Raquette Lake ’11 was a fantastic experience. Among the many things that made it unique was the group of teachers from Thailand who joined us on our Adirondack escapade. it was great getting to know these wonderful individuals.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Thai teachers. I knew they undrerstood and spoke English with varied levels of proficiency, but I wondered a lot about their culture, and what it was like for them to see the many new things that we take for granted here. Certain foods, fruits, and vegetables were new or rare for them. One of the favorites was the baby carrots. One teacher asked if they grew like that or they were cut. It was a novelty for them, yet for me, it is something I see (and eat!) almost daily.

“Tom” was my spotter for the low ropes course.  He was the first Thai teacher I got to know. It was fun working together to achieve a goal, and we proudly got our picture taken together when we finished.  I also had the privilege of eating with several of the other teachers. There was a unique connection–although we had come from totally different backgrounds, cultures, and languages, we also had many things in common.

Their expressions were difficult to read sometimes…I wondered how much they were understanding, and how much was simply going too fast for them. I tried to put myself in their shoes, and decided I would be hopelessly lost if everyone around me were speaking a foreign language fluently and quickly. But I also considered the adventure…what fun! To be somewhere totally new…to be experiencing once in a lifetime opportunities.  It must be thrilling, exhausting, and frightening all at once!

One of my favorite moments was when the Thai students showed us a cultural dance and song . . . and then got us to join in!  It was fantastic to see the American students and Thai teachers working, learning, and playing together at Raquette Lake.

When the Thai students visited us for the last time in class on Thursday, it was a joyful tine, but there was also sadness at their departure. It had been such a fantastic visit. One of the teachers said to me, “you are a good leader. I watched you at the camp.” I was surprised…she had been observing me, and even though she might not have caught all the words I said, somehow, something I had done had made an impression on her. I thanked her for the kind words, and I will probably never forget what she said.

All of this made me realize . . . I am developing a strong desire to go to Thailand . . . to return the call, so to speak, and go learn about THEIR culture. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to, but it would be the adventure of a lifetime!

Although we’re from opposite sides of the world, I now feel “Thai’d” together with my brothers and sisters from the Kingdom of Thailand. They’re back in their own country by now, but they left something beautiful behind.