Day 15: Bringing the GROW Trip Back

The GROW team started our morning at our usual breakfast joint ordering our Thai breakfasts and green teas without even a glance towards the menus we committed to memory so long ago. We were ready to hit the ground running on our last week here in Chiang Mai. Neelima, Nina, and Harrison ventured off to the sweltering hot intern house. Despite the heat, enthusiasm was high as the interns were eager to continue their lessons. After extensive review, it was clear the interns had picked up a lot of the conversational skills we have been teaching them the past weeks. One intern, Mr. Myo, even led a game of Simon Says to test the rest of the class on their body parts and verbs.

Impressed with the interns’ progress, our teachers decided to incorporate a more challenging activity into the lesson plan, cover letter writing. They taught the idea of a cover letter, showing the interns how to explain why their values would make them a capable worker. This proved a difficult concept to grasp as the interns struggled to express why they would be valuable for a specific job. Nina sympathized with them, comparing the exercise to one of us being asked to write a med school app on the spot. Still, the GROW team members knew that this would an applicable skill for the interns to learn and with their help, the interns slowly but surely crafted sample cover letters, in which the students and teachers alike took great pride.

After a stimulating, but exhausting morning, everyone was relieved to let the magic of Walt Disney help out with the teaching for a little while. Humming the tunes of Reflection and I’ll Make a Man Out of You, they settled in to finish watching Mulan. The interns were quite entertained, as they related to the themes of bringing honor to one’s family and fighting to save one’s country. They liked how the movie presented ideas of female empowerment that aligned so similarly with their own beliefs and their hopes for their communities back in Burma. Still, no one was more touched than Neelima, as she cried in the back of the classroom, secretly hoping none of the interns would see her drying her tears. Throughout the trip, Disney has moved not just the interns, but the GROW trip as well.

Back at the KWAT office, it was crunch time for Adam and me. With just a few days left, we raced to complete the activity report before we leave Chiang Mai. With Mai’s frequent exclamations of approval, we continued powering through the endless document. We spent most of our day formatting all the information we have compiled concerning KWAT’s activities from 2007 to 2012 into the most concise and professional layout possible.

In addition, Adam attempted to track down the very busy Mai for an interview, not an easy task. Joking about how popular she is, she finally sat down in front of a video camera and the interrogation began. For over an hour, Mai answered numerous questions while Adam recorded her responses to show the rest of GlobeMed at Dartmouth. She updated us on the political situation in Burma, enlightened us with the current state of the laboratory we funded last year, and explained our new project for the upcoming year. Mai showed us the impact that our GlobeMed chapter has been able to make thus far as well as her ideas on how to make our efforts sustainable. Mai then went on to share her own personal experience working in KWAT and how she was promoted from an intern to the head of multiple KWAT departments. Hearing about what she anticipates in the coming years, Mai inspired us with her story and KWAT’s goals for the future.

We left the office exhausted, but eagerly awaiting our evening’s plans. The highly anticipated dinners have been a favorite of the GROW team as we tested our spicy palettes at different restaurants throughout the Old City. Tonight, we broadened our culinary horizons even further by stepping into the kitchen. We took a cooking class, where we visited a Thai market to shop for ingredients and learned to make Pad Thai, Tom Yum, and curry, amongst other traditional Thai cuisine. We had fun befriending other students and our teacher, who Facebook friend requested us as we walked out the door. After feasting on our own creations, we returned feeling more stuffed and more in tune with Thai culture than ever. As another day comes to an end, we sadly count down our remaining time in Chiang Mai, but excitedly soak in all we have learned today. With our new recipes and newfound knowledge of KWAT, there is a part of our GROW trip we will take home with us.

- Kristina