bags in silence and continue on the path these monks have walked everday for years. Our bare feet scream for attention, for sympathy, but we soldier on. We approach an old woman, she takes off her Hello-Kitty flip-flops and bows before the monks, offering her rice. She gets up slowly, old bones creaking and groaning under the strain. Slowly she dips the rice into each of the monks bowls. The monks show nothing, say no thank you, give no acknowledgement to the woman. Instead they continue on towards the next givers of the glorious, glutinous food. Whoever said beggars can't be choosers was a fool. The monks feast like kings, choosing from a collosal collection of meats, fruits, curries, rice, and every Thai food one can think of. They eat in silence, they know they are blessed to be having such meals. After the meals they meditate, more silence but of a different kind. This was an inward silence where one can only hear oneself. They follow their path and stay faithful, know that enlightenment is no easy task. At night the chanting comes again, low, deep and repetitive, a waterfall of riwsig and dropping tones. Ajaan, the lead monk starts, followed by his two subordinates. Then we meditate and try not to think about the excruciating pain we are in because of our sitting position. This continues in silent suffering until Ajaan breaks it, and freedom is given to our legs. What sweet freedom it is. Our legs finally able to stretch, and the dream of the last hour is finally realized. Then we go back to our cave, in front of the large Buddha looking down on us, looking eery in the red light we use for our headlamps because it won't disturb the bats. We lie on the floor, the only bedding is an extremely thin mat, but in our minds it is the most comfortable thing in the world. We are so tired from waking up at four thirty that we fall right asleep. We rise again at four to chant and meditate again before we head out on alms rounds with the monks again. It is the pure and simple way of life here for sure. The distractions here are only in the mind. It is a place to think, learn, and discover, not a place to live, love, and laugh.
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Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2012

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Simple Life

Sebastian Peskind,Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2012

Description

The cave was probably not the smartest place for us to choose our beds. Of course we didn’t know about the rats that call this place home also. They played mind games with us all night long, and the end scene in room 101 in 1984 was running through my mind all night. We barely […]

Posted On

08/1/12

Author

Sebastian Peskind

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The candles shine steady as we enter the cave.

Their glowing peaks hold through the winds of the mountains.

Their stocks form a wavering path that guides us further from the world, reaching forever into the cave walls.

At night there is a fire, and the air is thick and black.

It covers us in dust and soot as we lie.

The forbidden land meanwhile lies below, untouchable to the girls we remain.

When we wake, the sun is still lazing beneath the treetops, but the air is stale from the night.

Cold water hits my head, a reminder of this poverty.

My skin bristles against the ice and the nuisance of morning.

Eyes closed once again as the world brightens to a blinding gray.

Along the edge of the cliff everything lies, separated from the ground below by the currents of thoughts unspoken.

We are confined to a life of modesty, honesty, travesty.

Behind the boys, beneath the stars, beside each other as we bump and tousle down the road to necessity.

From the tin roof falls rain.

It is unsure of where it wants to seek fortune; we survive the worst in our candle colored cocoons.

Minds wander without purpose, rebells against the hopes of the soul.

A few minutes becomes indefinable.

I bow, remembering the doctrines of home.

Back among the sparkling stone, the slience of life growing up is so deafening that the voices outside seem fake.

The remains of the fire yet to be swept, the hunger of the unabashed hearts evolving faster.

We sit on a perch between wet and dry, laughter and tears, comfort and insanity.

Where the people fail us, there is this place, but only for a countable few hours.

The dewdrops remain for days.

No longer novelties to the place of revelation, we will infinitely remain enemies of lastingness and misunderstood by our captors.

Like a bird, I wish to leap from the cliff and into the sky as sunset blushes orange and blue.

A slice from the celestial ceiling would fulfill, so we recieve the fruits of tomorrow and yesterday together, eyes glowing brighter with each bite.

Expecting shadows of light crossing darkness, but there is instead a silver lunar night.

A passed word is a jewel unknown, thrown from the ear to the foot and crushed in a mindful step.

The wind howls like the beast of our dreams, whipping my hair across the universe, scattering green sea drops over our toes.

With the dangers rejected and the dragons fed with lovely violets, where else is there to be but the path of ancient times? `

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Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2012

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Still Sparrows in a Storm

Grace MacArthur,Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2012

Description

The candles shine steady as we enter the cave. Their glowing peaks hold through the winds of the mountains. Their stocks form a wavering path that guides us further from the world, reaching forever into the cave walls. At night there is a fire, and the air is thick and black. It covers us in […]

Posted On

08/1/12

Author

Grace MacArthur

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I stand overlooking this special valley. The sun is shining, and all is illuminated by bright orange and yellow light. As I close my eyes, all I can feel is this light as it moves over me, then through me, reaching deep into my bones.

"The practice of meditation is to develop the mind. First, you develop samadhi, and that takes focused effort. The Pali word samadhi means focusing the mind, developing the mind to one-pointedness by gradual degrees of mindfulness and concentration. To focus the mind, one has to be diligent and determined. This requires a large degree of both physical and mental composure."

Slowly, I can begin to feel a connection developing between myself, and the energy around me. Through meditation I find a way to clear my mind and create more headspace. Each breath I take leads me closer to relaxation. I try to sharpen my mind by letting go of its attachments to careless thoughts. This afternoon light fills me with tranquility brighter than ever before.

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Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2012

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Afternoon Light

Sophie Kloor,Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2012

Description

I stand overlooking this special valley. The sun is shining, and all is illuminated by bright orange and yellow light. As I close my eyes, all I can feel is this light as it moves over me, then through me, reaching deep into my bones. "The practice of meditation is to develop the mind. First, […]

Posted On

08/1/12

Author

Sophie Kloor

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The emotions have hit me. I could not keep myself from crying. Nothing to stop it. They say Thais aren't suppose to show emotion, but last night that wasn't true. After the BBQ party at Dukes house, Ryans brother, we all went upstairs to the shrine room. Tears, tears where everywhere. I could not stop, all of the sisters were crying, sandness had enveloped the room. Then, hugs started to be exchanged , another thing I'd never seen here before. Everybody was so sad that we were leaving the room constantly to get our minds straight.

I left the room for a minute, but it didn't help. Seeing Chiangmuan at night made it worse. The tears still were flowing out of my eyes. We allstarted to hug more, Nina, Tangmo, Lin, Milk, and evern Ryans grandparents were crying aswell. Why is it that we had to leave this great place, and have to continue on. I saw lots of Greng Jai that night. Ryans grandmother kept giving us gifts because we were leaving in 2 days. Bracelets, food, clothes, keychains. All during that, hours of crying had been going on. Then that night I could barely sleep. so much sadness flooded my mind. I was finally able to fall asleep though.

I woke up very sad as well. That morning I broke out in tears again, my last day in Chiang Muan. I got to school early so I could see everyone one last time. It was my last time this year in room 202 at C.M.W. (Chiangmuan Wittayakhom School). During morning line up we had to say a quick thank you in english to all of the students. I was last. I went up, stopped, started to cry, then quickly stopped because I didn't want the entire school to cry. I went up and thanked all of my friends, Mu, Bow, and Beer. My last sentence was "I will come back, I promise."

I've made so many friends, I haven't felt alone here. Namnow, one of my best friends told me before going home "Best friends" I responded with "Yes always, goodbye Namnow."

Later Kazz came up to me, took my hand, and gave me a bracelet and said "This is my gift to you, you always remember me... what's your email address?"

Those were just some of my friends at C.M.W.

In the beginning, I never thought I would fall in love with Thailand and Chiang Muan the way I did. Those 10 days were the best 10 days of my life and I promise I will be back at Chiang Muan next year, and I never break my promises.

Robert Fernandez

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Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2012

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Sadness and Love – My Adventures in Thailand – Post 7

Robert Fernandez,Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2012

Description

The emotions have hit me. I could not keep myself from crying. Nothing to stop it. They say Thais aren’t suppose to show emotion, but last night that wasn’t true. After the BBQ party at Dukes house, Ryans brother, we all went upstairs to the shrine room. Tears, tears where everywhere. I could not stop, […]

Posted On

08/1/12

Author

Robert Fernandez

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    [post_date] => 2012-08-01 00:00:00
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You always get a strange feeling when you leave a place. Maybe not places that you have in your reach, but places that are far away from home, remote places that you feel are infinite distances from you. Not only will you thing about the places you will miss, the things you will leave behind and the people that have taken a significant part in your heart, but also you will think of the person you are right now, in this instance, because you will also miss that person. I've noticed that everytime I go into a cultural experience, everytime I dig deeper in thai culture I feel freedom, happiness, confidence and purity. I feel everyone of these complicated and wonderful words because I don't have to worry about my problems back home. I don't have to worry about what I have to wear, how I look doesn't even cross my mind and never have I felt that I need to change who I am to fit in a specific group. I've noticed that I travel light, but not only physically but also spiritually because I have left all my problems, fears, stress and unforgivefulness begind. Now, as I think about the place in the univerise that I am living, I worry if I will ever be the same person that I am now. Strange feelings invade my body as I leave my home stay family and friends, and I dont know if I should be happy or sad. Happy because this cultural experience happened and I have learned so much from it. Happy because I have met wonderful people and made wonderful friends that will forever be in my heart. However, as much as I try to stay happy, sadness always crawls through the cracks of my mind. I don't know if I will ever come back to this place, and I definitely don't know if I will ever see any one of all the people I've seen for the past ten days again. Everything is uncertain and that kills me, but, as the tears run through my face, I choose to clasify them as tears of happiness because as the knowledgeable Saint Augustine said: "The world is a book, and those who do not travel, stay only in one page." Tears run through my face but I know I have turned a section in the book of The World, turned a chapter in the book of Who Am I? and turned a page in the book of My Life.

One of my biggest fears before home stay was if I would be able to communicate with my family, and now, as I prepare myself to leave, communication is the least of my worries. That is why I know that this experience has been a powerful one because, although my family and me do not speak the same language, we communicate as we did. Another one of my fears was if I would be able to adjust and fit into the thai way of life in which I was about to enter, and now, as I leave, I feel like if I was a 17 year old thai. Thailand has become my second home and I have immersed myself in its culture. I understand it, I like it, and evenually I believe that this will help me understand my own world back home. Sometimes to understand your own world and your reality, you have to get away from it.

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Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2012

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Traveling Light

Jose David Mendez ,Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2012

Description

You always get a strange feeling when you leave a place. Maybe not places that you have in your reach, but places that are far away from home, remote places that you feel are infinite distances from you. Not only will you thing about the places you will miss, the things you will leave behind […]

Posted On

08/1/12

Author

Jose David Mendez

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    [post_author] => 39
    [post_date] => 2012-07-27 00:00:00
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On the day before our last one in Chiang Muan, Ryan and his homestay brother Dook invited us all to a Thai barbecue hosted by his aunts. From the food to the atomsphere to the people was all amazing. We talked and laugh and thought it the amazing end to a perfect homestay experience. But with this end came a sad realization that our days in this town was finite and was so close to its inevitable ending. Dook and in turn Ryan's newly adopted aunts invited us to see the family shrine. This beautifully decorated and ornate work of art stared back at us. We started taking pictures together and then it happened. It started with our sisters and then it spread. Tears swelled up in our eyes as we embraced each other and failed in comforting each other. White strings seemed to become attached to our hands by Saw(Ryan's Aunt) and all our newly found Thai family. Bracelets and strings were the only physical connection, but without them our hearts would still think of them and we will always remember the fond times and amazing adventures we have in their town and in their homes. A kindness that you can barely find in America but is so overwhelming present in Chiang Muan. Leaving may have been one of the hardest moments of our lives as our embraces and tears cover each other. We will forever hold to them in our hearts and minds and they will never be forgotten as our Thai family and second home.

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Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2012

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Leaving Home

Priya Balkissoon,Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai, Summer 2012

Description

On the day before our last one in Chiang Muan, Ryan and his homestay brother Dook invited us all to a Thai barbecue hosted by his aunts. From the food to the atomsphere to the people was all amazing. We talked and laugh and thought it the amazing end to a perfect homestay experience. But […]

Posted On

07/27/12

Author

Priya Balkissoon

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