From the very beginning, I knew I wanted to go to Phuket for field studies in grade 9. Back then in 8th grade, the only reason I wanted to go was because it was somewhere far away. Looking back at that, it was SO MUCH MORE than only going somewhere far from home…
Before our departure in October, we had some meetings in advance with the 30 students and 3 teachers. In these sessions we researched about the Thai culture, and what they value. Not only did we do that though, we also researched about the activities we were going to do such as painting a Burmese Mon School and snorkelling in the deep waters of Phuket.
We arrived on a Sunday evening and got picked up by the British International School, Phuket (BISP) busses. I had never been in Thailand before, and was extremely impressed by everything I saw, pickup trucks with little children in the back, 3 people on a tiny motor cycle and the trash lying on the streets. Extremely different if I were to compare Thailand to Japan… We spent 5 days in Phuket. On the first two days we painted two walls at the Burmese School. This school had 40 students who came from Burma who’s parents worked in Thailand. Our 30 people group was split into 2 so one group would do something in the morning and after lunch we would switch. My group started the day off by painting the walls, so we drove to their small village and started painting. In the meetings in advance, we planned what we would paint, since we’re a school from Japan, we decided to paint a sakura with our hands as leafs.
As you can see on the right, I wouldn’t really call this a village, it was more a street with houses that did not look stable at all. There were chicken’s walking around everywhere and a lot of trash around. Since there wasn’t enough space for us all to paint, we decided that some people were going to clean around the school and we even started a garden with mango trees.
A school with 2 rooms for 40 students
While one group was painting, the other group was playing with the children who went to the Burmese Mon school. We did various activities such as playing soccer and basketball in the gym. I learned that sport is actually a universal language. Even though they did not have any subjects like PE in their school, they knew they had to do something with it to make a point. This helped us bond without having to speak each others’ language. It was so so so special seeing the children so happy by just running around and making points for their teams, I could really see their eyes lighting up. I did not know until know, how such small things can make some people extremely happy, and how their happiness could affect me in so many ways.
At the end of the second day, we had to say goodbye to the children, since we had finished our work. It really was quite sad to say bye to them. In these two days, with all the interacting you do, I really did create bonds with the children and it really did touch me when we left in our buses. Not only because I would miss playing with them, also because felt bad. They don’t complain about anything, and stay tough. However, they don’t know any different. They are used to this life. And then it’s us, foreigners complaining about most things that don’t even matter. It made me realize how extremely fortunate we are and that we should appreciate everything we have because we really do have everything compared to what they own.
This photo on the left is when we were sorting all the donations we brought in from Japan. As a class, we did extremely well with bringing in things such as: clothes, shoes, school supplies, games, etc. It took us about 45 minutes to sort everything though it was worth the time since we ended up having 13 full bags to presents for the children.
On our last day in Phuket, orphans from the SOS Orphanages came over to BISP. We started off with playing games such as races with soccerballs, basketballs, we played musical chairs with hula hoops (it took us some time to explain how it worked but we got there eventually). We also taught them the “Mary had a little lamb” clapping game. It was super fun, because we got to dance with them and 2 boys from our grade brought their ukuleles so they played the music for us.
Swimming with the SOS Orphans
After playing in the Gym with the SOS children, we went to the elementary school pool at BISP to swim with them. We all got a buddy to look after. This was really fun because they do not get to swim as often, and they all got really excited. Again, the language barrier was not a big problem since they knew how to swim and we just needed to look after them and play with them and we didn’t need verbal communication for that.
We only spent an afternoon with these children which I thought was not enough. It was harder to create a bond in such a short period of time, so I hope for future trips, we could make this a bit longer so we have more time with the SOS children.
(We didn’t only do activities with these children, we also went snorkelling and looked at the differences between a coral reef before and after the el niño. We also went on a hike in a rainforest and planted mangroves. Planting mangroves was extremely fun since everyone was covered in mud. Another thing I won’t forget from this trip are the countless times we have played UNO)
This service trip to Phuket really has been life changing to me. I got to know people from different countries, other communities, who value different things. They have inspired me to appreciate what I have, and to love what I have. Seeing those children to happy with colored pencils made me so happy, but at the same time, I realised how fortunate I am to be able to go to an International school, where I can take subjects like PE and Art, when these children here can’t. How I can buy my colored pencils at any time, but they can’t. It is definitely something I will never forget in my whole life.
A few days back we had the so called “Service Retreat” where leaders from the service groups here at YIS get together and talk about service. I was asked to go for the Phuket group. In this retreat we talked about service and what it really was. I am not going into deep detail, but got quotes and we had to explain it. This was mine:
“Always render more and better service than is expected of you, no matter what your task may be.”
I think this will really help me continue something that I love, helping people. This doesn’t always need to be something big like travelling overseas, it could also be talking to someone who is having a hard time. Service isn’t something people are telling you to do, it is supposed to come from yourself and as the quote says, always render more and better service than is expected of you. I hope this will inspire me to keep on doing what I am doing now.
Even though the trip is already half a year ago, I still remember everything. I still talk about it with my friends and family, I am trying to convince my brothers to go next year! It is one of the most inspiring things I have done in my life.
The students that went to Phuket, could always set up a service group, and to inform the next group of students that go, so the new students can get an idea of what the journey/experience will be like. After the new students have gone, we could set up an actual group to keep on supporting the Burmese Mon School.
With the Students from the Burmese Mon school