Thailand trip raises global awareness

Seniors traverse a diverse country with many varieties of rural and urban locations.

Senior+William+Mcmahan+places+a+catfish+net+in+the+water+where+he+attempts+to+catch+them.+%E2%80%9CIt+was+a+team+building+excersie+and+the+team+with+the+most+fish+caught+won+Thailand+shirts%2C%E2%80%9D+Mcmahan+said.

Photo by Emma Nations

Senior William Mcmahan places a catfish net in the water where he attempts to catch them. “It was a team building excersie and the team with the most fish caught won Thailand shirts,” Mcmahan said.

River Ginko, Staff Writer

The Academy of Global Studies (AGS) field trip to Thailand took seniors to a unique environment far from home. This is the second year of the Thailand trip after AGS made the change from China. Seniors traveled to Thailand and stayed there in two groups from Jan. 3-13 or Jan. 4-14.

Not only did the seniors explore the big city of Chiang Mai, but they also performed services to help Thailand communities financially. Some of these services include planting trees in a newly developed forest, building mushroom houses so they could grow as a benefit to schooling, and other physical activities. AGS counselor Karina Reyna saw that students were immersed and understanding of the culture, which is the main goal of the trip.

“We worked with a company that was able to provide [the seniors] with service learning in collaboration with the community, but also providing learning experiences,” Reyna said. “The trip was a way to look at how other countries provide sustainable living and students experienced a good combination of service-learning and sightseeing.”

One of the main purposes of AGS is to make the students think of issues around the world. Thailand, which is a less developed country, helped give students a new perspective of the world. Reyna believes that changing a students’ mindset from being a local to a global thinker helps improve them as an individual.

“We don’t want our students to have limited understanding of their world just because they live in Austin or Texas or even the United States, but [they need] to think about different cultures and look at the world from a global perspective as well,” Reyna said.

Senior Adeline Sutherland traveled on this trip with high expectations and was not disappointed. She believes that the small activities they performed
had an influence on the country in a significant amount.

“Even though [the services] seemed really simple, it really had a massive impact,” Sutherland said. “The fertilizer we put in those bags led to more teachers being hired, so a child would get a better education, thus providing money for their family.”

As a high schooler, Sutherland feels much more grateful and aware of the world she has compared to other vastly different locations.

“I learned about a place that I basically knew nothing about,” Sutherland said. “I think I can go forward and have a better understanding as a global citizen of struggles that people in a different country face and have a better understanding of what I can do in my community to help other people.”

Senior Thomas Clark believes this is the best field trip he has ever gone on and the many activities he performed connect him as a person closer to the eastern civilization. He greatly appreciated helping out the society to give families a better financial life.

“I thought both the service side of the trip as well as the touristy side of exploring Chiang Mai were both really fun, [making it] the best trip so far,” Clark said. “A lot of the people there need ways to make income and we did things to give people a way.”

All other AGS trips up to this point were the stepping stones to the Thailand trip. The Southeast Asian culture of Thailand is so vastly different than everything the students are used to in their daily lives. AGS director Adriana Longoria expects some of the seniors to make a change and impact the world beyond just the service provided on the trip.

“I have one student that now wants to go back immediately to Thailand this summer and start an internship over there to work with special needs students,” Longoria said. “Other students want to take their family to Thailand. I think everybody was really impacted in their own way.”