Quynh on Examining Big Questions on a Gap Year

We’re very excited to present our first blog post from a 2018 TAP Grant recipient. Quynh lives in Vietnam and is spending her gap year traveling in Southeast Asia and working with an independent learning center to further her education through travel. English is her second language, and rather than edit her words for standard English, we prefer to let her own voice shine through! We think she’s doing a great job communicating in her second language Please enjoy!

There are many stories to tell related to my experiences in Gap Year plan, from the moment to receive the scholarship at Gap Year Grant and Co-design year program to the main theme which I decided to apply on my trips. Besides, all events or experience I have collected in my trip and my next plan are also a long journey. This is the reason I decided to divide my writings into 5 posts to tell about my gap year journey. And below is the second post I want to tell first. Other posts is:
Gap year grant and co-design year scholarship, a journey on alternative education and sustainable development.

  • Thailand – CURLS 2018 for healing self, healing society and healing earth.
  • Thailand – A journey on alternative education models
  • Cambodia – A journey on culture and alternative education models.
  • VCIL travel school 2018 – let’s pay it forward.

My writing can not tell all stories or knowledge about these topic but I hope that I can provide you some key words for self- researching, learning and have more inspiration to learn by travelling.

Thailand – CURLS 2018 for healing self, healing society and healing earth.

I read a book 2 years ago and the author said that everyone will have a summer which is in this summer, something changes. And this year is the same, I received a partial scholarship for learning at CURLS 2018 with many support from other friends, networks, …

Passing 15 days of learning and discovering the new things, I realized more clearly what is happening in my soul, I try to connect to it and listen to it, I had answered some of my questions, it provokes my questions and my dreams which died before because of the society and comfort zone. CURLS aims to inspire towards creative leadership for social, inner and global transformation. CURLS aims to promote the concept of Right Livelihood by living rightly on earth. By bringing together laureates of the Right Livelihood Award and like-minded resource persons, with independent individuals from various backgrounds and different experiences, a platform will be co-created for sharing informative and inspiring intellectual dialogues and self-reflection, leading towards future action towards sustainability and deepening Right Livelihood. CURLS 2018 is the co-creation of many stakeholders such as Chulalongkorn University, Right livelihood College, Royal university of Bhutan or Sathirakoses Nagapradipa Foundation. This is the change for me to look deeply into each position and observe how they organize their activties to build the world.

The program will offer the unique opportunity of being in an Asian setting where participants will benefit from interdisciplinary learning, action research and sharing cross-cultural experiences as well as “local wisdom” that will bring in new ideas and perspectives on their careers, new alliances, and policy initiatives.

In this course, I had an opportunity to connect with many resource person who is expert in some fields such as Buddhism, anthropology, alternative education, sustainable development and I can get more knowledge from them. But the most significant thing is that I have time and an opportunity to reflect on my thoughts. CURLS has changed me so much in my career path and my personal features in the big picture and is the one of motivation makes me organize VCIL Travel School 2018 later (Part 5)
15 days in CURLS 2018 in Thailand is not only a journey to know about the world outside but also is the journey to look into the world inside. We divide this course into 4 modules including 3 or 4 days.

In Module 1

3 days named “ACADEMIA – CIVIL SOCIETY DIALOGUE” for sensing the world: what is happening outside with people, environment, economic or ideology we are facing, most of them are neo-liberalism, post-development, Gross national happiness and it shows us to see unpredictable world. “YOU ARE THEREFORE I AM”. Most of the time in this session we focused on theory and definition before we have practical activities in the next session. We studied in Chulalongkorn university – the biggest and oldest university in Thailand.

The things made me impressive is that the involve of the public university in well-being and sustainable intention of society because this is the sensitive topic in any country because it conflicts to many rights and national policies. Working on alternative education and sustainable development, I truly understand our mission in the changing process of the world. Besides, look back to my experience in the relationship between myself and the world outsides, I also see most of the problems we are facing today. It has a one-term to call that is : “Paradigm Shift”

Taking a look at five crises that the world must face:

  • Ecological Imbalance: was expressed by global warming, natural disasters, extinction of species, forest devastation, environmental pollution, poisonous food, increasing chronic disease, reducing longevity
  • Social Injustice: unfair in wealth distribution and opportunity division
  • Community Breakdown: The loneliness and lack of connection of every single person in a crowded community; or even of husband and wife, children and grandparents in the family; the increasing rate of divorce, the more and more fading in village communal relationships
  • Meaningless of life: Numerous young people (and not young also) find it hard to find the meaning of their lives, they are alien to everything, they fail to connect with themselves and connect with the society outside due to lack of purpose. Others seek for the happiness, purpose and meaning of life by pursuing property wealthy, power, recognition, esteem or body-satisfaction without realizing true happiness or the real meaning of being alive.
  • Arms Conflicts/Terrorism: These crises are mostly blamed for the way that we see the world and the life, which is shaped by ideologies of governance/politics and the economic model that we pursue.

Therefore, to resolve these problems, it is required to change deeply from inside, from our thinking about the world and about the position of human in this world, about the organization of economy and society; re-thinking about relationship between people and natural environment, between people and people. Basically, paradigm shift includes the change of:

  • From Ego-consciousness to Eco-consciousness
  • From Anthropocentrism to Ecocentrism
  • From Eurocentrism to Multicentrism.
  • From greed to compassion, from competition to cooperation, from the mechanical to holistic and integrity view about the world.

Looking into the paradigm shift, we see that we are the part of the problem. But we have enough knowledge and awareness to know what is wrong, what is right, what things are controlling us, or what things make us dependent on? So, we can remind ourselves to escape from the “trap”in the world such as consumerism, development, or civilization.,.. To know about that, we need to understand about ourselves. So, the part of discovering myself is the most interesting module I was looking forward to learning.

In Module 2

4 days of discovering yourself named “THE ART OF HEALING”This is the session which I like the best. To me, everything will be meaningless if we forget ourselves and do know clearly about ourselves. Most of the time in our life we just focus on communicating with other people but we forget to connect to ourselves and nature.

3 relationship we need to build everyday are:

  • The relationship with other people
  • The relationship with the nature
  • The relationship with ourselves

I was really impressed by the module 2 because I am myself in the module, I do not need to heal the world, the only thing we need to do is healing yourself. Every day, I sing in the morning and practice art in the afternoon. We learn about art therapy and how to use art for healing yourself.

The atmosphere are Chiang Dao, Chiang Mai, and the village of artists is the best place for healing. We learned at 7 Arts Inner Place, it aims to restore harmony and balance, and to heal illness to restore harmony and balance, and to heal illness with the system of anthropocophis medicine, under the supervision of the anthropodophic art therapist. I am not only interested in the 7 Arts inner place but also the environment around that Like I said, this is the land of artists when many artists with different expertise come and share their knowledge. The specific information of each place I will update with a full note later.

I have never had some feelings like that before, especially when I sang and draw, I forgot everything around, I just focus on what am I doing: singing, drawing. I when I sing or draw, I see a part of my personality. We always we are not good at drawing, singing or something related to art or we think that most people are artists will good at art. But to me, everyone is the artist, the only thing you can do is starting to draw or sing. When I sing, I see my harmony with the lyric and beat, I see the connection between my inner soul and the outer sound.

My teacher taught us how to draw the air, fire, water and make the soil. And from this, I can find the connection with each continent because our body is the construction of 4 elements: air, fire, water, and soil . Each element will represent the characters and personality in each people such as power, dreamer, freedom,… For example like me, When I painting the fire, I feel myself is uncomfortable, I feel scared with the red color but I am really comfortable with blue color and sky space. Depend on that, I also realize that I am a dreamer and need to balance between reality and dream. Although I hate red color and fire I need to know that I lack the management energy or leadership ability. The feeling to understand yourself is really happy, because we can connect the events which was happened in the past and our thought at this moment to realize ourselves and respect it.

3 days for living with community – “Participatory Action Research with Karen Community”

Everything is just a theory if we do not apply it into the real life. We have learned about love, culture, people, or the problems which are happening in the world but if we can not live in the real life, it is meaningless. We have 3 days to live with Karen Community – the village lives on subsistence economy which promotes the conservation of nature. If you are interested in Thailand culture, you will know about sufficiency economy – one of the economic philosophy of King Rama IX, it has a big influence on the development of society, especially in Thailand. Last year, when I came to Mab-euang- the alternative education of sufficiency economy, they also teach on this philosophy with the motto: “Money is an illusion, food is real”.

They focus on collecting seeds and foods for the future and it works more than try to collect money. This is the method to combine and take advantages of an environment by sustainable ways and living harmoniously with the nature. Like the King Rama IX said that Thailand does not need to be a big tiger, it is better if all people can take care of our life and have enough food for life without depending on other factors. This philosophy was affected by GNH (Gross National Happiness) from Bhutan and this is one of the philosophy to conflict to GDP (Gross domestic product) that we know.

3 days for Conclusion and Discussion

We spent 3 last days for reflection and review what we learned before. We organized the exhibition and connect to the public lecture with the theme “ASEAN responses to historic and contemporary social challenges” to have an overview on what we are facing and what we learned to find the resonable solutions. To me, the important thing is the next step we need to do after the course. I admitted that when I was studying this course, I just want to come back my country and organize the same trip for Vietnamese young generation because I want my friends, my co-workers also have an opportunity to learn some wonderful things like that. And this is the reason after the trip, I decided to do one thing which I have concerned so much before. Actually, this course is so short for us to have the whole knowledge or go deep inside any topic but this has supported and provoked us to research or learn more by yourself.

To understand and observe my activities in the course, you can visit the link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/149252390@N04/albums/72157699627695431

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