Blog Post #1

Question number one

At the Wat Temple I noticed a few things about Thai culture. Body language, body parts, and space between bodies informs others of status, communicates unspoken messages, and can be seen as sacred. In regards to body language, when giving a wâi, the position and height in which your hands are represents how much respect you give the receiver. Saving face is important to Thai culture and one of the ways they do that is smiling even if they are embarrassed, angry, etc. Additionally, different body parts have different meanings. One’s feet should not be pointed towards others, especially the Monk. The head has a spiritual importance and they do not touch or pat someone’s head because it is seen as rude. Finally, the space between each other also informs on who holds status. The women all sat on the ground surrounding the monk who sits on a higher platform that was distanced from the audience. The meaning and interaction of and between bodies shows how unspoken communication plays an important role in Thai culture.

Question number two

During our trip to Thailand I hope to understand how religion, tradition, and rituals positively impacts the people. Often times Millennials, including myself, see religiosity, tradition, and practices as something of the past that actually harms and discriminates against populations instead of uniting them. I have seen the harmful effects of conservative ideologies and racist institutions that use a narrative rooted in “maintaining the status quo” only because it ensures the survival of a few privileged persons. Thailand appears to be a place, whether accurately portrayed or not, where the maintenance of these old beliefs, rituals, and practices benefits the population as a whole and fosters an environment of perseverance, peace, interconnectedness, and respect. Hopefully, my cynical views can be broken down a bit!


5 thoughts on “Blog Post #1”

  1. I’m glad you remember more than I do about Thai culture! I should’ve taken notes – but besides that, your response to question two was very well put. I hadn’t really thought of how I viewed religion before, but I think I’ve had similar experiences to you relating to it. I’m really excited to see how their religion unites them and how the people interact with each other. I’m especially interested to see this based on what we learned about smiling; where people smile even if they’re upset, embarrassed, etc. I’m excited to see this, as well as religion in action. Here’s to breaking down our cynical views!

  2. You seem like such a great observer and I envy that so much! I had already forgotten some of the things that you mentioned such as to not pat or touching another person’s head. I’m glad that you remember all of these things and mentioned them in your writing.

    During our trip to Thailand, I share the same goals that you do. I hope to gain knowledge about the Thai culture and religion and how it impacts the people as well. My parents grew up in Thailand so they act differently from how I do and how my friends would act. I am very curious what the impact is because I think it’ll help me to understand my parents more. I hope we learn a lot!

  3. You painted such a wonderful image of your experiences last week at the temple. Your words very much expressed what I hope to experience: an “environment of perseverance, peace, interconnectedness, and respect.” (sorry to quote you in a message to you, it was phrased so well!)

    Your comment on physical interactions and body language that you observed at the Wat Temple really resonated with me. I often ignore those physical cues of perspective and interaction, focusing solely on emotionally or cognitively relating to another person. I have not thought much about differences in physical interaction and body language that will change my behavior when I’m in Thailand: I’ve mostly focused on “changes in mindset” that I will gain from this trip, forgetting that values and beliefs express themselves through behavior and body language as well. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on the orientation experience and I look forward to meeting you!

  4. I liked how much you remembered from the temple. I also noticed the different types of body language going on. I was very surprised to hear Dr. Solheim’s reaction to us having our feet pointed at the Monk. It was something I never would have thought of and that really opened my mind up to just how different each culture is from one another. I also liked your goal for yourself, I too find it difficult to see religion and traditions as something that is benefitting the people, but I do agree that I seems like it does benefit the Thai people. It will be interesting to find out!

  5. I totally agree with your comment about (most) Millennials viewing religion negatively. I will admit, I am guilty of this as well. However, I am excited to learn more about Buddhism and the different aspects of it; it seems like such a peaceful religion.

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