Harrow International School (2 - 5 December 2013)
Ranong Trip Report
This month Year 13 from Harrow International School joined us in the beautiful Ranong for their annual fieldwork trip, keeping in connection to the Chao Phraya watershed as a site where rivers flow to.
For more information on trip options in Ranong see http://barge.threegeneration.org
The trip aimed to explore many different coastal ecosystems from rocky shorelines to ever changing estuaries, using biological sampling techniques to create a better understanding of the ecosystems and the abiotic factors that affect the different habitats. After an early start and the long journey from Bangkok, we all got stuck straight in to some muddy fieldwork in the mangroves. A “mark and recapture” method was used to try to estimate the population of the highly mobile marsh crabs. As many crabs as possible were caught and painted in a coat of nail polish before being released back into the mud, to mingle with the rest of the population for a day. Despite the smelly mud and the early morning the students from Harrow proved themselves to be very successful crab catchers and caught a huge population sample.
The highlight of the trip had to be a excellent afternoon spent exploring the sea grass bed. A “bioblitz” was conducted, where students found and identified as many species as they could in the ecosystem, to investigate how diverse the sea grass bed is - an ecosystem so often overlooked and poorly understood. A wealth of biodiversity was encountered including starfish, sea anemones, worms, snails, sea cucumbers, crabs, huge hand-sized mussels and shrimp eggs. One group was even lucky enough to see a dugong, a large marine mammal that grazes on the sea grass and is becoming increasingly rare in waters worldwide. Just as we thought we could not possibly encounter any more species, one student found a handsome nodular starfish, an exotic species that is often poached from the seas to sell as decorations.
Since the barge program’s last visit to the sea grass bed earlier this year, a massive decline in the sea grass area has been observed. The sea grass is a very important ecosystem that is dependent on shallow, clear waters that allow light to penetrate to support the photosynthesis of the sea grass species. Any changes to water clarity or increases in sedimentation can cause the irreversible destruction of the sea grass ecosystem. After witnessing first-hand the complexity of life supported by the sea grass, it is worrying to think what the future might hold for this fragile ecosystem. We will keep our fingers crossed for an improvement on our next visit!
We would like to send a huge thank you to all the staff and students from Harrow International School for all their hard work and enthusiasm despite the very early mornings and lashings of mud! We all had a great time and look forward to working with you all again in the future.
Early Learning Centre Year 5 at Elephant Nature Park
If you are interested in finding out more about Chiang Mai trip opportunities, please see http://barge.threegeneration.org
On the first day in Chiang Mai, after settling in at Traidhos Three Generation campus, we headed to visit the Elephant Nature Park with enthusiasm and excited hearts.
This site is known for taking good care of their elephants – they do not allow anyone to ride on their elephants’ back, but visitors still have a chance to help bathing elephants and feed them fruit and vegetables. Part of the reason for this is that many of the elephants here have been rescued from throughout Thailand. Some are blind and some are injured, making them more sensitive. Our group had a chance to visit the area where elephants hang around together and have snacks.
We also visited the elephant hospital, which has few very old elephants resting there, and being treated. The Early Learning Centre students had a chance to see elephants taking a bath and also had a chance to feed them pumpkins and watermelons. We watched a video presentation of the Elephant Nature Park background and met with the founder of the place. Some students interviewed her and had a nice chat to find out more about this centre.
The group learned many things from those several hours at the Elephant Nature Park and continued to talk about the elephants and the centre until the trip ended, showing that this moment was very touching to their hearts and will be in their memories for a long time.
Bilden Creative Learning, Malaysia. 9 - 16 December 2013, Chiang Mai
Find out more about cultural trips at http://barge.threegeneration.org
As the morning sun filled the amphitheater, students recalled their favourite moments after a week of teamwork and exploring northern Thailand. For some it was raft building, or the low ropes or spider's web challenges, for others the fun and friendship of the campfire. Others recalled working on the farm and ploughing with the buffalo, and for many it was hiking through Doi Inthanon and experiencing a home-stay with Karen villagers.
Students also reflected on the qualities that they admired in each other and the things that they had learnt about themselves. Accompanying mentors commented that the experience had been "inspiring" and "an awakening for students" and "all learning had been integrated in a holistic way".
Inspired by the lantern release after Kantok dinner, a student from Bilden Creative Learning, Malaysia penned this poem.
In a starless night,
Seven lanterns soared high in the skies,
Providing the lonely moon company,
Released from their chains,
High up into the night sky
I wonder if,
Stored in the lanterns,
Oh released lanterns,
Take my dreams high,
High into the skies,
Send my dreams in a timeless package,
Into the vast space unknown.
Hoo Seng Yong