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Wednesday,  June 13

Today we jumped in with a full day ahead of us. Everybody had something scheduled in the morning, some of us had construction where we worked on the stage finishing cementing the front wall of the stage (four rows high). Others had English camp with the younger students, or a game rotation with the older kids where many quickly learned Hop-Scotch. Others on the team were able to learn a Traditional Thai dance and speak with some of the older students.
While the morning schedules came to an end, both students from the school and Youthlinc scattered around the vast mudded field and began their own separate games. While the few of our students played soccer with the school’s boys (which are very, very good at soccer) small circles were formed and a volley ball was tossed and hit to the members of the circle (another very impressive skills from the school’s students). Multiple trains of hand holding of our students and the school’s little children walking around the field, both smiling from ear to ear. To some surprise, the students of the school warmed up to Youthlinc participants rather quickly. Then the bell rang, the school’s students and Youthlinc students separated for lunch, all waving bye to each other.
Lunch came and went with tummies filled with a pad thai and papaya salad, where then afternoon shift began. Still with the same activities but new people shifting to different stations. New Youthlinc students rotated into English camp that our now with the older students, despite the confusion that occurred during the class time, it still turned out to be successful lessons. Construction of the stage took a step backwards when the wall was crooked, the afternoon team had to realign the wall (this was a bit embarrassing for us), but hopefully filling the pit will begin tomorrow. Plastering the school’s wall is almost to an end, yet they still need to go over it again with a sponge to smooth out the surface. The sign for the school was taken over by the village locals, to whom we are grateful for, but they still required our aid. We found this out when all our students were all loaded up on the buses and trucks, about to leave the school to go back to the hostel, when one truck got suckered into helping out mixing cement and pouring into the “trough” for the sign. We used our classic assembly line to pass buckets of cement down and up, the same with water and rocks. The truck stayed a lot later and got back just in time for dinner, but the complaining was kept to a minimum. We also got to see an afterschool soccer game that occurred between the school’s boys that stayed behind to play. Cheers roared when anyone scored a goal.
However, before our students staying behind to help the wall, some of the team went on home visits, one of the team’s favorite parts about the trip so far. There were also a few students who went a little way down the road to a home in a nook of the village, where they helped the local village women learn how to sew with sewing machines. We have been showing new sewing patterns and things to create. Many students bought the locally made traditional handbags, skirts, and shirts.
As always, we had a successful day that ended with a delicious dinner, a team meeting, and a good night’s sleep.

Thursday,  June 15

Another day has come and gone, isn’t is shocking how a productive day can fly by your eyes? Same stations took place today (construction, vocational, English camp, home visits, and dancing lessons), but filled with new people experiencing a new activity. The team was able to finish plastering the school wall, one of our three construction projects. While we still need to “finish the coat,” which is smoothing out our plastering with a wet sponge. The school’s sign is now a full-size brick wall, ready for plastering. The photo below is a photo of the wall through mid-day, not a photo of the finished product. Featuring one of our favorite in country coordinator, Pete.

The school’s stage is also still in progress; a second reinforcement wall has been placed behind the slightly curved main wall for the stage, the mix of wall pieces and endless buckets full of sand are now half way fill the stage’s “belly” that are now ready for the mix of cement (and most likely more sand…).
Another cultural conversation lesson happened in the morning with a large group of the Youthlinc students. While Youthlinc students were taught some of the traditional Thai dance from a few of the school’s students and the head of in country coordinator group, Jim, one of our students, in-return, taught them the basic ballet positions. Both in the morning and afternoon, we had two vocational teams drive over the hut where the local women were continuing learn to sew, today they worked and created pillow cases. During that time, the jewelry station was also set up to allow the women and students, who don’t know how to sew, to build jewelry. Many came back with newly created bracelets and anklets. Many members also came back with locally made traditional loomed bags, skirts, and shirts once again.
English camp went so well today. In the morning session, there are five Youthlinc teachers who have the lovely opportunity of teaching the younger students from the school. The teachers would rotate through six classes. While five teachers were teaching, the other class was having “Game Time” either inside the gathering hall or outside playing soccer. Each of the six classes had a constant Youthlinc student with them, they job title was Group Leader. Many English lesson are very creative, one in particular consisted of easier words for younger students to understand like “dog,” “smile,” and “roll.” After teaching the kids from the cards, the kids would pick out a random card and try to act it out, like charades. Despite some students being too shy to act it out, it is always a good feeling whenever they would say the words. Most teachers feel this way. Through the rotation of the six classes, it did become apparent that in the later classes that the students were tired and burned out from all the new English words being thrown out at them. If I was in their place, I know for a fact I would be feeling the same way.
After lunch, which was not the soup of blood clumps and was instead a light coconut milk soup, English Camp continued but with the older children of the school. I assumed they ranged from 11 to 15 years old. I switched places from being a teacher to a group leader, where I stuck with the same group of kids. In that aspect, I preferred the ability to stay with the same group of students. Where then I became very endeared to my group. As I listened and helped with each teacher’s lessons, I saw lessons of superheroes, textures where slim was made, insects, dehydration, and number games. I still am in awe at the fact how fast my group caught onto each lesson with the words, the concepts, and games. Yet, perhaps I am a little biased…
Even though they are still children who laugh and goof around, I want to take notice about the amount of respect they have for their peers, teachers, and foreigners. They politeness is astonishing, and I can’t but not help to compare it to America in some manners. By the end of the day, where the whole school lines up for their “ending ceremony,” the school’s actually teachers ask them to thank their teachers for the day. They all angle their bodies to us and say “Thank you teachers.” In response, we say “Thank you students.”
I find myself at every end of the day car ride back to the hostel with uncontrollable smile.