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15 posts categorized "Khon Kaen Global"

Updates from the crew!!!

The next part of our blog will be pictures and updates from students, enjoy!


After our week of Thai class and human rights discussions, we decided to use our free time to go out on the town! In Thai culture, the social lives of young people revolve around central meeting areas such as the mall. Embracing this fact, we chose to go to Central Plaza Mall on Saturday. There, we saw a movie, played in the arcade, and experienced the hustle and bustle of youthful Khon Kaen. Later in the afternoon, we walked over to the city shrine across the street. We read our fortunes and enjoyed the park. Once it got dark, we took an open-air Tuk Tuk taxi from Central to the famous Walking Street night market. I've never seen so much food in one area in my life! They had everything from pancakes to squid, sushi to chicken, and Thai tea to Thai toast. Local artisans made hand-crafted goods while other vendors displayed and sold clothes, shoes, practically everything! It was a sight to be seen for sure. After a successful day and quick ride back to the U-Center, we went back to the dorms to rest and get ready for the next day at the waterpark...

--Morgan Bakinowski

Luke blog

Today we took a trip north to Nong Khai near the border with Laos. We got to see large statues at Salakaeoku and walked along the Mekong River where we ate a traditional Isaan meal at a floating restaurant.

--Luke Mulcahy



DEER reader,5
Today we went to the Khon Kaen Zoo which featured deer. The zoo was ZOOper cool! We slithered on to the King Cobra Village and watched Thai snake boxing. We had oodles of fun eating noodles on the way to Ubonrat Dam.
We had dam fun! Our experience seeing the Ubonrat Dam Buddha was completely zen! To THAI it up, we discovered that we Khon KAEN do anything!

--Lily Masson

On July 20th the group had an exciting day of Thai class, including a scavenger hunt at a local market. Everyone had the chance to practice our Thai with the local vendors using phrases like "lót" for "discount" and "thõa-rài" for "how much".  We had a specific list of objects to find for a decent price in a limited amount of time. Each group looked thoroughly to find each object and return to the checkpoint in time. Ajaan Nid Noi and Ajaan Jeab took the class out for ice-cream at Mister Lee's to announce the winners and to have a delicious ("à-ròi") treat. Group 2 ended up winning a pizza as their prize for finding the most objects in a decent amount of time. Later in the day, the class discussed a reading we analyzed called "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack," by Peggy McIntosh, for homework. The group sat in a circle on the ground and shared our thoughts on how the article made us feel and any other opinions we had while scanning the article. After class, everyone was reminded about the trip to Rasi Salai for the weekend where we will have the chance to ask questions in relation to the Dam. Everyone is very excited to find out who our host family will be for the weekend and to speak to the locals of Rasi Salai. 

Katie 3
Katie 3
Katie 3
Katie 3


Today we discussed the logistics of the community stay and the English Camp that are both coming up. We have planned details through discussing different effective methods of teaching and taking the environment into consideration. We will be visiting the community to understand more about the issues the dam has caused for the wetlands and livelihood of the locals in Rasi Salai. This will allow us to make the English Camp more effective and educate the youth about the environment around them.

--Lauren White


First day of the English camp and the kids taught me just as much as I taught them!

--Jacqueline Kent-Morrison


Thursday, July 27th was the second day of our Environmental English Camp. We began the day with a 30 minute exercise which lead into breakfast. After a quick review of the vocabulary from the day before, the kids participated in a talent show. It was really fun to see all the different performances. Shortly after, the children left for their schools and we headed back to Khon Kaen. 

--Jackie Buczkowski

Welcome to Khon Kaen!

Yesterday was our first full day in Khon Kaen. We had orientation in the morning along with Thai culture and etiquette, followed by a lovely tour of the city guided by P'Pan, a Khon Kaen native. We  chartered a local form of transportation called a song taew, a covered truck with two benches in the back, a popular way to navigate the city because of its convenience and inexpensiveness.

We visited the 9 Story Temple, or Wat Nong Waeng, in Khon Kaen. Luck was in our favor as we just missed the daily torrential monsoon while out on our tour. 


Here we are practicing the graab that Aj. Nidnoi and Aj. Tony taught us in Thai etiquette. The graab is a type of bow that is used to pay respect to the image of Buddha.


This is the Khon Kaen skyline as seen from the top of the 9 story temple.


Welcome to Khon Kaen everyone!

Meet your Session 2 Program Leader: Sam Ryals




I'm Sam Ryals and I'm excited to be your program leader for Session 2 in Khon Kaen, Thailand. I studied in Khon Kaen during my junior year of college, after graduation I worked with CIEE Khon Kaen for two years and lived in Khon Kaen for a total of three years.

I'm from Oregon, but recently moved to Vermont. I like to read and listen to podcasts, I've traveled a bit around SE Asia and love seeing new places. Isaan (the NE region of Thailand) is a very special place to me and I'm excited to share it with all of you.

Safe travels and see you soon!


The End

Students arrive back home safe and sound today after an incredible 3 weeks and 36 long hours of traveling! Our last week together was filled to the brim with camping in a national park, shopping for last minute souvenirs, and enjoying each other's company and reflections on the program. We shared a last dinner together with staff members and participated in a Laos traditional ceremony called the "bai see". Students and staff tied pieces of string around each other's wrists to allow their souls to safely travel back with them home.

I think it's fair to say that every student was awed, challenged, and more than pleased with their experience. It was definitely a learning experience for everyone, and I was pleasantly surprised at the group effort everyone put in to make this an incredible trip. I'm sure these students will remember this experience forever, and hopefully will make it back to Thailand one day!

English Camp in Na Nong Bong

This past weekend students were once again in their homestays in Na Nong Bong, having returned to work with the community youth group on running an English camp for the village youth. The camp was an opportunity for kids from different parts of the community to come together to learn about local foods in their environment and building leaders and relationships with each other. The kids played games that helped them learn English vocabulary and that required them to work together towards a common goal, cooked lunch together using local ingredients, and danced to their favorite music. 

Our students worked hard the week before to plan activities and come up with a plan for how to teach the younger kids, and they executed it all so well! There were scavenger hunts, races, songs, charades, and plenty of other fun games and activities. With only less than a week left here on the program, the students are already missing their homestay families and will always remember the friendships they made with the youth group and with the younger kids at the camp. Despite the language barrier, they were able to communicate so much and have so much fun sharing their experiences!


Na Nong Bong Village - Written by Sierra Schweitzer

Our first few nights in the village were indescribable. Within our first couple hours in Na Nong Bong we had already traipsed through the rice patty fields, hiked through their rubber tree grove, and climbed the mountain next to the village that has suffered the most from gold mining. Everything new we tried was more extraordinary than the last, and eventually I found myself enraged by the fact mining was one by one destroying each one of these resources unique to the Isaan region of Thailand. My host mom, meh Rote, I learned is the leader of the Radical Grandma Collective and absolutely everything about her screams equity and activism. I think I saw her on only one occasion not wearing a t-shirt correlating to anti-mining or human rights causes. Although communicating was very frustrating, as we left Na Nong Bong this morning I couldn't help but read her eyes and feel that she knew of my admiration.

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My peers and I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to see legal action first hand in Thailand, and I was one of two who actually sat in during their court hearing against the mining company. Not only was this experience awesome, but I feel like it did an incredible job helping me wrap my mind around the villagers' struggle for rights. It was the little things that I seemed to be captivated by in Na Nong Bong like the delicious eggs laid by chickens whom probably walked past me (seeing that they are entirely free ranged), or the feeling of love that I got from eating on the tiled floor with my host meh and new friends. Our last night my friends and I ran through the forest to the rice patty field as a dozen local kids chased after us. We ran through the fields as the sun was setting and took in as much as we possibly could: the green vegetation that was glowing gold, layers of overlapping mountains in the distance, and workers finishing up their harvest for the day. The village home stay was dramatically different from what we had gotten to know in Khon Kaen, but taught me to challenge misconceptions on privilege and poverty in developing countries. 

Weekend Adventures - Written by Victoria Hume

Our weekend journeys can be described as adventurous and a beneficial learning experience. On Saturday we left early in the morning to the temple "Wat Thung Setti", which we learned was actually a series of beautiful temples and shrines. When I saw the grand watt (or Temple) at Watt Thung Setti, I was in disbelief that I was really standing 1000 feet away from it. It seemed like a palace straight out of a Disney movie. The beautiful gold, blue, and white colors reflected off the water and lillypads surrounding the watt. Monks arrived to enter the Grand Temple and we greeted them with a traditional wai and "sa-wad-dee-ka." The whole environment of Watt Thung Setti was so peaceful and quiet, with happy looking dogs strutting around everywhere. A friendly native showed us along the road which lead to other temples, and I felt at ease as the wind ruffled the leaves of the palm trees that dotted the horizon.

When we finished our time at Watt Thung Setti we took a taxi to Central plaza, a mall that all our Thai teachers have raved about, and ate lunch. Then we explored around the Khon Kaen University campus, stopping first at The Natural Art and Culture Museum. My favorite museum was the Natural History Museum which had a lot of interactive exhibits and dinosaurs, a popular symbol of Khon Kaen. We wanted to go to the KKU complex, so we asked a museum worker how to get there and she kindly drew a map of where to go. I've found that it's amazing how kind and caring people here are towards us; everyone seems willing to help us despite any language barrier. After shopping for souvenirs and cold drinks at the KKU complex we walked back to our dorms and rested. In the evening we headed out to the KKU night market, despite the heavy monsoon rain. However when we got there much of it was rained out but some venders were still there and the glowing street lanterns welcomed us in the rain.

On Sunday we headed out to this city in the northern part of Thailand close to Loas, called Nong Khai, which was three hours away from the university. We took various forms of transportation in which drivers spoke the bare amount of English. This made navigation a little difficult, but I think we all learned to trust and adapt to our surroundings more. Once in Nong Khai we went to a ancient sculpture garden. The striking greenery against the tall detailed marble Buddha statues were captivating. There were several stores selling good luck trinkets and other souvenirs. I asked a shop keeper in English with a mixture of Thai about the charms and she happily answered, giving me a free good luck bracelet out of kindness.

We then ventured to the temple Phra Aram Luang Wat Pho Chai, navigating by foot using the tip of the watt that we could see from the horizon. Walking through the gates of the Watt it seemed quiet, with only a distant sound of a women speaking Thai in the background. We took off our shoes and walked up the yellow steps of the watt. Looking up it had a red shingled roof with intricate designed religious statues in gold and blue. Once we walked inside the watt we found a lot of people worshipping and praying. Monks sat on cushions and people talked to them, perhaps asking for advice. A large golden statue of a Buddha with surrounding paintings of religious stories covered the walls of the watt. After exploring inside the watt we traveled down the steep steps to the venders who were selling flowers to offer the gods and cold drinks. My friends and I had cold coffee and fruit drinks, and sat in the shade accompanied by a few street dogs and people. I didn't want to leave Nong Khai as there was so much more to see and the people made me feel so welcome, but we had to travel back to make curfew.

In reflection of this weekend: I know we grew as a group to be a strong team no matter what obstacle we faced, and I feel so privileged with all the beautiful new experiences I encountered.







Practicing Thai Through Cooking

How do you say "not spicy" again? Students had the opportunity to take a Thai cooking class, learning how to make a traditional Isaan regional dish called "Tom Yum". After a demonstration on how to prepare each ingredient, they got to practice and enjoy each other's delicious dishes while learning the Thai name for each spice and vegetable. Maybe now they will be able to make it for their friends and family at home!


Tasting the final product!





Watching the chef during his demonstration.

What Is a Human Right?

Over the past 3 days, students have been watching documentaries, participating in discussions, and working together in activities at the study center! In preparation for going into the community and exchanging with villagers, they are being challenged to discuss topics such as human rights, environmental rights and policy, and the science and policy behind mining in Thailand. 

It has been so inspiring to hear everyone eagerly sharing their unique opinions and working together to create plans and ideas! Everyone is really looking forward to meeting their homestay families and get a better understanding of village life and the effects of gold mining on this community. 




Seeing the sights

Yesterday students experienced the city through riding on the back of a song-teow (Thailand public transportation) during a city tour! We rode through the Khon Kaen University campus, stopped at the city shrine downtown to get our fortunes told, and climbed the steps of the tallest temple in Khon Kaen for a beautiful panoramic view. And a little monsoon weather didn't hold us back - it was pouring rain when we left!

Filled with ideas of places to visit and explore during their free time, the students are taking their first Thai language course today and will have their first sessions on Environmental Science and Policy.


At the city shrine getting our fortunes read.


Enjoying the view from the temple!


Smile, it's your first song-teow ride together as a group!


Group photo at the Khon Kaen city shrine, after the rain finally stopped.