MMF, Take 2, still in Chiang Rai, Thailand

Posted on November 18, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Wow! So much to relate! Sunday, I was able to spend more time with the students and we ran one of the modules! It went pretty well, although it would have been great to have more time (always, always the refrain) and to have spent some serious time thinking about how to translate some of the words into Thai.

Saturday afternoon, the youth team went through the toolkit and seemed to think it would be very helpful, at least from first glance. We briefly went through each topic to decide which would be the most productive to run on Sunday. As I described what Social Identity encompassed, I saw one guy’s face light up, and that is the one we ended up running. (Social Identity is basically a theory used to understand how the different social groups we belong to create and affect our own self-perception, our perception of others, and their perception of us. It can also be used to understand and discuss different stereotypes and biases we all have about “other” groups. Pretty intriguing stuff!) (They were also interested in the Professional Image module, exclaiming, oh no! now we need three more years with these kids!!)

Social Identity was a really engaging topic for this particular group, as they are all ethnic minorities, from various hill tribes like the Karen, Lisu, Mien, and Hmong. The hill tribes occupy a complex position in Thai society. Many have migrated over the years from Burma and Laos, have stayed relatively isolated from Thai society, and are often treated as second class citizens. Interestingly, much of the Thai tourism economy in the north depends on these hill tribes, so all of this can create a very tense situation. And, according to S****, the director, many of the hill tribe villagers have their own ideas or biases toward other hill tribe members. All of which made for some very intriguing Social Identity conversation.

Anyways, S**** and I decided that he would facilitate the session as a way to bypass the language barrier as much as possible—he is fluent in Thai, having lived here nearly his entire life and only a few of the kids speak English. So I explained the session to him in a lovely little gas station coffee shop and the first thing we had to do was shorten, shorten, shorten. Apparently, things take longer in Thai J

So we cut the module down to an initial exploration of misunderstanding based on social memberships and then went straight into an explanation of what Social Identity was and the chart activity. From there, we had them think about which memberships might be helpful, hurtful, or neither to their leadership ability.

The small groups were very engaged in the initial conversation about misunderstandings or assumptions. So much so that we definitely had to cut them off before they were finished. We also only had a few minutes for large group sharing so we just heard two stories. One young man explained that he had been at a worship session when suddenly the police broke in, yelled that they were having an illegal meeting, arrested his pastor, and took him off in handcuffs. Everyone was very scared and not sure what was happening. About 20 minutes later, the police brought the pastor back and he explained that actually, the whole thing had been staged. He wanted them to understand what happens to Christians in Laos. Another young woman explained that, after a very complex set of events, involving an affair and a subsequent hex, her uncle committed suicide. When the police arrived, they were fairly brusque and made several disparaging comments about how this sort of behavior was expected because they were from a certain hill tribe. Pretty heavy experiences.

From there, S**** explained the concept of Social Identity and the chart they were to fill out. Finding the right translation of the categories “given”, “chosen”, and “core” was difficult but they managed and took several minutes to fill out the charts. Then, S**** had them make the (+) next to memberships which enhance their leadership, (-) next to those which might detract and (?) next to those of which they were unsure of the effect. Then they shared—seemed pretty engaged again. One girl sitting near us went through her list, asserting at first that all her memberships were negative: that “being a girl—nothing but trouble!”, “being born poor—terrible!”, being a hill tribe person—awful! But then she started to reconsider a bit and put a question mark next to hill tribe. And she stated that her height and good looks definitely enhanced her leadership abilities.

After that, we had a brief large group share out and then got some feedback from the students and the youth team. The students seemed to appreciate the activity, saying it allowed for self-reflection, but it would have been useful to have more time. The youth team said much the same thing—what might be slated as a 45 min activity would translate into about 1.5 hours in Thailand. So our 50-minute rendition definitely went over the allotted time. And, lastly, it would be really important to translate the words and concepts carefully. “Given” in Thai means something different than how the same word might be understood in English. So, again, translation, translation, translation!!!

I also did a couple interviews with the students—will post those later!  And will post some pictures soon!


Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Recently on yLead…

Mekong Minority Foundation, Chiang Rai

Posted on November 15, 2008. Filed under: Organizations | Tags: , |

Chiang Mai YMCA

Posted on November 15, 2008. Filed under: Organizations |

M, the monk

Posted on November 14, 2008. Filed under: Individual Voices | Tags: , , |

Hello world!

Posted on November 14, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...