Countries I’ve traveled to:
Austria, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Kenya, Malaysia, Spain, Thailand, Netherlands
Languages I speak:
Portuguese (beginner), Thai (conversational), American Sign Language (intermediate)
Thank you to the tons of you who believed in me and the mission of Team Grace enough to contribute. And, thank you to my sister Grace, whom I will always look up to. Grace, so you were born with a life-threatening heart defect, but after four surgeries in 16 years I see that your heart is a role model for my own; strong, resiliant, courageous, creative and compassionate. Grace, you are my hero more than you know.
PICTURES OF THE EVENT
(Click below, then on “Slideshow” top left.)
(This video was played at the Lousiville IronMan closing Awards Ceremony –they interviewed a few athletes before the event…I made the final cut!) click here
(The Courier Journal, Louisville)
In 2008, I had the amazing privilege to serve the U.S. and Thai governments cooperatively, as a Fulbright Scholar. I was one of 1,450 United States citizens and one of seven University of Louisville students to receive a Fulbright Scholarship that year. My role in Thailand was that of a cultural ambassador: working to help create, maintain, and strengthen mutual understanding. Perhaps mutual understanding among the people of this Earth is the most important thing we can do to promote a more peaceful world.
This is a short video I made to remember that experience.
Some pictures from traveling in southern Thailand. The journey began in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where we couchsurfed (http://www.couchsurfing.com/) with a friendly guy and local KL native, Shkib. We then traveled to the islands of Koh Phi Phi, Koh Samui, and Koh Phangan in southern Thailand. Absolutely beautiful.
(A photograph of our guide on our longtail boat journey.We first snorkeled with black-tip sharks –I swam with about 20 or so. Then we did cliff jumping, some more snorkeling at Maya Bay, and watched the sunset over the water as we returned to the island for dinner.)
(Go CARDS! This shirt was actually quite popular in parts of Thailand. The front was written in Thai so I never understood the meaning, but the back is understandable. I loved the feeling of pride in seeing the symbol the University of Louisville and the feeling that perhaps I am helping to change the world by teaching abroad, I got everytime I saw this shirt.)
Contemplating a Better World through Cross-cultural Education
Chook dii (good luck and best wishes)
Two weeks ago included an unexpectedly adventurous weekend in Chiang Mai. On Wednesday morning, P’Tor the director of the English Deparment at PCC, Alicia, Kirsten, and I went to Mae Fah Luang University for a presentation titled “Teaching English to Young Learners” by a woman from Maryland. That afternoon, the school was cleared out of all students, for it was scout week –yep, you read correctly, boy scouts and girl scouts. We decided to take advantage of a few days off work and headed to Chiang Mai (about three and a half hours by bus).
On Thursday we arranged to join a tour about an hour outside of the city. We were picked up from our hostel in the city around 9am. We returned to the hostel around 6pm wet, cold, and excited about all that we experienced during our adventurous day outdoors. We visited an Akha tribe village, rode elephants through the mountains (while feeding them bananas and sugar cane), hiked to a waterfall, played with slingshots, went white water rafting, and went bamboo rafting (which was more like bamboo wading, seeing as how we were submerged in water).
(first stop, Akha village)
(feeding sugar cane from on top of the father elephant –notice how he stores the sugar cane, until we give him more)
In other news, we crazily enough rented a motorbike for the month. We weighed our options and decided it was a more convenient and cheaper alternative to bargaining with tuk tuk drivers. Bella, as we call her is pretty suave if I do say so myself. Don’t worry mom and dad we are wearing helmets every time we ride.
(photo: Brad and I on the motorbike)
(photo: unexpected animal crossing)
(photo: riding north to the border –near Chiang Rai Rajahbat University)
We headed for Chiang Rai on the 2nd of January. The bus ride from Bangkok was an eleven-hour journey. Settling in was easy enough. Below are pictures of the house we live in and the school. I meant to post these ages ago.
(photo: I have been describing our house as an open-air cabin, here you can see what I mean)
(photo: the bedroom. Backgound: that’s right, Louisville IronMan poster!, ear-x-tacy stickers, yoga mat, and photos of family and friends)
(photo: going downstairs –a cat actually came into the house through that hole the other day)
(photo: looking into the bathroom. I actually took this picture to capture the creature –moth, colorful bat, kite, we’re not sure– chilling out on the bathroom door. We share our house with nature *wink.)
(photo: Main entrance to the school.)
(photo: view from the courtyard of the main school building -four floors, two sides)
(photo: overlooking the pond, in the background is the gym/cafeteria)
(photo: basketball and volleyball courts)
(photo: ping pong area)
(photo: skyline in the back of campus)
So, remember the time I got helplessly lost in Chiang Rai the day I bought my bicycle. A man named Bomb was kind enough to drive me home, and this very man turned out to be the owner of a language school in town called New Zealand Educational Services (NES). To make a long story short, because of that eventful evening, I now volunteer at NES School teaching about 20 hours a week. On Saturdays we teach a group of five Thai women, each of whom are in their mid to late 40s and are nurses at Chiang Rai Hospital. I have such a great time on Saturdays because the women are very witty and interested in using conversational English in meaningful ways. Our first Saturday teaching the class went great. After the class, we ended up hanging out with Bomb and the rest of the staff at NES. That night we went with the staff to the Food Festival being held at the old airport in Chiang Rai.
Yesterday, two Israeli school administrators came to visit and observe PCC. In addition, two administrators from Mahidol School near Bangkok came to PCC. Today, P’Wan (one of the directors at my school), P’Al (a teacher in the English Dept), the three Americans (Kirsten, Alicia, and myself), and the four guests traveled to Doitung. We visited the temple, the flower gardens, and the palace. Some years ago, the King’s mother started the Doitung project. In the mountains near Chiang Rai, opium was being produced, exported, and consumed. The King’s mother created an amazing place where hill tribe people now maintain gardens, produce viable crops, make clothing, and produce other handicrafts. The palace at Doitung is the most exquisite log cabin, of Thai-Swiss influence, imaginable. Absolutely stunning –a cabin in the mountains so beautiful it would have brought my father to tears.
[photo (form left): me, Kirsten, Alicia, P’Wan]
[photo: outside of the King’s mother’s cabin at Doitung]
[photo: view from the balcony (off the living room) in the palace]