Day 17: A proper send-off
Our last day in Chiang Mai began with one last walk up the street to Nature’s Way café for breakfast. We said goodbye to the friendly Thai woman who gave us necessary coffee each morning (with a smile) and headed off to a busy and bittersweet day split between the intern house and KWAT office.
Our last English lesson in the morning was taught by the whole GROW team. We started with a review. The interns broke into pairs to converse and answer familiar questions such as How are you today? and What values do you have? We walked around while the KWAT interns practiced, a final opportunity to review vocabulary we had spent the last couple of weeks teaching.
For the rest of the morning the class dove into a more complicated assignment: Tell me your story, how did you become an intern for KWAT? and What are your ambitions for the future (in your job, country, life)? The interns were given time to prepare short narratives about their lives and their hopes for Kachin state. After discussing, writing, and editing they presented their stories to the group. We have gotten to know them all the last few weeks, and it was invaluable to hear them talk about their lives. Some of the interns had been waiting over two years to get into the program; some did not know why they were chosen by their organization to go. Despite these differences, they all had one thing in common: their desire to learn as much as they possibly could to bring back to their communities and improve the lives of the Kachin people. As each student read their compositions aloud, we could not help but feel a sense of pride that they were all doing so well. Girls who were too shy to speak any English to us at first were reading page-long compositions about their aspirations and hopes. We were proud of the English they had learned, and inspired by their intense drive to improve their communities at home.
After our serious end to our English lessons, things took a lighthearted turn as Adam, Harrison, Neelima, Kristina, and I were transported back to high school prom. In a frenzy, the KWAT interns rotated around and took pictures with every combination of the GROW team. First it was a group shot, and then it was just the girls, then just the boys, then just Harrison. There is no way my eyes were open for all of those pictures.
After our photo shoot, we had a final and tasty intern- house lunch of mutton, potatoes, leafy greens, and (of course) rice. Then, far too soon, it was time for us to go. There were hugs and handshakes and talk to you soons. We promised to keep in touch and gave the interns our names to find us on Facebook. It was amazing how many connections we formed in such a short time. The car was quiet as we sped off towards the KWAT office; even though we gained so much from working with the interns, it felt as though we were leaving a little bit of ourselves behind.
The afternoon was spent putting the finishing touches on our projects at the KWAT office. Neelima and Kristina added the last pictures to the Activity Report, Adam wrote the conclusion, and Harrison edited another grant. Meanwhile, Mai and I met to finish discussing next year’s project and went over the list of questions that the National Office sent to complete the MOU.
Our night ended with a farewell dinner and send-off from the KWAT staff in the office. Festivities were complete with yummy rice and meat and two mountains of fresh fruit. They gave us matching t-shirts with the KWAT logo, making us feel like we were truly a part of the KWAT family (there was also another photo shoot, don’t worry).
During our stay, the GROW team was welcomed with open arms and we expressed our gratitude for KWAT’s hospitality. The opportunity to help them on the ground with English lessons, the activity report, and the health brochure has been both educational and inspirational. In addition to all of the knowledge we gained about the situation in Kachin state, the tangible connections we made with KWAT’s staff were the most important aspects of our trip. Putting faces to the organization we work closely with all year is invaluable. For the five of us, the GROW trip has continued to fuel not only our passion for GlobeMed and global health, but also given us a new family and perspective on the complexities that underlie problems with global health and development. Reflecting on the entirety of our trip, one thing is very clear: our partnership with KWAT continues to thrive and I know we will do our best to bring all that we have learned here back to our chapter at Dartmouth. I am very sad to leave this beautiful land of smiles, but I am excited to return to campus energized for the year ahead in GlobeMed.
Now, unfortunately, I have a long night of packing and organizing before the early flight and long trip home tomorrow morning.
That’s all for now!