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PARTNERSHIP: Asian Studies Academy Thailand


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    [post_content] => We have been away from Pun Pun for two days, yet deeply embedded images of the place, its people, its distinct rhthyms and way of being will endure - likely as long as I have memory. It was our second day at Pun Pun - a community of organic farmers as internationally diverse as are their crops. Lisa, our Scottish host, and Rocky, her Burmese husband, took us to a small area on the lush hillside that is Pun Pun and began to demonstrate how the community makes adobe-like bricks to build a house - baan - and other structures in the community  - chum chon. Our host teachers showed us to a pit filled with mud. Nearby, I noticed a wooden frame assembled in such a way as it appeared to be narrow ladder.  "A brick mold," I quietly thought. Next, they instructed the group to remove our shoes, roll up our pants, and step into the mud pit.  I thought, "HMMMP! I don't think so.  I will observe and take photographs.  This is the children's journey.  I am simply here to supervise.  I will smile nicely, simply hold my camera, and just not get in the mud.  Afterall, I didn't know about this in advance. I am wearing one of my favorite shirts.  I don't want to get mud on it.  Besides, I have a NEW pedicure!  It is not even a week old.  Don't these people understand!?"   Then suddenly, as if a distant whisper on the wind, words came into focus from a nearby source.  One of the children called out to me, "Come on, Miss McDonald. This is one of our rocks!" (Rocks being our symbol for new experiences - taking chances -  leaning into discomfort).  And so my resistance faded, and my body relaxed, and suddenly I was willing to join them. (Mind you, I still didn't want mud on my shirt).  I feigned protest, as I entered the circle of arms and sank my feet into the pit of mud, rice husks, and sand. Around and around we went.  Around again and again. I called out occasionally, "Please, no mud on my shirt.  Please, don't get mud on my clothes. Don't get crazy, kids!"  My diva and inner three year old who loved to make mud pies collided again and again, yet I continued. Each of us helped support one another in a vertical stance with outstretched arms around each other's shoulders, as we stomped and stomped, mixing the blend of materials as if we were one.  More rice husks were added, and with them came large - VERY LARGE - beetles.  I smiled, even thought this was truly too much for me to have bare feet in the same place as SO MANY live beetles. And one by one, each beetle was submerged into the mixture- sacrificing its existence, so that a baan might emerge. Then, it happened - down went my foot...into - a - SHARP - object.  Instant pain.  "Ouch!," I called out.  There is something sharp in the mixture! I think I cut my foot."  To which, Lisa replied, " Yes.  Probably a rice husk [Giggle]."  "Whaaaat?" I thought. I have just hurt my foot on something sharp, and all I get in return is a response infused with a giggle.  "HMMMMP!" Neither the diva nor the inner three year old was happy; yet, everyone around me just continued - unfazed by it all.  So, with a deep breath, I continued. "Let go, diva.  Let go," I command myself to comply.  I stepped out of the pit for a moment.  In that space in time, one of my students said to me, "These people are champions."  I agreed, and suddenly I thought, "If these Western women from Canada and Scotland can do this every day for every baan - for every structure - I can do it today, just  wan nee. And so with that, I quieted my diva, channeled my inner three year old and made mud pies.
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PARTNERSHIP: Asian Studies Academy Thailand

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Mud Pies

Beth McDonald,PARTNERSHIP: Asian Studies Academy Thailand

Description

We have been away from Pun Pun for two days, yet deeply embedded images of the place, its people, its distinct rhthyms and way of being will endure – likely as long as I have memory. It was our second day at Pun Pun – a community of organic farmers as internationally diverse as are their […]

Posted On

07/18/16

Author

Beth McDonald

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    [post_content] => Buddhism. Dharma Karma, the purified mind. What does it all mean? This and much more made up day three in Thailand.  On Monday, July 11, the children, our instructors and I visited three monks at the Wat Umong temple.  The opportunity is called Monk Chat.

Before joining the monks, we spent time in the morning circle learning more abut Buddhism - as a religion, as a philosophy, as a way of living and being. We leaned that it originated in India and spread through Asia.  It was revealed that the Thai people have maintained a very traditional form of Buddhism. The children and I also discovered that there are many rules monks live by, but they focus on the most important ones.

As we traveled to the monks, I wondered who they would be, what they would be like, what would they say or offer to us, and what would the children ask and take away from the experience.  Indeed, as this is my first time in Asia, I wondered how I would be impacted by this wonderful opportunity as well.

As we sat in the circle, we were greeted by three monks - one more experienced and two new, still in monk studies. The more mature and experienced monk led the discussion and answered our questions. One student, Michael, asked about the significance of the lotus flower to a monk - to Buddhists. ..and this is what the monk said....

The lotus flower starts underwater coming from the mud. Over time, its stalk grows, slowly rising just under the water's surface. Then, suddenly, the flower emerges from the water and within a very short time is in full bloom.  and so it is with each of us.  We start in the mud - the circumstances of our birth - perhaps poverty, then we stretch and grow through positive belief, word, and action.  We continue to rise toward the surface of the water, guided by positive intention.  Then, guided by such, we emerge above the water and rise toward the sun - in full bloom.  It is here we reach fulfillment - enlightenment - achieve possibility.  Possibility without suffering for our material wants, old attachments, or past pain. - finding happiness in the present.

I sat and listened to this....deeply, thoughtfully, and was instantly changed forever.  I held back the tears. I looked around the circle. I saw each child listening, taking it in.  I wondered if they had been as deeply affected as I had in that moment.
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PARTNERSHIP: Asian Studies Academy Thailand

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The Lotus Flower

Beth McDonald,PARTNERSHIP: Asian Studies Academy Thailand

Description

Buddhism. Dharma Karma, the purified mind. What does it all mean? This and much more made up day three in Thailand.  On Monday, July 11, the children, our instructors and I visited three monks at the Wat Umong temple.  The opportunity is called Monk Chat. Before joining the monks, we spent time in the morning circle […]

Posted On

07/12/16

Author

Beth McDonald

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    [post_content] => Today we went to go see a awesome temple and we walked around and we went to see a munk who blessed us with water and after  he did that he put a string around our arm.  Then we went to a park and started to write about what life in the U.S.A .the bus ride all the way was bad I was sick the whole time but without that it was a good day
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PARTNERSHIP: Asian Studies Academy Thailand

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Of a lifetime

Kaylani Correa,PARTNERSHIP: Asian Studies Academy Thailand

Description

Today we went to go see a awesome temple and we walked around and we went to see a munk who blessed us with water and after  he did that he put a string around our arm.  Then we went to a park and started to write about what life in the U.S.A .the bus […]

Posted On

07/12/16

Author

Kaylani Correa

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    [post_content] => Mi nombre es Johana Mateo, tengo 14 anos, naci en Queens NY. yo soy de familia Mexicana.

Yo tansolo tengo 10 meses de vivir en E.U. en Hartford C.T. Antes vivia en Mexico con mi segunda mama, segundo papa, tios,tias,y mis primos y primas. Ahi vivi durante 11 anos  en Atlixco Puebla

Esta visita a tailandia ha es una de las mejores experiencias que he tenido en mi vida ya que estoy conociendo nuevas cultaras, un nuevo idioma, comida,  y su forma de vivir. algunas cosas que hay aqui son similares a las de Mexico y esta experiencia me va a marcar la vida y podre compartilo con mi familia.
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PARTNERSHIP: Asian Studies Academy Thailand

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Mi Viaje A Tailandia

Johana Mateo,PARTNERSHIP: Asian Studies Academy Thailand

Description

Mi nombre es Johana Mateo, tengo 14 anos, naci en Queens NY. yo soy de familia Mexicana. Yo tansolo tengo 10 meses de vivir en E.U. en Hartford C.T. Antes vivia en Mexico con mi segunda mama, segundo papa, tios,tias,y mis primos y primas. Ahi vivi durante 11 anos  en Atlixco Puebla Esta visita a […]

Posted On

07/12/16

Author

Johana Mateo

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    [post_content] => Who knew I can control my own mind. After a brief Thai lesson off we went to a suan-buck-haad park. Just as i saw this beautiful park that i have never heard of before, i knew i was in love with the nice breeze and how the park looked like. this orange fish i think named nemo was very orange, in fact this orange fish had its own orange friends tagging along with him a this nice cool swamp,( 555 also means hahaha).okay lets get serious now.so as i was walking to this nice looking house i think it was called a "temple."as i was walking to the temple i saw this nice beautiful young women named pui talking about meditation. i was confused so i asked Pui, can you please explain what this meditation thing your talking about right now. so thats when i learnt that meditation was a thing that was taken very serious with thai people, especially monks.so the meditation i did was very hard, yes any meditation you do that you take very serious can be hard sometimes.the meditation that i did was called vipassana a walking meditation that was really hard but can keep you calm and very very positive.thank you very much for reading my story and i hope you enjoyed it.
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PARTNERSHIP: Asian Studies Academy Thailand

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Mind Control

Musen Abdulkadir,PARTNERSHIP: Asian Studies Academy Thailand

Description

Who knew I can control my own mind. After a brief Thai lesson off we went to a suan-buck-haad park. Just as i saw this beautiful park that i have never heard of before, i knew i was in love with the nice breeze and how the park looked like. this orange fish i think […]

Posted On

07/12/16

Author

Musen Abdulkadir

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    [post_content] => I am an uprising 8th grade student from Hartford,CT, who has never flown on a plane or flown to a foreign country before. But that didn't change my mind about going. Some new experiences that I went through here in Thailand were that I ate more vegetables, than I would eat back in the U.S.A, the food actually tasted a bit better with the veggies. Another experience was practicing Visapasana meditation, this meditation helps you relax and clear out your mind about things that are not in the present, because the future and past are distractions. Another one of my experiences is learning more about Buddhism, I learned how i am suppose to show him respect, and i also learned, we also visited temples to have a chat with monks which of course is another experience, because there are no monks and temples in America.
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PARTNERSHIP: Asian Studies Academy Thailand

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My Thailand Experiences

Freddy Fabian,PARTNERSHIP: Asian Studies Academy Thailand

Description

I am an uprising 8th grade student from Hartford,CT, who has never flown on a plane or flown to a foreign country before. But that didn’t change my mind about going. Some new experiences that I went through here in Thailand were that I ate more vegetables, than I would eat back in the U.S.A, […]

Posted On

07/12/16

Author

Freddy Fabian

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    [post_content] => Today I walked up a Temple which had 306 stairs. It was painful but, I got through it and walked up and down the stairs.When I got to the top we had to greet a Monk who had splashed water on us and gave us a white wrist tie. Then we walked around the whole temple and got back on the bus. Once I got on the bus my friends and I got were cracking up and telling jokes. I honestly thought we were going back to the hotel but, we stopped and I was so confused... the place we were at was a forest. We had to right in our journals how can we improve in the United States. So what I am writing is I felt safe and great after the Monk splashed water on myself. It was worth the 306 steps.
    [post_title] => The Great Wall Of Thailand (306 stairs)
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PARTNERSHIP: Asian Studies Academy Thailand

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The Great Wall Of Thailand (306 stairs)

Michael Khan,PARTNERSHIP: Asian Studies Academy Thailand

Description

Today I walked up a Temple which had 306 stairs. It was painful but, I got through it and walked up and down the stairs.When I got to the top we had to greet a Monk who had splashed water on us and gave us a white wrist tie. Then we walked around the whole temple […]

Posted On

07/12/16

Author

Michael Khan

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    [post_date_gmt] => 2016-07-11 15:54:43
    [post_content] => On Sunday, our team divided into two groups and went on a scavenger hunt to the local indoor market.  Freddy, Musen, and Kaylani joined Pui and me; while Angel, Michael, and Johana joined Frank.  Equipped with there lists and maps of the city center, off we walked to find many things and places, including the market. Along the way, the children embraced the challenge of trying out their new Thai language learning to interact with local Thai people to ask questions about items on their lists. One item we were in search of was Thai French fries.  We had no idea what they were or what they would look like, but the name sounded awesome!

First, the children had to locate a place for lunch, where we would each pay no more than 50 Baht for our meals.  Then we had to discover the river in Chiang Mai, find its name and its importance.  After, we had to locate the market.  Once in the market, we located and tried sticky rice prepared in bamboo wraps.  Now was the moment - we had to discover these wonderfully sounding Thai French fries. I waited in great anticipation.  Finally, we were there!  The local vendor whose booth we had arrived at pointed to a plastic container  with a lid covering it.  "Hmmmm," I thought.  "Those don't look like a vegetable.  Ut oh! Wait.  They look like...am I right...uhmmmm...I think those look like small, ridge-like, dead, fried WORMS!"  Then I began to panic a little bit.  One of the goals was to buy them and try them.  How could I watch the students try them and not do the same? "OK, Beth," I said to myself, as I took deep, calming breaths. "You must be a role model; you must be in this with the kids, or they might not do it."  I took another deep, calming breath with a smile on my face, looked at Pui, looked at the worms with their black eyes, looked at the kids, and said, "Come on guys. It will be fun!  We will do it together."  I saw nothing but horror starring back at me in their faces, but one by one, we each took a fried worm form the container. Then, slowly, with some trepidation on each child's face, we brought the worms to our mouths.  "On three, kids. One, two, three!" Then....in they were.  We were chewing.  I thought, "Hmmm. Crunchy, not bad.  Oops. Wait.  Now it's chewy. Rubbery. Oh my god.  I am eating a worm.  A WORM!  Stay calm. Smile. Chew fast. Swig water!"  I looked at the kids.  Each was swigging water. I smiled.  We had done it.  Someone indicated that they didn't want any more.  I smiled politely. Then...as suddenly as we had eaten the worms, Pui took the container and began happily eating them...much like a French fry!  Suddenly, I was very aware that we definitely weren't in the United States any more.  What other unique foods and snacks will I encounter along the way? Will I enjoy them, eat them with a big swig of water, or just have say, "No, thank you.  Time will tell.
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PARTNERSHIP: Asian Studies Academy Thailand

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Eating Thai French Fries

Beth McDonald,PARTNERSHIP: Asian Studies Academy Thailand

Description

On Sunday, our team divided into two groups and went on a scavenger hunt to the local indoor market.  Freddy, Musen, and Kaylani joined Pui and me; while Angel, Michael, and Johana joined Frank.  Equipped with there lists and maps of the city center, off we walked to find many things and places, including the […]

Posted On

07/11/16

Author

Beth McDonald

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    [post_content] => Our first group photo in the Bangkok Airport! It's happening...

 

 
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Arrival!

Pui and Frank,PARTNERSHIP: Asian Studies Academy Thailand

Description

Our first group photo in the Bangkok Airport! It’s happening…    

Posted On

07/9/16

Author

Pui and Frank

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    [post_content] => Hello friends! I am so excited that we are all almost in Thailand together. This journey is going to be a fantastic adventure, and we are going to explore new places, learn new things, and discover new aspects of ourselves that will enrich our lives. You have spent months preparing, planning, and getting organized and ready. You have worked hard to get to this point, and the fun and the challenge are about to begin. I just finished another short Dragons course in Nicaragua, joined the amazing Dragons Staff Orientation for a few days in California, stopped home in Canada and in Maine for a few days back home to be with my friends and family, and am now on my way to Thailand to make all the last-minute preparations for your arrival. I'm going to warn them that some awesome young people are on their way ;).
    [post_title] => Can't wait to see you all in Thailand in 4 days!
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PARTNERSHIP: Asian Studies Academy Thailand

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Can’t wait to see you all in Thailand in 4 days!

frank cohn,PARTNERSHIP: Asian Studies Academy Thailand

Description

Hello friends! I am so excited that we are all almost in Thailand together. This journey is going to be a fantastic adventure, and we are going to explore new places, learn new things, and discover new aspects of ourselves that will enrich our lives. You have spent months preparing, planning, and getting organized and […]

Posted On

07/6/16

Author

frank cohn

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