This was written 2.5 weeks ago when I didn’t have wifi to post it. Enjoy!
Sa wa dee ka! I love Thailand! I am currently in a village in Northern Thailand called Don Jiang, which is literally off the map (try google searching it). We left Ho, Ghana only a few weeks ago. During our final month in Ghana I finished up my work project at the public health clinic, spent time with my host mama, and finished up the public health seminars which center around the question “what is development?” Some of the most memorable moments from the end of Ghana include seeing President John Mahama, going to a festival/carnival in Keta, staying up all night to watch the (disastrous) US election, and my last conversation with my host mom discussing war, racism, peace, politics, and compassion. On our last night, all the host families, work partners, and students had a big celebration together and said our goodbyes. It’s difficult to sum up the two months we spent in Ghana. We had sooo many new experiences, good and bad, and I think after more time reflecting I will be able to better summarize what I’ve learned. Ghana definitely made me appreciate how many privileges I have simply because of the geographic location I was born in and the color of my skin. Though I will not miss the constant christianity or the blatant everyday sexism, overall I feel super lucky to have experienced such a completely different culture. I had the opportunity to see and try and learn so many new things, and meet so many kind and compassionate individuals. I hope someday to return to Ghana.
On November 11th, TBB North hit the road to Cape Coast, for a week of relaxation before going to Thailand. We visited slave forts, hiked rainforests, and learned to surf! Seven days later, we spent 28 hours traveling to Chiang Mai! My stomach picked the worst time to revolt against me but even though I spent the entire night before the flight puking I managed to not throw up on myself during any of the flights so I’m counting it as a win. From the moment we climbed out of the airport into the songtail (open-back red trucks that serve as taxis) I knew I would love Chiang Mai. The city is crazy beautiful and the food is unbelievably delicious and cheap!! Constant pad thai and curry and smoothies and suki yaki and sooo much more! We spent a week in Chiang Mai getting to know Thai culture, starting up the sustainable agriculture unit, celebrating thanksgiving, and taking Thai language lessons. Then we moved to Upland Holistic Development Project, which is an organization that promotes organic sustainable farming and educates farming communities on how to switch to more sustainable agricultural practices. There we spent our days on the farm and in the agroforest, learning how to germinate seeds, wrap pork in banana leaves and steam it, catch and kill catfish, and make organic pesticide and pig feed. We also have been reading about the industrial agriculture system in the US, and many of our seminar discussions are centered around questions like: how did agriculture become so unsustainable? Why? When? How could it be improved? Is ‘sustainable’ agriculture even possible? Before the unit started I was pretty convinced that I wouldn’t be very interested in agriculture, but I was very wrong. I genuinely have been enjoying both the physical farming and the academic aspect of agriculture and am super stoked to continue learning about it.
Today is my fourth day in Don Jiang living with my host family and roommate, Emily. The village is very remote and basically everyone who lives here is a farmer. No one here speaks English so communicating with the villagers and our host families is an adventureJ We have been working on our family’s rice farm, cutting the stalks with scythes, grouping them, hauling them, and beating them to separate the grains from the stalks. It is very hard work but we take plenty of breaks in which we are inundated with delicious fruit. I eat at least three perfectly ripe papayas, oranges, bananas, and passion fruits a day. All of my other meals consist of rice and cooked vegetables, which taste amazing, and it all was grown on farms in this village. I am putting no processed food into my body and it feels amazing! (except the jar of nutella hidden in our room…shhhh). Tomorrow we are going to into Chiang Mai with our host families to sell the food they’ve grown at the market. We will be speaking Thai to the customers, should be interesting!
I hope all is well with everyone at home. Love to you all!