Working in the rice fields.

Thailand

Sustainability & Spirituality in the Land of Smiles

A 4-week Summer Abroad Program

Duration
28 Days
Description

Explore the idea of reciprocity: participate in a 3-day Theravada meditation retreat in the cool mountains or Chiang Rai, help out on a community-driven learning service permaculture project, and live with marginalized hill tribe communities.

summer
Jun 28 - Jul 25, 2024
Group Size (4:1 Ratio)

12 Students
3 Instructors

Tuition

$8,450

Plus airfare & insurance

  • 3 Spaces
Suggested Ages

15-17

Tuition Details

Beyond your budget? Learn how we increase access.

Mae Hong Son

Chiang Mai

Sukhothai

Ubon Ratchani

bangkok

Program Overview

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


Our program begins in the ancient capital of the Lanna Kingdom, Chiangmai. Here, students orient themselves to the cultural, spiritual, and culinary nuances of the Land of Smiles before diving deeper into learning about the rich cultural heritage of a Karen community outside Chiangrai.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHT
  • Live with Karen ethnic minority communities in Chiang Rai, taking part in daily life and rituals.
  • Partake in a three day Theravada meditation retreat set in the misty mountains of Chiang Mai learning several forms of insight meditation.
  • Meet with grassroots NGO working on environmental and social justice issues in Thailand and the region.
  • Get your hands dirty at a community-led sustainable…

Our program begins in the ancient capital of the Lanna Kingdom, Chiangmai. Here, students orient themselves to the cultural, spiritual, and culinary nuances of the Land of Smiles before diving deeper into learning about the rich cultural heritage of a Karen community outside Chiangrai.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHT
  • Live with Karen ethnic minority communities in Chiang Rai, taking part in daily life and rituals.
  • Partake in a three day Theravada meditation retreat set in the misty mountains of Chiang Mai learning several forms of insight meditation.
  • Meet with grassroots NGO working on environmental and social justice issues in Thailand and the region.
  • Get your hands dirty at a community-led sustainable farm and learn about seed saving and sustainable agriculture.

We then move further north into the mountainous hill tribe regions in Hua Hin Lad Nai, where we hike through tea plantations and stay with ethnic minority communities to catch a glimpse into their traditional way of life. During this homestay experience, we’ll learn about sustainable practices like rotational farming, tea cultivation, and honey production, intertwined with deep spiritual insights. Amid tea plantations and Buddhist temples, we explore some of the dichotomies that come with living in a region experiencing rampant development while maintaining ritual and custom.

From here, we enter into a small Theravada Buddhist monastery in Chiang Rai for a three day meditation retreat where we learn and practice many forms of meditation—insight, walking, eating, silence—to center ourselves. We then venture to Chiang Khong, engaging with the Mekong School, a grassroots NGO to gain a profound understanding of regional environmental and social issues.

Our Thailand journey culminates with a few day’s exploration of the country’s colorful and bustling capital, Bangkok, where we say goodbye to Southeast Asia amid the wild sprawl and awe-inspiring skyline of one of the world’s great alpha cities.

Hear more from our Asia Program Director in this recent webinar.

Read More Read Less Sample Itinerary

Program Components

5/5
Religious & Spiritual Traditions

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

3/5
Social & Environmental Justice

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, human migration, gender, public health, education, human rights, politics, environmental conservation and more.

4/5
Homestay

10+ days of homestay living in two rural communities in the northern provinces. Single night village-stays with families while on trek (weather depending).

1/5
Independent Study Project (ISP)

Some opportunity during homestays and temple-stays for mentored study in a topic of interest.

2/5
Language Study

Frequent Thai classes with instructors and language immersion opportunities throughout.

2/5
Learning Service

Opportunities to participate in community-driven learning service projects focused on simple construction, harvesting or language exchange.

3/5
Rugged Travel

Travel by bus, tuk-tuk, taxi, minivan, truck, train, and boat within city, rural and natural landscapes. Expect fairly good roads and some a/c (although in the countryside open air options are more common).

2/5
Trekking

Easy to moderately challenging village to village multi-day hikes through rice paddy field and forest terrain. Day hikes in conservation areas to find waterfalls and hot springs.