GCD: Global Understanding (Field Studies Phuket Trip)

The Phuket trip was just about half a year ago, but the memories are still clear in mind. They are so clear that it feels like the trip was just a few days ago. And now, I will like to share some of the memories with you.

Ever since grade seven, I dreamt of going to the Phuket trip. But it was because I longed to travel someplace far away from home and I had no knowledge of what was coming ahead of me. But it was until grade eight that I got to know the meaning of the trip and thankfully it didn’t change the fact that I still wanted to go on the trip. After graduating middle school and entering 9th grade, I was ready to leave to Phuket at any time as I was so thrilled. But then I realized that I wasn’t ready at all because we had to do some research about the Thai culture as well as the planned activities for the trip. For instance, information on the coral reef for snorkeling, mangrove rainforest & gibbons for planting mangrove trees, etc.

On Sunday evening of October 18th, we arrived at Phuket. I remembered the air felt really warm and humid. It was definitely a big change compared to Yokohama where my home is. We stayed at the British International School in Phuket for 5 days. The trip consisted of 30 people including myself, and we were split into two groups and then would switch tasks after a lunch break. On the first and second day, my group and I visited a Burmese school with 40 students. Students were about the age of 5 to 8 and they were learning in an environment which was no comparison to our school. Therefore, it was our mission to recreate their school by painting on the plain white walls.

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Carefully planned Sakura tree piece with our hands painted on the petals including Burmese school children on the bottom of the painting

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While my group and I were painting, the other group were interacting with the children by playing games and sports. I think this was one of the main things that I will never forget because seeing the children smile made me feel happy even the fact that language was a barrier we still had a great time. The children only had this once a year, so we tried to make their time as special as possible. Since we use our laptops all the time, social media seems to dominate most of our lives. But with this experience, it reminded me that I don’t always need that to help me socialize with people and I can physically be there in person.

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Burmese children painting on small animal sculptures
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The result of painted sculptures by Burmese children
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Waving goodbye to the children on our last day with them

In every Hello, there are always Goodbye’s. On the second day of our trip, it was time for us to part with the children from the Burmese school. This was difficult for all of us because even in such a short period of time, we became close with the children and they were more used to our company. One thing in particular that I learned from the children was how fortunate my life was and complaining wasn’t worth it at all. These children were always patient and did what they were told to do. And in certain about the fact that they were younger than all of us, as a 15-year-old I was very privileged to be able to have the money to travel and spend time with them.

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Sorting all the miscellaneous items we brought to give to all the Burmese children and SOS Orphans
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After giving a collection of goods for the children in the Burmese school

On our final day at Phuket, we were introduced to the children from the SOS Orphanages. Though by the evening, our plan was to departure Phuket, we made the last hours worth spending. For instance, we played games with the children for a start which was entertaining and created laughter within both the children and us. We even headed to the elementary pool at BISP and taught them how to swim. From this, I knew that speaking the same language doesn’t matter sometimes. And since we only had a day with these children, in the future there should be a lot more time spent with the orphans so a stronger bond could be created.

Swimming with the SOS orphans at the elementary pool in BISP
Swimming with the SOS orphans at the elementary pool in BISP

Besides interacting with both groups of children, we planted mangrove trees, snorkeled to observe the affected coral reef from the El Niño and went on a hike which included visiting the Gibbon sanctuary. Some of the challenges were carrying the mangrove plants until the place we were supposed to plant them since it felt like every step I took, the plants became heavier. During the planting process, my feet were stuck in the mud and it didn’t matter if I was covered all in mud because everyone else was too.

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After 5 days of Phuket, it made me realize how much service is important in general as well as for myself. I value this especially because helping people and the environment makes everything better every time you commit to service, you’re making a change. Even the smallest events like picking up trash on the ground or larger events like this trip. By doing these actions, it inspires others to help others. Service for me is absolutely rewarding as it gives me a sense of pride and I feel like I did something right and be grateful afterward. This whole trip has become a huge part of my life as every now and then, I would think about the events that happened during the trip and wish to go back again. Thus, I would strongly recommend future freshmen’s to go on this trip.

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