Teambuilding community service
Chiang Mai School and University Tours
Table of Contents
Our Chiang Mai School and University Tours
An Introduction to our Thailand Educational tours
Green Trails is a specialist in Thailand Educational Tours. In this article, we elaborate a bit on the tours we have done and the different times we offer. We also crafted four sample programs that may serve as an inspiration. Usually, our Chiang Mai School and University study tours are customized, and we adjust the program to the specific requirements of each school or university. We are open to suggestions and feedback.
Our tours always abide by our mission statement. They should be a mutually beneficial experience. We have to learn from each other. We strive to offer a life-changing experience to young people, visitors, and hosts.
Our educational partners
Over the years we have organized many trips for schools and universities and for companies specialized in trips for high school and university students. I will mention a few of them. Since 2018 we have organized trips for University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC), a nonprofit organization which provides students with life-changing opportunities to live and learn in Thailand.
We have organized a trip for the HeadStart International School from Phuket, for GEMS World Academy (Dubai), GEMS Dubai American Academy and Raha International School, Gardens Campus from the United Arab Emirates. Furthermore we added these high schools to our experience portfolio: Duncraig Senior High School (Australia), Moreau Catholic High School, (USA), Sweet Water High School, (USA) and Fort Worth Christian School (USA).
A bit of history of our school and university tours
Over the years, Green Trails has gained a lot of experience with school and university tours. It started in 1998 when we began organizing tours for Tanglin Trust School from Singapore. That tour included an elephant experience, a visit to the buffalo training center, an educational bicycle ride, and trekking and bamboo rafting on the Pai River.
We also spent two days doing activities and interacting with students in a Karenni refugee camp on the Thailand-Myanmar border near Mae Hong Son. We organized these tours from 1998 until 2003. The tours for Tanglin Trust were our first steps on the path of educational experiences for schools and universities. For both Karenni and Tanglin Trust students, these trips were life-changing experiences.
Our Chiang Mai School tours
We have organized Chiang Mai school and university tours for several years, primarily for tour operators from Europe, the United States, Singapore, and Australia. We have organized Chiang Mai University Tours for universities from the UK and Australia. Requirements for high school or university students are slightly different.
We have cooperated with USAC, the United States Abroad Consortium, for a couple of years. USAC is a non-profit organization that offers study abroad programs for university students, mainly from the US. We have been responsible for the hill tribe field study, a more academic program focusing on anthropology. For USAC students, we also take care of a three-day/two-night trek in the Mae Wang area.
Ethnic Minorities of North Thailand
Visits to communities of ethnic minorities or hill tribes of North Thailand are essential components of our tours. We are dedicated to the preservation of the culture and languages of these groups. During our tours, we pay a lot of attention to the extraordinary traditions and lifestyles of the Akha, Hmong, Lisu, and other groups.
Many of our tours include at least one overnight in a tribal community. I have made a page where you can find a lot of information on the ethnic minorities of North Thailand. We also have pages about each specific group. We are adding content to these pages regularly.
Chiang Mai Tribal Textile tours
Over the years, we have organized several tours focusing on tribal textiles. Seeing people in traditional dress was one of the reasons tourists went on multiple-day trekkings in the North of Thailand. Photographs taken in the 1970s still show most of the people in tribal villages wearing beautiful, colorful traditional dresses. People wore the clothes they or someone in the village had handcrafted.
For students of textiles, we can organize tribal textile tours to villages of the Hmong, Palong, Lisu, Akha, Yao, and Karen people. You will learn traditional weaving and embroidery techniques, batik, natural dying, etc. We love the traditional dress! Through our tours, we hope to contribute to the preservation of the work of traditional textile artisans.
We offer Chiang Mai university tours that include team-building community service activities in ethnic minority villages. These tours usually take four or five days. In consultation with the community, we select a suitable project. After that, we will make a plan and buy construction materials. Part of the tour costs will fund the project, which could be a public utility project, a school playground, and so on.
During their stay in the village, students will learn about the villagers’ customs, religion, traditions, language, and way of living. We have been working with a small number of communities for many years, and our guides know the local people very well. We have made many successful Chiang Mai school trips to Karen communities near Doi Inthanon, Thailand’s highest mountain. Our Community Immersion trip is a good example.
Evaluation and Impact
There is a constant evaluation of our tours and our impact on the community. We try to keep our impact as low as possible and maximize the benefits for all involved. Quite often, this kind of tour turns into a one-sided experience from which only the visiting students benefit. Our Thailand Educational tours are designed so that local students will also benefit and be involved in the experience. We realize that this is not an easy task. Before we organize a tour, there is a process of a lengthy discussion with representatives of the community.
The holistic approach of our Chiang Mai university tours
We will teach students about different ways of life, unknown religions, and other interesting aspects of the host community. We will pay attention to the history of communities and issues concerning ethnic and indigenous groups, such as land ownership, education, healthcare, discrimination, and legal status.
Some villages, such as the Dara-ang (Palong or Palaung) and the Hmong, offer opportunities to learn traditional weaving or batik techniques. Check out our Dara-ang trip.
The beauty of languages
We love languages, and they play an essential part in our tours. The Hmong, Karen, Dara-ang (Palong or Palaung), Lisu, Lahu, Akha, and Yao people each have their language. Most of these languages belong to different language groups and are often mutually unintelligible. We value this fascinating diversity and will do our best to help in its preservation. Please look in our hill tribe section for more information about these languages.
Disappearing minority languages
Ethnic minority groups have become increasingly integrated into the Thai school system over the past fifty years. Hill tribe students now learn to read, write and speak Thai at school. At home, they talk about the language of their ethnic group. These languages are spoken less and less, eventually leading to the disappearance of many of these languages.
We will teach students some words in the host community’s language and explain the source. This is a lot of fun, but it is also a great way to interact with the local people. In the below video Ong of the Dara-ang village, Mae Chon, counts from one to ten in her language. These languages are fascinating and worth keeping alive.
Thailand’s national animal
The elephant is the official national animal of Thailand. The species prevalent in Thailand is the Indian elephant, which is a subspecies of the Asian elephant. Allegedly there were about 100,000 elephants in Thailand about one hundred years ago. Currently, there are between 3,500 and 4,000 wild and domesticated elephants in the country. The World Conservation Union has listed the Asian Elephant as an endangered species.
We want to keep encounters with animals during our Chiang Mai school tours to a minimum for ethical and health reasons. Upon request, we will make an exception for elephants. Up to now, we have organized Chiang Mai University tours to a limited number of venues, of which we are sure the animals are treated very well. We realize that visiting elephant “sanctuaries” can be a sensitive issue. In all cases, we will ensure that your visit will positively impact the conservation of these magnificent animals.
Chiang Mai International School Tours
We have organized several Chiang Mai International school tours that combine experiences in communities with educational tours in Chiang Mai itself. Green Trails has good relations with Buddhist learning centers in Chiang Mai such as the Buddhist University at Wat Suan Dok. An introduction to Buddhism is always good to include in any visit to Thailand. Short meditation courses or even an hour-long meeting with a monk are worthwhile experiences.
The religions of Chiang Mai
We can include a half-day walk during which you will pass or visit different places of worship. Students will pass the First Christian Church, a Sikh Gurdwara, a Chinese pagoda, a Buddhist temple and the biggest mosque of Chiang Mai. People of different religions live close to each other peacefully. That is one of the things that make Chiang Mai such a special place. This educational walk is great for Chiang Mai school tours.
Markets and cooking courses
Healthy food and agriculture play an essential part in our Thailand educational tours. Fresh markets are learning centers, and Chiang Mai has plenty of them. On the Warorot Market, you can wander for hours, learning about herbs, delicacies, cooking ingredients, curry pastes, and many other things you probably have never seen before. Each product has its own story. You will find Vietnamese pancakes, Indian curries, Burmese cakes, Chinese dumplings, and so on. The Thai kitchen is one of the most famous in the world. Undoubtedly, Chiang Mai is the best place in Thailand for a cooking course. We included market visits in our Chiang Mai Educational Tour.
Chiang Mai’s History
History is an important component of our Thailand Educational Tours. Chiang Mai’s History is not only about visiting Buddhist temples. For centuries the city was part of a Burmese kingdom. The Burmese influences are still visible but are a bit under the surface. In the early 19th century, Chiang Mai was virtually depopulated after decades of war and unrest. Its ancient temples were in ruins. Under King Kawila, Chiang Mai rose from the ashes: the city was “repopulated,” and temples were reconstructed. It is an interesting story that you will not find in guidebooks.
McKean Senior Center
In the 19th century, Christian missionaries and other westerners arrived in Chiang Mai, leaving a legacy such as the McKean Senior Center. This beautiful property on the Ping River should be on the list of Chiang Mai heritage sites. We take students on a bicycle ride through this former leprosy colony. The ride ends in Wiang Kum Kam, a ruined city that predates Chiang Mai. In short, we will show aspects of Chiang Mai’s history that most visitors miss out on simply because no one takes them there.