|Sing Out Asia-E||
A Thoughtful Trip
How should I make all participants happy?
This is what I have been thinking since Mr. Hatano, a founder of SOA, asked me to take an initiative of SOA 2014 as a coordinator, which he usually does. For almost a half of year, coordinators, including Japanese and Thai, kept discussing where we travel, what we do, how we recruit people from various countries and how we make them satisfied.
A first difficulty stems from the character of coordinators. It was not easy for coordinators who were made up by two countries to make a plan and share our ideas only by exchanging messages on Line or Facebook. Actually, I have ever coordinated an international conference before. But at that time, organizers were all Japanese, so that communication was not difficult. This time, however, even a short chatting took much time due to a physical distance.
Another difficulty is about one’s sense of value. Some students expected us to hold a kind of academic seminar where they can study differences and similarities of culture, politics and economy among countries. Meanwhile, others felt satisfied with this program that had no academic session because that differentiated this trip from other.
Moreover, some proposed me to screen applicants by interviewing or requiring essays, for selected students might have more responsibilities and take part in the trip actively. Others, however, claimed to avoid any screening because nobody can deeply know who applicants really are and measure their potential that is impossible to be evaluated by any criteria.
I know there lies no correct answer of them since each has its own sense of value. But in this way, a position of coordinator sometimes wildered me.
To be honest, not only a role of coordinator but also a word, Mai Pen Rai, meaning “no problem”, sometimes embarrassed me. When I first knew this famous word, I thought it has an attractive meaning, for it comforts people who are in a hurry or nervous. But this word can be used in too many ways according to situations. For example, people used it when one had a trouble for comforting him. Or, my friend said it to me when I was advised to eat worms. What is worse, people used it when they were late for meeting as an excuse. It’s not apparently due to this word itself. But my way of viewing this word totally changed in a different way. And I believe this is one of the fruits of cultural exchange.
While there were some difficulties, I am really glad to be an organizer and join SOA 2014. I had an opportunity to think what the most important thing is when I try to make people happy and satisfied. Also, I was able to talk with new people without any hesitation that I had before. Even this was my second time to join SOA trip, I really enjoyed it and got unforgettable memories.
I could not forget one conversation. On the way to the airport at last day, I was talking with my friend in the final bus about the SOA 2015. When I asked her to help us find applicants and to be a “bridge” between Japan and Thai, she just said “NO” and “I will be the participant again next year”. This word did nothing but save me since I was worried about whether my friends enjoyed this trip or not.
Finally, I would like to thank you Mr. Hatano, Mr. Hirakawa, Mr. Nagashima, Shoma, Koki, Piim, Purim, Annie, Ply and all participants who supported us. Especially, Thank you Thai students for your warm hosting.
Sing Out Asia Trip in Chiang Mai 2014
This is my first time in SOA trip. I decided to participate in this trip, firstly, because I love Chiang Mai city. I came here for 3 times before. Chiang Mai itself is the most beautiful city in Thailand. However, thanks to the coordinator team, this trip led me to the corner of Chiang Mai I never see before and make it one of the most memorable trips in my life. The big 3 things I got from this trip is friendship, understanding of unequal development and, last but not least, the way to communicate with people from other culture.
For the friendship, the activity of this trip was the most important part that made us feel comfortable to each other. As I use to hold such a kind of activity, I know that the most difficult part is to break the ice and encourage participant to talk to each other. However, in the first day activity, we had a chance to share our own story and attitude to each other. I believe that when we join a program, we would try best to communicate with other but the problem is that we don’t know what to talk about. Therefore, SOA activity made us easy to find a topic base on shared participant’s opinion and lifestyle we learned from the activity. Another factor that make SOA’s participant got close to each other was a non-strictly rule. Usually, program I use to join would have regulations that did not allow us to separate or go outside but SOA program allowed us to enjoy our free times independently as long as we were punctual to the action plan. This allowed us to fully enjoyed Chiang Mai going along with our own interest -- foot massage, shopping, sightseeing or chilling out. We could enjoy our free time without worrying that others would not feel comfortable with the activity since everyone can choose their own activity.
Secondly, I learned what political science, my major, call unequal development. My professor taught me that every developing country, including Thailand, had a development part only in urban but the rest was still under developed without any concerning from the government. I understood it clearly but I never see it clearly how it look like since we only studied in the class room. However, SOA trip gave me a chance to explore the real experience of under developed lives by climbing for 3 hours, 3 kilometers approximately, to stay a night at a Karen village of Mae Tang district. In this village the cars meant nothing since the route we used is in the deep jungle. Only vehicle we had is our feet. I experienced I life without electricity, internet network and clean water. It is impossible to find this kind of thing in the class room but it is very crucial in order to understand and sympathy people in under development area. This trip remind me that whenever I feel hot because an air-condition doesn’t work or being annoy since the internet doesn’t work, there are a lot of people who never have a chance the stay in air-condition room or playing internet so I should not be paranoid with these senseless things. I hope someday I could be the part of organization to fix this inequality and improve the lives of the village, including the rest in my country.
The last thing I learn from this trip is the method to communicate with people from different culture. To communicate is no only about the language barrier or English ascent but also include the culture and tradition. It is not my first time joining an international exchange program but most of them recruited the student from 2 country and separate people base on their country. In this trip, the coordinator team wanted us to stay together as a SOA family so I had to stay with Japanese and Indonesian as a roommate. One of my roommates had to sleep so early since he had to wake up to pray in the morning while I usually sleep and wake up very late so I had to adapt myself because it was not my own room anymore. When we went out I and my Thai friend had to be guider and translator of the group. When we were in the restaurant I have to remind waiters to told cook “not too spicy” since our Japanese friends had low immunity of Thai spices. If we have not done so, Japanese would be unable to eat a thing in the table. These taught me that when we deal with people from different culture, we have to especially concern in every detail because what we feel normal in our culture may be totally unacceptable in another culture. If we want to avoid a cultural shock, we have to put role play ourselves as a people from different culture and ask ourselves “how would I feel, if I have to do that?”. I think this question is very important in the age of globalization that brings people from different culture to stay together.
In conclusion, this trip provided me a chance to explore a memorable experience. I would keep the friendship, happiness and knowledge I got from this trip forever in my mind. I would like to thanks to the coordinator team who did a hard work and made this trip perfect. I use to think that I know my country deeply but this trip make me know that there is a lot of thing to explore in Thailand and also all over the world.
Sing Out Asia 2014 in Chiang Mai
Many Things what I learned in SOA
First, I want to thanks Hirakawa Sensei for inviting me this trip. I could learn a lot of things in this trip, and get a good friendship. Interchange with people who are almost same age inspired me. They had a something what I don’t have. I grew up through this trip.
I learned how important positive attitude is. Thai students taught Thai culture to me and asked me about Japanese culture, but sometime I couldn’t answer enough because of my English skill or just ignorance. I regretted about this. I thought I had had to take a positive attitude to learning in japan. I was doing only what someone gave me. For example, assignment, test, and so on. I felt other people who I met in SOA have many things what they want to learn, and they have a positive attitude. It’s that I didn’t have.
Furthermore, I thought challenge make me stronger. Participate in SOA is challenge for me, because at first time travel with foreigner. I had been worried about communication with them, but I tried to take part in. It was so fun and exciting. I could feel that I don’t have to be worry when communicating with foreigner. I’m stronger than before going to Chiang Mai. In addition to I had new experiences in Chiang Mai. First, I went to night club. I had never been to like that place, so I was scare little bit. However I needn’t to be scare, I realized I like dancing and drinking. Second, I ate worm. I still cannot believe that I ate worm. But I could, and it’s not bad taste.
Through this trip, I could make friend with foreigner. That is most meaningful point for me. I could along with them because of activity, trekking and so on. Trekking was so hard for us, but we could help and cheer up each other. This adventure made our friendship strong, I think. I wanted to know about them and talk more, so I keep in touch with everyone. I miss you. I hope to see you again soon.
Hi, my name is Muhammad Fahmi Adli from Indonesia and I’m study at Islamic State of University. :)
When I join SOA I got a lot of information about culture, study, religion and others. When I in Thailand I first time come and I’m confused and afraid in my mind always have many questions for example “how I can speak English with foreign people because my English is not good”. So if I always thinks that I can’t solving the problem so I confidence “I can do that”.
After arrived in Thailand especially in hotel and meet Thailand People who attend the SOA is very kind. So i walk around with my friends see the any food in restaurant. Because Indonesian peoples Moslem so we told to Thailand people, Japan people and Malaysia people in my religion didn’t eat pork and alcohol. So they are respect about Moslem. And then i share anything about activity, major and others. So in first day i played the game when I played I didn’t understand why i played that.
I’m analysis the activity and I know why i played the game. What I got important the information from the game is when i in another country i must know about rules in another country and i must follow the rules. When I asked Mr Hirakawa, he said “that’s right”. And then we play another game the game play with 2 people the first people must close eyes and second people give the instruction to first people. I know what the meaning in that game from leadership. When we play the game always rally and happy.
In the next day I go to the temple and hiking in mountain. First, when I go to many temples I don’t know about meaning and I asked to my roommate or Thailand people what the meaning. After that I went go to temple, I hiking in mountain with friends of SOA. I see friends of SOA when hiking in mountain we help to other friends until arrived in the Village. So after I arrived in the Village I see friends play the game true or died. The game true or died play with any item can be rolling after the item stop to people. The people must choice true or died when we choice true i must answer the question honestly but when i choice died i will get punishment. The game is funny because the punishment is strange.
Next day we are trekking in jungle and bamboo rafting. We always together help other friends. After I arrived i went bamboo rafting and ride the elephant. I’m riding the elephant with Kaori and we conversation with the elephant tamer. I asked to elephant tamer, “how old when we can ride the elephant?” and the tamer answer “we can ride the elephant when 4 or 10 years old”. I’m very happy join this trip.
The next day we go to white temple. That place is beautiful. So I walking around and see the building of burn the death. But we can go there.:(
So the final day we party and we must show the performance from native country. So the first performance from Japan is Kyohei, he is draw calligraphy that’s great after performance Japan we continuous to performance from Thailand is dance. The dance is funny and full power so I like that and I will remember that’s dance from Thailand. So we continuous again the performance from girls Japan is dance that’s good dance. And the finally performance from Indonesia and Malaysia is saman dance but saman dance only girls so the boys difficult saman dance and after finish saman dance performance from Indonesia and Malaysia “potong bebek angsa” dance.
After finish final party, we party again until 3 am and play the card. The game is funny because the rule of game.
So that’s my report when I join this trip. I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who made SOA2014 wonderful and unforgettable. I’m enjoyed this trip, and we surely became a more than family
Thanks for read my report and I’m sorry when the report wrong because my English not good and I must learn much about English.
This trip gave me a chance to make fiends from other countries, to speak English and to feel other cultures. In Japan, we have few opportunities to speak English. But this trip is different.
First, we have some activities in this trip. During the activities, we can communicate with students from other countries, of course, in English. Actually, I should have talked to students more often. On the other hand, we can’t use any language during nonverbal games. This gave us a chance to use our brains because we have to understand what other students think. That makes us much closer. That is, we can make friends.
Second, we can visit some places. We can share cultures, experiences and emotions. And, we can talk about them in English. I couldn’t always tell friends what I want to correctly. So, I was sometimes irritated with myself. But I think we try to understand what friends say and we can feel we are closer to others. That’s why it is also good time when I was irritated.
Because of these things, this trip made my treasure forever. I could make friends from different countries, feel other cultures, and experience many kinds of first things. Because of them, I could find myself different. I’m filled with gratitude to everyone in this trip and everything from this trip. Thank you very much. Anyway, you can widen your horizons if you join this trip. If you are interested in this trip, let’s join us!
Sing Out Asia Trip 2014
A day before Sing Out Asia Trip would begin, I had a fight with my father about joining the SOA program because he knew nothing about Sing Out Asia organization and neither did I! I almost could not make it to the trip but with a support of my senior in my faculty, I could join the program. I have to tell you that I expected nothing from SOA trip because at that time, the trip was just a vacation to me. Thus, I did not prepare for a surprise!
The first day, I spent most of the time in a meeting room of the hotel in order to make new friends and play games. It sounds boring? Yes! I thought so before the activity started, but the way to make new friends is gesture and drawing. Moreover, everyone was not allowed to speak! Besides, we played the games in silence so it was clear that we had played the same games but different rules! However, what I learned from the first day is that we need to listen to each other more. Although it was just the first day, it already was beyond surprise! I have to say I had been to many camps; however, none of those were like this.
If you think that the surprise part has finished, you are wrong and neither am I. According to a schedule, other activities were traveling, traveling and taking photos. Furthermore, Chiang Mai is like my hometown because I have been there since three years old. So believe me! I know almost sightseeing in the trip schedule. However, at the end of the trip, I realized that the same old places which existed in that little girl's memory have changed since I was there with everyone in SOA trip.
The most memorable experience is trekking in the jungle to Karen village. It sounded exciting to me so I was really looking forward to this adventure. In addition, I would say that I was well prepared and ready for the adventure! However, I was not prepared myself for the adventure that would change my life! Trekking in the jungle was like walking on an endless road. When I reached Karen village which was a destination, I realized that it is not the destination that matters but the journey does!
Besides, if you wonder whether we get along, I will tell you that almost everyone is recognized by their funny nick names. We have known each other better, though, at first we got to know each other by body languages.
Finally, I would like to say "thank you very much" to everyone who is a part of Sing Out Asia organization, even though, I know "thank you" is not enough for what you have done. SOA program has blown my mind and it gave me valuable memories, wonderful experiences, and friendship. Thus, I am incredibly unexpected of what you are doing because all the things and every detail that was added to the program are far beyond creating intercultural friendships.
Ms.Naphadsaporn Chairat (Piez)
Dear, SOA Family
Anyone is looking for a comfort zone and basically home is a real comfort zone for everyone. On the contrary, my comfort zone is always set thousands miles away from home, perhaps my wanderlust soul never stops calling me to travel, and when every journey began, I felt I have not only seen but also known the world and people more. Among different languages and cultures wherever I have met, I have found myself change my thought towards my comfort zone that it is not about the places I travelled but the people met along those journey.
What I am trying to say is the places do not matter anymore as my comfort zone is created by people I surround with and my concept towards my comfort zone has been changed since I met SOA 2014 member.
I really know myself love travelling so much, then I did not hesitate to join SOA program after p’ Pim ask on Facebook. However, unfortunately at first I was disappointed when I know that this program will be hosted in Thailand and especially in Chiang Mai where I already went two times. My wanderlust soul which is always calling for travelling was stopped for a while and I gave myself not to expect that this journey would be exciting or interesting like many journey I have taken before. Thus, my expectation to this program is just to make friends and enjoy the trip as much as possible. I told myself that it would be like other programs I joined before, so do not expect anything much.
Since the first day till the last day of program something in me was gradually changed. From the start, we had ice breaking activities to get to know each other more and it was just simple fun activities that unbelievably make everyone get closer. Moreover, characteristics of Japanese staff (Koki, Shoma and Masaki) are basically funny, friendly and have their own ways to make friend by teasing people. (hahaha :D) I think, these amazing characteristics have created happy and cozy atmosphere like a family for the program and it made everyone especially me feel to be one of the SOA family even more. <3
Of course, in our SOA family, every member is totally different like since nationalities, cultures, religions, believes, gender, skin colors or characteristics, and among those differences, we are sharing one thing in the same which is Asia-ness. For me, this basic sharing has influenced bond between us, making it even tighter, stronger and more united. Moreover, I believe that Asia-ness in us makes us easily connected and well understanding according to the similarity of our characteristics or cultures.
SOA gave me a chance to have roommates which are not only from different countries but also have different believes, they are Okky and Maya, an Indonesian and a Japanese respectively. As Okky is Muslim, we never had a chance to hang out at night in night club with other friends (Especially, Koki Masaki and Shoma). Like almost every night, I left her at hotel with other Muslim friends or Maya,and when I got back room, I needed to sneak out during early morning while they(Okky and Maya) were sleeping. So we rarely stayed together in the room. However, I still remember one night that we had a chance being together, we opened the music and sang many songs together while lying on the bed. It is such a memorable moment I will never forget! JEven it is only a very tiny moment in my memories, it is counted as the perfect short time being with them.
Moreover, in every morning as I stayed up last than anyone in room, Okky and Maya let me sleep as much as possible and then they woke me up, waited for me and got to have breakfast together, everyday like a routine. Even though they could go ahead and did not need to be hungry while waiting for me. And also one day, as I did not wake up yet, they went to laundry and pick up my clothes for me before going to have breakfast, Iam very appreciated to those little kind and lovely things they did till now! :DThese would be little things for someone, but for me it is such a huge precious thing that fills my heart full with warmness.<3
Apart from my memories about having good roommates, I also have got many friends which are Japanese, Indonesian and the only one Malaysian. As we are from different countries and have totally different languages; thus, English is the only way to communicate and as some of us could not speak English well, but it is not our problem at all because we tried to understand each other and forget about right or wrong grammar. We mostly spoke through actions, we played games such as cards, category game, went shopping, riding on red bus or getting massage etc., these actions spoke much better than words since our happiness and laugh were built by getting through those fun activities together. From my point of view, it shows that the purpose of SOA has already been accomplished!
Especially, the last night that we decided to spend our last time together at hotel rather than going out to night club because we wanted all the members could join. We gathered and sat in the circle in front of the hotel at night, having both alcoholic and non- alcoholic drinks and sharing some fun games from each of our own country till early morning and we also helped Bryan doing his project. It was such a long happy extreme night ever! (hahaha :D)and it could be counted as the last moment that SOA 2014 members were together and while I was writing this essay, all those flashback were gradually come out of my head and it recalled me about the greatest happiness and friendship I have got from joining SOA 2014. It is an unforgettable trip that will last in my mind forever.J
Finally, from all my stories above, I did not mention impressive places I went at all because the only thing that impresses me from this trip is SOA 2014 members who help me redefine my comfort zone. And from now on, Chiang Mai in my eyes would never be the same because my new concept towards comfort zone has been created and left together with SOA memories out there.
Thank you to whatever that brought me to know you. I wish I could have travelled time back to where I first met you again, SOA <3