New Experiences – In the Nan Province of Thailand

By Jay Patterson, | July 2019 | traveling with partner Cross-Cultural Solutions

I had a lot of good experiences in the Nan Province of Thailand, especially teaching kids for four weeks. 

There are a couple of experiences I had that stand out to me. One was learning about how to make clothes by hand, using a bamboo machine which is also made by hand. They taught us first how to pick the cotton from the field, very hard work. Then they taught us how to deseed cotton by using this cool bamboo machine that you spin. Afterwards, you try to soften the cotton by shaking it with a stick and when it is soft, you roll it into a bundle. Then a bamboo wheel pulls the soft cotton into a thread to use for sewing clothes. If you want the thread to have colors, you use the leaves of trees as one of the ways to dye it. Once you have the tread done, they have this bamboo machine that helps you make clothes by actually doing it by hand and using your feet as well. 

What I learned that was interesting to me was that people who go to this place are mostly women doing a second job when they are not making enough money and when they have time to spare making clothes. But I also learned that it takes them 2 months to make one set of clothes by hand, and they make the patterns by hand which also makes their job a little bit harder.

Also, while I was there, I got to experience planting rice in a field. Let me tell you, it was a hard labor and humid. I was sweating a lot; my clothes were dirty and I smelled awful. I couldn’t imagine how they do it every single day at the field in such hot weather. But each day they do the same thing over and over without complaining, because it was the only way for them to make money and afford to feed their family even if it means hard labor. 

While gaining these experiences, I learned that Thai people go through a lot of hardship and hard work in order to make money to feed their family. This made me think that I am fortunate to have a good job in the USA and a house that I can sleep in every night. Sometimes we take things for granted and never think about other people that live in poor countries.

Going to Thailand made me think twice about how I live life and how I should do my best not to complain too much and be grateful for what I have.

In Thailand, I was happy because it opened up new things for me and taught me to be happy with what I have and never take things for granted. My trip overall was amazing and life changing in so many ways. I am so grateful for having had the opportunity and happy that I was able to teach the kids, even if it was for just four weeks. Honestly, I miss them, full of energy every morning that I showed up to teach them and eager to learn.

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