"I had an amazing semester- so much personal and spiritual growth in countless different ways. I loved the people and the places and I miss it like crazy now that I'm home. I am so incredibly glad I went and haven't regretted it for a second. There's a lot of great ideas for this program- and we were involved in some really awesome things. The way it was set-up as kind of a full immersion into the Thai culture (by living with Thai families, going to a Thai university, everybody doing individual internships at various places, and living for a month in a tribal village)- was really, really cool- and that was one of the main reasons I went in the first place. I didn't want to see anywhere from a bus-- if I was going to go somewhere, I wanted to be as much a part of their culture as I could possibly be. And we were-- and that was great.. "

-Christy Newman was raised in California and was a Junior Dance Major from Westmont College when she participated in 2001 Spring Semester in Thailand Program






Student Statements

Elyse Edler was raised in California and was a Junior sociology major from Westmont college when she participated in the 2005 Spring Semester in Thailand program.

I have learned from the Buddhist Monks, my Thai family and the village about living and knowing each step of life, about loving others deeply and genuinely from the heart, I have seen faith that moves mountains and been challenged to seek these same qualities in my own life. I feel encouraged and prepared to return home and to bring with me a testimony of the people here through a new way of life. I can’t tell you how much I have learned from this program, it has been incredible.

 

Tricia Vannatter was raised in France and was a Sophomore Movement Science Major from Gordon College when she participated in 2004 Spring Semester in Thailand Program. (Everwant@aol.com)

"The only way you will realize the magnitude of a decision to spend a semester in Thailand is to go there yourself. I had no idea before I went the extent to which you would become part of the Thai community. The opportunity I had to live with Thai families and Karen hilltribe families blew my mind while I was there and still today when I'm back at home. If you ever want to experience Thai culture, much less Asian culture at all, there is honestly no better way than through this semester. Even foreigners who have lived in Thailand for many years may not have gone to live in the mountains for a month, in fact many don't care a hoot about those not in their own circles. The program enabled me to cultivate my heart for the Thai people in all circumstances, since I got first hand insight into the wealthy class and the poorest. No quick backpacking trip can cover what I covered, or get me as authentic an experience."

 

David McBride was raised in Northern California and was a sophomore Art Major from Westmont College when he participated in 2001 Spring Semester in Thailand Program.

"This was the most life changing experience I have ever had. It challenged me spiritually, emotionally, socially, worldly... everything! The big thing I prayed for before I left was that I would be stretched, and that I would mature, and boy did these two things happen, and fast. And Mike Leming was a huge part of that. The program that he set up was the main reason my life was so changed. Let me give you a small example. My main struggle throughout the semester, I think, was the issue of Buddhism vs. Christianity. Do Buddhists go to heaven? Why do Christians think they have all the answers and try to convert people from Buddhism, destroying whole cultures? What is with Christian elitism? The main way SST helped us with this struggle was through the Thai society class.

We had both Christians and Buddhists come and speak to us about Buddhism, and they were great lectures. Especially by Ajaan John Butt, a Christian who spoke to us about Buddhism. In this way many of us were stretched in our faith and in our thought. I remember the field trips took us on through Buddhist temples. These temples were amazing and beautiful, I gained such a respect for another religion, I gained not only tolerance, but love. I learned this semester that people can get very scared about what they don't know and don't understand, and this fear breeds anger and hatred. I know the value of love towards another religion, and this, I think, is one of the most important things any of us could have learned this semester."

 

Abigail Carlisle was raised in Pennsylvania, and was a Junior Sociology-Anthropology major from Messiah College when she participated in 2004 Spring Semester in Thailand Program.

"Now I call it Amazing Thailand! Asia is on the other side of the world, and before I heard about the Spring Semester in Thailand program I’d have to look at a globe for awhile to find Thailand. But now that I’m back home in the U.S., I feel that Thailand and its people, history and customs are far from foreign. As a person who cares deeply about others and hopes for nations, states, and people groups to live peaceably, being given the opportunity to learn about an unfamiliar place (while living there and building relationships with real people) has been one of the most shaping experiences of my life. I learned truths about life that I hope to be able to use in bringing harmony in the world: how people find and express meaning, how they interact, how they learn, what they value, what makes them happy or frightened, what enables them to persevere.

Particularly through my internship teaching English to monk students, I learned how valuable friendships are and what an enjoyment it can be to share your life with others. I feel that my understanding of humanity is more holistic and more realistic. I know that I am better equipped to make important decisions now and in my future, whether it’s concerning a career, graduate school studies, or how to form good relationships in my every day life. I am so thankful for the chance to become more knowledgeable about how to live in this world. And it was even more fun than I could have imagined."

Abigail Carlisle (abigabagail@yahoo.com)

 
Kia Yang was raised by her close-knit Hmong family in St. Paul, Minnesota and was a Sophomore Social Work from Bethel College when she participated in 2002 Spring Semester in Thailand Program.

"I had always wanted to go to Thailand. It didn't really matter when and where. I just knew that I had to be there. At first, I wanted to go and teach English in Bangkok. Then, Aj. Mike came along and that gave me an opening. That week, I strongly felt a call from God pushing me to go. I knew that it was my chance and God was calling me to it.

Since my parents were born from Laos and were refugees in Thailand, I have heard lots of stories. My friends would tell me of all the fruits there and how delicious it was. It made me dream of going there, especially since I was born in the States. I also had relatives there, but I knew there wasn't a way for me to see them alone.

Being a pessimistic person, this was my first very optimistic experience. I let anything and everything come my way, bad or good. This experience led me to become a very optimistic person now. I have learned so much from the Thai people and have grown in my faith. I saw God daily at work. My greatest experience was staying at the Karen Village. It challenged me to use the Thai that I had learned and challenged my faith as a Christian to practice my faith. I thank God everyday for this amazing experience. God is truly present."

Kia Yang (yankia@bethel.edu)

Monique Beadle was raised in New Orleans, Louisanna and was a Junior Sociology-Anthropology and Pre-law Major from Messiah College when she participated in 2004 Spring Semester in Thailand Program.

"I remember the day I found out about the Spring Semester in Thailand Program. At the time, I was the Student Body Chaplain of my college and had just founded a campus chapter of a human rights organization. I had finally decided on my major (Anthropology), and was beginning to love living in an on-campus apartment with my own kitchen and living room (one of the perks of being an upperclassman at my school). Then for some reason Ajarn Mike's e-mail about spending a wild four months in Thailand caught my eye and somehow God convinced me that I should set aside all the wonderful things I was involved in at the time and go to exactly the other side of the world to learn whatever it was He had to teach me.

After spending four months in a country I couldn't have distinguished from Bangladesh before I left, living with five wonderful Thai people, successfully communicatingn Thai language, interning at the very human rights organization whose campus chapter I had started, and getting to know the Karen people (a kind of wonderful people whose lives are radically different than ours) ... I can honestly say that I would have been a fool to pass up the Spring Semester in Thailand Program.

The many things I learned about myself and about this world that our God created have made an indelible impact on me. The professional and cross-cultural experience I gained in my internship were priceless. And the relationships that bloomed in the midst of culture shock will continue to nourish me for years to come. Since I've gotten back from Thailand, I've looked into other study abroad programs, but none has proven itself to be as holistic, comprehensive, and immersive as the trip I took to Thailand five months ago. Like I said, I would have been a fool to have passed it up."

 

Steve Carriere is a junior Sociology major from California Lutheran University when he participated in 2004 Spring Semester in Thailand Program. When he is not in Thousand Oakes, California, he makes his home in Grand Coulee, Washington.

"I always knew I wanted to study abroad somewhere, to spend some time out of the U.S. meeting new people and seeing the world. College is the perfect time to do this and so I began looking into programs that could give me what I wanted. I originally spent a lot of time looking at Europe because that is the typical thing to do. After awhile I got frustrated because I wasn't finding what I was looking for, but the thought of going anywhere other than Europe hadn't really crossed my mind... until I found out about the Spring Semester in Thailand.

I knew two girls who had gone to Thailand before so I talked to them and slowly my interested grew. Before I knew it I was swept up into going to this amazing country in Asia where I would live with a host family, learn a totally new language, stay in a tribal village for a month, and meet some of the most amazing people ever. As I looked forward to our departure I knew that I had gotten myself into something good, but I had no idea how could it would really be. Now as I look back on my time in Thailand, I can honestly say it was the best time of my life. We got to experience so much on the Spring Semester in Thailand program that can not be experienced in any other conventional study-abroad program. We did so much more than study in Thailand, we went and were immersed to the extent that the experience touched us and changed us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

I know that I personally experienced and learned things that will stay with me for years to come, and made friendships that will stay with me longer. This is something that can only be experienced for oneself so I encourage anyone looking to experience another place and another culture to go beyond what you know and do something other than ordinary, and that's what Spring Semester in Thailand is."

Steve Carriere (thaiwhiteboy@hotmail.com)

 

Amy Hamilton was raised in New Mexico and was a Junior Pre-Medical Biology Major from Westmont College when she participated in 2001 Spring Semester in Thailand Program.

"If one asked me about my time in Thailand- I would say it was wonderful, I had many new experiences, faced challenges, and the people are kind, warm, loving, and a lot of fun to be around. I took my studies seriously and I can honestly say I acquired a good amount of knowledge pertaining to Thai culture, society, history, Buddhism (popular and intellectual), the anthropology of the Karen, and Thai language. I was also able to learn and be apart of rural public health. My time with Inthorn was absolutely amazing and it really solidified my goals of going into the field of international public heath in conjunction with becoming a medical doctor. My passions for health care in rural communities has increased. You never know, I might end up back there someday.

Through the challenges, I grew in the Lord and I grew as a person. If you asked me, "Would I do it all over again," I would say, "Yes, yes, yes!!"

 

For pictures of the Spring Semester in Thailand program go to: http://community.webshots.com/user/ajarnmike100