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IB CAS Student's Reflection on Thailand Service Trip

As part of the IB CAS Service trip to Thailand, Year 12 students volunteered at the Bae Mae Lid school. Here Esmay Drieduite tells us what she learnt from the experience.

This experience was unforgettable, words can't describe how much I have learned from this and how it has changed my outlook on life. Visiting Bae Mae Lid and helping out in and around the local school has taught me a lot of things.

One of the things which was most memorable was the fact that the people in Bae Mae Lid were so unbelievably happy and welcoming, despite not having much. I will never forget this one moment, where I gave a little girl just a small hair clip, and it made her day, she was so happy and excited. Seeing the smile on her face, showed me the significance of helping out, it makes you realize that there are so many people in the world who don't have much and that by giving or doing the smallest things you can help them a lot.

Also, when we were teaching the kids Mandarin and English, you could see that they were eager to learn, they were so thankful for having the opportunity to go to school, and that is something we really don't realize when we go to school, that it is a privilege and not a given. I think if I am honest, if you compare the attitudes of the children in our school to those at Bae Mae Lid, I would say they deserve to go to school more than we do.

Lack of education is still a major issue in so many places all over the world, but I'm happy I got to help out at Bae Mae Lid, even if it was only a tiny bit, and it has inspired me to want to do more in order to help kids around the world get the opportunity to get an education.

Teaching these kids was difficult at first, we had come up with a lesson plan, but the kids didn't speak any English or Mandarin and our amount of Thai speakers was limited. We learned that even though you can plan a lesson, as a teacher you will always have to adapt to different levels and different situations.

Seeing the major differences between the lives that the kids at Bae Mae Lid lead and my life has really opened my eyes and it has made me realize that we have absolutely nothing to complain about. The lives we live in the 'Western world' are not even close to reality for the kids in Bae Mae Lid.

Also, it was sometimes difficult to see how much the people of the school and the villages were doing for us, while you feel like you shouldn't be taking so much from them, because they don't have a lot. For example, when we went into the village to have dinner at some of the kids' homes, the mother would prepare so much food for us. I thought it was difficult to just eat all that food, because it felt like I was eating all their food, but at the same time I wanted to be polite and show them how much I actually liked their food. So you have to learn to forget about people's financial situation and accept their hospitality, because in the end that is what they appreciate the most.

This experience has changed my view on life, and it has made me realize how materialistic and spoiled a lot of children are in the West. Of course, we don't have to give up the way we live, but we should really become more aware of the things in life which are more important, we should learn to prioritize things like family and friends and I think if you ever get the opportunity to experience anything like this, everyone should grab it with both hands because I honestly can't put into words how it has changed my feelings about almost everything. We can learn so much from people who are less privileged than we are, because they evidently are better able to see what is important in life. 

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