LSUA Students Recount Summer Trip to Thailand

by Sarah Black | Nov 13, 2017
This summer, five LSUA students spent two weeks in Thailand for a United Nations humanitarian conference.

In another example of LSUA’s growth, five university students represented the institution at a United Nations conference over the summer.

Over 900 delegates from around the world converged on Bangkok, Thailand for the University Scholarship Leadership Symposium. The one-week humanitarian conference featured speakers and community outreach along with imparting on delegates a vision and passion to affect positive change in their communities.

“A lot of it was listening to speakers and some of the motivational speakers were unbelievable,” said Matt Benham. “They opened my eyes a lot more to what I though of the world and what was going wrong and what we need to change and things like that.”

“One, I’ve grown as a person. It opened my mindset. Seeing other people who have the same dreams as I do,” said Cody Hamilton.

Delegates not only learned valuable life lessons from speakers and other attendees, but also from outreach programs that included planting rice and working with children.

“One of the last days we got to do a hands on activity and we actually went into the communities,” said Molly Parks. “I went two hours outside of Bangkok and I helped a village plant rice and there were five or six other different types of activities.”

“We planted mangroves which are these little plants with bulbs on the bottom,” said Anthony Felps. “It’s funny because I’m not too experienced with the agricultural field and so I’m thinking we’ll plant them in pots. Well, no, you have to plant them in the riverbank.

So, I was actually helping with the mounting bamboo fences in the river. There’s this massive river and basically you went out five guys in a canoe and they had this 20 to 25 foot bamboo rod and you had to embed it into the river. The bamboo stops the flow of the water from hurting the mangroves. This is right across from where the mangroves were being planted so you need to protect against floods.

It was funny because it is a community effort. All five of us, and I was with a guy from Australia, one guy from China, and it was funny to see the demographics of the canoe. And it took all five of you to plant it because you are going through the riverbank. I’ll never forget planting bamboo fences in the middle of the river in Thailand.”

Students will also take what they learned through community outreach projects and bring it back home by helping others with the cost of textbooks.

“It’s one of these things that we as the students who went are trying to work on our service learning project and directly helping those on campus who might need help with textbooks,” said Felps.

However, it wasn’t all work and no play for the delegates. LSUA students spent a total of two weeks in country and visited all that Thailand and Bangkok have to offer.

“The first week we were there was a lot of exploring. None of us apart from Nina had ever been to Thailand before,” said Benham. “So it was amazing to go around and see their culture and their way of living.”

“We visited Bangkok and we probably didn’t make a dent in the scenery, but we did see many different famous places like the ancient city, a floating market, we rode elephants and we just got to experience the Thai culture, the Thai food, and the Thai people,” said Parks.

And throughout the conference, students learned lessons for a lifetime.

“I think the most important thing I learned was even though I am one of billions on this Earth, just a little change can make a huge difference to anyone around the world,” said Behnam.

“As far as what I leaned, would be taking the initiative on when you see a problem in the community and not waiting for someone else to fix it. Take the initiative to fix it yourself no matter how small your effort is. It’s still something and there’s someone else who probably wants to do the same thing and if you take the initiative others will follow,” said Nola Parker.