Philipp Schlieckmann
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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.