Going to Phuket taught me many things including wilderness skills and peoples skills. But the main characteristic this trip taught me was to be grateful for what I have. We interacted with many small children who had near to nothing. We also painted the walls of a very small school. Before we added color to the walls, they were gray and dreary. YIS is such a colorful school it was hard to see such drab walls. The little children were ecstatic about the small amount of color we added to their school. One of our YIS students brought a bag of blow up balloons and blew some up for the Burmese school children to play with. It was amazing to see how a small everyday thing such as a balloon could bring such joy to a child. They played with the balloons for nearly an hour. The photos below show Marleen Walther playing with a Burmese Mon student with a yellow ballon. The photo on the right show one of the murals we painted on the Burmese Mon school walls.
One of the activities was going snorkeling. We learned the safety precautions of being on a boat, and being in open water. On the boat everyone must wear a lifeboat in case of any issue. We also learned how to safely snorkel. Never go alone, use appropriate gear, research where you are snorkeling before you go so you know what you will be looking for. We were about two hours on boat from the nearest city on a small island, searching the coral reefs for the effects human’s have caused such as pollution of the reefs. We were split into teams and observed the reefs; which fish were near and what the reefs looked like. If they were broken and gray, we knew they were beginning to die. The photo below a picture of the small island we snorkeled near.
The other challenging activity we participated in was hiking in the rainforest. We did research before we left about what animals and insects we would see as we hiked and what to do when we encountered them. We also talked about why we should never hike alone. As we hiked we observed the plants and animals around us. We were very lucky and were able to see a python and the rare red crab. We were sure not to go near or to touch any of the insects we saw. But the most challenging part of this adventure was the last two hours of the hike. We had to hike up the last hill and back down again. It had rained for nearly the entire day so the path was extremely slippery and muddy. We had to work together as an entire group and help each other trek through the incredibly hard trail. This was a live example of why to not hike alone because many people slipped and could have been injured if it weren’t for others. The photo below is the river we hiked along and crossed as we made our way through the rainforest.
Overall this trip has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I learned to appreciate everything I own down the the simplest items such as a pencil and clothes to wear. The children we interacted with had nearly nothing which showed how well we all have it, with somewhere to live and a nice school. I will never forget what I learned on this expedition. Last year we had fun by rafting and climbing but this year served others and helped others.