Billanook College: A Tale of Buddhist Culture and Community Buildings
Billanook College has been coming to VSP for over 15 years now to do community service. Before going to Mae Hong Son for their project they spent some time visiting Doi Suthep Temple, which is the most famous temple in Chiang Mai, and Suan Dok Temple for a Monk Chat activity, as well as some other places in Chiang Mai city and the picturesque mountain town of Pai.
Whilst we have done Monk Chat at a number of different temples, Suan Dok is always a popular destination as the resident monk, Phra KK, leaves most of his listeners inspired as he gives an informative lecture on the fundamentals of Buddhism, life as a monk and his own gripping life story before taking questions from the floor.
The highlight of this trip, however, is definitely the community service project. Every year Billanook comes here to join up with VSP to carry out one of our biggest service endeavours. This time we went to Baan Gan Fa School located 45 minutes from Mae Hong Son town. We were warmly greeted there by 7 teachers and 62 local students from kindergarten to Grade 6.
The project was building a meeting hall for the school. We had five full days for the project and a day at the end for a picnic with the local students, where students from both schools had a great time getting to know each other, learning languages from each other and playing together.
The roof of the meeting hall had already been up before we arrived as part of the preliminary work, so the main work for the students was working with cement to lay the concrete floor and build the brick walls. The teachers and local kids were amazing; very helpful, friendly and supportive.