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November 2018: American School in Japan, Tokyo

Mission Community Service

Several years ago the students of American School in Japan (ASIJ) formed a service club with the aim of helping rural schools in Thailand. This year, they chose to return to Baan Nongbua School, the same school that they had helped the previous year.

Baan Nongbua School is located in Chiang Dao National Park, two hours north of Chiang Mai. There are seventy-five students, the majority of which are from the Lahu, Hmong, Karen and Lisu hill tribes. When we arrived at the school on the first day, all of the students and their teachers were there to give us a warm welcome. After introducing ourselves, the students of ASIJ and Baan Nongbua played together and got to know each other. It was then time to get down to work.

ASIJ’s Mission

The group’s mission this time was to build and renovate the school’s kitchen area. The main jobs were:

-Mixing cement -Laying bricks -Renovating the sink -Building a table-top counter

Here we go! We began by separating into three groups: mixing cement, sieving sand and filling the floor with dirt. We made a human chain to pass the buckets efficiently and before long the students had leveled up the floor and filled the inside with dirt.

We then began mixing the cement in three tubs. The students had to learn the best ratio of cement powder, rocks, sand and water in order to create the perfect cement. In one tub there were eight buckets of sand, five buckets of rocks, half a bag of cement and four buckets of water. After these were mixed we poured the cement on top of the dirt from one side and then continued in towards until we reached the middle.

Once the whole floor was finished we began laying the bricks for the kitchen wall. The students learnt how to properly lay the bricks so that there would be no weak points in the wall and it would remain solid over time. We then also made a counter for food preparation and renovated a sink for the children. At the end, when we were tiring and our pace was slowing, the students from Nongbua School came to help us with the construction work. This gave us the lift we needed to finish strong and complete the job to the highest standards possible.

It was a memorable trip for both sets of students. They became friends and had fun together on a project that will genuinely help the school every day. Even though the work was hard at times, it proved worthwhile and everyone felt extremely proud of the results.

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