VictoriaStrube's Travel Journals

VictoriaStrube Victoria Strube

What is the best ethnic food you ever had that you just can't find at home?

Muchomo (grilled goat)!

  • 25 years old
  • From California, United States
  • Currently in Chiang Mai, Thailand

A Trip of Thai-Tastic Proportions

Heading to Thailand for the rest of the year! Will be in Chiang Mai volunteering at a sex trafficking shelter from Aug 20th-Sep 11th and in Bangkok to study at Mahidol from the 12th-Dec 16th. Enclosed you will find an ever-expanding log of the adventures I take, the people I encounter and thoughts I think!

The Village Life of a Foreigner

Thailand Chiang Mai, Thailand  |  Sep 17, 2012
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Crazy 2 weeks of ups and downs, new foods, new faces and new unforgettable experiences! After leaving COSA I traveled to a village about 20 minutes away by car called “Maetaman.” My host mom speaks English and occasionally you will run across someone who knows basic conversational English but other than that everyone speaks Thai or a special dialect they speak in Chiang Mai province they call “Chiang Mai Language.”  Maetaman is in a more mountain/jungle region so the only tourists you see are riding elephants or ox carts through the street, none of them really stay in the village.  Foreigners are referred to as “farang” and they often use the term in conversations in Thai right in front of you, which can feel extremely awkward.  Having so many conversations happen around you that you can’t understand at first was very frustrating and somewhat depressing.  God definitely tested my patience and took me way out of my comfort zone, eventually my feelings of isolation started to turn into motivation to put more effort into learning Thai and some of the locals I’ve connected with love when you try to speak Thai and are thrilled at the opportunity to teach you more.  It’s awesome how the language barrier that was initially causing my frustration is now motivating me in a way that allows me to better connect with those in the village. During the week I mainly (tried to) teach English.  In the morning I go to the local school and teach a class of about 20 of what they call “small students” or “dek dek” in Thai. There are three pre-school classes of “dek dek” that are divided by age.  I taught the second group of pre-schoolers, most were about 4 or 5.  They are so adorable, playful and (most of them) love to learn.  The teacher of the class I was helping with was a very kind lady named Mook; however, the language barrier made knowing what she wanted the students to learn a tad difficult as most either/or questions were responded to with a smile and an “okay.”  All of the pre-school teachers were so sweet and you could see how much they genuinely cared about the students.  During the evening I taught basic conversational English to two 14 year olds (JoJo and Nom) and one 11 year old (Nine). It was great to get to know them better and they started to teach me some Thai as they were learning English – it was a great experience!  This month the village has “Sports Day,” despite what the name indicates it is actually a two month long tournament that goes on every weekend till October.  During the weekends I would help paint/chalk lines (sometimes they had to be redone as precision and drawing straight lines have never exactly been strong suits of mine) and taking stats.  It was so great to see the community in the village shown at Sports Day.  There are teams of all ages and many of the local businesses gather other villagers to make teams and those that don’t play come to support. 

After my first week I went back to the city for a break and to meet two other ProWorld participants that had arrived for our Community Development portion of the program.  It was awesome because our community development project ended up being in Maetaman, the village I had been in for a week!  Went back on Friday with the other volunteers and stayed for four days.  It was great to experience the village with other Americans.  We helped redo and paint a very old dilapidated looking fence at the pre-school.  When the dek dek saw the fence the next school day they pointed at it while saying “soo-aye” which means beautiful, it was nice that the 4 or 5 year olds whom we repaired the fence for actually noticed and appreciated it!  We also planted trees and put bamboo roofing of a small shed at the school, many of the villagers came over the weekend and helped out, they also were very grateful for our help and it was a blessing to know what we were doing was worthwhile!  We left for town Monday afternoon, it was devastating to leave my host-mom, new friends, the teachers at the pre-school and the dek dek.  I miss them already and am already in the process of trying to plan a return trip from Bangkok before I leave Thailand. 

            And now off to Bangkok I go for three months of new adventures, new friends and new memories!

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