Working in the rice fields on Where There Be Dragons Thailand: The Spirit of Greng Jai.

Thailand

The Spirit of Greng Jai

A 4-week Summer Abroad Program

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Duration
31 Days
Description

Explore the idea of reciprocity: participate in hands-on learning service projects, live with hill tribe communities, and study Theravada Buddhism within Thailand’s wondrous forests.

Dates

Jun 28 - Jul 28, 2020


Suggested Ages

15-17

Number of Participants

12


Availability

Open

Begins In

50 Weeks

Land Cost

$7,120


Estimated Flight Cost

$1,925

Mae Hong Son

Chiang Mai

Sukhothai

Ubon Ratchani

bangkok

Program Overview

FROM THE VERDANT MOUNTAINS AND RICE PADDIES OF THE NORTH TO THE BUZZING METROPOLIS OF BANGKOK, THE STAGGERING BEAUTY OF THAILAND LEAVES ONE ENCHANTED AND YEARNING TO EXPLORE THE NEXT WONDER.


Our program begins in the buzzing capital of Bangkok, from where we make a quick departure to Sukhothai. Here we bike around the ruins of the first Siamese capital, building an understanding of the region’s shifting boundaries and history, while preparing for our journey to Chiang Mai, seat of the ancient Lanna Kingdom. A train ride takes us to the moated city. Orienting to the cultural, spiritual and culinary nuances of the north, students are introduced to the tenets of Theravada Buddhism, Thai language and cuisine, regional politics, and the social realities of rural villages, where mass urban migration of younger generations has meant the slow erosion of tradition.

From the city, we move further north into the mountainous hill tribe regions and join the community of Pun Pun. An eco-village based on a philosophy of simple, traditional living, students participate in permaculture and sustainability projects while…

Our program begins in the buzzing capital of Bangkok, from where we make a quick departure to Sukhothai. Here we bike around the ruins of the first Siamese capital, building an understanding of the region’s shifting boundaries and history, while preparing for our journey to Chiang Mai, seat of the ancient Lanna Kingdom. A train ride takes us to the moated city. Orienting to the cultural, spiritual and culinary nuances of the north, students are introduced to the tenets of Theravada Buddhism, Thai language and cuisine, regional politics, and the social realities of rural villages, where mass urban migration of younger generations has meant the slow erosion of tradition.

From the city, we move further north into the mountainous hill tribe regions and join the community of Pun Pun. An eco-village based on a philosophy of simple, traditional living, students participate in permaculture and sustainability projects while learning about seed banking, traditional organic farming, adobe building, natural medicines and rice cultivation in a valley surrounded by picturesque national parks.

Moving south of Chiang Mai, we enter into a village stay at the Indigenous Dialogue Centre, where Karen leaders are striving to protect their cultures and communities. We hike between villages, through forests and rising crops with local hunters and gatherers, gaining understanding about the unique and critical ways that people have lived with nature symbiotically.

Far to the east, on the Khorat plateau, we find ourselves in Thailand’s agricultural heartland, Issan province, living with families in a village relocated from the reservoir created by a hydroelectric dam. Families offer firsthand experience of the dichotomies that come with living in a region experiencing rampant development while maintaining ritual and custom. Here we begin to see and practice the tenets of Buddhism revealed in daily life.

Upon saying goodbye to our host families, we have a brief stay in Bangkok punctuated by boat rides around the meandering canals, visits to spiritual sites and cultural landmarks as we reflect on the meaning of the journey.

Read More Read Less Sample Itinerary

Program Components

5/5
Comparative Religion

History and practice of Theravada Buddhism; discussion of Buddhism, Animism, Christianity and Islam in contemporary Thai society.

3/5
Development Studies

Land-use and ecology, ethnic minority and gender issues, border politics, effects of tourism.

5/5
Focus Of Inquiry

Broad look at development issues, with focus on tourism impacts, in-depth look into the role of religion in Thai life, rural culture studies.

4/5
Homestay

8+ days of home-stay, single night village-stays with families while on trek.

1/5
Independent Study Project (ISP)

Some opportunity in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and during our home and wat-stays for mentored study.

2/5
Language Study

Frequent classes in Thai and language immersion throughout.

2/5
Learning Service

Numerous opportunities for volunteering—directing an English camp, work at a migrant learning center, meet with NGOs to discuss pertinent ethnic/border issues. Approximately 20 hours of service credit earned.

3/5
Rugged Travel

Travel by bus, truck, rail, and boat.

2/5
Trekking

Moderately challenging multi-day jungle trek, day hikes.