This past week two other teachers and I had the pleasure of chaperoning 27 juniors on a week long field trip to Khao Yai National Park in Thailand. The area was gorgeous, and we got to do some pretty incredible things. Some of our students had never been on a hike before, and it was well worth the trip to see them enjoying some time outdoors. They were able to experience kayaking, rock climbing, zip-lining, hiking, swimming under a waterfall, sleeping in a dorm, and even volunteering at an elephant conservation center.
While exhausting to be "on duty" from Monday at 5 AM to Friday at 11:00 PM, I would do this trip again in a heartbeat. I had a blast myself, and I learned so much about my students. Quite a valuable experience!
My personal favorite part of the trip was the morning we spent at the Thai Elephant Research and Conservation Fund. We were able to meet some rescued elephants and learn about the work being done by the group to protect wild elephants and ensure better treatment of the animals used for tourist attractions all over Thailand. The kids got to help make elephant dung paper, which os then painted on and sold at gift shops to raise money for the Fund. In addition to meeting a couple of adorable elephants, our group was lucky enough to be there on a day where a local orchestra comprised of children with multiple disabilities was preforming a small concert for the main Bangkok news station. They played a couple traditional Thai songs and part Bach's Canon in D Major. You can read an article about the group here. It was a very moving experience that brought tears to my eyes--and even a few of my students'.
As part of our trip, we got to hike through part of the Khao Yai National Park with an experienced ranger. We were not lucky enough to see any wild mammals (though we did see elephant tracks), but we did get to see some amazing plant life. The middle picture of our group below was taken in front of a tree estimated at 500 years old. We also some some very interesting, very large spiders. Thankfully, no vipers or pythons.