What does a VSP service experience look like?
Our schools have been visiting and working at Ban Mae Jon Mae Fah Luang Learning Center for over ten years now. There is one teacher at the centre, who takes care of fifteen students. Her house is over one hour away – near the city – but for years she has dedicated her life to teaching the young children of rural Mae Jon.
The projects that VSP have done there recently include improving the playground and painting. BWYA started work on making a concrete floor for the playground, which involved compacting and leveling the mud before mixing and laying cement, and then making sure the floor was level. Since the playground is at the bottom of a muddy slope, it gets extremely wet and muddy after rain but hopefully with the concrete floor it will be usable year-round without having to worry about getting dirty and treading mud into the classroom.
Another project for BWYA was painting the teacher’s house. She has been sleeping in a storeroom attached to her classroom so we have managed to build her a small house next door using donation money and man power from our visiting groups. The students from Beijing did a great job of making the house really colorful and lively.
They also prepared some games for playing with local kids and afterwards the local students performed a lovely show in order to say thank you to the BWYA students. Watching their performance gave BWYA some much-needed rest time after their hard work!
BWYA also had a chance to try on original Dara-Ang costume, as most of the people living in Mae Jon are from the Dara-Ang ethnic group. The villagers were eager to come and help the students to get dressed in their traditional clothing.
In return, students from BWYA had prepared performances in return for locals as well. At the end everyone came and danced together. Furthermore, some students from BWYA wrote a message in the guestbook that the teacher keeps for all the visiting schools to write in. One girl said that ‘it was interesting to learn new culture and really pleased to know new friends’. Before going back to Traidhos, the villagers set up a market selling local handicraft products. To support the community, students and teachers helped to buy some products.
What have students got from this trip? Here are some comments in the students’ own words:
‘This trip was a combination of joy, teamwork, friendship and more importantly service. I loved it’.
‘I was able to challenge myself to be more open-minded by talking to local people and understanding their culture’.