I arrived in Chiang Mai, Thailand not knowing anyone and anxious for the 6 weeks ahead of me, but today, I will be leaving Chiang Mai with an amazing community of Thai and international friends and I am sad that my time in this beautiful country has come to an end.
This summer, I interned with World Fair Trade Organization Asia as a communication intern, helping marginalized producers in 18 Asian countries. I was very lucky to have co-workers who not only helped me with the work we were doing, but also helped me navigate life in Chiang Mai. Not only did we work together, but we also traveled together! From my work, I learned how much access to opportunities affect small producers. I was able to see how much Fair Trade affects the lives of the producers that WFTO Asia works with and the passion and love for Fair Trade from my coworkers and the producers that I have met. The Fair Trade community is very supportive and the work that WFTO Asia does affects the lives of many people as the organization helps to give them a living wage. Being able to work in this environment and learn of the problems of transparency in big companies around the world, I was able to see the world in a different view. My work has made me question the sources of the things that we take for granted - who made our clothes? What are the living conditions of these workers? Working with WFTO Asia has given me so much knowledge on the many ways to help marginalized producers and I look forward to seeing the work that they do in the future.
Throughout my 6 weeks, I have experienced so much of Thai culture, visiting sacred temples and learning about the language and people. Many of these opportunities was through my internship. I was very fortunate that my organization worked with producers in Thailand and I was given the opportunity to meet with many of them through my work. One of my favorite memories during my stay here was traveling to Surin,Thailand with my organization to meet one of our producers -Surin Rice Fund - who let us stay with his family for a couple days and let us experience what it was like to plant rice. It was truly a memorable and inspiring experience that I will treasure.
Along with eating all the local foods in Thailand (Kao Soi and Papaya Salad!!), getting to learn and interact with the locals in many different cities in Thailand has been an aspect that I have enjoyed during my stay. I was very lucky to have been introduced to Crossfit Chiang Mai - a community that has helped me tremendously. I met many locals and internationals that live in Thailand through the gym and it was here that I was able to learn so much about the culture, people, and cities of Thailand - where to go, where to eat, and even where to stay. It was worth waking up everyday at 6:30 am to a group of people who loved Chiang Mai as much as I did. Everyone I have met have been very supportive and helpful and made me feel at home; I will definitely miss hearing the greeting “sawatdee ka” everyday. I have been very fortunate to have met amazing people and to have had the opportunity to work for an organization that has helped improve the lives of others.
I am very grateful to Mr. Streicker for providing me with the Streicker fund and for giving me the opportunity to live and work in Chiang Mai. My experience in Thailand has been very rewarding and life changing and with the lasting connections I have made here, I hope to come back in the near future.
Here are some more photos from my fellowship:
|Night Bazaar Paintings, Chiang Mai, Thailand|
|Chiang Mai, Crossfit Family|
|Rice Fund Surin, Surn, Thailand|
|Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai, Thailand|
|Rice Fund Surin and World Fair Trade Organization Asia|
Jona is one of 12 undergraduates who were awarded 2017 Streicker International Fellowships. Streicker Fellows design their own projects or internships in conjunction with a hosting organization. Jona worked as a communications intern with the World Fair Trade Organization in Chiang Mai, Thailand where she helped enable marginalized producers to improve their livelihoods and communities through Fair Trade.