Foreign Exchange Program

Hannah Nordby - IFYE Participant - Taiwan/Thailand Part 7

 

This is Part 7 of Hannah Nordby's IFYE Experience detailing her travels in Thailand during the month of November along with Amanda Braun.

November 11, 2018

I attended a 4-H Club training! You could literally feel the students energy and excitement in the room! For this training students were introduced to 4-H including but not limited to the meaning behind the 4-H symbol, the pledge and how to conduct a meeting. It was really inspiring to watch the students go through the Head, Heart, Hands and Health motions- knowing without words the impact of those actions! The students did a practice parlor-pro, roll call and everything was included! (There were many laughs at the different “blurbs” and “oldies” that occurred!) During their first “official” meeting they had an opportunity to discuss what type of club project they wanted to do- I think I heard frogs? Or maybe fish? I don’t remember exactly but I do know this group of 4th and 5th graders has big dreams!!

This is one of several trainings my host mom is doing. While the teachers can lead the training on their own, often regional extension agents are asked to come speak. It adds to the students excitement and of course gives the teacher a small break for the day!

November 13, 2018

Thank you thank you thank you to my host family in Kanchanaburi. I had the most amazing time with you all! You made Amanda and I feel at home- from relaxing and watching TV at night to making supper together I felt right at home. I was reminded how to make lemons into lemonade when we went from making hamburgers to German Pigs in a Blanket (we had a slight shopping switcheroo).

For everyone else let me introduce this family of four- momma Sukanya works as an extension agent at the Farm Youth Promotion Center and Pappa owns a landscape business and in his free time he buys beautiful wooden furniture to refurbish someday when he retires. They have two daughters- Pew and Bow. Crazy coincidence but Bow actually worked in Dickinson at McDonalds for awhile. (You all remember during the big oil boom when they were having trouble getting enough help? Well she was one of the foreign workers they brought in to fill positions.) Turns out this world is actually pretty small.

November 14, 2018

I previously mentioned spending time at the Farm Youth Promotion Center while in Kanchanaburi. However, I think a further explanation is needed!

In ways the Center is similar to a research center at home. They implement several farming practices including crickets, bananas, herbs, horticulture, floriculture, and propagation as well as home economics and 4-H Promotion (these are just the programming I was fortunate to experience). Along with implementing different farming practices they also hold training sessions. The facilities include a dormitory area for trainees to stay along with a cafeteria and meeting area. They also host events promoting 4-H to area youth.

A fun activity for Amanda and I was frying bananas! I can honestly say I never knew there were so many different ways to cook a banana until I came to Thailand! We sliced green unripe bananas like French fries and little chips. For the ripened ones we wrapped them in- well I’m not entirely sure what it was but I’m guessing a sweet crust from the taste and texture- and dropped them into the hot oil! While it wasn’t the most nutritious treat we shared some laughs and did a little home cooking on our own!

November 15, 2018

We visited a pomegranate farm today! Kinda crazy but I still remember the first time I had a pomegranate- Liz brought it for Thanksgiving. Kinda weird how different memories stay with you.

Pomegranates can be harvest year around. From flowering to harvest takes about 5 months. Size distinguishes between male and female flowers buds bunched together. To help protect from insects they cover the fruit with newspaper. The farm we visited in has been growing pomegranates for ten years. They made the switch for economic reasons. At the market 5 pomegranates sell for roughly 300 baht or 10 dollars.

November 16, 2018

Some of the best parts about Thailand include the temples, abundance of coffee shops, night markets, and all the cute little photo op locations designed for tourists in mind. haha

Jokes aside tourism is a huge player in Thailand’s economy. Coined “The Land of Smiles” it is an extremely popular vacation location- especially in southern Thailand where there is an abundance of beaches and ocean activities galore. The agriculture industry is also trying its hand- government programs encourage farmers to open up to Agrotourism. You can see signs highlighting stops where visitors can pick fruit and vegetables to feed chickens or pet a water buffalo! The idea is just beginning to gain traction but I’ll be interested to see where it goes in the years to come!

November 17, 2018

We spent time with a local business learning how to make soap! The shop is small but growing with only 3 employees. They make and sell the soap at their store and in the market.

Soap in large part is oil. What was really interesting was that they used a computer program where you put in what combination of oils you want to use- rice, coconut, palm kernel, olive, canola etc. and it kicks out a recipe for you! Not only does it tell you how much of each ingredient do you need but it also rates your recipe on bubbliness, clarity, cleaness etc. helping determine soap quality.

p>There are two ways to go about making soap, cold and hot process. Cold process is the traditional route. This is ideal when working with olive oil and allows you to layer colors or intricate designs. However weather conditions must be ideal, if it is rainy processing is not possible because the soap doesn’t harden. That is why while the hot process end product isn’t as “pretty” it can be produced regardless of weather making it the preferred process. To add detail hot processed soap can be pressed into a mold.

November 18, 2018

We spent a couple days learning about Orchids! Come to find out they are a pretty interesting plant- their roots live on air! This is thanks to a special sheathing that protects the root from direct sunlight while, along with their leaves, absorbs water and nutrients from the air.

Advancements in plant breeding and production is done through, self-pollination, cross-breeding, and cultures. We got to cross-breed a couple plants ourselves as well as transplant several cultures into coconut media.

Although wild orchids thousands of seeds it takes the most ideal conditions and a touch of luck for them to reach adulthood. This is largely due to a vital but coincidental partnership with a fungi found on trees called mycorrhiza.This fungi is essential in providing food to a young seedling. While wild orchids blooms are not as stunning as those found in the market place they are vital in providing genes resistant to disease and insects. It’s like finding new bloodlines for your herd!

November 19, 2018

Erawan National Park (1975) is home to the Erawan Waterfall, named after the three-headed white elephant of Hindu mythology! The fall is divided into 7 tiers, each showcasing a special and unique level. Of course despite not having the right clothing and nibbling fish I couldn’t resist not going for a swim on the top level!

Government protected land including national and forest parks, wildlife sanctuaries etc. cover around 20% of Thailand with additional parks in planning!

An interesting park management practice is requiring a deposit for every plastic water bottle you carry into the park, refundable when you bring the bottle back with you.

November 19, 2018 (Part 2)

KHWAI pronounces KaBoo is Thai for Water Buffalo! Momma Sarah and I have established a bit of an obsession for the kind, hard working beasts and I was tickled pink that we got to scratch and love on some this past week!

In the past Water Buffalo played a huge role in rice production and other farming activities, thus coining themselves as a farmers best friend. Their strong backs made them the ideal partner when carrying heavy loads or plowing in the field. Especially over the past 30(ish) years these animals are being replaced with tractors and other technology. However due to rising fuel and repair costs there are efforts to bring back the Buffalo. In 2008 the Kasorn Kasiwit" (Buffalo Farming Science) School was established by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn. She hopes to preserve the history and farming techniques of traditional paddy farming.

Read Part 1 of Hannah's Experience

Read Part 2 of Hannah's Experience

Read Part 3 of Hannah's Experience

Read Part 4 of Hannah's Experience

Read Part 5 of Hannah's Experience

Read Part 6 of Hannah's Experience

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