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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Volunteering in North Thailand

Annie Ju

Feng Chia University’s North Thailand International Service Team is a team of international volunteers which was founded in 2009. This team’s goal is to preserve Chinese culture among the Chinese people living in north Thailand. Long ago, there was a war in China, and some Chinese soldiers and civilians went to north Thailand.  After the war had ended, the soldiers couldn’t go back to China. Now, many years later, these Chinese people still live there with their children and grandchildren, and they want to keep Chinese culture there. Every year the FCU North Thailand International Service Team goes to this area and helps the people who live there.  This year, we had two projects.

In the first project, we worked for children. We taught at the local Chinese school first, and then at the Thai public senior high school. At the Chinese school, we assembled and installed computers, and we held a summer camp for the children. Unlike the Thai public senior high schools, the Chinese schools are private. That is the reason why Chinese school lack resources. Feng Chia University provided some second-hand computers for the Team to take to the school in Thailand. Before leaving, we separated the computers into parts so that we could ship them cheaply and easily.  After arriving, we put the computers back together and made sure that every computer could operate well.  We taught the children how to use the machines and the software.

All photos by the author
We also held a soiree at the Chinese school. Children there don’t have many chances to perform for an audience, so they are afraid of expressing themselves. In order to encourage them, we taught them some Chinese songs and dances. After practicing for three days, the performance was unforgettable.  We built a close relationship with the children during this activity.  When it was over, I told them to study hard so that they might have a chance to come to Taiwan to study.

At the Thai public senior high school, we taught the students basic Taiwanese songs and Chinese phrases. The most memorable experience for me was teaching in the mountains of Chiang Mai. The children there are very thoughtful even though they don’t have lots of resources. The children and teachers seemed more contented than the children and teachers in Taiwan.  For instance, when we taught them how to do some art projects, the older students would help the younger ones. I was glad to see that there are still some innocent people in the world, and I was glad to have the chance to help them.

Besides our projects with these cute children, we also had a project to take care of the older veterans. They can’t go back to China, and they don’t have families either. We went to their homes to keep them company. I knew we could do nothing for them, really.  All we could do was keep them company. I thought that these old people might not have the opportunity to hold someone’s hand, hug someone, or even just talk to someone. Therefore, when I got there, I didn’t hesitate; I just found an old “grandpa” and started to talk to him.  At that moment, my eyes were full of tears. I pretended he was my grandfather, who passed away many years ago. The old man treated me very nicely and smiled the whole time. When it was time to go, I cried a lot. In the future, I will go back to visit these old veterans again if I have enough time and money.

After we had finished our projects, our Team took a rest in Bangkok. We ate great food and went to the water market to buy some souvenirs. This summer experience made me stronger, I think, and more contented. Compared to the people in north Thailand, we have a lot. We should cherish what we have rather than always wanting more. We should just keep working hard and be optimistic. I’m proud to be a Feng Chia University North Thailand International Service Team volunteer.

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