What an amazing day. This may well be the most enjoyable and satisfying day in any of the trips that I have led, and there have been a lot of great days.
We have been wanting to do some type of “give back” to some of the communities that we visit. Some little type of community service or something to show our appreciation of the generosity and hospitality that we receive while on these trips, and to immerse ourselves a little deeper in the culture. We hoped to be able to do something with children especially. Well, I don’t think you can call today’s experience quite what we were looking for, because we pretty much did all the receiving, but it was incredible nonetheless.
I mentioned our desire to do something with children to my contact at Somboon Advance Technology and she immediately arranged for us to visit Poolcharoen Witthayakhom School, a high school outside of Bangkok.
The title of this post is entitled Rock Stars, and that is what it felt like. From the billboard sized welcome sign we saw when we arrived, to the welcome speeches, the tour, the activities, and finally the (almost) tearful goodbye at the end, we were treated like royalty. I have never seen anything like it. It was truly a heart warming and humbling experience.
But it did not end there. Somboon graciously took us out to a local noodle shop for a traditional (and delicious) lunch, then to a popular Buddhist temple and market, and then on to their plant for our company visit. There we learned about Somboon’s business, manufacturing automobile parts, but more importantly we learned about Somboon’s serious commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility. CSR is a growing trend, where companies are realizing that their responsibility is not just to their shareholders, but also to their employees and their communities.
As I said, it was a great day.
This sign greeted us on our arrival.
Just one small portion of the happy students we met today.
This young lady is one of several who greeted us. Each student gave a greeting in a different language: English, French, Chinese, Cambodian, and a few others I can’t recall.
These students are showing us an important science project. They make balls of natural materials, including water-cleaning organisms, and throw them in the water to help clean up pollution, which is a problem in Thailand.
These are the balls and materials. There are a few types of soil, rice husks, charcoal made from burnt rice husks, molasses, humus, and a liquid containing the organism.
Here is a picture of them making the balls.
And here’s a picture of us helping.
After cleaning up from making the eco-balls, we were given a demonstration of traditional Thai dancing.
And then we tried it. Yes, we were pretty bad at it. Our hosts got a big kick out of it.
And here’s a video of us trying it out. Sorry for the jumpiness but I’m trying to dance and videotape at the same time. I’m pretty sure my dancing didn’t get any worse.
The school has 2200 students, and I think they all wanted to be in the photo.
Here’s the principal of the school, wearing a pair of plastic “Clarkson” sunglasses.
Each of us was given three students as escorts for the visit. This is my posse: Gitar, Kwan, and Amy.
And this video is a little something for my young friend Sean, who I know is reading the blog.
Here is Ms. Jiraporn, of Somboon Advance Technology, explaining their place in the automotive industry.
We were given hats and radios for the plant tour. Here’s the guys practicing for the Secret Service.
Somboon is committed to environmentally friendly practices, including providing green space at their facilities.
Here is the group planting Chinese Watercress. Employees and visitors are encouraged to harvest, and plant various types of flowers and vegetables in the green space.
And here is the group harvesting Chinese Watercress. The harvested vegetables are sold to the employees and ridiculously low prices. A huge bunch of this watercress will be sold for 5 baht (about 16 cents US).
Well that is it for today. If you are tired out from reading the blog, think how we must feel. I neglected to add that it was a blazing hot day today, well into the 90s with over 90% humidity.
Thanks to Ms. Jiraporn for arranging both our visits today, and to everyone at the school for a welcome and program that we will never forget.
We have a company visit tomorrow morning. See you tomorrow.