After visiting Ecuador in 2017, Cambodia in 2018, and Thailand in 2019, our 2020 project involves traveling to the California-Mexico border, where students will learn about the rich relationship and history between the cities of Tijuana and San Diego. Students will meet with border security guards and tour both sides of the border wall. Because Global to Local also focuses on spending time with grassroots change-makers who have identified a need in their own communities and worked towards solutions to address those needs, students will learn from local organizers who support refugees and immigrants who are seeking entry into the United States, as well as families that have been separated because of recent federal policy decisions.
Here we are in the final months of fundraising for our border study in San Diego and Tijuana. This can be a stressful time of year, as we work to make sure every detail is thought of, and the students are working hard to procure the last of the funds we need. Where would we be without the support of community organizations like Kiwanis of Newburgh?
Last week, Christian Molina attended the Kiwanis meeting, where he planned to update members of the organization about last year’s trip to Thailand, and Global to Local’s plan for this year. Christian is a returning traveler, which means that he applied and was selected to go on a second trip, and he has agreed to act as a mentor for the new cohort members. None of us had any idea that he would leave with a check to support the volunteer work of this year’s cohort, but Kiwanis never fails to amaze us with their generosity and dedication to the young people of this community. We extend our sincerest gratitude for their continued support!
While in Thailand, we went to a hill tribe village and we encountered an experience that was unforgettable. We got to this village not knowing anything about what we were going to do and we ended up being greeted by amazing kids that were grateful for everything around them. We were at the village for two days with the kids. The first day we got there, all the kids were super happy to see us. Our task was working on finishing a cement road for the village and the kids actually wanted to help us with it. We were shocked with how much the kids were willing to help. After all the work was done we decided to play with the kids. Volleyball and soccer were sports every kid at the hill tribe village enjoyed. After the first day of hard work and a magnificent time playing with the kids, we headed back to the lodge where we were staying at. The children seemed sad because they didn’t want to see us leave. The next day, we traveled back to the village where, thanks to our hard work, we had finished the road on the first day. When we arrived there, the kids were so happy that everyone came back and couldn’t wait to play and see what we were all going to do next. We were also very excited to be back and have anither opportunity to play with them.
The second day, unfortunately, was the last day we were able to spend with the kids. Before leaving on the second day, Christian and I said goodbye to the kids by handing out the bracelets we owned so the kids could remember them. We wore these bracelets throughout the whole year and brought them on our journey to Thailand as a parting gift for the children. Another way we said our goodbyes was by hugging all of the kids and by making up handshakes to remember. In return, the kids ended up giving everyone cards saying,”krub Khun Krab” meaning,thank you” showing that the kids were super thankful and happy that everyone came to visit their home. This village we visited left a heavy impact with us and with the kids left an unforgettable experience in our hearts. Our time with the kids was unforgettable because it gave us a new light on how people who have so little live life to the fullest and appreciate everything we take for granted.
Going to the insect museum was a very unexpected but great experience. We are both definitely not fans of bugs but we’re able to step out of our comfort zone and experience something really cool. Before going we were scared of tiny little bugs but found ourselves holding huge iguanas, lizards, scorpions and spiders and many more. Holding the spiders was definitely the scariest for me. Being able to feel the tiny little hairs on each eight legs sent shivers down my spine. When the workers there said that it may bite if you agitate it I almost freaked out but I knew these people were trained for their job and I’m glad I was able to experience it. If we had not gone to the museum and had this great experience, we might have not been able to build up the courage to hold these incredible animals and face our fears. Now having done this it doesn’t seem that bad at all. Not only were we able to face our greatest fears by holding these creatures we were able to learn about them too.
-by Grace and Alana
The walk in was about a mile through the jungle, as we walked Kim stopped and talked to us about how the caves were formed. He explained to us how the cave ceiling was the floor of a sea millions of years ago. As we explored the cave we saw different types of rock formations like stalagmites and stalactites. Stalagmites rise from the floor due to water dripping from the ceiling and depositing material. Stalactites are formed from water dripping from the ceiling and depositing calcium salts. We also learned about the symbiotic relationship of the birds and the bats. As the day becomes night the bats come out and the birds use the cave as shelter.
The day after we initially explored the cave, we took a kayaking adventure. This kayaking adventure took us to the original cave. Once we got there, we were given headlights. These lights were meant to help us to see in the darkest parts of the cave. Once we got these lights, we were sent to navigate through the waters of the cave until we reached the outside(we followed the guide). The view at the end of the cave was remarkable, as we saw swarms of birds flying around the entrance of the cave. Some of the students even got pooped on by the birds.
When we reached the outside the cave, we had to get out of the kayak and start hiking. The hike took us through the forest and it lasted about a mile, until we reached the hole for the next cave. The hole for the cave was so small that everyone had to crouch down just to get through. While we were in the caves we saw live stalactites dripping onto the floor starting the process of the making of stalagmites. The guides told the group how during the summer the monks would go into the caves to meditate since it is cooler than outside. They also told us how the people would hunt porcupines in the cave. When everyone turned their lights off the cave was pitch black so that you couldn’t see anything and it was dead silent. It was truly an amazing experience.
-by Matt, Tariq and Chris R
So far, getting to see some of the sacred temples of Chiang Mai was a whole different experience compared to the rest of the trip. Learning about the teachings of Buddhism and getting to see the inside of the temples were amazing. Each temple was unique and beautiful in their own way. This definitely made the experience a whole lot better since all the temples had so many things to look at from spectacular handmade drawings to realistic monk statues. As we walked through the temples and admired the scenery, we were able to witness other people meditate.
When we went through each temple, we were mesmerized by how beautiful and creative all the temples were. Each temple gave off a selfless vibe meaning that all of them had similarities to other one. No temple was more than the last one. Since Buddhism is about giving up what you don’t need, but keeping what you actually need. The temples are a prime example of why people who believe in the teachings of Buddah aren’t selfish. Especially, one specific temple had money strips hanging from the wall. People gave up the money they didn’t need, since it’s not fair to them to have more money than others.
~White Plumeria Flowers we found outside one of the temples
The experience was marvelous, but learning about the traditions Thailand holds was extraordinary. Saying hello in Thailand involves the use of your hands in a prayer position. The higher your hands are signifies how honorable and signifying a person is. When greeting a monk, your hands should be high enough to be in front of your face as a sign of respect. As signifying as a monk can be, the king is held as the highest, so one must rise their hands high above their head. We were all amazed with the culture in Thailand. Everyone has been patient and super nice to us, and we believe we will be further amazed as we continue learning about Thailand and the people who live in it.
During our entire trip so far, we had a lot of fun. We continued to experience new things throughout our time being here. Whether it was learning about a religion or seeing inside the temples, sharing this experience with each other and making these memories have definitely been the best part of it all.
-by Mariana, Catherine and Morgan
The staff and 2019 cohort of Global to Local are super grateful for the support of Kiwanis of Newburgh! For the second year in a row, their generous donation will help fund student volunteer work abroad, and in our city of Newburgh. Thank you to Kiwanis members who attended our April celebration at the Newburgh Brewing Company; we couldn’t do this work without you.
People of all ages had a blast at our recent event, enjoying the music from DJ Mizz Official, placing bids for song requests, playing corn hole and taking their chances on the raffles. Caroline and Vicki worked tirelessly to help us make the night fun and spread the word.
Not only did MHVFCU help us plan and then sponsor Global to Local’s April 11th fundraiser, but they also surprised our organization with a donation! We have never known of a local credit union showing such dedication to the young people in their community. Caroline, Chris, and Vicki, we cannot thank you enough for helping us put this event together, and for putting together this surprise. You have an awesome team, and we are forever grateful.
Last week, Partner from Finkelstein & Partners, Personal Injury Attorneys Nancy Morgan represented the firm while presenting Newburgh Free Academy student Matthew Wasson with a donation towards Global to Local’s partnership program with Into the Wild. We are so grateful for their generous support!
During the meeting, Matthew expressed excitement about the donation from the local business. “It is a real inspiration knowing that business owners share the beliefs that we do and support our efforts to make a difference in the world.”