Vanessa Manual is a Youthlinc Service Year Student and Team Blogger on the 2017-18 Southern Utah Thailand Team. For the latest updates, be sure to follow our blog and social media – Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram!

The southern Utah Thailand team has conquered many rain storms while sporting new style panchos.  With positive attitudes, nothing is stopping this team from helping the school and villagers.  With rain storms being a daily occurrence, some flooding has occurred.  Many team members were able to help the flooded areas by delivering sand bags to them.  Process continues to be made with widening the kitchen.  We took many wheelbarrows full of rocks to the shore as they will be recycled into future projects for the villagers. As many English lessons are being taught, the students’ interactions are showing the brightest of smiles. Many students are falling in love with home visits as it allows the team members the opportunity to ask questions to the locals and have meaningful conversations.  Some of the topics discussed during the visits are their families, an average day in their lives, and what they know about America.  Cultural exchange is huge here as Thai people are fascinated by Americans.  We got to explore the market today with exotic smells and taster we bought from local vendors and able to see how many villagers make a living.  Our in-country coordinator, Meaw, is working hard to make sure that we are contributing to the children learning.  She is also planning fun excursions for us in the coming days.  Today we all drenched from head to toe but “mai pen rai” we will have funny storied to tell when we return home.

Day four and we are starting to feel more at home.  The community has been so welcoming and each day we are eager to see the kids’ faces. Each day has something new in store for each and everyone of us. There’s elegance in the way we are all bonding, from dancing in the rain to dancing at the Café. We all seem to be complimenting each other really well as we are making amazing memories with the villagers.  Today the vocational committee taught women how to be self-sufficient as they are learning how to sew and bake. Also, the cement wall went up for the kitchen and we are all feeling tired but ambitious to give this school something that most people take for granted.  As we finished the day, the school students and teachers enjoyed playing football (soccer) with the service year students and seeing how much energy these kids truly have.  We explored a black sand beach and a backwoods forest.  It was exciting to explore the forest and to see the ocean view of Trat. At the end of each day as a team, we have reflections on the day and it keeps getting better and better.  Between the food and the interactions with each other, we are really enjoying the culture here and falling in love with everyone we meet.  In the coming days, we will focus on getting the mural painted, the kitchen done, and participating in the health and business fairs.