Chiang Mai OVIA 2018
On 28th November 2018, 17 students and 3 teachers set off for a 14-day service trip in Mae Chaem, Thailand. During the two weeks, we visited two primary schools, Muengdek Wittaya School and Chumchontambonthapha School, a tribal school, Somdejya School, and a rural high school, Mae Chaem School. In many ways, the trip opened our eyes and hearts to new ways of understanding what “service” means.
At the start, it was a challenge for us to meaningfully engage the primary school students, but we soon learnt that sincerity was the key. Although we still faced difficulties in communication, time management and pitching our lessons appropriately, we learnt to see what the students needed and wanted to learn. This gave us a fresh perspective and gradually, we were greeted with encouraging smiles and high fives, simple acts that conveyed volumes in terms of affirmation.
Some images that stayed with us were the schoolbags the students carried and their unrestrained enthusiasm for learning in class. At Somdejya School, we saw how the students travelled a far distance to school, yet they were wearing worn-out slippers and some were barefoot. They made their schoolbags out of sacks used to store rice, and used one pen and one notebook for all their lessons. However, what we perceived to be areas of lack did not curb their passion and hunger for learning. They fervently copied what we taught in class and continuously asked questions.
One of the most valuable lessons we learnt from the trip is that every person counts. We have become much more aware of how our actions leave an impact on every person we meet. On the other hand, we also believe that we can make a difference to the world when each one of us does our best in our different roles and capacities.