In the ninth grade, I went to Phuket for my expedition. The main goal for the trip was to interact with the Thai orphans and try to help their school and daily life a little bit better by donating clothing, toys, school supplies and also playing with them. It was a very interesting and new experience for me to go to another country and do service like this. At first, it was hard to communicate with the Thai orphans since they spoke no English and I did not speak Thai. In preparation for going to Phuket we learned a few phrases/greetings in Thai so that it would be easier to communicate with them but otherwise, most communication was through hand gesture. I learned through this trip that a common greeting – hello, good morning and such in Thai is “Sawasdee Ka ” for females. Sadly greetings did not help very much to communicate and so as I said hand gestures and using props helped the most. For example, when we played with the orphans in the gym to explain how to play the games we would have to point at the equipment and play out the actions so that they would understand.
Through this experience, I realized how much impact small hand gestures have on everyday conversation. When I don’t think about it I don’t even recognize that gestures help me understand what people are trying to communicate but through this experience where I had to communicate with only the small knowledge of Thai I had and my hand gestures really made me realize that. After experiencing this I think that in my daily life I have become more considerate of how I express myself while communicating with my friends and teacher etc.
Other than the gifts and games, I think that our visit was valuable to the orphans because their daily lives are usually in a routine with very slim chances of meeting and interacting with people from different cultures. I think that making sure they do not think of themselves badly and they know that they are valued by others outside of their circle is important to know also. To ensure that the children felt comfortable around me, I made sure to keep a kind face and be patient with them.