Soci 180 (Sec. 1): Hands on Thailand (HoT): Service Learning in Chiang Mai
(4 units; Cr/NC; no prereqs)
Professor: Dan Brook, Ph.D.
Department of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences (SISS),
San Jose State University, San Jose, CA 95192-0122 USA
SJSU Special Summer Session: Faculty-Led International Program (FLIP): June 3-24, 2017
This course will analyze some social aspects of Thailand and our role in them. Through reading, writing, service learning, field excursions, reflection sessions, reflection journals, group meals, free time, and more, students will directly explore and experience the processes that shape culture and society in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Blending thinking and doing, service learning is a unique and vital modality that brings the classroom into the community and the community into the classroom. Service learning is an integrated form of experiential learning involving cycles of preparatory reading, collaborative work in the service of others outside the classroom with non-profit organizations, and reflective writing and group discussions, as well as linking personal and social responsibility. With service learning, we directly experience the practical applications of academic knowledge and social analyses in both community and classroom. Doing so in Chiang Mai, Thailand will only amplify our learning.
Studying abroad in Thailand, especially by being embedded in Thai culture and society for three weeks, is educational and immeasurably worthwhile. Further, direct knowledge of Thai culture and society is useful as a comparative case to better understand and contextualize other cultures and societies, including that of the U.S. This will contribute to the students’ repertoire of knowledge, skills, and abilities, as well as their social and intellectual development and their social and cultural intelligence. Asia is an increasingly important continent, for a variety of reasons, and increased student knowledge about and experience in Asia will better prepare them for the future.
When not engaged in volunteering or course activities, students are free to explore and experience the many wonders of Chiang Mai.
HoT is organized to provide unique structured opportunities for students to immerse, participate, and learn, while being organized to be unstructured enough to allow for personal exploration, growth, and development.
Requirements (there are no prerequisites for this course, as well as no tests, research papers, essays, projects, or presentations required in this course):
1. Joining the SJSUHoT listserv
2. Relevant Reading
3. Working with one or more local organizations for at least 15 hours per week
4. Attending group excursions (field trips)
5. Monk Chat
6. Being familiar with the FAQs About HoT and the HoT Info Guide
7. Maintaining a journal of experiences, reflections, and social analysis
8. Participating in group reflection sessions
9. Following program rules (especially regarding health, safety, SJSU regulations, and Thai laws)
In addition to many other learning and leisure activities, students can take classes in Thai cooking, massage, yoga, meditation, language, batik, silversmithing, etc.
1. Dan Brook, HoT Info Guide
2. Dan Brook, GO!: Travel Quotes to Send You Off (Smashwords)
3. FAQs About HoT
4. Instructor-delivered readings on service learning, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Thai language, Thai culture, Thai Buddhism, and contemporary social issues in Thailand (to be assigned)
5. Thai mass media articles (to be located individually while in Thailand)
6. Nancy Chandler’s Map of Chiang Mai (to be distributed)
7. Other materials as required (to be assigned while in Thailand)
Walden Bello et al., A Siamese Tragedy: Development & Disintegration in Modern Thailand
Julia Cassaniti, Living Buddhism
Jaed Muncharoen Coffin, A Chant to Soothe Wild Elephants
Karen Connelly, Touch the Dragon
Phillip Cornwel-Smith, Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture
Lee Craker, The Last Elephant
Harold Kerbo, Modern Thailand
Rattawut Lapcharoensap, Sightseeing: Stories
Pasuk Phongpaichit, From Peasant Girls to Bangkok Masseuses
Pasuk Phongpaichit, Guns, Girls, Gambling, Ganja
Any of the various books or articles with “Behind the Smile” in the title or subtitle
Any article or book about Chiang Mai specifically or Thailand generally
Working with a Local Organization:
Students will choose one or more non-profit organizations in Chiang Mai with which to engage in service learning for a minimum of 15 hours per week.
This HoT program will avail itself of the richness of Thai culture and work to integrate students into the local community by engaging in service-learning projects with non-profit organizations related to:
education (e.g., Wat Mae Rim, teaching English to novice monks (definite); Suksasongkro Boarding School for disadvantaged youth (contact Jeab) (almost definite); Magical Light Foundation), academic editing (e.g., Chiang Mai University’s Regional Center for Social Science and Sustainable Development (contact: Jeff.Moynihan@gmail.com) (definite) and the International Accountability Project), environmental sustainability/organic farming (e.g., Pun Pun Airport Plaza, restaurant and farm; Trash Hero Chiang Mai), human trafficking/sex workers (e.g., Empower, Daughters Rising), children/orphans (e.g., Baan Kaew Orphanage), senior citizens (e.g., Thammapakorn at 1 Moon Muang), disabilities (e.g., Healing Family Foundation), refugees (e.g., Thai Freedom House), Hill Tribe people (e.g., Saori Creative Center), women (e.g., Chiang Mai Women’s Correctional Institution), disabilities (e.g., Chiang Mai Disabled Center), HIV/AIDS (e.g., Thai Youth AIDS Prevention Project, AIDS Network Development Foundation), art (e.g., Art Relief International), environment (e.g., Greenpeace), and/or animal welfare/rights (e.g., Asian Elephant Foundation, Save Elephant Foundation, Care for Dogs (almost definite)), or find your own organization.
Part of students’ responsibilities is to set up their own volunteering situation, whether it is with one or more of the above organizations or another. You should try to make contact before you arrive (required), but if it doesn’t work out beforehand, you can try further when in Chiang Mai.
Attending group excursions/field trips:
Students are expected to attend all group excursions/field trips. We are planning to visit various local craft factories, an elephant sanctuary, and Hill Tribe villages in the countryside. There may also be recommended excursions: a meeting at the U.S. Consulate in Chiang Mai and events at or with Chiang Mai University.
Maintaining a journal of experiences, reflections, and social analysis:
Students are required to maintain a journal in response to: work with a local organization, required readings, group excursions, items of interest from the Thai media, a chat with a monk, as well as any personal experiences that highlight cultural phenomena in Chiang Mai and thoughts, feelings, etc. It is best to write something everyday, even if not much some days and more other days, though missing an occasional day is OK.
There should also be a final and cumulative entry at the end of the journal, which reflects on your entire experience with HoT, including your feelings about it, what was best (and what wasn’t), how HoT affected you as a person, what you would recommend about HoT to other SJSU students, etc.
“If you are truly invested in learning about yourself through travel, documentation and self-reflection always helps to solidify the experience.” — Kay Rodriguez
Journals can be handwritten (either bring a notebook or buy one there; softcover is preferred), typed, blogged, vlogged, or e-mailed to me. Although I will, of course, read your journals, they are most importantly for you.
Handwritten journals can be handed to me before the conclusion of the course; digitized journals can be sent to me up to 2 weeks after the course conclusion. After that, I will submit grades.
Participating in Reflection Sessions:
Students are required to attend and participate in our six reflection sessions (Mondays & Thursdays, 6-7 PM & our final Friday) at our hotel, where we will discuss what we have been doing and experiencing, what has been going on, and what it means. We may also have some mini-lectures and guest speakers.
There will be planned group meals included in our program, where we can casually eat, talk, socialize, and share experiences.
Traveling to Places outside Chiang Mai during HoT:
Although students are allowed to travel by land (no flights during HoT) for up to one night away during HoT in Chiang Mai or a neighboring province (e.g., Chiang Rai or Pai), I would like to strongly discourage it. Here’s why:
1) I believe there is more than enough to see and do in and around the city of Chiang Mai and I hope you will immerse yourself in the local scene;
2) If students leave Chiang Mai and something happens, I may not be able to assist them;
3) If students miss too much of the program or are unable to complete it, regardless of reason, fault, or circumstance that keeps them away, they would not be able to get credit for the course.
It is ultimately your choice if you decide to leave Chiang Mai for a maximum of one night before the end of HoT, but you would have to get approval from me regarding the location and then let me know (a) specifically where you’re going, how you’re getting there, and for how long, (b) exactly when you’re leaving, and (c) immediately when you’ve returned. You also need to make sure you are not missing any required activities.
There shall be no use of motorbikes/motorcycles or airplanes during HoT. If you want to go beyond Chiang Mai province, it would be best to do so before or especially after HoT.
Allowed: With the exception of during our meetings and whenever else inappropriate, you can use your phone at any time for any purpose. Thailand is very photogenic!
While allowed, I recommend minimizing contact with social media during HoT, with the possible exception of posting, so as to enhance your immersive experience in Thailand.
Prohibited: For safety reasons, certain activities are strictly prohibited during HoT: riding on a motorbike/motorcycle, flying, zip lining, cliff jumping, bungee jumping, skydiving/parachuting, parasailing, diving, swimming alone, or engaging in any other especially risky or dangerous activity. These activities are also not covered by our SJSU insurance policy.
Also Strictly Prohibited: any illegal drugs or other illegal substances; any criticism or insult of any sort of the king, royal family, and monarchy; any criticism or insult of any sort of the military; any criticism or insult of any sort of the government; any criticism or insult of any sort of the Buddha and/or treating a Buddha image in a non-sacred way; any other illegal activities.
Respect; no cliques; inclusion; kindness; safety; open hearts and open minds.
Following Program Rules:
Failure to follow program rules or instructor’s written and/or oral warnings, especially regarding health, safety, SJSU regulations, or Thai laws, including the ones above and in the HoT Info Guide, may result in failure of the course and expulsion from the program (including the hotel) without course credit or refund.
Day 1 (Sat, June 3): Arrive in Chiang Mai; Meet in hotel lobby at 5 PM
Day 2 (Sun, June 4): Orientation and Adjustment to Chiang Mai
Day 3 (Mon, June 5): Group Breakfast at 8:30 AM & Begin Volunteering with Local Organizations (or searching for one, if necessary); Reflection Session in lobby at 6 PM
Day 4 (Tues, June 6): Volunteer
Day 5 (Wed, June 7): Volunteer
Day 6 (Thurs, June 8): Volunteer; Reflection Session in Lobby at 6 PM
Day 7 (Fri, June 9): Volunteer
Day 8 (Sat, June 10): Field Trip to Craft Factories, likely including silk, cotton, lacquerware, silver, celadon, paper/umbrellas, etc. (meet for breakfast aroud 9:30, depart at 10 AM; bring water, snacks, and money as well as anything you might want to get painted by the artists at the paper/umbrellas factory)
Day 9 (Sun, June 11): Free Time to Explore Chiang Mai
Day 10 (Mon, June 12): Volunteer; Reflection Session in lobby at 6 PM
Day 11 (Tues, June 13): Chiang Mai University?
Day 12 (Wed, June 14): Volunteer; Group Dinner at 7 PM (meet in the lobby at 6:45)
Day 13 (Thurs, June 15): Volunteer; Reflection Session in lobby at 6 PM
Day 14 (Fri, June 16): US Consulate Tour/Discussion/Meeting at 10 AM – Noon (bring passport, which is required, but leave behind all electronics, as they are not allowed inside the Consulate) – meet in the Eurana lobby at 9:45 AM and breakfast before thatDay 15 (Sat, June 17): Group Breakfast at 7:30 AM; Field Trip to Elephant Nature Park (we’ll depart around 8 AM, so be in the lobby before then) (wear bathing suit under clothes if you want to splash an elephant in the river; bring water for hydration and a snack; bring sun lotion and bug repellent, if desired)
Day 16 (Sun, June 18): Free time to Explore Chiang Mai
Day 17 (Mon, June 19): Volunteer; Reflection Session in Lobby at 6 PM
Day 18 (Tues, June 20): Volunteer
Day 19 (Wed, June 21): Group Breakfast at 7:30 AM and All-Day Trek with lots of hiking, swimming at a waterfall, more hiking, lunch in a village, more hiking, and bamboo rafting (wear bathing suit under clothes for waterfall/swimming/rafting; wear good comfortable shoes for a looong hike; bring water for hydration and snacks; bring sun lotion and bug repellent, if desired)
Day 20 (Thurs, June 22): Free time to Enjoy Chiang Mai
Day 21 (Fri, June 23): Reflection Session and Group Debrief in Lobby at 6 PM
Day 22 (Sat, June 24): Program Concludes; Depart Chiang Mai
Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) for the Undergraduate Sociology Program and How They Will Be Accomplished:
SLO1: Students will be able to think sociologically about the relationship between social structure, interaction, identities, and inequalities;
How SLO1 will be accomplished: Based on readings, lectures, and discussions, students will apply the sociological imagination to their service learning and other academic, social, and cultural experiences in Chiang Mai, Thailand and will demonstrate those applications in their written journals and oral reflection sessions.
SLO2: Students will be able to identify and explain major sociological theories and apply them to everyday life;
How SLO2 will be accomplished: Through oral reflection sessions and written journals, based on their service learning, site visits, readings, lectures, discussions, and other program-related activities, students will be able to analyze, explain, and apply key sociological theories, concepts, and terms to various social issues, social problems, and social solutions in Thailand.
SLO3: Students will be proficient in qualitative and quantitative research design, data collection and data analysis;
How SLO3 will be accomplished: As participant-observers engaging in qualitative field research at their service-learning sites, students will be studying social problems as they work to alleviate them. By analyzing their projects and other activities, and reporting back in their written journals and oral reflection sessions, students will be able to convey their sociological assessments of their own and others’ experiences.
SLO4: Students will be proficient in oral and written communication skills appropriate to the discipline;
How SLO4 will be accomplished: In addition to students communicating with their supervisors and those they serve, as well as communicating with Thai students and others, students will also communicate sociological knowledge in writing through their journals and orally through their reflection sessions. Students may also use computers, where available and appropriate.
SLO5: Students will be able to practice sociology as educated and civicly-engaged persons.
How SLO5 will be accomplished: This is the raison d’etre of this faculty-led service-learning international program to Thailand. Each student will be critically engaged in Chiang Mai, Thailand, working with a local non-profit organization, such as a school, orphanage, or organization dedicated to dealing with human trafficking or animal welfare, and will bring these vital experiences back to SJSU, enhancing their roles as educated, experienced, thoughtful, innovative, and active agents in democratic society as well as other systems and societies.
By accomplishing these learning objectives, students will increase their social and intellectual development. Students will engage in Thai service-learning projects, working alongside Thai and other people to address social problems in Chiang Mai, while placing their useful field experiences in sociological context. In turn, students will take sociological concepts, regarding work, gender, ethnicity, religion, urbanization, development, culture, cross-cultural communication, inequality, leadership, social change, and others, applying them to their service-learning experiences. Other instructional delivery methods will anchor the students’ service learning, creating a unique and holistic learning experience with which students will return to San Jose State University with more knowledge, skills, abilities, confidence, capacity, and excitement to better succeed in school, including graduate school, the workforce, and in society.
Course, syllabus, website, all text, and all photos © DB 2017 Common Era (2560 Buddhist Era). As with life itself, all information in this syllabus and on this website is subject to change. All rights reserved.