1 Week Reflection: values

This past week in Thailand has provided a lot of food for thought.  It was very intriguing to compare and contrast changing culture here to that in minnesota (and the US). I noticed traditional values of simplicity in daily activity, particularly during the visit to the Hmong village and in the relaxed, patient outlook of Thai society. Some of this simplicity stems from collectivism, sharing and accommodating woven into the cultural fabric. For instance, as guests at our hotel in Chang Mai we have been served breakfast with the intent if never leaving a guest unfilled. This intent results in a lot of food leftover with each breakfast. When we attended the cooking class, water falling from the roof was used as a method of cooling. These approaches to treating guests went above and beyond our usual expectations of how to please guests. I am intrigued from a sustainability standpoint on how to take only what I need (values of simplicity) without being wasteful. It was extremely encouraging to see the strides in sustainable agriculture in the Hmong village. It serves as a great example for the complex simplicity I see everywhere here in Thailand. Detail is placed to add meaning, such as on temples, but also creeps into daily life subtly through rich plant life between buildings.

Taking such care of visitors comes from different ideals from what is familiar to me, centered on sharing what you have and receiving joy from the joy of others. Although changes from globalization are adding faster-paced industry and technology to Thai society, individualism appears slower to catch on. This is in part due to core values of family and grounded patience.

We saw values of family in how both communities and businesses are run. The school itself is a community, one that contains students from very diverse backgrounds living as siblings with their teacher acting as a parent, nurse and companion. It seems that lines between societal roles are blurred so that everyone within a community work collectively. I look forward to spending more time in more traditional cultures in the next few days! Here are two pictures of the beautiful landscape, examples of IMG_2212FullSizeRender (1)cultural practice informed by nature.

2 thoughts on “1 Week Reflection: values”

  1. Maria,

    Beautifully written! You noticed a lot of subtle details and explained them very vividly. I also think that it’s interesting how individualism seems to be catching on slower than other values brought on by globalization. I am interested in seeing how Thai culture changes (or doesn’t change) in this respect over the next several decades.

    It’s been nice getting to know you this past week!! I look forward to more adventures with you.


  2. Maria, Nuanced and clear writing. Your example of Ban R. meeting each person’s needs which creates leftovers is one I’ve thought of too, as a former cafe owner. Acharn Cathy helped me when she told me that they can eat the leftovers. I look forward to reading more of your writing.

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