There are many different pros and cons associated with living and working at a
boarding school. For example, I can wake up 15 minutes before school starts, take a quick shower, and be on my way to the foreign language department, which is conveniently located about two-minutes away from my front door. In addition to this, I am given an opportunity to live in community with my students, which creates an environment where there are countless interactions between students and teachers. Rather than only seeing students in class, I am able to share meals with them, play sports after school with them, and have random conversations with them while I am strolling around campus. Because of these many interactions, I truly believe that I can connect with students on a more personal level and make a lasting impact.
Even though it is a blessing to be able to be surrounded by opportunities to get to know the over 800 students, it is nearly impossible
to escape this bubble. We eat, sleep, and work on a small campus with minimal opportunities to leave during the week. So after a long second week of teaching, my fellow students and I decided that we needed to begin exploring the surrounding communities of Chiang Rai. We wanted to find an opportunity to connect with locals in a rural community, so to start the process, we did what we did best: we searched Google.
We finally agreed on visiting Doi Mae Salong (Doi means mountain in Thai), which is the “least Thai city in Thailand.” Back in the day (well, the 1970’s), the Thai government was sick and tired of an opium warlord,
so they asked the Chinese for help. In return, the Chinese received this plot of land, did away with opium, and now farm Oolong tea.
After forty-five minutes on a local bus and one hour on switchback roads siting in the back of a truck, we arrived at our destination. The town (more of a village) of Mae Salong was full of friendly locals, small coffee shops and restaurants, and surrounded by tea plantations and gorgeous views. We spent the day eating local food, drinking coffee, playing with kids, and drinking Oolong tea. The town was quiet, remote, and it shut down at 5 p.m., but it was all we needed after a week of teaching in 85 degree weather.
At the end of our stay, we hopped in the back of another truck and made our way back to our home. Today (Sunday) has been spent doing laundry (by hand), eating delicious local food, and writing lesson plans while laying in my hammock. As I fall deeper in love with the Thai people and their way of life, the time is beginning to fly by. Over the next few months, I will continue to get to know as many people as I can while experience as much as I can because that is what this is all about. Miss and love everyone.