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Floral beauty at Chiang Mai’s 34th Flower Festival

Reaching Out to the Community

Bike for Elephants first ever event raised 250,000 baht

 

Floral beauty at Chiang Mai’s 34th Flower Festival

 

Reaching Out to the Community

Students from Nongplaman village primary school rejoice as they reach the top of Doi Inthanon on their field trip sponsored by Prem Visiting Schools Program.

By Susan Kieliszewski
The Prem Center Visiting Schools Program at Prem Tinsulanonda International School had the pleasure of extending a helping hand to their neighbors at Nongplaman village primary school recently.

Students field test water at a mountain stream on Doi Inthanon

The Visiting Schools Program (VSP) is a department within The Prem Center that hosts student groups visiting Northern Thailand. VSP facilitates outdoor education, community service, team building, and many other activities for youths aged from nine to eighteen years of age. International schools from countries all over the world stay on the Prem Center campus while fulfilling curriculum requirements, which increasingly include community service projects.
For Nongplaman project, Prem staff and students and Nongplaman teachers raised funds in many ways, including the design, printing and selling of special postcards, VSP staff member Becca Haack raised funds from sponsors of her marathon running campaign. All contributed to enable thirty-seven Year Six and Year Seven students to participate in a special two-day environmental education trip to Doi Inthanon.
VSP was able to provide Nongplaman School with an overnight trip that included accommodation, meals, outdoor activities, science lessons and transportation. The trip to Doi Inthanon exposed Thai students to sites and out-of-school activities that the school administration cannot provide.
Over their hot bowls of ‘jok’ early Tuesday morning, Nongplaman students were delighted to feel the brisk air flowing over them. Upon reaching the summit many students, who had never experienced the sights and climate of Doi Inthanon, expressed their great surprise at the drop in temperature. Needless to say this didn’t prevent them from wading into the icy waters that run along the mountain’s slope.
Students searched for macro-invertebrates, and tested water quality at different locations to assess the effects altitude and distance from sources can make. Students used measurements and site analysis to determine causes of slope depletion on the ever-changing mountainside. The teachers were particularly pleased to see the students applying classroom lessons from mathematics and science to outside experiences. Discussions based around farming methods in cool climates were also accompanied by a visit to the local Karen hill tribe village. Students were provided with activity booklets to record their data for future reference. VSP staff members were on hand to lead activities along with written and group reflections that allowed the students to vocalize what the trip meant to them and the significance of our ecological environment. Students don’t often have the opportunity to leave the four walls of the classroom and their teachers are now planning to follow-up the two-day trip with further water testing at river sites near their school.
Local Thai schools are usually open to community service projects, particularly in the more rural locations. Support given from international schools, through Prem’s Visiting Schools Program, has included building classrooms and bathroom stalls, painting, providing stationary, donating shoes and student scholarships. VSP has worked with public schools in Chiang Dao, Mae Hong Son, Mae Malai, Mae Rim, Mae Taeng and Samoeng. With the lack of government funding available to schools, particularly for extra-curricular excursions, VSP wants to provide Thai schools with more than just on-site projects by sponsoring annual trips for underfunded Thai schools in the community.
In the future VSP plans to continue offering low-cost and supplemented trips for local and underprivileged schools. The VSP staff would like to thank everyone who chose to sponsor students during the fundraisers and volunteer support staff during the trip. The Nongplaman project would not have been a success without community support!


Bike for Elephants first ever event raised 250,000 baht

The Bike for Elephants tour raised 250,000 baht for the Bring the Elephant Home group to help elephants live in nature.

By Antoinette van de Water of Bring the Elephant Home
During the first weekend of February 2010 Bring the Elephant Home held its first Bike for Elephants event. A two day adventure and fun filled tour through Mae Tang valley, in Chiang Mai province. With the event, Bring the Elephant Home was able to raise 250,000 baht for the Elephant Nature Park and create more awareness about the plight of Thai elephants. The money will be used to extend the Park, to make sure more elephants can have a natural life in the future.
Bike for Elephants was joined by 50 Thai and international participants and volunteers, ages ranging from 2 years to 64 years old and many different nationalities. All with the same purpose: to create a better future for Thai elephants. Besides two days of biking (81 km in total) the bikers camped in the Elephant Nature Park, with campfires, local music, many inspiring stories and of course elephant bathing and feeding. Most participants live in Thailand, but for many this was the first time to observe free roaming elephants living in family groups. The combination of working hard during the bike ride, spending time together with elephants in nature and making a difference for Thai elephants created a very positive atmosphere. Everybody agreed that if they can, they will participate again next year.
If you are interested in Bike for Elephants 2011, please keep an eye on: http://www.bring-the-elephant-home.nl/bike-tour-en/en

50 tired bikers really enjoyed the fundraising journey.