Soci 180: Hands on Thailand (HoT): Service Learning in Chiang Mai
(4 units; Cr/NC; no prereqs; instructor approval)
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 Program (FLP): June 1 – 22, 2019
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 local 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 and enjoyment.
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, books, or presentations required in this course):
1. Joining the SJSUHoT listserv
2. Attending the Orientation during Spring semester
3. Required Reading
4. Working with one or more local organizations for at least 15 hours per week
5. Participating in all group reflection sessions
6. Attending all group excursions (field trips)
7. Monk Chat
8. Being familiar with the FAQs About HoT and the HoT Info Guide
9. Maintaining a journal of experiences, reflections, and social analysis
10. Following all program rules (especially regarding health, safety, SJSU regulations, and Thai laws)
11. You are responsible for being at the hotel on time for our first meeting and
are also responsible for staying through the end of the program. Plan accordingly.
In addition to many other learning and leisure activities, students can take classes in Thai cooking, massage, yoga, meditation, language, batik, silversmithing, jewelry making, 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)
Karen Armstrong, Buddha
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
Franz Metcalf, What Would Buddha Do?
Pasuk Phongpaichit, From Peasant Girls to Bangkok Masseuses
Pasuk Phongpaichit, Guns, Girls, Gambling, Ganja
Walpola Rahula, What the Buddha Taught
Journal of Southeast Asian Studies
Kasetsart Journal of Social Sciences
Chiang Mai articles on ThingsAsian
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 local 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 local 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); academic editing (e.g., Chiang Mai University’s Regional Center for Social Science and Sustainable Development (contact: Jeff.Moynihan@gmail.com) (almost definite) and the International Accountability Project), environmental sustainability/organic farming (e.g., Pun Pun Airport Plaza, restaurant and farm (likely); Trash Hero Chiang Mai (likely)), 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., Burma Study Center), 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), and/or animal welfare/rights (e.g., Asian Elephant Foundation, Care for Dogs (almost definite)), or find your own organization.
Orgs like Friends for Asia and the Save Elephant Foundation (Elephant Nature Park) charge high fees, while orgs like Thai Freedom House require longer commitments.
Part of students’ responsibilities is to set up their own volunteering situation, whether it is with one or more of the above organizations or different organization. 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. It is sometimes initially difficult for students to secure placements, but it always works, one way or another, and the process of trying to find placement is worthwhile in itself.
Attending group excursions/field trips:
Students are expected to attend all group excursions/field trips. We are planning to visit (1) various local craft factories, (2) an elephant sanctuary, and (3) the countryside, including Hill Tribe villages. There may also be recommended excursions: e.g., meditation, yoga, 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 in your journal 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, 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 help 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 emailed to me. Please include a final statement of some sort at the end of your journal. Although I will, of course, read your journals with interest, they are most importantly for you and they will be kept confidential (with the exception of brief testimonials).
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 all our six reflection sessions (Mondays & Thursdays, 6-7:30 PM & our final Friday instead of Thursday) at our hotel, where we will discuss what we have been doing and experiencing, what has been going on, and what it means.
There will be planned group veg meals included in our program, where we can casually eat, talk, socialize, laugh, and share experiences.
Traveling to Places outside Chiang Mai during HoT:
Although students are allowed to travel by land (no flights during HoT) for a day trip during HoT in Chiang Mai or to a neighboring city/province (e.g., Chiang Rai or Pai), I would like to strongly discourage it. No overnights away during HoT are allowed. 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) You’ll lose a lot of time in transport;
4) 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.
There shall be no use of motorbikes/motorcycles or airplanes during HoT. If you want to go beyond the local area, do so before or especially after HoT.
Allowed: With the exception of during our meetings and whenever else inappropriate or otherwise disrespectful, 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 and not scroll and distract your life away while being in this special place.
Prohibited: For safety and insurance reasons, certain activities are strictly prohibited during HoT: riding on a motorbike/motorcycle (whether as driver or passenger), flying, zip lining, cliff jumping, bungee jumping, skydiving/parachuting, parasailing, hot air ballooning, diving, swimming alone, spelunking/caving, or engaging in any other especially risky or dangerous activity. These activities are also not covered by our SJSU insurance policy. Further, drinking alcohol responsibly is OK, getting drunk is not. Doing any of these prohibited activities may result in removal from HoT, including the hotel, without credit for the course or financial refund.
Also Strictly Prohibited: any illegal drugs or other illegal substances; most smoking and all vaping and e-cigs; 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 any Buddha image in a non-sacred way; any other illegal activities (including shoplifting, defamation, and public indecency). Pornography, gambling, and advertising alcohol are also illegal. Whether online or off, doing any of these strictly prohibited activities may result in removal from HoT, including the hotel, without credit for the course or financial refund, and could result in arrest, imprisonment, and/or fine by the Thai police or military.
Respect; no cliques; inclusion; kindness; health; safety; legality; punctuality; 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, legality, SJSU regulations, or Thai laws, including the ones above and in the HoT Info Guide, may result in failure of the course and removal from this program (including the hotel) without course credit or financial refund. You can also review these Student Policies.
All group activities, events, excursions, and meals are included in the program at no additional cost.
Day 1 (Sat, June 1): Arrive in Chiang Mai; Meet in Eurana Lobby at 6 PM for short meeting followed by nearby Group Welcome Dinner
Day 2 (Sun, June 2): Orientation and Adjustment to Chiang Mai
Day 3 (Mon, June 3): Group Breakfast at 8:30 AM & Begin Volunteering with Local Organizations (or searching for one); Reflection Session in Lobby at 6 PM
Day 4 (Tues, June 4): Volunteer
Day 5 (Wed, June 5): Volunteer
Day 6 (Thurs, June 6): Volunteer; Reflection Session in Lobby at 6 PM
Day 7 (Fri, June 7): Volunteer; Intro to Mindfulness Meditation at nearby Hidden House at 2 PM (recommended; meet in the Lobby at 1:50)
Day 8 (Sat, June 8): Field Trip to Craft Factories, likely including silk, cotton, lacquerware, silver, celadon, paper/umbrellas, etc. (meet for breakfast around 9:30 AM, 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). Group veg lunch included.
Day 9 (Sun, June 9): Free Time to Explore Chiang Mai
Day 10 (Mon, June 10): Volunteer; Reflection Session in Lobby at 6 PM
Day 11 (Tues, June 11): Chiang Mai University?
Day 12 (Wed, June 12): Volunteer; Group Dinner at 7 PM (meet in the Lobby at 6:45 PM)
Day 13 (Thurs, June 13): Volunteer; Reflection Session in Lobby at 6 PM
Day 14 (Fri, June 14): Volunteer
Day 15 (Sat, June 15): 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) (bring water for hydration and bring sun lotion and bug repellent, if desired, and dramamine if you’re susceptible to motion sickness). Group veg lunch buffet included.
Day 16 (Sun, June 16): Free time to Explore Chiang Mai
Day 17 (Mon, June 17): Volunteer; Reflection Session in Lobby at 6 PM
Day 18 (Tues, June 18): Volunteer
Day 19 (Wed, June 19): Group Breakfast at 7:30 AM and All-Day Trek with lots of physically-demanding hiking, time at a waterfall, more hiking, veg lunch in a village, more hiking, and then relaxing bamboo rafting (wear bathing suit under clothes for waterfall/swimming/rafting; wear good comfortable shoes for a looooong hike; bring water for hydration and snacks; bring sun lotion and bug repellent, if desired, and dramamine if you’re susceptible to car/motion sickness)
Day 20 (Thurs, June 20): Free time to enjoy Chiang Mai
Day 21 (Fri, June 21): Monk Chat at Mahachulalongkornrajavidayalaya University (MCU) at Wat Suan Dok from 10:15 – 11:30 AM (meet in Lobby at 10 AM); Final Reflection Session and Group Debrief in Lobby at 6 PM
Day 22 (Sat, June 22): Group Breakfast of Exile at 9 AM; Program Concludes
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 2018 Common Era (2561 Buddhist Era). As with life itself, all information in this syllabus and on this website is subject to change. All rights reserved. Enjoy the process.