Day 16: Until Next Time

Goodbyes are one of the more difficult parts of any trip, and with one day left in Chiang Mai, the prospect of saying farewell so soon is daunting. Nevertheless, we are looking forward to enjoying our last few hours with the new friends who have made this trip and experience so incredible.

During our last full working day, Kristina and I wrapped up our work on the Activity Report and Health Program Pamphlet at the KWAT office, while Adam, Harrison and Nina taught one last English lesson. While at the KWAT office, we were able to interview Seng – the organization’s General Secretary –, and Aileen – the head intern – about their initial involvement in KWAT and their vision for the future of both the organization and the women and youth of Kachin State. The women provided insights that illuminated their desire to empower Kachin youth and to create a united community both back home and throughout villages along the Burma border.

The interns spent a good part of their day learning about crime and the law –a lesson that delved into difficult and sensitive topics ranging from rape and abuse to genocide. As social workers, they appreciated the opportunity to learn how to discuss these crimes using English vocabulary. Undoubtedly, it was a heavy lesson and straining for all parties involved, but at the end of the day it proved both productive and rewarding.

The GROW team ended the day with a trip to the famous Night Bazaar, because, really, you can never spend quite enough time at the Thai markets. Plus, with haggling being the national sport of choice here in Thailand, a little practice goes a long way. Whether you spend 10 Baht, 100 Baht, or nothing at all, the markets are a captivating mosaic of patterns, multicolored lights and random T-shirt logos. The slightly claustrophobic atmosphere is surprisingly tolerable (for the most part) – if not for the ambient, often bizarre, western music, then likely for the eclectic assortment of languages and accents that carry through the din. I’m still not quite sure what that one shopkeeper tried to sell me in Hindi, but I appreciated the attempt nevertheless.

We ended the day thinking of the KWAT team and hoping that tomorrow will be more of an until next time than a goodbye; and as jade Buddhas laughed at us from either side of the market’s narrow pathway, we were grateful that the Land of Smiles offered yet another incredible day full of memories to take home with us. The best part? It was priceless.