We had another inspirational season of study and service groups and specialized groups that fall into an ever growing niche of young adults and people that are willing to go outside of their comfort zone to learn about the local culture in a sustainable way. It is also becoming popular to give back when travelling and we are happy to facilitate meaningful, sustainable and positive service projects for groups, always ensuring that projects fulfill the direct needs of our local community partners. The groups got to know the “people and the place” along the Andaman coast, relishing in an authentic experience that brings people together, creating memorable experiences that can be shared back home. This encourages more people to travel with a greater sense of cultural and environmental awareness.
Take a look at these driven groups and what they have contributed! Andaman Discoveries can customize programs for learning, service, cultural or personal objectives. If you are interested in these customized study and service trips, https://www.andamandiscoveries.com/thailand-hands-on-service-tours/ )
Hilversum School from the Netherlands
Coming back for their seventh year for the Community and Service work program the Hilversum school has been fostering relationships with the Burmese Learning Center and the homestay village of Ban Tale Nok. This year they focused on education and the beautiful of school grounds. For the service project at the Burmese Learning Center, they made a roof extension from the classrooms to the bathroom so the students would stay dry when they needed to use the bathroom during the six months of the rainy season. Why is this important? Students were catching colds and the flu from getting wet when they needed to sue the bathroom. The Burmese migrant population does not have access to good healthcare or money to send their sick children to the doctor. The teachers wanted to create a long term solution to this problem by making the roof extension so that the students stay dry throughout the day. They also made three vegetable gardens and planted kale, morning glory, galangal and lemongrass. These are essential vegetables and cooking ingredients for families. The Burmese students are responsible for taking care of the garden and will be able to pick the vegetables and herbs to bring back to their families to use for making meals. Hilversum also put on a two day English camp for four local Thai government schools in the Kurauburi area. English camps are extremely popular and foster confidence, interactive English lessons and creativity for the Thai students. However, English camps are expensive and local government schools do not have the budget or western English teaching staff to facilitate camps. We are happy to have connected Hilversum with local Thai government schools so that the English camps can now happen on a yearly basis. The camp allowed for fun interactive English rotations and the Thai student’s quickly broke out of their shy shells and became confident when learning the English. Hilversum also returned to Ban Talae Nok Village for some cultural integration. They made Thai snacks, fished on the beach, made soap, wove Nippa Palm Roof panels, took a trip to the white sand beaches of the Gam islands and of course, enjoyed delicious southern Thai meals with their hosts.
“This was an amazing trip! fully submerged in such a rural area and getting along with their everyday activities was a once in a lifetime experience!”
“The village was very cozy and a great way to see another side of Thailand. I greatly appreciate that the families took us in, they were very friendly and helpful. The BLC and the camp were great because we also got to interact with the local kids.”
“So open en friendly!”
“A second family in Thailand”
“An eye opening experience”
“In Ban Tale Nok, it was great meeting the local people and sharing different cultures”
Good Travel, USA
We were happy to continue our second year of collaboration with Good Travel. Good Travels amazing ethical mindset focuses on traveling with the purpose of giving back and sustaining the local environment. They generously give a 100 dollar donation per participant to a local project. They graciously allocated the donation money to the Burmese Learning Center that our North Andaman Foundation supports. We were happy to put together a program that encompassed these standards by using eco-certified resorts, local community groups for cultural excursions and homestays. Within these elements we made sure to always think responsibly, implementing the “reduce-reuse- recycle” concept during the programs. For example day lunches were packed in banana leaves instead of Styrofoam containers. The group began with a trip to the refreshing Sri Phang Nga National Park waterfall and then headed to Kuraburi for overnights at the eco-friendly Greenview Resort. To learn moe about the local culture they visited a local temple in Kuraburi and talked with the head monk about Buddhism and meditation to teach the group how to slow down, only use what is needed and how to find happiness from within. They participated in a celebration at the Burmese Learning Center that focused on supporting student education and students that had made great academic achievement. The group also went to Ban Talae Nok Village to immerse in cultural activities like making Batik, soap and tasty Thai snacks. Before heading to Khao Lak for some relaxing beach time, the group did a one day trip to the Surin islands with the Moken Tourism Team. Our Moken guide Nin welcomed them into the Moken village, sharing stories about their cultural heritage and current situation.
“Our guide Tui from andamandiscoveries was one of the warmest, sweetest guides I ever had the pleasure of working with. Her smile could light up a room and her sassiness made us all laugh”
Brittish International School Phuket, Thailand
This year BIS sent us two groups. The first was older students and it focused on service learning and cultural immersion. The students participated in a coastal habitat conservation project with a local community group. They assisted the group in making artificial fish habitat for the mangrove ecosystem to promote healthy fish populations. The group stayed overnight in Ban Talae Nok village with homestay families and participated in local cultural activities.
The second group went for the second year to Ta Ding Daeng Village located near Khao Lak. The village offers impressive eco-tourism day trips that involve learning about the village history and kayaking along the mangrove eco-system. BISP students also did a beach clean up to help the environment. We are always happy to see school groups return to the same communities as it allows for long term relationships and sustainability.
American School of Hague, Netherlands
Each year the American School of Hague does a week long service project with our partners at the Foundation for Education and Development. We have been privileged to plan their end of program excursion. The fun part is that they sponsor Burmese students to participate in the excursion as well. They take about 25 Burmese students from the Unified Learning Center. The Burmese students would never have the money or opportunity to take a 3 day vacation, so it is really a special initiative. The group went to Khao Sok National park and stayed at a nice resort. They did a fun canoeing activity with a community group, hung out at the resort to play board games and visited the beautiful floating bungalows at Cheow Lan lake that is lined with limestone cliffs and jungle. It was inspiring to see the group of 50 Burmese and ASH students bond and form lifelong friendships.