Kerstin Widera
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Kerstin Adelheid Widera was exchange student in the BBA program fromEuropean University, Brühl, Germany. She took part in the project of Building Earthen House at At Plekwiwek Dhamma Centre, Wiang Haeng District, Chiang Mai Province during 28. April – 2. May 2015 which was organized by the International Institute of Studies, Ramkhamhaeng University, Bangkok.

Reflection of the Volunteering Project at Plekwiwek Dhamma Centre

First of all, I am glad that I had the chance to be a part in the volunteer project. The five days were straining but they were also full of interesting things and a lot of new impressions and experiences for me. The activities consisted of learning how the monks live, visiting temples and the Thai Elephant Conversation Centre.

The Plekwiwek Dhamma Centre was for me, as a person that never experienced the Buddhism before, a new world. For the reason that I am a catholic person, I have never been a part of Buddhist ceremonies before or experienced how monks live. The project helped me to fulfill my wish: Get to know the Thai culture in my semester abroad as I would never get the chance to while being a normal tourist in Thailand. Furthermore, I have read a lot about the dealing with monks as a female person. I already knew that I am not allowed to touch them or to give them offerings directly into their hands, but I was really surprised that the relationship to the monks was casual anyway.

Likewise, it was interesting to see other places in Thailand than Bangkok and the typical tourist cities. In the Wiang Haeng District, Chiang Mai Province people live a more elementary and quiet life and get along with simple resources, e.g. while building the earthen house. Thereby, I now appreciate my “modern” life more and more and have got a lot of respect towards the lifestyle of the monks and all the people that live in this area.

Furthermore, one activity was to drive to the Burmese border and to learn about the situation in this country directly at the border. The situation there is no current topic in Germany and to be honest, I have never heard of it before. For that reason I was glad to be informed about it, especially direct at the location where all the conflicts take place.

Finally considered, I would immediately be a part in this volunteering project again. I have learned so many things. Moreover, I have got in contact with Thai people and worked together with them, which expanded my multicultural relationships. Being a volunteer is a really good experience.