Soci 180: Hands on Thailand (HoT): Service Learning in Chiang Mai
(4 units; Cr/NC; no prereqs; instructor approval)
Professor: Dan Brook, PhD
Department of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences (SISS),
San Jose State University, San Jose, CA 95192-0122 USA
SJSU Study Abroad Special Summer Session:
Faculty-Led Program (FLP): June 6 – 27, 2020
“At San Jose State, part of the educational mission is to develop global citizens.”
— SJSU President Dr. Mary Papazian
This course will analyze various social aspects of Thailand and our role in them. Through reading, writing, service learning, field excursions, reflection sessions, reflection journals, group meals, site visits, monk chat, meditation, meeting people, eating, 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, abilities, and capacity, 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 other 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, reflect, and learn, while also being organized to be unstructured enough to allow for personal exploration, growth, and development.
Studies have shown that service learning and study abroad experiences have various personal, social, educational, and professional benefits.
Requirements (there are no prerequisites for this course, as well as no tests, research papers, essays, projects, books, or presentations required in this course, but there is work to do, goals to accomplish, and experiences to be had):
1. Joining the SJSUHoT listserv
2. Attending the Orientation sessions 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, as well as this Syllabus
9. Maintaining a journal (or blog, vlog, podcast, etc.) 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 first group meal) and are also responsible for staying through the end of the program (and last group meal). 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, Muay Thai, 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, elephants, and contemporary social issues in Thailand (to be assigned)
5. Dan Brook’s articles related to Thailand
6. Thai mass media articles (to be located individually while in Thailand)
7. Nancy Chandler’s Map of Chiang Mai with booklet (to be distributed)
8. Selections from Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture
9. 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
Mischa Berlinski, Fieldwork (novel)
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
Alexander Gunn, A Year in Chiang Mai
Carol Hollinger, Mai Pen Rai Means Never Mind
Harold Kerbo, Modern Thailand
Patcharin Lapanun, Love, Money and Obligation: Transnational Marriage in a Northeastern Thai Village
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
Optional Viewing (Thai Films):
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 (in no particular order):
Wat Don Chan (temple orphanage);
Wat Mae Rim (teaching English to novice monks at their temple);
Suksasongkro (boarding school for disadvantaged youth);
Chiang Mai University’s Regional Center for Social Science and Sustainable Development (RCSD) (academic editing);
Pun Pun (organic gardening/farming);
Burma Study Center (helping refugees).
Attending group excursions/field trips:
Students are expected and required to attend all group excursions/field trips. We are planning to visit (1) various local craft factories with lunch, (2) an elephant sanctuary with lunch, (3) the countryside, including Hill Tribe villages with lunch and bamboo rafting, (4) get introduced to Vipassana meditation, and (5) a monk chat at a Buddhist university. There may also be other excursions: e.g., yoga and events at or with Chiang Mai University and/or another local university.
Maintaining a journal of experiences, reflections, and social analysis:
Students are required to maintain a reflection journal in response to: volunteer work with a local organization, required readings, group excursions, items of interest from the Thai media, monk chat, meditation, markets, food, as well as any personal experiences and social analysis that highlight cultural phenomena in Chiang Mai and your 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, whatever form your journal takes. Although I will 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 at our final group meal, our Breakfast of Exile; digitized journals can be sent to me within 2 weeks of the course conclusion. After that, I will submit grades.
Participating in Reflection Sessions:
Students are required to attend and participate in all of 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.
We will also discuss many issues related to Thailand: AIDS, air quality, alcohol, animism, archeology, architecture, ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations), backpackers (and begpackers), Bangkok, beauty, biodiversity, Buddhism, business, capitalism, Chiang Mai, Chinese influence and investment, climate change, coal, coconuts, colonialism, colorism, commodification and commercialism, corporations, corruption, cosmetic surgery, crafts, cross-cultural communication, culture, currency crisis, cuteness, debt, deforestation, democratization, development, digital nomads, Disney, driving, drugs, economic growth, education, elephants, environment, equanimity, ethnicity, fair trade, fashion, food, free trade, freedom, Full Moon Party, gambling, gastrodiplomacy, globalization, gold, health, healthcare, Hill Tribes (and other ethnic minorities), human rights, human trafficking, IMF, inequality (economic, geographic, social), insecticide/agricultural chemicals, international trade and investment, jewelry, karma, ladyboys, language/lingusitics, lese majeste, LGBT, local laws, lotus flowers, Major Non-NATO Ally, markets, massage, medical marijuana, medical tourism (meditourism), Mekong River, migration, military (e.g., coups, dictatorship, entrepreneurialism, power), mindfulness, minimum wage, modernity, monarchy, monks, Muay Thai (kickboxing), music, norms, obesity, oil, orphanages, pangolins, Peace Corps, personal growth, philosophy, plastic, politeness, political economy, politics, pollution, poverty, racism, Red Bull, refugees/refugee camps, religion, resistance, respect, rice (e.g., agriculture, culture, exports, public policy), road safety, rubber, sadvertising, safety, secession/separatism in the South, schools, sex trafficking, sex work/prostitution, sexuality, shrimp/prawns, silk, skin whitening, slavery, smiles, socialism, social responsibility, sociological imagination, spirit houses, spirituality, sports, Sriracha sauce, study abroad, subsistence farming, sweatshops, T-Wind (T-Pop), tapioca, tattoos, temples, terrorism, theories, third gender, tigers, tourism, Toyota, traditions, transportation, tuna, underground economy, US military bases, US-Vietnam War, voluntourism, water, welfare, women, work, xenophobia, etc.
“If you want travel to change your life, it helps to reflect on where you have been and how you have grown.” — Allegra Lynch
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 solo trips or 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 fascinating 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 having the privilege to be in this special place.
Prohibited: For safety and insurance reasons, certain activities are strictly prohibited during HoT: absolutely no riding on a motorbike/motorcycle (whether as driver or passenger), driving, flying, ziplining, cliff jumping, bungee jumping, skydiving/parachuting, hot air ballooning, diving, scuba, swimming alone, jet skiing, parasailing/paragliding, spelunking/caving, abseiling/rapelling, 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, if you choose to, but getting drunk is not (enjoy your special time in Chiang Mai, don’t escape from it!).
Doing any of these prohibited activities may result in removal from HoT, including from 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, or monarchy; any criticism or insult of any sort of the military; any criticism or insult of any sort of the government or any of its institutions; any criticism or insult of any sort of the Buddha and/or treating any Buddha image in a non-sacred way; and any other illegal activities (including shoplifting, defamation, spreading false information that could cause a public panic, graffiti, and public indecency; there are many closed-circuit cameras around, both public and private). Pornography, sex toys, gambling, flying most drones, buying alcohol between 2 and 5 PM, and advertising alcohol are also illegal.
Whether online or off, whether sereiously or jokingly, doing any of these strictly prohibited activities may result in removal from HoT, including from the hotel, without credit for the course or financial refund, and could result in arrest, imprisonment, fine, and deportation 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 6): Arrive in Chiang Mai; Meet in Eurana Lobby at 6 PM for an orientation meeting followed by a nearby Welcome Dinner
Day 2 (Sun, June 7): Adjustment to Chiang Mai – Explore & Enjoy
Day 3 (Mon, June 8): Group Breakfast at 8:30 AM & Begin Volunteering with Local Organizations; Reflection Session in Lobby at 6 PM
Day 4 (Tues, June 9): Volunteer
Day 5 (Wed, June 10): Volunteer
Day 6 (Thurs, June 11): Volunteer; Reflection Session in Lobby at 6 PM
Day 7 (Fri, June 12): Intro to Mindfulness Meditation at nearby Bodhi Tree Cafe 2 at 10 AM (meet in the Lobby at 9:45 AM, earlier if you want breakfast); Volunteer
Day 8 (Sat, June 13): 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 14): Free Time to Explore Chiang Mai
Day 10 (Mon, June 15): Volunteer; Reflection Session in Lobby at 6 PM
Day 11 (Tues, June 15): Chiang Mai University?
Day 12 (Wed, June 17): Volunteer; Group Dinner at 7 PM (meet in the Lobby at 6:40 PM)
Day 13 (Thurs, June 18): Volunteer; Reflection Session in Lobby at 6 PM
Day 14 (Fri, June 19): Second Intro to Meditation 10 AM (meet in the Lobby at 9:45); Volunteer
Day 15 (Sat, June 20): 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). Giant veg lunch buffet included. Everything else is irrelephant.
Day 16 (Sun, June 21): Free time to Explore Chiang Mai
Day 17 (Mon, June 22): Volunteer; Reflection Session in Lobby at 6 PM
Day 18 (Tues, June 23): Volunteer
Day 19 (Wed, June 24): Group Breakfast at 7:30 AM and All-Day Trek with lots of hiking, time at a waterfall, veg lunch in a village, and then relaxing bamboo rafting (wear bathing suit under clothes for waterfall/swimming/rafting; wear good comfortable shoes for a long 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 25): Free time to enjoy Chiang Mai
Day 21 (Fri, June 26): Monk Chat at Mahachulalongkornrajavidayalaya University (MCU) at Wat Suan Dok from 10 – 11:30 AM (Dress temple appropriate and meet in Lobby at 9:40 AM); Final Reflection Session and Group Debrief in Lobby at 6 PM
Day 22 (Sat, June 27): Group Breakfast of Exile at 8 AM; Program Concludes After Breakfast
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 during 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 during 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 the 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 organization, such as a school, and will bring these vital experiences back to SJSU, enhancing their roles as educated, experienced, thoughtful, innovative, and active agents in a 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, sex, 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, social and cultural capital, and excitement to better succeed in school, including graduate school, the workforce, and in society.
Course, program, syllabus, website, all text, and all photos © DB 2019 Common Era (2562 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.