SST 2012 Update #8 is written by Kelley Dilliard, Junior Sociology Major major (Pre-Med Minor) from Westmont College.
Between studying for our Thai language test, going to the zoo, and having our internships, it has been a fairly hectic week. On Saturday, February 25, Christian, Amanda, Kate, and I went to the Chiang Mai Zoo after studying for our language test. It was definitely a new experience. The zoo was far larger than I had expected and contained an immense number of animals. When we first walked in we were met by a parade of zoo keepers, all holding a different type of bird or small animal, returning from a show that had taken place somewhere in the park. We then stumbled upon a ladyboy/drag queen performance after following the sound of the music we heard playing. While watching a small section of the show we all held a small spider monkey! We definitely wanted to steal it and take it home because it was so adorable.
All of the animals at the zoo were extremely active which meant that we were able to get great photographs. We saw animals in a whole new environment and even made it over to the pandas. It cost 50 baht (a little less than two dollars US) to get into the zoo and then it cost an extra 50 baht to see the panda. I thought it was a pretty good deal. The panda enclosure contained three pandas. We hung out in the exhibit for a while while the zookeepers cleaned the cages and then let the pandas back in for feeding time. The pandas sure loved their bamboo and posed for excellent pictures. We walked through the entire park, seeing all of the animals we could, and left the park extremely tired. It was a great day.
Monday, February 27, brought our Thai language test. The test consisted of two parts. The first part was a 3 minute individual oral test. We had to speak Thai, using the vocabulary we have learned since our first test, for three minutes to two of our Thai professors. It is harder than it sounds but we all did pretty well. The second part was a 5 minute skit. We had split into three groups of about 5 students each, and wrote a skit to present to the class and professors. I was in a skit with Amanda, Breanna, Brandi, and Christian. Our skit was set in a rot deeng (“red truck” – the common mode of public transport in Chiang Mai) and the characters were as follows: Amanda was the male rot deeng driver; Christian was a kathoey (ladyboy) who ended up hitting on Brandi; Breanna was dating Brandi (a male in the skit) but as they were heading to the mall, they broke up because of Christian; and I was a male character who ended up with Breanna after she broke up with Brandi. It was so incredibly fun. The other skits also did an amazing job and caused large amounts of laughter. One of the other skits was about Thailand’s Got Talent and the third took place in a classroom and hospital. Caleb and Max also made great kathoeys in their skits.
Our art class has been exceptional. On Monday, February 27, we used stucco to create a flower and ribbon design on a flower pot. We then worked with pottery on Wednesday, February 29. We had to sketch a design, using the patterns they gave us, for homework and then transferred the designs onto the mug and square plate using carbon paper. We painted the design with a brown paint and then glazed them in a celadon glaze, which turns green when fired. It was all extremely interesting but time consuming. I am excited to see what the final product will look like.
As for our internships, the pre-med students have switched from the small clinics to a regional hospital for the past two weeks. It has been a great but challenging experience. We are able to see a greater variety of cases, including a few surgeries, but we do not get a chance to do the procedures like we did in the clinics. We simply observe at the hospital. I have been able to spend time in the emergency room, operating room, labor room, and even got a chance to ride in an ambulance. I have learned a lot about the medical issues in Thailand through talking with the nurses, doctors, and occasional medical student that is around. Interestingly enough, Thai people are genetically anemic and have a high tendency towards becoming diabetic. Some people are not able to produce insulin in their systems which does not allow them to control their blood glucose levels. When they get a wound, usually in the foot because of the terrain and other causes, the high levels of sugar in their blood provides an ideal environment for the bacteria. The wound will quickly become infected which will often times lead to an amputation. It is all very fascinating but an unfortunate problem for the people in Thailand.
Lastly, I have been working with a few other students in the program on Friday evenings at the Buddhist University (Wat Suandok). We have been teaching English to autistic children through songs, games, and repetition. So far, we have taught them colors, modes of transportation, emotions, a few animals and fruit. The kids are always so energetic and have such a love for learning and of life. It has been so great to have the opportunity to just hang out with these kids. They are truly incredible.
Click the picture below for a slideshow of fun pictures!