Much to the chagrin of some of my friends and to the delight of my family members, I’ve decided to start this blog in order to record and share my experiences in Nong Khai, Thailand this summer. There’s not much time before I leave for the opposite side of the globe, so I thought that I would explain what I’ll be doing this summer. I figured that I had better spell out some of this information now, before my household gets too terribly hectic – my younger sister, Annie, is graduating high school tomorrow!
I’ll be working with Isara Charity Foundation (website) which is based in Nong Khai. I’ll be teaching English to children who visit the center and I think I’ll also be going around to government schools in the area, helping organize and orchestrate trash clean-ups around the Nong Khai Province throughout June and July, and working to free 158 Lao Hmong refugees who are currently being held against their will at an immigrant detention center in Nong Khai. The details of all of these activities are still a little nebulous, but I’ll fill you in as I learn more about what I’ll be doing.
I’m really excited to begin the human rights work. I feel like I’ve been bombarded by notions of human rights from an academic perspective, so I’m looking forward to getting my hands dirty and trying to enact change firsthand. In Nong Khai, I’ll be able to visit the Hmong refugees, although as a foreigner, I’m not allowed to spend time with the child in the outside area that they have been given by the detention center (apparently because I may give them swine flu…).
Here’s a BBC article on the situation in Nong Khai: Thailand ‘gets tough’ with Hmong
You can watch a video that explains the situation that the Hmong refugees are living in here: Nong Khai UNCHR refugees
And you can sign a petition to free the refugees that will be presented to the Thai Foreign Minister: www.isara.org/hmong
I now have more long linen pants to protect me from mosquitoes than I’ll ever need in my life and one heavy-duty pair of sandals that gets me made fun of by my sisters and I am just about ready! I’m leaving Monday morning and I’ll be in Bangkok for a day or so to recover from jet lag. After that, I’ll be off to my home away from home in the Isaan (northeastern) region of Thailand for two and a half months! I will catch up with you on the other side. The place I’m staying has a computer lab, so access to the interwebs (or the tron, as my dad likes to call it) shouldn’t be a problem. I anticipate on updating this blog and my twitter (@jordanhw) along the way.