Category Archives: 2017 Thailand Learning Abroad Blog

Blog Post #1 | Kia Lee

Hello, all!

My name is Kia Lee. I am a third-year studying Graphic Design. I come from a family of eight: my parents, grandma, four siblings, and me. I am the middle child out of my siblings. A few of my interests and hobbies are fashion, design (duh), traveling, and event planning.

One of the things that I do outside of school and homework (I’m always working on tons of graphic design projects) is intern at the University YMCA (no, it’s not a gym). The University YMCA is a YMCA branch at the U of M that has many programs and opportunities focused on leadership development for college students and youth development. I have created several pieces of work for the UY, such as a 2017 calendar and a few fliers.

I am also involved in a cultural student group, the Hmong Minnesota Student Association (HMSA). HMSA is the first community on campus that I got involved with and I cherish it deeply. I was on board as the Co-Activities chair during my second-year of school and am excited to serve as the Co-Education chair next year!

Visiting Thailand will be my second time traveling abroad and my first time in Asia. I am excited to learn about the Thailand culture and customs. I cannot wait to visit the temples, night markets, and schools. Another part of this trip that I am excited about is seeing the differences and commonalities between the Hmong-Thai and Hmong-American cultures.

Blog post – Sia Thao

Hello, my name is Sia Thao. I am a sophomore majoring in Computer Science. While my major is Computer Science, I also have an interest in teaching as well. One of my life goal is to go back to the rural areas of Thailand and teach my people(the Hmong) so they can have  more opportunities.  Thus, one of my goals for this trip will be to assess and compare Thailand’s educational system against the United States in order to find out what I need to prepare when I go back to Thailand and teach my people.

Another goal of mine is to go back and re-live some of my childhood memories in Thailand. I was born in Thailand and immigrated here in 2004. Since then I have never had the chance to return to my birthplace. However, with this study abroad opportunity I will be able to go back and re-live some of my memories from my childhood. I will also be able to meet some family members that I have been missing for 13 years now.

I am excited for this trip and the experiences that it will give. See you Thailand!

Blog post #1

Hey everyone!

My name is Rachel Diers and I am a graduating senior, majoring in marketing. This study abroad trip is my last requirement for my degree and to celebrate I will be staying for two weeks after our program is over in Thailand and traveling with my three older sisters and mom who will be meeting me in Thailand!

                                           These are my sisters, my mom, myself and my nephews.

I love traveling, music festivals/concerts, spending time with my family, hanging out with my amazing nephews and most anything dealing with the outdoors.

I’m very excited about a number of things we have lined up for our Thailand trip, the itinerary and course outline seem very well rounded and I really feel like we will be fully immersed into the culture.  A big goal I have for myself, which was stimulated by our second orientation as a class, is to try to fully understand the differences between my culture and Thailand’s culture with an open mind.  Acharn Cathy made a point during our orientation that really stuck with me, instead of looking at the garbage on the streets of Thailand and thinking it’s dirty and that people should be cleaner, we should try to understand why we’re responding that way. We should also try to open our minds and understand that it’s not just as simple as throwing trash in a garbage, you need the infrastructure to support the garbage system and everything that goes behind that. So overall a big goal I have for myself in this program is to try to have as open of a mind as possible and to appreciate why our cultures are different, why we handle things differently and to understand that that’s not a bad thing.

Can’t wait to experience Thailand together!

Blog Post 1- Pre-Departure Samantha Zomok

Hi everyone! My name is Sam, I have just finished my junior year at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. I am a major in Family Social Science with a triple minor in Psychology, Leadership and Family Violence Prevention. It sounds like a lot, but I love it. Every class I take makes me want to learn more, experience more, and challenge myself even more. It’s constantly keeping me on my toes for what to do when I graduate.

I am really looking forward to this trip to Thailand. It was never a place I really saw myself going, which is exactly why I want to go. It is something new and out of my comfort zone. Thailand is also going to let me utilize and see all of the things I have learned about in the last semester. Seeing a new culture and being apart of it even for a little while is more than I could ever hope.

Here’s to a fantastic trip!

Blog #1 – Liz Schroeder

Hello! My name is Liz Schroeder and I am a senior majoring in Sociology with an emphasis on Health Care and Careers and a minor in Public Health. I am looking forward to  experiencing the Thai culture! I have previously been to Costa Rica and Ghana, West Africa, but this is my first trip to Asia and I think it will be a really new environment for me.

During this trip I really want to learn more about the public health issues that the Thai people experience. I hope to grow in my ability to be empathetic towards the people I meet and to also be more understanding of the challenges that they are facing. I am very curious about the human trafficking problems that Thailand has and I want to be able to see first hand how it impacts the lives of those that are affected by the industry. My Christian faith is also really important to me so I am curious to learn about Buddhism. I am really looking forward to seeing the monks and the temples that are so important in the Buddhist culture. I am focused on approaching the situation with an open mind and I am really hoping to learn a lot about Buddhist’s beliefs and practices.

Pre-Departure Thoughts

To introduce myself, my name is Marissa Paananen and I just graduated from the University of Minnesota with a double major in Family Social Science, Sociology of Law, Criminology, and Deviance, and a minor in Spanish. It’s a mouthful, I know. Some of my hobbies are swimming, watching movies, hanging out with friends and, you guessed it, traveling!

As I am minutes away from going to the airport, my nerves are beginning to kick in. Will I make it to my flight on time? Am I forgetting something? How will I communicate with people when I get there? I have been to other Spanish speaking countries before where I am able to ask questions, but I have never been somewhere entirely foreign to me. While this is somewhat nerve-racking, I think it is also exhilarating!

I envision so many new experiences, environments, and interactions and I just cannot wait! I wonder if it will actually be as hot as they say or if the beaches will be as beautiful as the pictures. Well.. I guess you’ll just have to wait and see how my journey and first impressions go in my next blog! Sorry to leave you at a cliff-hanger 🙂


Blog #1 – Anna Borromeo

Hi there! My name is Anna Borromeo, and I am a rising senior. I am studying economics with a minor in global studies, focusing on human rights and justice and East Asia. I was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, but my family originates from the Philippines. In Asia, I have traveled to both the Philippines and Taiwan, but this will be my first time in Thailand, and I am beyond excited! 

The two most important aspects of my life are faith and family, and I am eager to evaluate my life in comparison to the Thai lifestyles. As my identity revolves around Christianity, I would like to learn more about the centrality of Buddhism in Thailand. Also, as family is very important to me, I am curious to know about the role and importance of family in Thailand. A learning goal that I have for this trip would be to better understand the social justice issues in Thailand and how non-governmental organizations and community members address these issues. I plan to fully immerse myself in the Thai culture with an open mind and eyes of curiosity in order to better understand the various influences on Thailand. I hope to learn more about myself, the ways of life in Thailand, and comprehensively, the beauty and complexity of the world.

Below is a picture of me (left) with my sister (right)!

Blog #1: Introduction – Deeh Chah

Hello! My name is Deeh — it means watermelon or cucumber in Hmong. I am the second oldest child of six, and I am the first to attend a four-year college. I am a third year studying Elementary Education Foundation. I was born in a refugee camp in Thailand; my family came to Saint Paul, Minnesota in2004. I miss the camp I was born in very much! It was a temple and still is a temple today.

I hope to teach in Hmong villages after college. Therefore, I am excited to learn about the education system in Thailand – especially in the Hmong villages that we will visit. I hope to learn how the teachers teach, how the students learn, how the families are connected with the school and their children’s learning, and more! Ultimately, I hope to make connections and build networks so that my goal of teaching in Thailand after college is achievable.

Blog #1 Mai Chia Lee

Hello, My name is Mai Chia Lee and I am a senior at the University of Minnesota Twin-Cities and I am an Elementary Education Major. As a Hmong woman living in the United State, I see myself as a Hmong American. I merge two culture together and meet both in the middle so that I will not lose my native culture but at the same time able to emerge myself in a different culture.

Often time many people don’t know what Hmong is and where they come from. Many times people mistook me as another ethnicity for example Chinese. But when I told them I am Hmong they looked confused. I have to explain in short of who Hmong people are and where they came from, to learn someone it takes time so I only give them a brief introduction of who Hmong is.

I moved from Thailand to the United States in 2004, and it was when I have to learn who I am and who I want to be as I grow older clash between two culture. But as I grow older I see the beauty in my own culture, how the shaman would guide the spirit home when someone is unwell. How the language I did not pay much attention to can be so beautiful like a poem. I listen to my parent’s story of their life and I found myself captivate more and more to my own culture that I didn’t pay much attention to when I was younger.

In this Journey, I want to experience more culture and look deeper to find more about myself. I am looking forward to learning more about other cultures and ready to merge as one with every culture. But most of all I want to find myself and learn more about myself.

blog post # 1

Hello there, everyone! My name is Bridget Glass and yesterday I graduated from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in the College of Education and Human Development. I majored in Family Social Science and am hoping to pursue an advanced degree in graduate school out west for Couple, Marriage, and Family Therapy within the next couple of years.

While in school for the past three years, I have worked at Fraser, a nonprofit organization based in the Twin Cities that provides various mental health and developmental disability services to children and adults with special needs. I am especially interested in interpersonal relationships, and truly love learning about other humans and cultures. Some of my strengths include woo, communication, empathy, adaptability and positivity.

One learning goal I have for myself in regards to this Learning Abroad seminar is centered around personal growth; I have found that I learn most about myself when I am put in unfamiliar situations because it forces me to maximize my strengths and whatever resources are readily available to accomplish or overcome anything that comes my way. I am more capable than I sometimes give myself credit for, so I am excited for the opportunity to grow with and as a result of the people and environment around me.