It has become a tradition in the years that SIS have visited us in Chiang Mai that their students spend some time with the youngsters from nearby Huay Nam Rin Children’s Centre. Since the Global Issues Network annually select participants from their club at SIS, some of the students have been on a trip here before – often several times!
The first time SIS met the children from Huay Nam Rin was as part of a construction service project in their centre but things have definitely moved on – the following year SIS played host as the local kids came to Traidhos for games and swimming. This year we opted for neutral ground as we set out to some beautiful gardens together.
After painting plant pots and enjoying lunch in our mixed groups, they buddied up and spent a while exploring the greenhouses of the Queen Sirikit Botanic Gardens. As they headed back to the meeting point almost an hour later there was a sea of happy and excited faces. It was lovely to see that, rather than separate into friendship or language groups, our buddies had all stuck with one another and were in many cases holding hands as they walked back. You would hardly believe that these were the same, shy faces that had nervously eyed each other when we met for the first time that morning.
After some games and a swim back at Traidhos, it was time to say goodbye… until next year, at least.
When reflecting on the week, it was clear that this day has had a very profound impact on the Korean students. Here are but a few quotes left on feedback forms, most of which referenced this activity as one of the most meaningful:
“[Meeting the children was]… probably the best overseas experience I’ve ever had.”
“Beginning a relationship is not that hard once you’re determined and eager to actually contribute your time and love.”
“It helped me to realise how privileged I am and how I can help others. It also allowed me to appreciate the beauty of a different culture.”
“I will try to be more open-minded about everyone – my peers, strangers in the street, my teachers – everyone.”
“Thanks for such an amazing trip. You really inspire me to keep being good and global.”
“As a veteran of dozens of these types of trips in many different countries, our group leader was excellent, knowledgeable and very good with leading student activities.”