Day 10-14: Stomach Rollercoaster

Alarm clocks ringing. Birds singing. Nina and Neelima keep sleeping.

Thursday began a little late for N2 and the rest of the sleep-deprived GROW team. Breakfast, for those awake, consisted of coffee or tea at Nature’s Way. Nevertheless, all was well as we set off on time for our respective destinations, a little hungry.

Adam, Neelima, and Kristina jumped off the back of our red, open-backed taxi and began a day of English with the most precious and amazing KWAT interns ever. The trio began the day with a series of directed conversations and questions in order to highlight and refresh the previous week of vocabulary. Afterwards, the three Americans introduced a new topic – the past. Adam, Neelz, and Kristina worked with the interns on their conceptual grasp of “the past”, stopping along the way to ensure that the sacred laws of English grammar were not violated. To end the morning, the interns worked with their new and old vocabulary toolset to craft creative stories for the audience’s listening pleasures.

After a hearty and healthy lunch with the interns, the trio resumed our American-childhood-movie-experience-aka-Disney-packed-into-three-weeks by Netflix-ing Mulan. Although the interns struggled with the onslaught of new characters and colloquial dialects of English, after about a third of the movie, they began to become emotionally invested. And, after a series of reviews and incredibly invigorating “Adam Says” games, the three reached the end of their rewarding day.

Far away, Nina and Harrison (it’s me again) worked in the KWAT national office. Nina had a morning date with Mai, during which the two began to hammer out the MOU and continued to clarify details surrounding the activity report and health pamphlets. Meanwhile, I worked with Seng on editing a grant proposal and pushed forward on the activity report and health pamphlet. Our day consisted of office work and lots of refills for my 14 baht (< 50 cents) 1.5-liter water bottle. Fun, fun, fun!

For the next three days (Friday-Sunday), the GROW trip travelled around Thailand. There were pangs of love, bouts of sickness, and crazy stalker Thai managers. As we drifted further and further away from our first Thailand residence, we grew more and more cognizant and appreciative of the friendliness and relative cheapness of Chiang Mai. Nevertheless, we saw a lot, learned a lot, and bonded a lot. We’ll bring back a lot of memories and a slightly darker skin tone.

The GROW team began Monday feeling unfettered, frolicking like butterflies in a Thai royal orchid garden. Our weekend expeditions rejuvenated our bodies for the most part… everything except our stomachs (although I was spared). Setting back out to work, we pooled into Nature’s Way and prepared for a long day of lessons and office work.

Kristina, Neelima, and I returned to the KWAT intern house for a day long excursion through the art of English. We commenced the day with a detailed and methodical review of the past tense through observed partnered conversations and a teacher-led review. Afterwards, we proceeded to tackle a vocabulary list of values: honesty, courage, honor, determination, ambition, loyalty, etc. In the end, we asked the interns to perform skits about a preselected value by showing it in action. The KWAT interns beautifully performed these – for instance, one skit about courage involved the rescue of a “daughter” from a scary “hoodlum” by the “mother”.

After another amazing lunch of Thai and Kachin foods, we readied our bodies for the emotional rollercoaster that is the middle thirty minutes of Mulan. Chuckles escaped from our mouths. Tears flowed from our eyes. Gasps, muted cries, and cheers arose from our KWAT intern crowd: it’s safe to say that the final third of Mulan will be a turbulent ride. At the end of class, we filmed and asked the KWAT interns about what they were determined to do in the future. The answers varied, but they all focused on creating a better community for their family and friends.

A little ways down the road and through a series of narrow back alleyways, Nina and Adam progressed on the projects. Nina once again worked with Mai to get a series of answers to myriad questions in order to finish the MOU. Adam finished the health pamphlet and worked on organizing the activity report with InDesign, a layout software. They had lots of fun per usual.

At the end of the day, the whole crew chowed down at the Swan Burmese Restaurant for a delicious meal. Our tumultuous days, and our stomachs, may have finally physically calmed. But, it’s hard to stomach the thought that we’ll be leaving our newfound home in less than a week.

- Harrison