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
30 Days
Description

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

Dates

Jun 28 - Jul 28, 2018


Suggested Ages

15-17

Number of Participants

12


Availability

open

Begins In

41 Weeks

Land Cost

$6,710


Estimated Flight Cost

$1,925

Mae Hong Son

Chiang Mai

Sukhothai

Ubon Ratchani

bangkok

Program Overview

Rainforests, emerald-green rice fields, rolling hills and remote valleys…


There’s a subtlety to the landscape that immediately puts you at ease. The Thai philosophy of greng jai—loosely translated as “putting others before yourself” – continues to welcome you into Thai culture as soon as you step off the plane. Whether you’re harvesting rice with your home-stay mother in the emerald-green fields of Chang Muen or listening to the rhythmic prayers of a Buddhist abbot in Sukhothai, students are sure to be transformed by the strong culture of reverence and reciprocity that makes Thailand so unique.

In one of the world’s most popular travel destinations, Dragons’ summer abroad program in Thailand provides off-the-beaten-path experiences that incorporate village home-stays, volunteer community service work, jungle trekking, extensive discourse on Theravada Buddhism, and a thorough discussion of regional politics, human trafficking, AIDS, the drug trade, and a host of associated development topics. Upon our first night in Bangkok’s bustling night…

There’s a subtlety to the landscape that immediately puts you at ease. The Thai philosophy of greng jai—loosely translated as “putting others before yourself” – continues to welcome you into Thai culture as soon as you step off the plane. Whether you’re harvesting rice with your home-stay mother in the emerald-green fields of Chang Muen or listening to the rhythmic prayers of a Buddhist abbot in Sukhothai, students are sure to be transformed by the strong culture of reverence and reciprocity that makes Thailand so unique.

In one of the world’s most popular travel destinations, Dragons’ summer abroad program in Thailand provides off-the-beaten-path experiences that incorporate village home-stays, volunteer community service work, jungle trekking, extensive discourse on Theravada Buddhism, and a thorough discussion of regional politics, human trafficking, AIDS, the drug trade, and a host of associated development topics. Upon our first night in Bangkok’s bustling night markets, we are introduced to the essential Thai philosophy of greng jai—loosely translated as “putting others before yourself.” Thailand is the Land of Smiles, and it is a country that will sweep you off your feet with its undiscriminating culture of hospitality.

After a few days getting acquainted with the pace (and weather) of Southeast Asia, we head to Sukhothai, the ancient seat of the Ayuthaya Empire. We spend our days mastering simple phrases in the Thai language, exploring the numerous delicacies of Thai cuisine, and begin our discussions on development issues. Among the incredible ruins that we explore by bicycle are massive Buddha statues draped in golden swaths of silk and red sandstone temples that date back to the 14th century. Continuing on via open-air train we close in on the northern part of the country and the rapidly developing city of Chiang Mai. In Chiang Mai, we meet with NGO workers and aid organizations to prepare us for the issues that we will study during our jungle trek, like the poor infrastructure supporting the country’s hill tribes and border politics.

Moving towards the lush foothills of Chiang Dao in the northeast of Thailand, we embark on a 3 to 4-day trek through bamboo, beetle-nut, and banana tree forests. Along muddy footpaths crossed by tapirs and other endangered species, our trek introduces us to a variety of issues in ecology, land use and development. We spend our nights in thatched-hut villages, gaining amazing insight into traditional village structure and tribal practices. Students have also visited elephant rehabilitation centers to learn about poaching, conservation efforts and human care.

We then spend a week at Pun Pun village in the care of Jon Jandai and his intentional community outside Chiang Mai where we learn about seed banks, organic farming practices, traditional harvesting and cooking, as well as herbal medicines. Our time at Pun Pun farm give students a chance to get their hands in the dirt and learn hard skills that have bene cultivated by the people of northern Thailand and the Lanna Kingdom for centuries.

The home-stay in Chiang Muan in eastern Thailand offers students a remarkable opportunity to get under the skin of Thai culture, where daily experiences in the home compliment our study of Thai Buddhism and Animist traditions. Students participate in prayer, offer incense to the house altar, and deliver fresh fruit to the spirit house that protects the family and the property.

This leads to our multi-day monastery retreat, or in a nunnery, which affords a rich and authentic introduction to principles in Thai Buddhism through morning meditation, alms rounds with monks, and direct teachings from the monastery’s abbot. Following our monastic retreat, students their own expedition phase, where they design a three-day itinerary as a capstone project. We say farewell to Thailand after arriving back in the bustling urban landscape of Bangkok.

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
Home Stay

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.

About Components