Community Service Trip to Thailand - My Family Travels

More than the Seeing of Sights

“Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” Miriam Beard describes with impeccable accuracy the transformative power of travel as I discovered this past summer when I had the opportunity to spend five wonderful weeks in Thailand, specifically in Chiang Mai and Bangkok. While participating in this program, I established lasting friendships, secured memorable experiences, and seized the chance to see life from a different perspective.

Ms. Beard was correct in all aspects of her statement, but I never would have known if I had not pursued the once in a lifetime adventure presented by World Learning. “Ride elephants through the jungles of Chiang Mai, spend two weeks with a home stay family in the countryside, and learn of the culture by performing community service: painting temples, planting trees, and working in the rice patties.” The description hooked me right then and there. After submitting an extensive application, I was ecstatic when I was chosen to participate in this incredible journey.

The trip consisted of activities that would test my comfort zone. While there, I stayed with a Thai family that understood little to no English, and even with my English to Thai dictionary working as my bible, communication was difficult. Although the language barrier was not easy to overcome, eventually the family and I conquered that obstacle by having the patience to teach each other. I also had the opportunity to help monks, in the area paint their temple grounds. Dripping with sweat from the hot and muggy air, we managed to remodel the grounds and left them looking as good as new. The community service gave me the chance to absorb the culture of Thai monks and understand the appreciation Thailand has for them. Monks aren’t just a part of their religion; they are a part of their whole culture. Whether it was the home stay with a Thai family, or painting the temples of the small Thai community, I came to realize that stepping outside of my comfort zone makes for a greater learning experience.

Traveling is definitely more than just “the seeing of sights.” It’s embracing the changes that occur in you when you’re out of your element. It’s about the new person you become when you see life from another’s eyes. It’s about the memories you make that will last for a lifetime.

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