With support from the National Youth Council (NYC) Asia-Ready Exposure Programme (AEP), students from SUSS attended an enriching 7-day global learning programme with Chiang Mai University (CMU) to explore the city's rich heritage and sustainable development initiatives.
Viet Wiang Kum Kam archaeological site visit
The students took a deep dive into the diverse communities of Tai Lue, Wat Tet and Mae Kampong, each with their own distinct cultures and origins to observe how the communities are independently preserving cultural heritage and of responsible development. Student buddies from Chiang Mai University kindly facilitated and accompanied our students to overcome the language and cultural barriers throughout the programme.
Tai Lue Community: Through eco-tourism, the Tai Lue Community of Ban Luang Nua are self-sustaining. They grow their own food, make their own products and use the tours to promote their culture and heritage. The students participated in some of the community's activities, sang traditional songs with the community, designed their own bags and cooked up a feast with the ingredients self-harvested from the Tai Lue community duck farm.
Preparing food at the duck farm with the Tai Lue community
“This programme has been a transformative experience for me. It has it opened my eyes to a different culture and way of life and made me realise how different governments handle cultures and how life can be so much different from what we are used to. I have realised the importance of lifelong learning and I am more motivated to make sure that I always have an open mind to learn more about the world around me while fostering intercultural relationships and finding ways to be more sustainable as I travel the world. I would like to end off with a quote that I heard when I was young, “To expand the horizons of your utmost destiny you must venture beyond the confines of fear, doubt and negativity. ~ Anthon St. Maarten."”
~ Neubronner Benson Joseph Year 3 FTFNCE undergraduate
Wat Ket Community: The students interviewed local homeowners from Wat Ket community about the challenges of maintaining the Lanna houses and the importance of preserving them for future generations Students conducted fieldwork with stakeholders to understand the community’s perception of redevelopment, environmental and impact of local business.
After the interviews, the students presented their findings to the community. They shared what they had learned about the history, construction, and maintenance of the Lanna wooden houses. They also discussed the importance of preserving these houses for future generations. The students caught a glimpse of the clash between urbanisation tradition and heritage and appreciated that it is a complex issue with no easy answers.
Fieldwork presentation at Wat Ket community
“This GL program to Chiang Mai has been a journey of cultural immersion and it truly has been an enriching experience. From exploring ancient temples to engaging with the local communities, the city’s vibrant heritage comes to life and captivates me in many ways as I learned the importance of cross-cultural understanding. The warm hospitality, unique traditions and mesmerizing landscapes of Chiang Mai forged lasting memories for me and deepened my global competencies. To end off, the saying where learning never stops will be deeply etched in my mind as I aim to make more intercultural connections and promote sustainability as I progress through the different stages in life. As Henry Miler once said, “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.””
~Ng Jun Han, Shaun, Year 3 FTFNCE undergraduate
Mae Kampong Community: Finally, the students visited the Mae Kampong community, a Karen hill tribe community that has been working to preserve its traditional culture and way of life. During this eco-tour, they learned about the community's efforts to protect its natural resources and how it is adapting to the challenges of globalisation. Students gained insights into the tea and coffee supply chain and engaged with families through traditional practices to enhance their understanding of local wisdom and culture such as tea pillow making.
Mae Kampong Eco-Tourism Visit
“My immersion in Chiang Mai has been a life-changing experience that has challenged my beliefs about cultural preservation and sustainable development. I was motivated to learn more about community-driven sustainable initiatives after seeing the Mae Kampong village self-sustenance. The cultural contrasts between Singapore and Thailand have propelled me to reconsider societal norms and prioritise peace and collectivism. I’ll be adopting a responsible approach to travel and supporting local businesses and artisans, in the countries I visit in the future to help them preserve their culture.”
~Loh Yu Hong, Year 1 FTMKTG undergraduate
Making and designing bags with Tai Lue Community
Students gained insights into cultural preservation and sustainable tourism during their visits to the different communities. They deepened their understanding of history and preserving heritage. The personal encounters with the practice of traditional crafts and a more sustainable way of life allowed the students to think much about life back in Singapore and how cultures and cultural traditions weigh differently in Chiangmai.
Credits and Thanks:
- Tai Lue Community of Ban Luang Nua in Doisaket district
- Wat Ket Community
- Wualai Road and Silver Handicraft Community
- Mae Kampong Community