29 October - 6 December 2015
By using the compass to make observations and ask carefully thought out interview questions the students left Thailand with a much better understanding of the real-life difficulties facing some of the country’s poorest people.
UWC East used the AtKisson’s Sustainability Compass during their Discovery Week in Chiang Mai. The aim was to gain a holistic understanding of complicated issues, with the focus being on social inequality in Thailand. By visiting NGOs such as Children’s Shelter Foundation in Doi Saket and Makhampom Art Space in Chiang Dao they were able to meet people affected by and working on improving the issue in different ways.
An important part of the learning process was to spend time with children their own age that have come from the kinds of disadvantaged backgrounds being discussed. Hopefully they were able to see that you don’t need to come from a wealthy family and have luxury items in order to have fun and be knowledgeable. Students were taught either circus skills by residents of Pang Daeng Nok village, near Makhampom, or organic farming techniques by the children at Children’s Shelter Foundation.
Staff at UWC East were keen for their students to practice being mindful of where their food comes from and our farm was the perfect setting in which to do it. They had a go at various stages of the traditional method of growing and processing rice in order for it to be ready to be sold at the market and took part in an activity designed to get them thinking about all the people involved in some way or other in preparing their favourite meal – be it the researchers that work to find the best seeds to grow the ingredients or the factory workers making the packaging for it to be transported or sold in.
In total UWC East sent nine groups of students over a six-week period. On the last night of every trip they enjoyed our usual Khantoke Dinner complete with its cultural performance involving beautiful costumes, big drums and fire breathing before they floated their self-made krathongs in the water. A krathong is a small floating ornament made from banana stem and leaves and decorated with fresh flowers. It is made around this time of year to celebrate Loy Krathong Festival and released to symbolise the Thai people’s gratitude towards the river goddess and all that she has provided.