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New Intern First Impressions of GVI Thailand Chiang Mai (part 1)

By 9 months ago

A Little Bit of Everything

To be completely honest, I tried and failed to decide on one singular event that has happened since arriving in Huay Pakoot, so I chose to try and capture all of the ways that this place has helped me even in the first two weeks of being here.

First of all: I have never been too good at making friends, yet over the course of one day, I and all of the other interns that I’m going to be spending nearly all of my time with during my stay, managed to form a bond with each other that would carry from the Eco Resort to the village and on. I don’t believe I have ever been so nervous to meet any group of people before, and I also don’t believe I have ever felt so comfortable with anyone that fast before. I went from being around 0-2 people a day to 10+ people a day, and that was definitely more of a shock than the culture!

Second of all: The elephant hikes. Man, they have been nothing short of incredible. I have loved elephants for as long as I can remember and seeing Thong Dee was the first time I had actually been in the presence of one, and actually they’re smaller than I imagined which is kind of funny! I’ll be honest, there was so much going on those first few days that I don’t think the fact that we were actually hiking. with elephants. in Thailand. settled in until we went to see the whole family together (Khum Suk, Kah Moon, Sah Jah, and Lah Lah). To work with elephants has been my dream for so long, and actually having the courage to follow that dream/having something that I want with all my heart finally pan out has made me feel the best that I’ve felt in a long time.

Third of all: One of the best things about this place that I couldn’t have even expected is how much there is to do! I wish I had a time turner right about now because I want to be doing everything at once it feels like. The feeling of restlessness that I used to feel back home, working a full time job and going to school part time, has seemed to vanish completely, and I adore the feeling of (mental) exhaustion you get after a day packed with yoga, hiking with elephants, teaching english, learning a new skill (such as weaving), spending time with friends, working on assignments, speaking a foreign language, and so on and so forth. Speaking of speaking a foreign language – learning Pakinyaw has been so exciting and fascinating and satisfying, and trying my best to talk to my host mom (who is so wonderful) is one of the highlights of my day. Homesickness is far away from me at this time.

In general, the feeling of connectedness, and purpose, and the amount of fun I’ve had here in just two weeks has made the difference between my emotional state from before and after coming here feel like black and white. I am so eternally grateful to GVI for making this opportunity possible, and to myself for making the decision to go for it.

– Adelaide Connelly

A Simple Way of Life

When you grow up in the city you take the little things for granted without even knowing it. You always have a hot shower to come home too, a plush bed, air conditioning and Westerner toilets! All of these things definitely make life a little easier but are they really necessary?

One of the reasons that I picked this internship was because Huay Pakoot offered a simple way of life, one with a strong sense of community and a positive, driven mindset. When we first arrived in Huay Pakoot, the first thing that we saw was the base and damn, my mind was almost screaming at me “You’ve always wanted to live in a tree house!” So I mean what can I say? It was love at first sight! Then I was taken to meet my new family at the Ploy residence. Ploy, her husband Su ree and their two kids Pho Toe and Nee New are the most wonderful family. Even the grandparents, who are shy, have a cute little glint in their eye when they see the big, white Gola coming into the living room. My room is small and simple with a nice princess-like mosquito net and a simple hanging rack. The bathroom is the equivalent of an outdoor shack consisting of a laundry room, shower and toilet all in one. The only difference is that it’s a bucket shower, squat toilet and hand-washing laundry station unlike the more “fancy” Western bathroom. It is the complete representation of function in a nutshell! I am definitely getting better with the whole deep squat balancing act when I need to go the washroom along with the shiver and shake bucket shower technique, so I can happily say that I am off to a good start.

When I first started brainstorming for this blog, naturally I thought that I would talk about the elephants (Gorchaw) but I realized that the strong sense of community and the atmosphere of the mountainous village region that we are in is an important part of the foundation to our experience during this internship. Picture this: when you sit still all you can here is the sound of the birds chirping, Gibbons in the distance, insects in the trees, chickens, dogs, cats, laughter of the villagers and scooters driving through the village. Now picture this: everywhere you look you are surrounded by mountains filled with biodiversity, corn fields and wide open spaces where the absence of light pollution illuminates the stars at night. Welcome to Huay Pakoot. We don’t need hot showers, plush beds, air conditioning and Westerner toilets because everything we could possibly need or want is standing right in front of us in our community and the environment around us, we just need to be comfortable with trying new things and seeing the beauty in the little things. That my friends, is happiness and the initial thoughts of my arrival in Huay Pakoot. I can’t wait to officially start my internship.

– Shae Harris