Living and Learning in Northern Thailand (International Osmosis)

The project known as International Osmosis is a cross-cultural immersion experience that took place from October 25 - November 10, 2016. Four youth leaders from the Ata, Teduray, Tagakolu and Matigsalug tribes, alongside the iEmergence team, engaged in a two-week cross-cultural learning immersion with one of our partners in Thailand, Upland Holistic Development Project (UHDP), and their partner communities. UHDP is a faith-based organization that has been engaging in a Christian response to holistic development for over 30 years among the tribal communities in Thailand.

International Osmosis was a wonderful opportunity to gain knowledge on agroforestry, natural farming and community forest management from experts in the communities. We learned a lot from the elders of the Daraang tribe particularly on the ways in which they care for creation and keep their cultural and spiritual traditions, despite the great challenges they face as refugees from Myanmar living in Thailand.

The immersion also provided the leaders the space to have a cultural exchange with the hill tribe communities. They not only shared stories, songs and dances but also, faith and identities as tribal peoples.

Learning visits to different organizations (based in Chiang Mai City) working alongside Indigenous communities in Northern Thailand were also organized during the trip. In these visits, we heard stories of transformation from young ethnic women from the New Life Center Foundation, learned from the experiences of WEAVE in empowering women refugees through fair trade, and helped the School of Tomorrow prepare workbooks for underprivileged students.

The immersion brought a valuable lesson to the entire International Osmosis team. Everyone was excited to share the inspiring stories they learned from the various hill-tribe communities and local organizations. The experience fueled the leaders' passion to continue to serve their respective tribes. For iE, it also spurred us to commit even more deeply in the work of strengthening Indigenous leaders.