Blog Post #15 is written by Kate Dagley, Junior Psychology Major from Messiah College.
We have been enjoying our time in the Karen village and learning quite a bit about this peaceful group of hilltribe people. One day while in the village we had a Karen Culture Day. We divided into groups depending on what we wanted to learn about. One option was learning how to weave Karen scarves and bags, which was exciting because many of us later bought those handmade items from the people. It made it that much more meaningful that we knew how they were made and how long it took to make each item! Another group learned to cook a traditional Karen meal including rice, chicken, pumpkin and squash (all of which we had fun chopping with a giant machete). Another group learned how the Karen people make their own natural dyes and were able to dye their own T-shirts with natural indigo dye and wax to produce distinctive designs (similar to tie dying and batik methods).
While we were in the Karen village we were invited to a wedding. This was such an amazing experience to be able to attend a wedding in a village in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains of Thailand. The ceremony lasted about two hours and consisted of vows, singing, reading of scripture and people giving blessings and advice to the couple. Afterwards we were treated to a delicious meal at the home of the bride — actually the pastor of the church.
For Palm Sunday we drove to another village for church. The drive was long and well let’s just says it was like a scary roller coaster. But it was beautiful driving through the jungle–it seemed surreal. In the village we got to stay at a traditional Karen styled house–the home of another Karen pastor. Like the previous week’s church service, the church did two songs and we sang two songs, followed by the pastor’s message and then our own Justin shared a message.
We were all sad to leave the Karen village and all the friends we made, but our good-bye party lifted our spirits. A group of children from the village performed some traditional Karen dances, which included bamboo dancing. The girls from the center put on a great show that included singing and some dancing (which I think most of us will never forget) and a fashion show of Karen clothes. Our Thai translators even performed a dance for us. Overall it was a very fun night.
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