One thing that really struck me in my first week in Thailand was the idea of socio-cultural environment through the Human Ecology Model. The socio-cultural environment can be described as relationships, beliefs, language, laws, and cultural values and norms. I find this idea a lot different in Thailand than in the United States. For instance, I feel that in Thailand the elders are much more respected and are looked upon as people with wisdom and experiences that can benefit the community. I am not saying it is non-existent in the U.S. but it seems to be much more apparent here in the culture. One experience I had was when we visited the Chiang Dao School, the kids were so awesome and extremely respectful of their teaches and faculty. They were not only respectful to them but also to us foreigners, always properly greeting and staying engaged. It was really cool to see. I think this is extremely important due to the fact not only can you learn from the experiences and wisdom of an elder, but I believe it brings a sense of unity and foundation for a strong community.
Another thing I have noticed is the diversity in Thailand. There are so many rich cultures in Thailand that are so different from each other. It seems that everyone has a sense of Thai nationality, but also has rich traditions that are unique to their specific culture. It was also saddening to hear that minority groups are discriminated by some Thai people. When visiting Pha Nok Kok village I was immersed in the Hmong culture and was blown away about their traditions and culture. I loved how I could relate differences and similarities to my own culture to a culture that I had no prior knowledge of before this trip. It was an unforgettable experience to say the least. I found it also really cool to see the Hmong students in the group get to speak with the locals of the village. My fellow classmate Sia, did a wonderful job translating to English for a village elder as he was speaking to us.
Overall, the first week has been a truly eye opening and an experience incomparable to anything that I have ever done. I have met so many wonderful people and learned so many things that I cannot wait to see what the next weeks are like!