SST 2012 Update #3, written by Abigail Saunders, Junior Journalism major (Anthropology/Sociology minor) from Messiah College.
It was our first full weekend staying with our host families and Sunday marked one full week we’ve stayed with them. In just one week, many of us have experienced new foods, perspectives, and activities. Some ventured off to festivals such as theInternational Horticultural Exposition Ratchaphruek 2011 (http://www.royalflora2011.com/2011_en/blog/2011/06/25/press-conference-of-the-international-horticultural-exposition-ratchaphruek-2011-on-20-may-2011-at-the-central-plaza-chiang-mai-airport/). Other students went to vibrant markets and spent quality time getting to know their families.
Adjusting to a new house in an unfamiliar location and being surrounded by a foreign language can be overwhelming at times. This lack of comfort and familiarity can begin to have a negative effect unless viewed as a chance to learn. The viewpoint in which we choose to look at our new environment not only affects our attitude but our ability to learn as well.
Having a firm foundation in Christ, an open heart, and engaging in conversations with others can help put things into perspective. How much more character is developed when we overcome life’s obstacles? I’d have to say a lot. I might even say it seems funny now to look back on the things we once deemed difficult.
The daunting Thai language test was Tuesday and we all survived. The test consisted of each of us individually speaking with two of our ajarns [professors]. We were each required to speak for three minutes about ourselves, things we like, dislike, etc.. The three minutes were followed by a few questions from each ajarn.
The great thing about learning in Thailand is our textbooks come alive in the very place we are living. Lucky for us, almost every day so far has been warm and absolutely gorgeous. We took an art class field trip on Friday and viewed intricate architecture and artwork in and outside Chiang Mai. Our first stop was on the campus of Chiang Mai University where many ancient Lana buildings had been reconstructed by our professor, Aj. Vithi. Then we traveled outside the city to a very old (more than 600 years old) temple that had been preserved to show us the way temples were traditionally constructed. We then went to Wiang Kun Kum, (King Mangrai’s first city) which predated Chiang Mai before he founded Chiang Mai more than 700 years ago. (see http://www.visitchiangmai.com.au/wiang_kum_kam.html).
Our final stop on our tour was Chiang Mai’s first Buddhist temple, Wat Chiang Mon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Chiang_Man) which was build 1297 AD by King Mangrai (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Mangrai) to commemorate the funding of the city of Chiang Mai. Aj. Vithi had drawn the sketches which were later painted on the walls of the temple to commerate the 700 year birthday of Chiang Mai in 1996. How fortunate we were to have such a wonderful and famous tour guide in Ajarn Vithi.
Wednesday was our first Internship Seminar class led by Ajarn Ann and we had the chance to discuss cultural differences, experiences in our internships, and developing a “ministry of presence.” Ajarn Mike and Ann spoke to us about the scripture Matthew 25:35-40.
We ended class by singing a few worship songs and celebrating Brandi’s birthday with banana muffins.
Many of us have heard the saying, “To whom much is given; much more is required.” I think I can speak for all the students when I say we’ve all been blessed with the opportunity to study here in Thailand. At times we will struggle and at other times we will celebrate; but it is important to keep in mind how privileged we truly are to be here in Thailand.
Khop-khun-kha [Thank you] for reading,