Two in Thailand

After raising three children and watching them graduate from college, Bob and Carol decided to leave the educational field and pursue a dream that had been put on hold for 35 years (since graduationg from the University of Northern Iowa). "Two in Thailand" is the journal dedicated to that dream - to serve in the Peace Corps. This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed within do not necessarily represent the views of the Peace Corps or the United States Government.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Youth Leadership Conference

We applied for the Peace Corps Youth Leadership Conference in Lampang, Thailand, which is about a 12-hour bus ride from our village. We were lucky to both be chosen to each bring 3 students and our counterpart teachers. Skills for leadership were taught through various competitive games. A large section of the conference was addressed to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and what youth involvement can contribute to the fight against AIDS. The students had great time during the 3-day conference held in a beautiful park with natural hot springs. When the conference was over, a lot of tears were shed as students said good-bye to new-found friends and an experience they will never forget. The Peace Corps Youth GIG did a fantastic job in organizing and implementing the event.

Caroll gets funky!!

Students had to present ideas for projects that addressed community concerns. In the first picture, two of our students present their idea. During the conference, people would secretly place clothes pins on other people. If you were caught with a clothes pin right after break, you had to do provide some entertainment. Carol is "bringing on the funk" with Mark, another Peace Corps Volunteer.

More Activities at Youth Leadership Conference

The students had a lot of activities that required problem-solving and team work. They really enjoyed the activities but had a hard time with the problem-solving aspect because
Thai education stresses rote memory as opposed to deductive thinking or "thinking outside the box".

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Pii Sawn Nong Project

There is a pre-school near one of Carol's high schools that serves about 30 "dek-deks". The pre-school has a very limited budget and no books to promote reading-readiness. Carol wrote a grant to get books and supplies. She then enlisted 20 high school students to enroll in a class she created with the help of her c0-teacher, Mah, to serve the pre-schoolers. (Another service project!) The high school students meet on Tuesdays and prepare materials. Their first project is to create an ABC coloring book. On Thursdays, the high school students travel in a song-taao to read books in Thai and to teach the ABC's. In the second picture the high school students are introducing themselves to the pre-schoolers (dek-deks)

Big Brothers/Sisters Begin Reading

The high school students were very anxious to begin reading to their "adopted" sibling.

Reading to Pre-schoolers

Here are some pictures of some of the 20 high schoolers who are reading to the preschoolers. Aren't they adorable? At first, the youngsters were terrified, resisting attempts to being approached by their "big brothers/sisters". After one hour, several cried when their "big brother/sister" left!

Friday, November 17, 2006

MaryJean and Helen's Gift

Bob noticed that the girls at his school play a version of "jacks" with rocks. They throw 10 small rocks on the ground and throw the eleventh one up in the air, scoop up rocks, and catch the rock before it hits the ground. Bob brought a ball and showed them how to play by letting the ball bounce while scooping up the rocks. When he invited the girls to try, they all caught the ball before it bounced (their version requires much quicker reaction). He told MaryJean about this and she ordered jack sets through Oriental Trading Company. Then her mother (Helen) sewed up about 30 small cloth bags with tie strings to store the ball and jacks. Bob played a game and the winners got to receive a hand made pouch with a ball and jacks. Thank you Mary Jean and Helen!!!!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Floating Flower Pots

Many villagers spend all day making these flower floats to celebrate Loi Krathong. A candle and incense sticks are placed in the middle of the "flower pot". These three girls wanted their picture taken so we obliged. Families stop by and pay 20 baht (about 50 cents) for one float and place them on the waters of the reservoir in the village to show respect for the spirits of the water.

Loi Krathong Parade

On the appearance of the full moon in late October or early November, a festival is held. Each village has a parade and a celebration is held at night. During the celebration, families light candles on little floats decorated with flowers and set them in the water as an offering to appease the spirits of the water. "Loi" means to float and "Krathong" is the word for flower pot. So the translation is "floating flower pot".

Unique Combination

Bob refers to this store as Balls and Bras. It is in the large city where we go on weekends to do our shopping.

Young Entrepreneur

This young girl is selling giant water bugs -- and they aren't for pets! At first, we thought they were cockroaches, but Bob took a closer look and realized they were Hemipterans (the order of insects known as "bugs"). We decided that the Oreo's next door were more appetizing!

Yes, You Can Sleep on the Job!

Considering the climate, you've got to get all the rest you can!
It's very rare to find a place with air conditioning and considering that most people work outdoors, the temperature and humidity rob you of all your energy.

Grocery Shopping in Thailand

We like to get fresh food at the day market on Saturdays. It's a one hour trip but the selection is incredible!

We have no idea what some of the items are because the fuits and vegetables are unique to this area.

The long green vegetables in the rear in the top photo are green beans which can grow to over two feet long!