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REFECTIONS ON THE LISU VILLAGE HOMESTAY, EXPOSURE, IMMERSION, AND ETHNOGRAPHIC OBSERVATION, Saturday-Sunday November 11-12, 2023
Reflection – Lisu Village Home Stay
Payap Peace Lab Field Trip
Dr. Rey Ty
Nov 12, 2023
I really appreciated the opportunity to attend this lab event and visit the Lisu Village and homestay. The host family was amazingly kind and provided an exceptional experience. The tangerine farm, trip to the viewpoint, and local youth coffee project were also very interesting, offering an opportunity to see the local landscape and contribute to the local economy.
From an academic perspective, I feel it is important not to romanticize the way of life in the village or to see it as something that needs modernizing or improving. Many different narratives circulate among expat communities about the needs of rural communities in the mountainous areas of Thailand, with religion (Christianity), economic development, access to social services, and, in some cases, citizenship status being familiar narratives. However, discourse among foreigners seldom includes the perspectives of these indigenous rural populations regarding what they see as their primary needs.
As we spent time in this Lisu Village high in the mountains, I found my reflections turning towards James Scott’s concept of Zoomia in his book The Art of Not Being Governed and the economic and social interactions that have defined the geographic and anthropological realities of Southeast Asia over the last few centuries. Scott’s presentation of the agency, capacity, and autonomy of highland indigenous peoples seemed on point in the context of the Lisu village and mountainous area we visited as part of this activity. Even a simple drive through these regions is an education in these people’s skill, persistence, and perseverance. Crops are grown on hillsides that most of us would not attempt to climb for fear of falling. Motorcycle trails crisscross the hillsides at angles only skilled motocross riders would dare to try. Yet our hosts and our neighbors thrive in these spaces and carve out a life for themselves that is uniquely coexistent and sustainable. Looking back on the village and our time there, I think my most significant observation is that they have made the space their own. They have built a sustainable life in that place. I admire their ingenuity, determination, and skill in creating sustainability in the face of the challenges presented by that geography.
Lisu Village Immersion and Fieldwork Reflection, by Ashe
On November 11th and 12th, 2023, we embarked on an immersion and fieldwork experience in the Lisu village. The hospitality of the homestay owners left a lasting impression on me, despite the language barrier. Witnessing the entire family, coming together to serve us was truly remarkable. The presence of attached bathrooms to each tent and rooms not only showcased their commitment to hygiene but also reflected their dedication to community well-being.
The delicious food and the unforgettable bonfire added to the charm of our stay. Exploring the orange orchard proved to be an enriching experience, especially observing the workers joyfully harvesting the oranges, highlighting their satisfaction with their work. Our time in the beautiful Lisu village was truly wonderful and memorable.
This visit reminded the importance of embracing differences, be it in culture, food habits, or occupations, without passing judgments. I’ve learned that fostering peace and sustainability requires us to appreciate and accept each other’s uniqueness.
I also express gratitude to Dr. Ray, our professor, and Payap RCP Lab for this immersion and fieldwork experience, recognizing its necessity for students pursuing peace studies.
2nd year PhD student
A Reflection on Community Service – Learning
@ Lisu Village, Chiang Dao, Thailand
It was such an amazement when I saw how the areas were kept forested; some places are still untouched. It shows that they protect their natural resources by not touching them if it is unnecessary. There are even beautiful flowers that are blossoming wild along the road, which adds to the natural wonders and beauty of creation. The Lisu Hill tribe grows rice, vegetables, fruit-bearing trees, and other crops for subsistence. I observed that they put up a market close to the village so that the people could trade. I couldn’t help but draw comparisons between the circumstances of the Aetas, an indigenous group in the Central Visayas, Philippines, and those of the Lisu village. The Lisu community though they do not own the land, yet they were granted to cultivate it through a government initiative known as the “Royal project”. In this way, livelihood was sustained. There might be ongoing uneasiness and discomfort in life due to factors like being stateless or outsider status or the frequent migration but at least the opportunity that was given to them to till the land though not their own is a step toward achieving peace. As I reflected on it, I came to think how the government in the Philippines should address this concern of poverty among the Aetas or any indigenous communities. Many of them are displaced, no land to cultivate because majority of these land are owned privately by the rich and some took it through land grabbing. The traditional attire of Lisu is incredibly colorful, particularly for the ladies. The dress front falls to the knee and splits at the sides to the waist. A strip of fabric that is frequently a different color than the rest of the dress is sewn across the chest. The Lisu man’s dress is quite moderate. It’s made up of a black jacket with silver beads embroidered all the way from the collar to the chest. Some of the people I saw have tasseled turbans worn on their heads.
The cultural immersion reminds me of practicing cultural awareness when we are in their place. I feel good wearing their vibrant traditional costumes. When a Lisu grandma says my attire is incomplete because I have no belt tied to my waist, I thought it would just be fine if there was no belt, but she insisted because it should be worn that way. She handed me a plain plastic string or rope to tie it, and there I realized that I had to follow because that was where it was supposed to be worn. Although in my mind I felt awkward because the clothing was beautiful, the piece of string was a bit dirty, out of place, and out of the fashion design. Later, it came to my realization that I had to respect their culture and the way they dress.
One thing that caught my attention is the engagement of the community in eco-tourism. They made their communities known through tours and trekking itineraries in the region, which include stays at Lisu villages or homestays for tourists and guests. The coffee shop run by the young people is another income-generating project that attracts locals and tourists to come and visit the place. I got some ideas from here to introduce this kind of project to the youth of the indigenous community. Overall, the objectives of the program were achieved, and I commend the effort of the Head/Coordinator of the Religion, Culture, and Peace (RCP) Lab, Dr. Rey Ty, for leading this initiative. Congratulations, and I expressed my gratitude to everyone for the fellowships and shared learning.
Community Service-Learning Activity – Lisu indigenous people
11-12 November 2023 at Khou Kong Home Stay, Chiang Dao District, Thailand
By Saw Moon Light Pan P
Reflection is always important as it allow me as student to look back at a particular event and help me improved for future references.
My reflection of my learning looks at the homestay at Khou Kong Home Stay, Lisu Village, Meuang Haeng Sub-District, Chiang Dao District, Chiang Mai, Thailand which was happened on 11-12 November 2023. The main purpose of this homestay is to increase awareness and appreciation for rural life and sustainable practices, increase economic opportunities and livelihood for the local community; enhance cultural exchange and understanding between participants and host families. The activities at the village were quite well organized which includes pre-departure orientation, learning at the farm land, explore natural environment, informal dialogue with local people, exploring local ways of living and evaluating the activity.
The methodology of my reflection was by observing, interviews and participation during the trip and following are the points I found useful learning for me reflecting on three main purposes of our home stay.
Community based homestay is a source of income and economic opportunities for local community. Community-based homestay has become increasingly popular in the Thai tourism industry since 2004 (Kanoknon, 2009) and it has been actively promoting in Thailand not only for tourism but also to help in the economy of the rural people. I can see homestays as one of the most outstanding concepts for cultural and heritage tourism. Our homestay at the Lisu Village can be viewed as a mean of achieving two goals at the same time: increasing the income of host families and encouraging them to preserve their cultural heritage by presenting their traditional houses and sustainable ways of living (Wang, 2007).
Through this homestay, I got a new cultural experience and the sense of being at home and allows me to behave more freely and feel comfortable and relaxed in different culture. According to one of the host family, they were very happy to receive us and turning their houses into homestays because they know that travelers bring economic benefits to their community while they are still maintaining their traditional and cultures (Cole, 2007).
Homestay create a safe space among students and faculty to understand how to live together among diversity as well as a new classroom to increase the knowledge of rural life and ways of living. Being a PhD student, I have friends and teachers I used to meet at school. After our school time, then we all have to go back to our works, families and own lives and we got no chance to know each other. Homestay as outdoor learning boosts our social skills, communication, knowledge and understanding and students’ ability to work cooperatively and positive attitude to learning. We know “living in diversity’ in theory by classroom discussion and reading assignments but not in practice. We know theoretically that diversity is in our daily lives in all spaces, and it provided the opportunity to strengthen our development as a society. Through this exposure trip, I got a chance not only to experiencing different traditions and ways of living, learning new culture, but also we as students and faculty are having closer time to know each other, sharing and caring to each other especially for me, having a broader and less selfish view of ourselves to build a more just society.
I got to understand that not only living with diversity promote peace, but it also makes our society a more interesting place to live because different people, cultures and ways of living have their own beliefs and interests which they can share to offer alternative ways of doing things. As our PhD program has long emphasized theoretical knowledge development, this field exposure fills the gap of lack of practical wisdom in peacebuilding.
Cole, S. (2007). Beyond authenticity and co modification. Annals of Tourism Research, 34(4), 943-960.
Kanoknon, S. (2009). Tourist Motivation to use homestay in Thailand, University of Missouri. Available at http://tourismlibrary.tat.or.th/medias/MIS0227/MIS0227_fulltext.pdf (accessed on 13 November 2023)
Wang, Y. (2007). Customized authenticity begins at home. Annals of Tourism Research, 34(3), 789-804.
Reflection on Cultural-Environmental Trip to a Lisu Village in Chiang Mai Province
November 11-12, 2023
By Saw Franklin Daniel Aye
The scope of my reflection is depending on my perception during the trip and my own perspective. For example, I am not able to reflect about broader political, economic and social factors around the visit and the homestay in the village.
The trip reminds me of Thandaunggyi (Than-Daung-Gyi), a town of Northern Kayin State in Myanmar, as this Lisu village and the locality have similarities to Thandaunggyi. They have similarities such as weather, location in mountain area or high land, economy such as plantations of and livelihoods on fruits and vegetables including coffee, and socio-ecological culture and interdependence to nature and environment. More importantly I noticed that livelihood in Lisu area is gradually progressive on ecotourism with B&B services. Unfortunately, Thandaunggyi town’s livelihood on ecotourism has been still disrupted by armed clashes around the town as a consequence of upcountry’s political crisis. Relatively yes, by reflecting on ecotourism or community-based tourism (aka CBT) in Myanmar, I really envy this kind of local businesses in Thailand. Then, in this way, I see this kind of business can perpetually generate incomes for locals in various micro-level ways. I must appreciate the leadership of Thai authorities that maintains stability of the countries’ economic and social affairs. It is not the case yet their peace is defined as whether positive or negative. Moreover, their policies pave ways for the local communities to be able to stand on their feet.
It is whether a reason or not, however, we obviously see the above two communities are differently surrounded by political situations and administrative policies. Whether we believe or we do not believe on ‘peace for development’ and ‘business for peace’, we cannot deny the existence of the relationships between peaceful situation and prosperity here which can be generally represented by local business or local development. Indeed, all of us desire long-term and sustainable peace. However, at least minimal peace is required for all people to do things for their livings well. A requirement “absence of violence” cannot be denied.
After that, I also realized on cultural sensitivity when we are dealing or meeting with diverse people including their cultures, customs, beliefs and traditions. What we know about them is that we know them from our view. It is not as they know themselves or they identity themselves. For example, in our own culture we know which types or designs of dresses are for male or for female. In contrast, the dresses for female in our context may be the dresses for their males or for unisex in their cultural context. Unconsciousness and stereotyping are always challenging me. Pre-learning and observation followed by acquiring lessons must be one of the best practices as reminding myself, a peacebuilder, while dealing with different other entities. The mindset and the gesture of a peacebuilder must be on the peaceful means.
Finally, I would like to conclude my reflection with a poem that I have composed as below. To be more aesthetic please see the separately attached poetic picture.
“A Homage To A Lisu Village”
Local is focal
At least, peace be minimal
Their lovely, friendly
Nature shows Moo is happy
Let they’re blessed greatly
13 November 2023
Reflection on Community Service-Learning Activity: Lisu Village on 11th – 12th Nov, 2023
By Nokchanaro Jamir
It was such a wonderful learning and experience at the Lisu Village and Homestay by getting involved as first-hand experience for greater knowledges. I was really amaze by the natural beauty of the nature and the yellow wild flower on the road sides it reminded of my native village as they have a similar weather, highland mountain and farming.
The Host of the family was very warm and welcoming as they care for us as their own kin. In spite of communication barrier, they educate us about their rich culture. When the mother-son sang a local song together at night bonfire, show that they strongly embrace their culture and promote it. Visit to the orange farm and the Akibu café which is run by local youths, reminds the importance of dignity of labor and developing sustainable income among the Lisu people.
The Lisu people practice ecological farming, in every plot of land they planted different kinds of crops and most of the farming was done in low hill and the hills were covered with pine trees which added more beauty of nature. The trip reminded the importance of harmony in diversity by embracing each other differences with open mind. Lastly, I am thankful to Dr. Rey Ty for the opportunity to visit the Lisu Village and Homestay.
A Journey to the Lisu
by Frédéric Alix Gloor
I must admit that I had a doubt when I read that we were going to join a “homestay” somewhere in the mountains behind Chiang Dao. In recent years, several of my Thai friends have gone to the mountains like one goes on safari to meet the indigenous populations of the hills. They brought back dozens of portraits of themselves disguised in colorful clothes in front of panoramas, or at worst in front of scenes made of papier-mâché and plastic. And when I asked: but what have you learned from the local populations, the only answer I got was clichés about their naivety and their so-called “authentic” way of life.
But I was confident in the “Peace Builders”, in fact Dr. Rey wrote ethical rules to supervise the visitors that we are. It was with great pleasure that I participated in these two days of immersion in a local community with participants from diverse backgrounds.
First impression: freedom
My first impression upon arriving “up on the mountain” in this region inhabited by the Lisu people is this feeling of freedom. Here, the rules of the plains and towns seem to have been replaced by the rules of local communities. The rules of life can be broader when an entire community commits to helping each other. So we can let children play alone in a village since all the villagers will keep a protective eye on them. The chickens are left free since everyone knows which animal belongs to whom.
Because if the “hill peoples” go down to work in the plains and in the cities, they know that they can return home to find their freedom and a form of security. It’s not me who says this but James C. Scott in his study “Zomia”.
However, since the roads have been improved, paved and widened, people from the plains go up to the mountains more easily and quickly and like colonizers, they want their urban rules and requirements to be respected.
The homestay overlooks the Lisu village of Khun Khong (literally “source of the Kong River”). While the houses are located on the sides of the mountain, the huts which welcome visitors are at the summit, dominate the panorama and offer the most beautiful view. Is this a privilege? I don’t think so: the Lisu people know that the mountain protects from the wind and the rain. The summit is not the safest place in the region. However, visitors like to see the scenery. The family who developed this homestay also built a road to reach this summit which was not accessible with large vehicles from the village.
P’Koi, the only Thai in our group, receives words of welcome from P’Noon, our host Lisu. While they have a respectful exchange in Thai language, P’Noom looks at each of us with a look of kindness, he does not speak English language, but throughout the stay, I saw him looking attentively at us trying to guess our needs.
Visit and observe
We settle in, and I just want to go down to the village for a walk, but I have to wait a bit because our host is taking us to visit a tangerine plantation.
The plantation belongs to a young Lisu villager from the region, he rents the land from the State since it is inside a national park. The young entrepreneur greets us with a “wai” and a smile, and invites us to go and collect oranges ourselves if we want to buy some.
We begin to harvest with our bare hands, I am not skilled and I cannot cut without tearing the branches of the tree. Then we see the local pickers at work, they use a small pruning shear. Several of us will watch how they cut and then borrow pruners for our own harvest.
The group of gatherers are Lisu women from neighboring villages, only one man in the group. They are amused to see me walking around with my camera. I hear someone say “your photo will be seen all over the world”, and another add ironically “he’s taking a photo of you because you’re the prettiest”. (I cannot assure you that my translation is correct, but I do not think I am broadly wrong).
Later, I go down to walk alone in the village. Few people are sitting outside, but I feel that I am being observed, the community watches over everyone’s safety, especially when an intruder (like me) crosses a village. Several houses have pens for pigs, some have a small vegetable garden, some dry crops on the front porch. Many of the houses are made of wood and several have Chinese symbols on either side of the entrance which remind us that the Lisu people originated from southern China. The clothes are hung on hangers in front of the houses, the majority of the clothes are in lisu colors and patterns. I observe two children filling plastic bottles at a community tap, and I tell myself that not all houses are connected to running water.
Contribute to the local economy
Dr. Rey reminds us that through our stay, we want to contribute to the local economy of the villages we are going to visit. This is how we stopped at several markets and local grocery stores to observe, exchange verbally and then commercially.
As we make an extended stop in the village grocery store, I see a villager approaching us, pretending to want to buy products, but his attention is focused on our group, he is observing us. What he sees seems to amuse him.
Ask permission before taking photos.
Among the rules established for our trip, asking for consent before taking photos. So when I see a woman from the village sitting in front of her house cutting vegetables, I start by smiling at her and showing my camera, the people who don’t want to be photographed react immediately. Then, I can point my device, as the woman starts to smile I understand that this is a form of consent. I hear a man behind me who says to him “He is interested in what you do” (this is my translation, or rather my interpretation). And she responds with something that must be “I wonder what could be interesting”.
A multidimensional exchange
In the evening, we exchange our first impressions. I find this moment very instructive, since what I felt is not necessarily what another participant felt, due to our different origins and life paths.
The second day in the morning we stop at a small market set up along the road. I remember stopping here before, it was in 2015, there was a cabin with a coffee machine, a table and two chairs. I took a photo of the girl in a Lisu costume who ran this small business which has disappeared today. Quickly I find my photo in my digital archives and go to show it to P’Noom who tells me that the girl in the photo is here, he takes me to her. It’s funny that she is in precisely the same place as 8 years ago. I show her the photo, she looks a little amused then she says that she was prettier 8 years ago, she thinks she has aged a lot. I assure her that she has not changed. She agrees that I take a new photo.
Three girls from our group rent Lisu clothes from our host. It turns out that these clothes fit them perfectly. We walk through the forest and arrive at a viewpoint well known for offering an exceptional view of the region. A man approaches the three girls, speaking to them in the local Lisu language. When he understands that they are foreigners he laughs at his mistake. It must be said that two of these three girls come from another hill people, they come from Nagaland. However, this anecdote proves that our small group successfully immersed itself in the local world of the Lisu.
My Reflections on The 11-12 November Khoung Hong Rustic Traditional Lisu Village Ethnographic Field Visit in Northern Thailand.
I appreciate the opportunity to participate in the November 11-12 ,2023 Khoun Kong rustic traditional agrarian Lisu Village for homestay, for exposure, immersion, and ethnographic observation in an agrarian rustic indigenous Lisu village.
The highlights were that the tour was well planned and executed with some worthwhile activities and experiences that could fit in a weekend
On the morning of Saturday November 11,2023 , Dr Rey Ty gave a sociological and anthropological sounding introduction to set up the code of conduct; the mode,the tone and the mood for the field participants.
That pre-launch briefing reminded me of better ways to conduct oneself and refrain from falling back to what may be construed as my aggressive city ways .
I observed,rather schematically , how the Lisu peoples in the Khoun Kong village we encountered at the HomeStay;at Akipu Cafe;at the tangerine/orange farm ;at the vegetable and produce stands seem to my “tourist” eyes to be rather “content ” with their relatively simple communal living.
I ask you to take that condition as a given,for now;but absolutely subject to further more meaningful research.
And hence; I cannot help but ask myself as to why does it really matter in as long as one is “content” however that ” contentment” may have been attained.
I suspected that one weekend would only ,at best,offer nothing more than a glimpse into Lisu culture and way of life in this particular region.
This may be an introductory set-up to be followed by further observations and research.
I had read some background basic materials on Lisu culture.
I also had briefly talked with my Lisu FB friend Mimi Saeju.She has had experiences working with and for the late Dutch social anthropologist Otome Klein Hutheesing and American Victoria Vorreiter who have/had done some research on Lisu peoples cultures.
I also came ready to experience some discomfort, in relative forms,from my rather sedated retired urban lifestyle in the nearby metropolis of Chiang Mai ,Northern Thailand.
I kept reminding myself of my earlier readings and my heroes in the eco-primitivism movement where primitivism is celebrated as an acceptable alternative lifestyle , for what it is worth ,for the peoples in the advanced industrial cultures to emulate ,at least partially and selectively;for our own good.
Researchers state that the less-industrialized communities have built-in effective family relationships ;more organic food supplies,and simpler demands that ,wholesale speaking,tend to contribute towards greater social cohesion and relative satisfaction levels .
Speaking of hunter-gatherers;researchers have found out that they tend to practice more simpler democratic forms of governance. The Lisu villagers we encountered are settled farmers .
But,what is generally true of the hunter-gatherers can be aproximately also true in agrarian communities .
For reference I cite the experiences of neuro-scientist Carlo Rovelli with indegenous tribal cultures who would chose to be left the way they are:
Allow me also to cite the works of John Zerzan ,an American eco-primitivist thinker and author:
An intelligently unusual treatise is provided by John Zerzan in his book A PEOPLES HISTORY OF CIVILIZATION April 2018 Google Books.
John Zerzan (/ˈzɜːrzən/ ZUR-zən; born August 10, 1943) is an American anarchist and primitivist ecophilosopher and author. His works criticize agricultural civilization as inherently oppressive, and advocates drawing upon the ways of life of hunter-gatherers as an inspiration for what a free society should look like. Subjects of his criticism include domestication, language, symbolic thought (such as mathematics and art) and the concept of time.
John Zerzan also :
Provides a collection of tlhought-provoking essays that look into the dehumanizing core of modern civilization, and the ideas that have given rise to the anarcho-primitivist movement. This edition includes 18 additional essays and feral illustrations by R.L. Tubbesing.
The Main Body of My Experience
I felt at home,in a manner of speaking , when our red bus approached the outer boundaries of the rural parts of Chiang Dao County.
Then;we were met by our hosts in their village of Khoun Kong who drove us up to our reserved accommodations.
The hosts of the Khoun Kong Lisu Village Homestay were delightful family to us.
They welcomed us like we were some lost outer larger family.
The whole three-generations of them,as well as their dog adopted us for the weekend of our stay November 10-12 ,2023.
Food and their hospitality was in abundance,including my vegetarian selections.
And we are indeed part of the lost tribes out in the urban jungles of the ” industrially civilized ” world .
The drive up and down the homestay standing up on back of the four-wheel truck was an adventuresome addition to my mind.
After dropping our backpacks and familiarizing ourselves with our tent accommodations and or bungalows it was time to go down the hill.
The main activity of the first day was to head to our first scheduled event visiting a fruit farm.
We picked our own oranges/tangerines .
With the assistance of Khoun Koi,our participating field visit group we could communicate with the Lisu hosts,the Lisu fruit -pickers and supervisor.
After completeting our fruit purchases we headed back to our accommodations up on the hillside for what turned to be an eventful Saturday evening of November 11,2023 .
Let the evening begin:
I have to admit that I was dreading as to how I was going to keep myself awake or engaged until the clock strikes 10:00pm and get to get some sleep.
However;to my pleasant surprise; there were enough activities for everyone .
And it began with a “hibachi” style outdoor communal dinner for the participants under the star-lit evening of Saturday November 11,2023.
I enjoyed the limited dialogues that the closeness the set up allowed .
The leader of the mission,Dr Rey Ty,asked for some of our observations that far at that point.
That encouraged us to formulate and compose our observations.
The HomeStay host family were too busy all evening;too bad they could not join us(especially their kids) at the table or at at our activities ;the language barrier notwithstanding.
After the sumptuous vegetarian and non-vegetarian dinner ;it was time to sit down around the campfire that was already started by the HomeStay hosts.We all participated around the campfire for conversations regarding our experiences.
Campfires tend to encourage meditative states of mind.
The firewood provided was about burnt out by around 8:00 pm.
The HomeStay hosts ,their kids and grandparents expressed that it was their time to retire for the night.
They left the grounds for we,the participants.
Dr Rey Ty and others started karaoke style group and individual crooning.
I sang my version of “The Groovy Thong ” by The Fifth Dimensions to my heart’s content. I applaud myself for the effort.
Dr Rey T and his participating students were great social and intellectual company.
It was the end of the night for me after that.
I headed to my tent by about 9:00pm , satisfied with the range of activities thus far.
Time for me to hit the bed a la the recommended early-y -to -bed -and- early -to- rise lifestyle .
No showers this chilly nite,too cold for a cold shower.
But ,I came prepared for some welcome “hardship”.
We did have some light moments among the field-visit participants at the Saturday night of November 11 ,2023 on the grounds of the rustic KhounKong Village HomeStay.
We had reliable electric power and running water and clean basic individual toilets .
The Last Day of The Ethnographic Field Observation:
Sunday November 12,2023 came early for me.
I woke up early .
It was a restful night.
The view from my tent covered the misty valleys and of the Doi Luang mountain ranges over the mist out up on the horizon.It was captivating.
After my morning routines of yoga stretching and of meditation practice,I heard the sounds and calls for breakfast .
Breakfast was primarily a bowl of “jokk”, with vegetarian and non-vegetarian options.
No one asked for coffee or tea and none were served.
We were given a preview of the events for our day during our first meal of the day.
The owners of Khoun Kong HoneStay had brought over their “organic” avocados for our purchase.
It was great to see their about 10 years old son was been trained to man this make-shift avocado stand.
All or many of the participants bought some avocados .He was good at completing my sale.I was happy to support this endeavor,albeit in a small way.
And may be he will be groomed towards entrepreneurship as the first-born-son in mostly traditional patriarchial families in different cultures,I observe.
We were then advised to pack up and load our belongings on to the four-wheel truck for the last adventure of standing on the back of the four-wheel truck down the hill mindful of the protruding tree branches over the rugged road going down the hill.
The female participants of our group were outfitted with Lisu traditional costumes.The owner and his kids downed Lisu male jackets and matching pants .
We were asked to.memorialize this in a group photo as our final farewell with our gracious hosts ,their adorable kids and their loving dog ..
Our next stop was the popular scenery look out overlooking the valley for a group photo opportunity.
Whether by design or by coincidence,the village headman was there to greet us and to seemingly “show off” one of his village’s hot spot.
Apparently this spot is a main tourist attraction;it was swarmed with Thai tourists, including from Bangkok.
The next stop was at the most hip Cafe in town:This was very busy Akipu Cafe.
I was told by the barista that Akipu, in Lisu language , meant something along the lines that the spirit of the Lisu peoples will rise again.
I expressed support of solidarity to that manifesto.
I was pleasantly surprised to see on the menu and ordered my favorite matcha green tea.
Then,I meandered towards the boutique ,where I picked a colorful short-sleeve shirt ,hand -made.
I bought it for a whopping Baht 50.
We kept on hanging around this rather rustic looking , pleasantly ambienced cafe.
Our final scheduled stop at Khoun Kong Village was at produce stall by the bus station.
Some of us found some fruits and or vegetables to buy.
Then came time to say good-bye to our one week-end home of Khoun Kong Village .
We we headed out to go back to our point of origination: Payap University ,Chiang Mai.
Here, we sat in an end of field visit evaluation session of the two-day events chaired by Dr Rey Ty, team leader .
In turns, each participant narrated the highlights of their respective purview and experiences.
The team leader reminded the grouping of participants to prepare in writing ,with no wording limitations, their recap of the passing weekend at Khoung Kong Rustic Traditional Lisu Village and post on the venue prepared.
Conclusions to be drawn:
I am grateful for the opportunity.
I learned some things about Lisu traditional culture . These Lisu persons that I came across over this weekend seem to be happy living their simple lives .I wish and hope they be left to themselves,without exterior forces super-imposing and arresting their developments that they develop at their own pace .
And, I also learned about myself in the process.I am happy for the moment for self-reflection that the absence from my settled routine laden life provided me .
I was prepared to experience some hardship ,but to my surprise there was only one,namely keeping my head safe from protruding tree braches over the road when riding at the back of the four-wheel truck going up and down the rugged terrain road.
The stated mission of this November11-13,2023 trip to Khoun Kong Lisu Village for homestay,for exposure, immersion, and ethnographic observation in an agrarian rustic indigenous Lisu village.
*Yes,I accomplished the village homestay and I have been enriched by the experience.
- I was exposed to some and could draw some ethnographic observations.
I hope to go back and revisit Lisu village life in the future.
Our delightful hosts at The Khoun Kong HomeStay were three Lisu generations with every generation contributing and or learning from the previous generation.
The oldest 10 year-old son was already groomed to take up some responsibilities.
*However,for immersion to have taken place at any depth of meaningful level,more time would have been needed to live among the population on longer spans of week days and weekends.
I am mindful that this is not lost on the team leader and on the department who constantly have to contend with budgetary confines.
I believe that I have contributed to the discussions among the participants.
I have consequently been enriched by the dynamism and by the foresight of the younger generation.
With best regards:
Reflections on the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO) Regional Committee on Asia Pacific (RCAP) 75th Anniversary (1948-2023)
by Kushelu Chakhesang
Attending the CoNGO Regional Committee in Asia Pacific (RCAP) in Bangkok on 19th and 20th May 2023 was a valuable experience that we deeply appreciate. We would like to express our gratitude to Dr. Ray and Dr. Levi, the CoNGO president, for providing us with this opportunity.
Throughout the event, we had the privilege of observing and hearing about various initiatives and efforts aimed at achieving sustainable development goals. This exposure allowed us to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and progress in the Asia Pacific region. The panel discussion on business and labor for human rights
and sustainable development was particularly enlightening. It provided a platform for insightful conversations and exchanges of ideas, emphasizing the importance of collaboration between different stakeholders to drive positive change.
One of the highlights of the event was the ceremony commemorating CoNGO’s 75th anniversary. This significant milestone served as a reminder of the organization’s longstanding commitment to promoting the well-being of communities and advocating for social justice. The celebration underscored the collective achievements and reaffirmed the dedication of coNGO and its members to continue working towards a better future.
Additionally, we would like to acknowledge the hospitality staff at Siam University for their outstanding service and support throughout our stay. Their professionalism and willingness to assist made our experience even more enjoyable and convenient.
Overall, attending the CoNGO RCAP in Bangkok provided us with a unique and enriching opportunity. It broadened our perspective on sustainable development, reaffirmed our commitment to contributing to positive change, and allowed us to connect with like-minded individuals from diverse backgrounds. We are grateful for this experience and look forward to applying the insights gained to our future endeavors.
The United Nations (U.N.) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Civil Society National and Local Implementation and Follow-Up, Siam University, May 19-20, 2023
by Saw “Chris” Than Htut Lynn
Organized by Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (Co-NGO) Regional Committee in Asia-Pacific (RCAP)
The Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations (CoNGO) was held at Siam University in Bangkok on 19 and 20 May 2023. It was the event of the 75th anniversary of CoNGO and the event held under the anniversary theme of “Defining the Present, Shaping the Future, Making the Change Now”.
Several NGOs representing each sector of development which is based on the mandate of Sustainable Development by the United Nations presented their progress. The venue for the event was Siam University which holds sustainability concepts in its activities and efforts. Not only in its teaching areas but also in the outside activities in town, the university embraces the sustainability concept as well as persuasion other powerful elites to participate. For instance, planting mangrove trees with Bangkok Governor to respond to land erosion problems. It is obviously seen that the strong enthusiasm for sustainable development of Siam University’s leadership.
According to the presentations of NGOs and panel discussions, the issues about water and sanitation, clean energy, innovation, communities, and global partnerships for sustainable develop-ment are crucial for a sustainable future. In addition, the promotion of human rights education is one of the essential factors for the generations who could embrace the mindset regarding rights issues. Regarding this, human resources factors are also playing a key role. The issue of labor in business and industry is one of the important factors to take into account in terms of human rights and sustainable development. There is a debate between innovation in business and entrepreneurship and the growth of employees’ well-being. The trap could find that employees would never be the business elite who control the small amount of the working financial capital of the nation, region, or world economy and business. Furthermore, taxation imposes mostly on the low-income and middle-class populations who are generally in employee status. Although scholars pointed out to take lessons learns from the previous weakness of the politics and economy, the middle-income trap could be still there.
When the related organizations about labor and human rights took concerns about the issues, one ofthe most important stakeholder groups seemed still to need to be brought to the discussion and negotiation table, the employee’s groups seemed to be still missing to take account and having heard their voices. Otherwise, all endeavors on the issue of labor rights could be tried to achieve without the participation of the key players. Not only the workers in particular issues but also other
marginalized groups should be brought to the table for consideration for sustainable development, such as the groups based on class and gender. Marginalized groups also should have the space.
In summary, the role of NGOs is playing a key role in sustainable development where the areas in which United Nations and states’ intervention could not be reached, such as grassroots. However, it
might still be challenging in dealing with the powerful elites, especially the ones who are economically strong and have particular interests which might not be in alignment with the objectives of NGOs. The economic power and business interests of the private sector may still dominate the
many factors relating to sustainable development. Another factor about poverty may also challenge the sustainability of environmental and social aspects. For instance, clean cooking, which the sustainable development concept holds to respond to the pollution and health of the human, is still an expensive choice for some of the poor regions and populations to use electricity and gases. For some, cooking by using natural resources, such as charcoal or wood, is the traditional way of cooking that they do not wish to abandon.
It is a good opportunity for the small groups and organizations which are helping society and the environment in different ways in order to leverage their efforts and resources as well as expand their networks by trying to have contact with CoNGO and allied NGOs and keep in touch for more participation.
Reflection on Buddhist Dhamma Seminar: 28 th February 2023, Tuesday
by Saw “Chris” Than Htut Lynn
The topic is “Building Inner Peace Through Non-harming in Theravada Buddhism: The Case of Angulimala”. The presenter, Ajarn Winchana Mopattamthai, shared her wisdom from her experience and findings from her Ph.D. research about the Angulimala who the murderer was and had killed 999 people and met with Buddha to be asked not to kill anymore and stop from killing his 1000 th victim. Then he found inner peace and achieve a peaceful life as a follower of Buddha. The version of the story may differ in some detail from the other Buddhist countries and their stories, although the main concept is the same. Finding and achieving inner peace and turning back from doing bad things could be the main
lesson learned from the seminar and it is never late to come back on the right track for the good life, although there may be criticism and an attempt to revenge for past actions, like Karma. The seminar contributes to the peacebuilder on the specific religious point of view which is related to violence, teaching for non-violence, forgiveness, and repentance, by
learning the history and story from the religion (Buddhism) which is one of the essential areas to learn as a peacebuilder.
“Feminism & Peacebuilding Workshop” in Mae Rim, Chiang Mai, on 7th February 2023, Tuesday
by Saw “Chris” Than Htut Lynn
The meaning of “one fine day” may make clearer when the day on which spend one-day workshop named “Feminist & Peacebuilding Workshop” in Mae Rim, Chiang Mai, on 7th February 2023, Tuesday. The workshop was held at the Center of International Women’s Partnership for Peace and Justice (IWP) which is surrounded by paddy fields and next to the unique mud house. Ajarn Oyuporn, the facilitator of the workshop led with her rich knowledge about the power analysis within the people and groups, especially in marginalized groups in the region. Nine people from Payap and friends joined the workshop with active participation.
According to the workshop, we have learned that power is the cause of destruction and the source of change. We, the participants, identified the sources of power that we have, then brainstormed what individuals, groups, institutions, and nations have. There are many sources of power such as gender, age, class, race, education, experiences, positions, knowledge, intelligence, relationship and network, information institutions, weapons, and so on. Sources of power that we have or not have affected our choices and opportunities, rights and freedoms, status, security and safety, wealth, health, and happiness. Power over (uses own sources of power to take advantage of, to control, to exploit, or to make the meaning of experiences of another who usually has fewer sources of power), Power-sharing (uses own sources of power to share, to help, or to support other who usually has fewer sources or power, to make its own decision or choices), and Power-within which IWP defines as the ability or the inner strength that individual, group and nation has or can develop and use it to handle difficulties, fear, injustice, violence and respond to such situation nonviolently.
Awareness of the above power dynamics and realizing the “Power-within” that we already have, made us see a new framework, a new understanding, and a new way to see ourselves as a powerful agent to change the conditions that are suppressing us.
Other than the study, the center also provided delicious lunches and snacks at eco-friendly places. Everyone enjoyed it a lot and contributed to the center by purchasing the souvenir that the center displayed.
That place is one of the places I would like to go back to again, for the different topic of the workshop. The lesson-learns from the workshop equipped me with more resilience to face the world. I am thinking to share the knowledge I have with younger generations as well as the marginalized groups in my home country. That would be one of the contributions I could make, within my limited capacities.
Overall, I’ve had many positive experiences and learned a new thing (actually not a new thing, but which we have already inside only did not realize before) from the workshop. The Center and the facilitator made us fresh and prepared to learn in a positive mode. The location is very nice and peaceful. We have felt the meaningful workshop as well as a retreat for a day. Relaxation of the body and mind was a bonus that we had.
Reflections on the Pilgrimage to Doi Suthep
Saw “Chris” Than Htut Lynn, Wednesday, November 16, 2022
The phrase “Last but not least” is more meaningful and appreciated when we took the last Interreligious Pilgrimage as the last visit of the peace lab’s activity. The whole day was full of joys and wisdom especially due to the great intellect of Dr. Le Ngoc Bich Ly, Acting Head of the Department of Peace Studies. Her knowledge sharings about the life of Buddha and belief, culture and practices of Buddhism were not only the assets of the department but also the great learning opportunities for both students and other pilgrimages. It was very impressive. Visiting waterfalls, different Buddhist temples, Palace gardens, and Hmong village together with professors and friends is a sweet moment and memory. Showing good spots to see the view from high elevation from the suggestions of our smart driver who is also a competent communicator with his language skill, was also an extra bonus for all of us. Because of the whole day trip with the requirement of hard physical movements, caring for each other when necessary is also impressive and building stronger relationships among all of us. I had a chance to escape from my daily life with books and computer on that day.
It is highly appreciated to the whole program and the Peace Lab leader Dr. Rey, for his all wonderful arrangement and detail management in before, during and after each pilgrimage. We also learned that the personal network is important for every program to be successful. I also like to thank all of the friends and sponsors (both individuals and organizations) who support us with both financial and non-financial support, such as their remembrance and prayers.
Reflections on the Pilgrimage to the Roman Catholic Jesuit Seven Fountains Retreat Center
Saw “Chris” Than Htut Lynn, Wednesday, November 09, 2022
The Seven Fountains Retreat Center is a good place to visit and worship. It opens to all for worship. Ecologically friendly religious compound welcomed me and made me realize the peacefulness. Father Paul is dedicated most of his life to the Northern Thailand mission. We have learned the Catholic Faith and Beliefs, Liturgy, Structure and the Ways of Living. In detail, we have learned more about The Apostles’ Creed, The Seven Sacraments, and the Main Ways of LIving the Christian Life such as “Lay Life”, “Ordained Life”, and the “Religious Life”. The chapel is decorated with and reflects Thai culture. It is one of the places I would like to go again. Fellowship with coffee before leaving is unforgettable.
Reflections on the Pilgrimage to the Sikh Gurdwara, by Saw “Chris” Than Htut Lynn, Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022
“Sikhism practices and believes that all are children of God, the supreme power who creates everything in the world, and no division of religion. It practices the principle of equality and thinks for others. It teaches us to try to overcome and avoid lust, greed, jealousy, egoism, and anger. They also focus on the present time without heaven and hell. The Sikh followers are also being taught not to pray for themselves when they donate to others. The sense of defense, both self-defense, and defense for others seemed to be rooted in their culture, and also became their symbol. Devotion to the supreme power and truly living and serving the community on a daily basis are the significant nature of that religion. Like other religions, Sikhism also encounters the challenge of globalization in their younger generations to follow the practices guided by the seniors.”
Reflections on Storytelling Workshop
by Saw “Chris” Than Htut Lynn, Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2022
Storytelling is one of the important tools for peace. It can change people’s mindsets as well as shape their way of thinking and doing supportively.
When we tell the story, it should come from our hearts and we need to care for the audience. Audiences’ participation in the story is one of the essentials for successful storytelling. We have to use our voices, actions, songs, and dance to keep people’s focus and create our story more visible.
Unfortunately, when we tell stories that include wars and fights, children tend to be more interested in the fighting parts. Selecting good stories to make the world better is one of the essentials as well as challenges for peace professionals and storytellers.
Reflections on the Wat Suankok Monk Chat
by Myo Aung
It is the first time I hear that a Buddhist monk expresses Buddha as a philosopher and that Buddhism is not a religion. I am very impressed with that.
As a Buddhist, other things are not strange.
The question is echoing in my mind “Why did ‘NOT RELIGION THING’ become ‘ A RELIGION’ ?” I hope that I will get that answer one day.
Reflection on the Changklan Masjid Dialogue by Myo Aung
After this trip, I realized that I should learn more about other religions, at least very basic ones. Because there are a lot of new words for me. So I can not understand their explanation well.
Reflections on the Dialogue at the Mosque with Ajan Jirachai
(Wednesday, September 28, 2022) by Saw “Chris” Than Htut Lynn
There are over 20,000 Muslim persons in Chiangmai currently, 60% are Chinese Muslim, 30% are Indian Muslim, and the rest are others.
A distinction is made between religion and culture. There are many groups of Islam in the world. The Qur’an is common to all Muslims. Different groups have different additional teachings.
Reflections on Creativity, Resilience, and Peacebuilding (Wednesday, Sep 27, 2022)
by Saw “Chris” Than Htut Lynn
- I have learned that we can miss our creativity when we got pressure on our brains. It is very much impressive to learn from the practical perspective of practitioner.
- The tools for creativity of peace are just around us, such as music, arts, performance, sports etc. Although we have different languages and culture backgrounds, these elements are easily understood universally and adapted.
- It is important to notice the moment in our daily lives and most of the creative mindsets are coming when we consider for others.
- Resilience are kind of bouncing up (bounce back but not to original place but to the place where something good or more improved).
- We have to care ourselves (self-care). We have to re-connect with ourselves and it is to know ourselves more. Resilience is to deal with the situation, not running away. We need to connect with the community and more rely on the resilience of that community rather than ours, to walk longer journey. Resilience is also a life-long journey and keep walking with a regular small step daily. Be consistent but not intensive.
Reflections on the Talk of Ven. Dhammananda (September 14, 2022)
Saw “Chris” Than Htut Lynn
- I could learn and confirm that fortune telling is not a traditional Buddhist way and not the teaching and guiding of Buddha. However, fortune tellers can heal the souls of people who are suffering and in need.
- Our happiness is our own and not necessary to put in others’ hands.
- We need to consider after doing things such as “am I really happy?”
- Forgiveness is powerful. The female monk can forgive Myanmar as well as apologize when she arrives at Shwedagon pagoda, the most famous pagoda in Myanmar, for what she has learned in her childhood about the Myanmar people.
Reflections on An International Seminar on Education under Attack: Culture, Resistance, Conflict, Education, National Security, and Peacebuilding in Southern Thailand
Saw “Chris” Than Htut Lynn, Tuesday, September 6, 2022, 13:00-18:00
- Designated language in the conflict area is one of the sensitive issues if there are a people with multiple cultures and backgrounds. It (language) is the one of the root causes of conflict in Southern Thailand, rather than religious issue which is used to be misunderstood as the root cause of conflict. Thai language is official and powerful for good future, such as job opportunities & higher education.
- Multicultural Education is important for the conflict reduction and resolution as well as for national security. However, the challenge is that it does not discuss conflict transformation, including conflict’s root causes and reconciliation processes.
- Teaching the sensitive related issues (e.g., Patani history in this case) about conflicts at young age could be risky. Children’s ability to conceptualize (critical thinking) would not be ready.
- “Wai Khru”: Pay respect to the teacher. Paying respect to elders used to be practiced in the family to the children even before sending to school. Many countries have respects to the teachers even there is no Wai Khru. It is very simple but need to understand the real concept.
- Decentralization of education system to the multi-cultural existence region (conflict area) could be a good option. However, readiness of local/regional capacity of “how to” is also important. Otherwise, it might go back to centralization, such as curriculum development.
- Culture fluency project activities are useful for awareness of culture and communication by building a bridge for connecting differences. It approaches how to live with diversity in the context of violent conflict. Cultural fluency is a skill, not knowledge.
- For sensitive case and due to cultural aspect, choosing the words wisely such as using “dialogue” instead of “debate” is more polite and appropriate, but “debate” is also important to practice for making clear of the situation too.
- In solving the problem or peace talks, apology-first is decent choice. But that apology should be sincere. It is good to put in the first, but next steps should be followed in some issues.
Sharing a thought
Can peacebuilding subject/education fit in all levels of education, such as primary, secondary, and tertiary? Different approaches of teaching peace should be designed to introduce in the education system, even the usage of the word “peacebuilding”. It should be replaced with other terms for basic level (early ages) such as friendship, harmony, etc.
I have been here in Thailand for some years already and used to think that Thailand is a peaceful land without conflicts. Furthermore, I never know that religious differences can cause problems in schools or universities. Attending this seminar makes me aware of the conflict present in Southern Thailand and the complications in the educational system in Patani.
I have learned from the presenters that it is essential to be sensitive toward other religious beliefs. Whether in the institution or society, respecting one another’s differences is the key to a peaceful society. Instead of coercion, celebrating differences, and giving space for one another would lead to peace. I have also learned new concepts such as Multicultural Education, Cultural fluency, etc.
It is comforting and impressive to see local scholars dealing with the current issues and developing plans to bring solutions to the conflicts.
Honestly, I am not very familiar with Thailand’s contents such as peace, religion, and the southern Thailand conflict. It is my first time listening to conflict, promoting multicultural education, and peacebuilding in southern Thailand from many perspectives.
Some late questions came to my mind after the seminar.
What is the difference between culture and religion?
Why just multicultural education? Why not multi-religious education?
What are the interpretations of multicultural education among teachers?
How did the different interpretations lead to the gap between implementation and the policy purpose of multicultural education?
These questions are really helpful for my studies and for future readings.