Location: Thailand

Author: Hannah W.

Today was a long day. We began after breakfast with our second day at the school from yesterday, teaching new games and new dances. We had our classic 11 am snack, because, as Avice puts it, “god forbid we be without food for 20 minutes”. We had lunch after a short drive and had the chance to visit a museum about Hellfire Pass and Thailand’s overall role in World War II. Next was probably one of our favorite spots from the trip so far; a waterfall is somewhat hidden among a market that sold some of the most delicious fried snacks I’ve ever eaten (this is saying a lot as my repertoire of fried foods that I consume is perpetually expanding here). Not only was the waterfall lovely to look at, but we also joked it was the hottest shower we’ve taken in a week. After this, we went on the long-awaited elephant rides as well as watched the animals do things from playing harmonica to dancing to “Gangnam Style.” So that was pretty cool.

After all of our sightseeing and adventure, we headed back and had our final dinner/soccer matches/rave with the kids, and said our final ritual “goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.” Saying goodbye to people that you’ve grown close to is always hard. But we’re trying to see it not as a “goodbye,” but rather a “see you later.” In addition to this, we’ve all had some time to reflect on the past four days here at the New Life Project. So many learning experiences and life lessons have come out of just these short few days, ranging from “it’s no fun rationing one roll of toilet paper among ten girls” to “wow, I take so much for granted.” Lessons like that last one are expected, but we had some more that, at least for me, definitely were more of a surprise. Although the kids living here come from tough backgrounds, they are the happiest children I’ve seen in my entire life. And their happiness doesn’t come from materialistic things; it comes from their love being reciprocated not only by us visitors but by the incredible staff and other people living there. I learned more from these kids about loving others and loving the life you live than I could in years at home. And that is something that I definitely will never take for granted.