The last couple of weeks have been extremely busy at EarthRights School. Students are about to leave for their 6-week-long field research, one of the main aspects of ERS curriculum. Some of the students have been struggling with both selecting a topic and writing a proposal. In the last 10 days, I’ve witnessed their struggle with English, talked to them about the risks they might run into at their site, and helped them edit their writing until 1 AM at night. ERS designated two weeks for field work preparation and students presented their research topic in the class today. Even though students have ambitious plans for their research, some funny mistakes with English translation made everyone in the class laugh often.
Students learnt everything from primary and secondary sources of information to paraphrasing and interviewing. The co-founder of ERI, Ka Hsa Wa spoke with the students about the work he has done in Myanmar and how he mitigated the risks. He has worked with another senior staff member, Naing Htoo, for a very long time and both of them spoke about their experiences. They gave students insights about networking, recognizing who is safe to talk to and who isn’t, and keeping a low profile.
As my internship is coming to an end this week, I had to wind up all the work I’ve been doing apart from teaching and tutoring. One of these tasks was representing the curriculum of ERI visually. I’ve been working on it since my second week here, improving each time using the feedback I received from Billy. Though I made several drafts of this curriculum, I’m going to share only a few here. In the first one, I tried to make it look more suitable in a classroom and also make it eye-catchy using different colors (which turned out to be a little kiddish, Billy said).
From the beginning, I’ve been amazed and excited about the diversity at this place. So this was my opportunity to learn more about the background, culture and communication in Southeast Asia. I’ve been talking with students from each country about the ways in which they interact (in family, with friends and/or strangers), general expectations from the society, and how growing up in a collectivist culture shapes their identity. I find so many similarities in the way we’ve been raised, how our culture is slowly being influenced by “the west”, how responsibilities are divided in a family etc.
I’ve learnt so much that I wouldn’t have known otherwise, given my Computer Science – Creative Writing combination. People here are so dedicated to their work. Making less money doesn’t bother them at all when they work for something they are passionate about. They are proud of the work they do and so am I.
They had a little farewell party for Tera and I last Saturday. The students cooked food and after a nice dinner, we (students + some staff members + us) headed to a bowling alley in Kad Suan Kaew (which was a non-traditional going away party and I’m so glad it was that way). Almost all of the students had never bowled before so it was exciting to get everyone to come. There are two activities I had been trying to plan since coming here – bowling and hiking to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. Luckily, this weekend I did both.
On Saturday, Tera and I visited the Royal Park Rajapruek before dinner. Below are some pictures from that place.
One of my coworkers, Chale, whom I went running with a few times, wanted to hike to Wat Pha Lat. She had everything planned out from hiking on the monks’ trail to lunch after. Sadly, students were busy working on their proposals so none of them could join. This hike, however, was no less fun as I was accompanied by two great friends (Chale and Tera). Wat Pha Lat is located on the way to Doi Suthep and our initial plan was to take a red truck from this wat to Doi Suthep. However, we ended up hiking all the way to Doi Suthep (a distance of almost 4 miles). By the end, when we had to climb up the stairs to Doi Suthep, all three of us were worn out. When we did reach the wat, we could see Chiang Mai city, although it was a hazy day. Overall, it was a busy weekend with some great memories.