One could argue that in a rapidly modernising world, globalisation is homogenising culture. Students from Appleby College, who were investigating the effects of globalisation, visited a Karen village to see how they are dealing with a changing world.
The first activity was a tour of the village, where the students began to understand more about how the village had only recently become connected, with the arrival of electricity and broadband internet. They were surprised to learn that these arrivals are not popular with everyone, with some of the village elders keen to preserve a more traditional way of life.
Although the village may now be on the grid, they have still maintained some of their older ways of life. The village has a community rice field, which provides rice for everyone, and they continue to trade fruit, rice and wood in moneyless transactions with another village higher up the mountain.
Mae Kapiang is located over an hour from the nearest hospital by car. Although this seems like no distance at all, with bad roads and no transport this is a journey that would have taken many hours in the past. As a result, in villages like this there is a special knowledge of plants and herbs which can be used as treatment for ailments. Students had the opportunity to learn more about the healing properties of plants such as lemon grass, turmeric, lime and blue trumpet vine.
The trip to Mae Kapiang provides students with the opportunity to see a way of life that is becoming increasingly rare in a globalised and interconnected world. It is interesting to see the contrasts between old and new and how these exist alongside each other. The experience provided Appleby students with the chance to reflect on cultural differences between Thailand and Canada, while experiencing what life is like in a beautiful village!