First week in Thailand!

Thailand has been an absolutely amazing experience so far. Our days are jam-packed full of activities and it has kept me on my toes. The essence of Thailand is vastly different than the essence of America. The people here are all so hospitable.  Some people believe that respect is earned, while others believe respect is a given until proven otherwise. Everyone here seemingly believes that everyone deserves respect. Although Minnesota is known as the nice state, a lot of people aren’t naturally warm and kind towards strangers (especially in other states).  The people here are so refreshing with their warm nature and value of kindness and compassion.  America values independence. I do align with independence and doing things for myself, but I also love that in Thailand, people seem to look out for each other. The community is more cohesive than individualized. I am not saying one country is better than the other in this context, but I really do appreciate the mentality here. Moreover,  people just do tasks more organically over here. They aren’t anxiety driven about the future or doing things in the fastest way. For example, we visited a Hmong hill tribe village yesterday and they showed us how to make cloth for clothes and other products from scratch. We were shown the process of using the hemp that they plant and how to make it conducive for clothes, purses, blankets, etc.  The process   took time and concentration. It was beautiful to see that not everyone only cares about mass production and making money, but that people still do things the “old fashion way”. Below is a picture of the hemp being made into cloth in the Hmong village:

Going to the Buddhist temple and talking with a monk has been the experience that has catalyzed me to be the most introspective thus far. Learning about Buddhism from the source was so informative and touching. We learned that Buddhism is a philosophy, rather than a religion. Kay Kay was the name of the monk we talked to. Kay Kay explained to us that the key elements of Buddhism are to live your life with, love, compassion, peace and happiness. He explained that everyone suffers, but to combat suffering, we must acknowledge it and let it. Then, spread those elements into the world. Although I know that everyone suffers, it was nice to be reaffirmed that nobody  lives their lives without suffering. We get so caught up in wanting happier lives and less suffering because we think that other people have it easier than us and that we were for some reason cursed. We compare our lives to others instead of focusing on how we can find inner peace and happiness, and letting go of the things that make us suffer. I think that focusing on love and happiness is what the world needs. Kay Kay explained that anyone can follow Buddhism because it is just a philosophy to love by. I am Jewish, but I still find myself aligning with Buddhist elements and way of being. I am a very existential thinker, and it was a good reminder to hear that these elements are the aspects that will make suffering diminish. We cannot control everything, but we can control letting it go and stopping it from consuming us. Kay Kay was such a good reminder of how I can live in a happier and healthier way. Kay Kay also touched upon living in the moment. I align with this idea more than anything. I truly wish that more people were conscious of this idea. I think a lot of people live their lives acting like they have all the time in the world even though they don’t. He talked about the idea of a “one day life”. We should live in the moment because that is all we have. Having this concept reiterated was inspiring, and I am thankful I got to have that opportunity.

Wennicha – 2nd post

Sometimes we have to travel across the world to realize that everything we need is where we’ve always been – home.

My experience feels similar to “The Alchemist.” It’s a story about a boy who follows his legend because of a dream he had about going to the pyramids and finding a pot of gold. As he follows his legend, there are people that he meets along the way that help him, and others that negate his journey. He also meets his soul mate and doesn’t want to continue his legend because of infatuation. However, he eventually continues his legend in fear of regret, and digs the pyramid to only find out that the pot of gold he had dreamed of was actually hidden underneath his house.

I visited “Pha Nok Kok Village” with my classmates. It’s a Christian Hmong Village in Chaingmai and it’s been established there for about 50 years. We rode go carts, learned how to shoot bow and arrows, learned how hemp was made, and saw their beautiful acres of farmland.

Something that stood out to me throughout this trip was that many Hmong-Thai youth struggled very much when speaking Hmong. The Hmong students who I met at Chiang Dao Boarding School had a difficult time communicating to me, and some of the younger Hmong villagers that I met today also had a difficult time speaking Hmong to me too. I came to Thailand expecting to greet and converse in Hmong with Hmong brothers and sisters; I had the misconception that my people who lived here were the keepers of my culture. However, I now realize that we are all keepers to our culture. All around the world, Hmong people are assimilating, losing culture, and having conversations about how to preserve ethnic identity. At home in MN, we are no different than the Hmong-Thai. We struggle being Hmong, but we are also experts to our culture and people. I am where I need to be. We don’t have to travel thousands of miles to understand our history. There is not one place where everyone is perfectly Hmong. We are living it with the trauma and happiness of our parents and grandparents. We are living it currently with our education and profession.

My idea on being a Hmong person has definitely felt more pusposful since being on this trip.

Hot…So hot…Blog post 2

People would complain a lot about Minnesota’s summer weather, I was even one of them. However, after one week in Thailand I feel that their complaints are ironic. Here in Thailand, the temperature usually ranges from 80 to 100 Farenheight with “high” humidity. By “high” I mean high enough that if you walked down 2 blocks in the sun you would be guaranteed at least sweating in an area of your body; for those who sweat easily like me would have sweat forming in their face and body, followed by an everlasting stickiness. This, of course, is taken from the perspective of a foreigner from an area with only one hot season.

For the last 6 days that we have been, there was not a day that I did not sweat. By the end of the day all my upper body would be covered with sweat and stickiness. I only sweat this much when I play soccer but it’s like a never ending cycle here. However, always sweating can have a positive impact as well.

Thailand is like a detoxication system for foreigners. Every day you that you are sweating, you are detoxing. I think this detoxification gives a good balance with the food that we eat here. Everything that we eat contains some kind of toxin, and because the foods here are mixed with a plethora of flavors and spices and we tend to eat a variety of them on the streets, most foreigners do not really know what is in the food. For example, because I have been eating everything spicy for the past few days I feel that my stomach is always unsettling. The warm, humid weather helped detoxify my body and made it so that my body did not have to use the restroom so often. If I ate this much back in Minnesota, I think I would be in the restroom maybe 5-7 times a day.

There are more ways that Thailand’s hot and humid can benefit the body, but going deeper into would require many more paragraphs, so I will end it here.

So while Thailand’s climate is really hot and humid and makes foreigners sweat like crazy, it creates a balance with its amazing food by creating a detoxification system that sweats out the toxins in your body.



Blog Post #2 | Kia Lee

Being in Thailand has been an amazing experience so far. I’ve learned so much about the Thai people and their culture. One of the important topics that I have been learning about since our arrival is the youth who are at risk.

At the Child Safe workshop, I learned about the problems that youth at risk face– trafficking, drug addiction, abusive homes, poverty– and the programs that the organization, Child Safe, implement to help the youth. Child Safe has programs that are sustainable and serve to better the future of the youth that they work with more than anything else, such as vocational training and training families to manage their own shop.

Although I as a tourist may not be able to directly help a child from being at risk, I can be careful and smart about what I do. I should be aware of how I use my privileges as a tourist and know that my actions, even with the best intentions, may do more harm than good.

When we visited the Suksasongkroh Chiang Dao School, a school for youth at risk for grades primary through high school, I learned about the students’ academic schedule. The school is free for the students’ and their families, the students sleep in dormitories, they get free meals, and they must follow strict rules. There is only a 5% graduate rate because many students may choose to drop out or pursue other obligations. Most of the students are minorities from other ethnic groups and many of their parents are farmers. It was a humbling opportunity to play with the students and learn about their studies.

Learning about the youth in Thailand emphasizes how important it is to work with youth and care for them. These young people have a bright future but not many opportunities are open for them to succeed.

“The Balance of Life: Meet You in The Middle”

Sawadee ka thuk thuk  khn!! Hello everyone!!

The first week of learning and experiencing familiar (because I was born in Thailand) and different things in Thailand seemed surreal and heartwarming. From what I have experienced and learned thus far, the balance of life, as I agreed with the monk from our Monk Chat when we visited Wat Suan Dok, is my focus for this blog.

First, helping the less fortunate is something is a kind act that people should practice but there needs to be a balance in terms of how one serve or help. On Tuesday, I learned about the seven tips to protect children: treat children as children and not a tourist attraction; look for better ways to volunteer with children; do not give to begging children; call professionals to help children because they know best; report child sex tourism; report child labor; and be a ChildSafe Traveler. These tips reminded me that there needs to be a balance of how I can help children so that I am not perpetuating the cycle of children un-safety.

ChildSafe Speaker: M.

Secondly, learning how to cook the three Thai dishes at the Thai cooking class called Cooking@Home evoked the theme of balance for me as well. As a Hmong daughter, I considered myself an “education” daughter and not a “traditional” Hmong daughter. This means when it comes to education and cooking, I put all my time and effort into studying and doing school related activities and not on cooking. So yes, I am not a cook like my mother. As a Hmong daughter, I feel shameful when I think about my cooking skills. I want to be good at both school and cooking. Recently, I have come to a realization that I need a balance between studying and cooking. One reason is because I will not live with my parents for the rest of my life, for I will get marry and go live with my husband (and his family). Connecting back to the cooking class, I was inspired when the instructors emphasized that people have different tastes and so one can adjust the spice or substitute ingredients according to their preference when one cooks. This means balance to me. This actually inspired me to learn how to cook (from my mother and older sister) when I get back home. I look forward to using my time and effort in both the school and kitchen.  

Cooking@Home (:


Tum Yum Koong                                                          Sour and Spicy curry

Pad Thai

I felt blissful when we visited Suksasongkroh Chiang Dao School because I got to see Hmong, Lahu, Karen, Thai, and other tribal students, as well as talking with one of the teachers. From my observations, the students seemed shy but I also felt that they were excited to meet us, too. The small group talks and large group activities together were fun and diverse — I enjoyed every moment of it. There were many so-called balance examples from this memorable interaction, but I want to focus on the theme of balance of the strict rules of the school. The rules of the school were strict but I learned one of many reasons why during the teacher interview. It is because of balance. The students in this school are at risk whether it be being an orphan, an abused victim, and abandoned child. Thus, to ensure fairness, protection, and minimize problems within the students, the school set strict rules. This is a balance of the school; it is also something I consider “love for all children.”

Silly photo: my afternoon group at Suksasongkroh Chiang Dao School.

Finding the balance between two or more things is important because it can be harmful and destructive when one fails to interact or support children in the professional, best, respectful, and non-harming ways. It can be embarrassing and devaluing, for I do not yet have a balance between my education and cooking skill. It can be to control problematics behavior and situations, for the rules in the Suksasongkroh Chiang Dao School are strict. Overall, the first week of Thailand has provoked the importance of balance for me. I look forward to the next two weeks to find or analyze balances in the activities and knowledge I gain.

Kwap kuv ka thuk thuk khn!! (:

Culture Differences

One of my main objective coming to Thailand was to learn about the different cultures in Thailand. Since I am Hmong and was also born in a Thai refugee camp, I really interested in the Hmong culture here in Thailand. I want to see how different are the Hmong here compare to the Hmong in America. Before coming, I thought that that are very traditional and still do everything the same old fashion way.

By going to the Hmong village, I realized that their daily lives are very different from ours. They still do traditional things such as farming, sewing, hand-laundry, and playing spinning top. Not only that, I realized that they still wear their traditional Hmong clothes every day. I found this to be very interesting because modern Hmong people don’t usually wear Hmong clothes. We usually wear Hmong clothes for special occasion like Hmong New Year and wedding only.

Another thing that I realized about the Hmong people in Thailand is that they are losing their language. Since they have excess to education and getting a higher education outside of their village, they started to use Thai language more and more. And because they are surrounded by native speaking Thai, they don’t usually use their native language. From what I see today, there are many Hmong people who struggle to speak Hmong. For example, the Hmong sister who explained to us about the process of making thread struggle to use her Hmong because she doesn’t use it that much. Not only that, I also saw some children in the street communicate through Thai instead of Hmong. I’m very surprise how they can keep their traditional going but not their language.

Overall, I think it was a very good opportunity to get to see the culture difference between Hmong in America and in Thailand. Coming in, I was expecting to meet Hmong people who are super traditional and know Hmong very well. Even though I was wrong, I understand that things can’t always be the same. Like the Hmong in America, we also to struggle to keep our language going because of the education system and society. We have no choice but to use English to communicate and fit in with the society. Just like the Hmong people who are in Thailand, they have no choice but to learn how to speak Thai to communicate with Thai people.

Blog Post #2 – Buddha’s Wisdom

Bangkok, the City of Angels, was the very first city I have seen since arriving to Thailand. I was unsure of how I felt at the time, because I was very excited that it was my first time traveling abroad. However, as the first day passed by in Bangkok, I was pretty bummed. I wanted Thailand to be more. It seemed like the landscape  and architecture was just another part of United States. Of course, the differences between Americans and Bangkok were there. The advertisement boards were full of the Thai language and the weather was really hot. Later on, after witnessing Chiang Mai, I felt way better. I was enthused by the beauty and nature that Chiang Mai offered. For my first time studying abroad,  I have experienced a tremendous amount learning. In this blog, I would like to explain more in detail about the chat with the monk session and how it related to my personal life.

Pra K K was the monk who facilitated our question and answer panel. Learning from Pra K K was truly an unforgettable experience. Pra K K responded to our questions about the monk experience and the ways of Buddhism. I really appreciated learning about what Pra K K had to share. Everything seemed relatable and easy to understand for me. It was like a fresh reminder for me to be loving and to detach from materialistic wants.

In the session, a question was asked on how to practice compassion and kindness. Pra K K’s response was that there was three steps. First, one must accept and forgive oneself. Then, it will be accepting and forgiving your family. Lastly, it is accepting and forgiving others. This resonates with me so much, because when I was younger I used to love listening to a song by Michael Jackson called, “Man In The Mirror.” This was when I began to work on myself and love myself. The song mainly explains that in order to make a change in the world, we must begin with ourselves, the man in the mirror. It seemed like this was the message that Pra K K was giving us. This reminded me to once again continue working on myself before helping others work on theirselves.

Another takeaway that related to my personal from this session was that monks choose a very challenging path. The reason why I say this is because a monk’s life is supposed to be simple. They must detach themselves from desires and temptations. Monks do not worry about their wardrobe, because they only wear one outfit and it is the same color every day. Monks wake up early to chant and immerse in Buddha’s teaching, then the meditate, then they go around for food and share food. After that, they take care of cleaning duties within the temple. Then they go to school, and then go back to meditate. It seems like simple, but monks make the most sacrifices out of all people. They are away from their families, and removes materialistic wants from their life. This may be the hardest thing for many and myself, to detach ourselves from our wants and desires. However, this is a way to really find true happiness. This kind of happiness does not rely on other people or things to make them happy. It is from within yourself. Realizing this made me understand why sometimes people find themselves disappointed or sad. There was a saying that my friend shared with me, “Wanting is suffering.” After the question and answer session, I believe that Buddhism teaches detachment so that the followers of Buddhism can find inner peace and enlightenment.

Overall, talking with Pra K K was amazing. He brought back many of the things that I used to hold very close to me like changing myself first and detaching myself from desires. The power of happiness may exist if you decide to live life simply and love yourself.

Blog #2 Balance of the Mind and the Body

Thailand is a Buddhist country, and I see the beautiful temple and why people love it so much especially tourist. It is truly beautiful, I had always thought that Buddha is a religion, but after the monk chat, I know that it is not. There was no creation of Buddha which was very amazing.

I really like how calm the monks are especially during the monk chat, I got to see how calm Pra K K is, when I learned about how the monks typical day and how they were able to reach enlightenment. By practicing meditation it will help  us balance our mind and body and let us find our inner peace. When the Pra K K  explain that he did not think about the future, and he let go of his past, he only focus on the present, I was amazed because I know that I always think about the future and he was right that I am stressing myself out.

I would like to do more meditation because I want to release some stress and I want to be able to balance my body and my mind. I really like the way how the monks live a very simple and normal life. Although there are rules they have to follow, to have peace within is all that matter.

I feel so rushed all the time as a college student, and I rarely have time to myself to reflect on things. After the monk chat, I feel that I have to find time to myself for me to meditate. I want to find the balance between my body and mind and focus on the present, let go of the past and, don’t think about the future. I think about the future all the time and it not what I should do and I stress myself even more.

I need to let go of the past because no matter what it is in the past and I will not be able to change it. and the future is the unknown, we never know what will happen and it is not predictable. often we ask people about their future and what they want to do, and many people already have it planned out, but sometimes everything will not go as plan. I feel that if we focus on the present, we will focus on the time we have and live each day and make the most out of it. 

Blog 2: Welcome to Thailand

The first few days were miserable as we made our way to Bangkok. The long plane ride was unbearable since I was squished in the middle with the constant need to use the toilet. Right after the awful 13+ hours flight from Dallas to Bangkok, I was ready to sleep on a proper bed. The next day started off with a bang as we participated in a Child Safe workshop. This workshop discussed many things about children and human trafficking. I’m glad that this was the first session that we attended since arriving in Thailand. I’ve learn many things that was intriguing and eye-opening to me. The message was to not give money to begging children, but to report to the Child Safe hotline in order to help the child. This will help break the cycle of poverty. The Child Safe organization will provide opportunities to help the children gain sustainable resources for themselves and their families. I came to Thailand with a mindset that the children needs help in this third-world country. So if I saw a begging child on the streets, I would not hesitate to give them money. I didn’t realize how close I was to contributing to endless cycle of poverty. I’m sure many tourist gives money with good intentions, but they’re not realizing that they’re doing more harm than good. Child Safe is doing their best to raise awareness of child in poverty and trafficking.

Also, as a tourist, don’t go visit a orphanage because they’re not a tourist attraction! After learning that orphanages is actually considered an attraction, I am appalled. If I was planning a vacation, I would want to visit famous sites, the beach, etc. The orphanage would not be on my list of things to do. I was also not aware that children in the orphanage were actually not orphans but had at least one living parent. These children don’t belong in the orphanages. However, due to the demand in children entertain, children trafficking continues to exist. Sometimes, children are exchanged for a bag of rice or given up because their families can no longer support them. There’s still a long way to go with this situation, but I’m proud to say that I’ve been certified to identify children in these cases.

Image may contain: 22 people, people smiling, people sitting

The rest of the week was filled with many activities and we got to interact with many of the local people. From visiting the local market to riding  wooden go-karts, the first week in Thailand has been amazing and I look forward to many more adventures in Thailand. I’m thankful to have this moment to reflect on my time here in Thailand. It’s a lot to take-in and I will try my best to be in the present.


Blog Post #2

Before my fist week in Thailand, I thought the weather would be perfect, the cities would look modernized, and everyone would get along since they’re all asian. I was definitely wrong.

It was super humid in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. I thought the rain would help. Instead, it made the humidity worse. I felt sticky every time I stepped outside. Also, the weather can be bipolar sometimes. One moment the sun would be up, and the next moment clouds would cover the sky and start pouring.

Bangkok had a lot of abandon buildings and deteriorated houses that seem to have people living in there. The homes and living conditions didn’t look comfortable. There are a lot of people and the houses densely compacted together. Thailand seems to be a country where everyone makes a living off from selling products. Literally, there are food, clothes, massage, accessory, and many other shops every where. What seems to make Bangkok and Chiang Mai humid is due to too many cars creating pollution and a lot of vendors are constantly cooking.

When we went to the Hmong village, I learned that some Thai people discriminated the minority groups. I was surprised because I wanted to know the reason why they discriminated other asians when they have so many things in common. The chief villager told us about how they tried to pursue in a career they desire, but the Thai people would try their best to make them fail and put them down no matter how hard they tried. This is one of the reasons why many of the minority students stop going to school after high school and go back to their villages to help their parents with farming.

I’ve learned so many things just by living in Thailand for a week. I hope to discover more about Thailand for the next 2 weeks that we have left.