Leisure and Student Activities at IIS-RU
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Leisure & Student Activities

IMAGE Alina Hertling
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IMAGE Jennifer Ille
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IMAGE Kerstin Widera
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IMAGE Larissa Vogl
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IMAGE Madeleine Nina Kanehl
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IMAGE Philipp Schlieckmann
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IMAGE Vanessa Mayer
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IMAGE Verena Maxeiner
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Verena Maxeiner came from Hochschule Rhein-Main HSRM, Wiesbaden, Germany and joined the project entitled Building Earthen House Project at Chiang Mai 2015.

The „Building Earthen House Project” in Chiang Mai 2015 was a great opportunity for us as exchange students as well as for all Thai students and stuff. First of all I want to thank you for this once in a lifetime experience.

We started at 12 pm on the 28 of April with meeting at the Kings Monument at Ramkhamhaeng University. There we prayed for a save trip and the Thai students did kind of a ritual with us. After an 18 hour-drive we arrived at our destination.

We were able to live with the monks for three nights and days. Every morning we had to get up at five and meet for the morning chant at 5:30. After that we ate breakfast all together and then our tasks started. We were gardening and building the earthen house. It was a pleasure to work with different nationalities and people. We could learn a lot from the monks as well as form the other students.

One day Australian students joined us. They build together with us the house and in the evening we were able to lighten up a balloon together with our wishes and prayers for Nepal. I think this was one of my favorite parts, while living with the monks. My other favorite moment was when we were able to teach to monks and novices English. It was really inspiring and also kind of sad, because we knew that some of the novices are orphans.

On the first of May we left Mueang Haeng and drove back to Chiang Mai. There we visited the temple on top of Chiang Mai with a great view.

At the beginning of our trip most students were really shy, but with the days they came and talked to us. Mr. Wood also took good care of all the exchange students and tried to translate all what the monks talked to us. So we won’t miss any information. We felt welcomed and I don’t want to miss all these impressions, experiences and beautiful moments anymore.

All in all was this trip really refreshing, a once in a life time opportunity and we were able to have a lot of bonding time. I would do that trip over and over again and we learnt a lot about the Thai culture, mentality and Buddhism.

Vanessa Mayer came from Fachhochschule Aschaffenburg, Germany. She participated in the the community and sustainable development project entitiled the Building Earthen House Project at Chiang Mai 2015.

My experience at the Building Earthen House Project at Chiang Mai 2015.

We had to drive 840 kilometers to arrive at the Plekwiwek Dhamma Centre, Wiang Heang District, Chiang Mai Provice.

Our journey started on the 28 April 15, 11.30 p.m. at the meeting point at the King Ramkamhaeng Monument the Great, Ramkamhaeng University. After a lot of breaks we got down well at about 18.00 p.m. We had spent there three nights and learned more about the daily routine of the Monks. Our days began in the morning at 5.00 a.m. and we participated on the Morning Chant with Buddhists Monks and Novices. Thereafter we had to walk back and forth of a Buddhist priest. Afterwards the breakfast has taken place at 7.30 a.m.

During the day we have done many interesting things, such as farming, learn about people´s way of life around the border between Thailand and Myanmar, learn how to build the Earthen House and so on.

For me as a Christian, everything at the Dhamma Centra was a great experience. It was very interesting to learn so much about the Buddhism and the Monks and Novices way of life. For me it would be impossible to learn almost three hundret rules. Most of all I was surprising that the Monks are allowed to take their last meal at 12.00 p.m. I have great respect for their perseverance and I admire their way of life. I think I speak for all of us that it was very hard for us rising early to participate in the daily chanting and meditation ceremony. We learn so much not only about their life, but also about ourselves.

After the life-prolonging ceremony on the 1 Mai 15 we left from Plekwiwek Dhamma Centre and drove to Chiang Mai. On the way we visited King Naresuan The Great Pagoda and Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. We arrived at the 700th Anniversary Stadium of Chiang Mai Province and spent there one last night. The Traditional Khantoke Dinner was very interesting, as well. We saw the Lanna traditional dance and performance.

The next day we went to Thai Elephant Conservation Center, Lampang Province. There we visited the exhibition and video at Thai Elephant Conservation Center, visited the elephant bathing, visited the baby elephant show and me and my team (the winning team of the rally) had free elephant riding. I was overwhelmed by these gigantic animals and had so much fun.

Thereafter we had the chance to buy souvenirs at Kad Tung Kwian Market. We left there at about 1 a.m. and arrived the Ramkamhaeng University at 10 a.m.

I had a wonderfull time, it was a gain in experience and I had so much fun. It was a fantastic piece about experiencing a life that many see in passing but never have the opportunity or knowledge to truly experience. I hope this report encourages others to try out a similar stay in the Plekwiwek Dhamma Centre, Wiang Heang District, Chiang Mai Provice.

I thank all the staff for their work and I am very glad that I had the opportunity to attend this project!

Madeleine Nina Kanehl participated in the project “The Building Earthen House Project at Chiang Mai 2015”

It was a pleasure for me, that I had the chance to taking part in the great project of being a volunteer. I love to get to know new things, especially a new religion or even culture. The first three days we stayed with the monks and novices at the Plekwiwek Dhamma Centre, located in Wiang Haeng District, Chiang Mai Province. Our day started very early in the morning, we woke up at 5am and the morning chant with the Buddhists Monks and Novices began at 5.30am. This repeated every morning. We also learned how to build the Earthen House, learn people ́s way of life around the border between Thailand and Myanmar and lots of other things Laurie Maund, the storyteller, who moved long time ago from Australia to Thailand.

The last two days we went to Chiang Mai city, and did sightseeing there in the old temples and the old lovely town. For me it was an amazing experience, I could help and join in a very useful project. I would do this every time again. I only can recommend it to everyone, who wants to help and also is interested in improving their own skills. Mr. Wood who was responsibe for the Internationals, took all the time care of us, such a funny guy, the atmosphere in the team was comfortable and familiar. I hope in the future, there will be more offering kind of those projects for the students. Thank you for all.

Regards,

Philipp Schlieckmann came from Hochschule Rhein-Main HSRM, Wiesbaden, Germany during 21st of February – 21st of June 2015. He took part in the project “Dek Ram Inter...Paan-Din Project” at Plekwiwek Dhamma Centre, Wiang Haeng District, Chiang Mai Province

As an exchange student from Germany I had the gift to join this volunteer project. I saw it as a great opportunity to get closer to my Thai Buddies, the Thai Culture and Buddhism. Furthermore it was a great chance to get away from the big city everyday life.

After starting at King Ramkhamhaeng Monument the Great our second stopover was at the Tung Tao stream in Chiang Mai – a very peaceful place where we got introduced to some typical Thai dishes. Later on we arrived at the Plekwiwek Dhamma Centre where we got a very friendly welcoming. After dinner we were heading to a welcoming ceremony by monks. At this evening it was my first time staying so close to Buddhism and I felt very well.

The next morning we joined the Morning Chant with Buddhists Monks and Novices – also the traditional “back and forth walk” like the next days and I felt very balanced and refreshed after it. It was a great experience to leave my cares behind, just going with the flow.

After breakfast we were introduced in farming and had to plant some seed in different groups. That was no problem for me and a nice reminiscence of my parents because they do it too. Later on we visited the border between Thailand and Myanmar to get to know the said story about the war which is kind of still going on. There we also got to know that the Monks and Novices from Plekwiwek Dhamma Centre were mostly parentless victims of this fighting. The most pathetic bleeding heart story I have heard for a long time. Back at the Dhamma Centre we got introduced into building the Earthen House, which building materials we need, and how to mix them up. It was quite interesting that there haven’t been any chemicals in it – ecological, environmental protecting and sustainable! After that we came together again to celebrate the evening activity as usual. Specially this evening we got to know some foreign people from Australia and we even came closer to the Monks and Novices while launching the Sky Lantern for a special purpose. On the next day we learned a lot about the advantages of Earthen Houses.

To name a few: Good Climate Control, Low Maintenance, Storm Resistance, Aesthetics, Peace and Quiet... After that we started to render the Earthen Houses. Therefore we had to mix up the mud with some liquid glue made out of rice. After finishing this step we had to sand the wooden doors and windows to get them ready for lacquering and painting to make all wooden parts resistant against bad weather conditions. Also it was a good challenge in teamwork. Everyone got different competencies and as a team we increased the efficiency and our performances. Teamwork reduces stress and lets us trust in each other. To round of this experience all of us jumped into the small lake and had some fun right next to the Earthen Houses. After this day I found some really good new friends. The next days we attend to the life-prolonging ceremony, had some special ceremony to honor our parents and so on. Even when I can’t understand what’s going on there I tried to understand it by the means and reactions of the people surrounding me and I was really impressed during this time and these days.

After saying good-bye to the Monks and Novices the next day, we were heading to some other great places and well-known temples. Finally we visited the Thai Elephant Conservation Center and had a really good time there like the days before.

All in all, I surprised and felt very comfortable these days. I don’t want to miss it and I had a really great time there. I had several moments of clarity and I want to visit this place again. I even try to stay for a longer time in this beautiful country. I’m very thankful that it was made possible to have such an experience. Also I have to spread a big thank you to the instructors and those responsible, which provided a great experience and a smoothly run during these days.

Larissa Vogl participated in the project Dek Ram Inter Paan-Din”

For me as a German Student the whole trip was just amazing. I’m really interested in Buddhism’s and that’s why it was a great opportunity to join the trip. From the beginning up on everything was planned perfectly. We had small busses with enough space per person. We did enough breaks. Our first stop was at a temple near Chiang Mai. One of the oldest temples.

Then we moved on to the Dhamma center. It is up on a mountain close to Pai. One Australian guy welcomed us friendly and decided that we should mix up the female dorms. I was with two really nice Thai girls in one small house made out of wood. The staff from the Rhamkhamhaeng offered us a shirt for everyday so we had a good group feeling. We started to plant vegetables in a garden near the spirit house.

Everybody worked hard to make it as good as possible. Then we walked around the area looked at the whole place. After Lunch we were driven to border between Myanmar and Thailand. The Australian guy walked a lot about the history and the situation in the present. Very interesting. In the afternoon we started to build the mud brick house. We did clay on our own. Everybody was enthusiastic. We could do it with hands and feet’s. After dinner we prayed with the monks. Really interesting but I couldn’t understand Pali even I don’t understand Thai.

The next morning we wake up at 5 am. Get dressed in the praying suite and directly to the temple. We prayed maybe for one hour and then started with a monk walk. A monk told us what to do and everybody did it. Then we played a cool game designed by the staff from IIS. We were divided into three groups and we had so search some paper with hints on it. At least we had to answer a few questions and the winning team could ride on elephants.

After lunch we returned with building the mud house. We painted the windows and doors and plastered the façade. We also were allowed to paint the door inside with everything we wanted to. So we decided to write the name of the universities. That was pretty much fun. Some people went swimming with the monks after that. Then we had dinner and we prayed again. At the same time there was a group of Australian pupils and we had the chance to send a light in form of a lantern in to the sky. That looked amazing. Everybody did a wish.

The last day we had a ceremony with the head monk. He prayed for us and we were connected with a wood symbol. Very interesting. Now we are all blessed by the monk. He gave us a bracelet.

Then we moved over to Chiang Mai. We slept at the university. It was really big and beautiful. At dinner time we joined a restaurant and had the chance to watch a traditional northern dance show. The northern food was really good.

The whole trip will be in my mind forever. Thanks for the chance and everything IIS did for us exchange students to join.