Kristin Veach visits Thailand

Thursday, February 5, 2004
Kristin Veach showing pictures from home to Tong, a university student in Bangkok. Also pictured is P'tie, a translator from the local church.

Kristin Veach of Manila returned last Monday from a trip to Bangkok, Thailand, where she and a group of 15 college students shared their culture and language with Thai college students.

Veach is a sophomore at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. The college is a private liberal arts Baptist college. Various trips throughout the year are sponsored by Global Opportunities (GO).

Thailand is one of the regularly sponsored trips. Veach said some students take off a semester to do mission work or two months in the summers, spring breaks and others take the two week trips such as the one Veach went on.

Students apply early in the year for the trips naming their preference of destinations, inside and outside of the United States. Thailand was Veach's first choice and she feels fortunate to have had the opportunity. It was her first trip out of the country and it was an experience that she will cherish forever.

Veach left with her college group and sponsor on Jan. 12 and returned on Jan. 26.

She said her body was almost adjusted to the 13 hour time difference and the hot weather in January when it was time to come home.

"The saying in Thailand is they have three seasons, hot, hot and hot. They left out humid in the season description," Veach said.

The group was welcomed to Thailand by members of Canaan Baptist Church. Tim Owens, a missionary who has lived in Thailand for 16 years also helped the group get settled into the hotel and on their way to daily visits at the University.

"The University there was great. They gave us a room to use and every day we would be there meeting with the University students, sharing our culture with them. They seemed to love Americans. The college students came in and out and we met very nice people. They loved to talk with us and work on using the English they had learned in the classroom. All elementary students in Thailand take English classes as well as the college students. We were able to attend a couple of English classes as guests. We also had the opportunity to visit a sixth grade classes at a primary school," Veach said.

Veach said that was a great experience. Eight sixth grade students were assigned to an American visitor and the young students conducted an interview, and then wrote a paper on what they had learned about American culture.

"They all want to know how to speak English," Veach said.

The college group had a translator from the church that accompanied them for the two week stay. Veach said even with that, there was a language breakdown in the conversation from time to time but that did not stop them from making friends.

"The people were so friendly and accepted us," Veach said.

Veach said the college gave an English party while they were there.

"They invited us and we had to sing our National Anthem and they sang theirs. The Thai Dance class performed their local dance and taught it to us. It was a lot of fun," Veach said.

Bangkok has 11 million people. Veach said the flight did not seem too dangerous, but the taxi rides were wild.

"Vehicles seemed to be everywhere going every way with motorcycles weaving in and out of the traffic. Drivers would make six lanes of traffic designed with only four lanes. You would think there would be more accidents but we did not see even one. We were told that an occasional fender bender takes place but for the most part, the traffic just keeps on working its way through," she said. "Because they drive on the opposite side of the streets from us, I was always looking the wrong way when I wanted to cross the street."

She enjoyed a tour of the Grand Palace where a former king lived, a boat tour down the river where they could see a lot of the city, and on the last Saturday they visited Auyuttaya, one of the former capitals. Two centuries ago it was attacked. The ruins are still there.

She also discovered another way to travel while in Auyuttaya when she and a friend took an elephant ride.

Veach said the majority of the college students are not aware of the Baptist church that is located near the campus. We invited the young people that we met to our farewell party that was held at the church. Many of them came. Volunteers are vital in the missionary work in this area. I would love to go back some day for a second visit," Veach said.

She said the first day or two, she was not sure she had made the right decision because the food was so different.

"I thought I might starve to death in two weeks but it did not take me long to find the foods that I liked. We did find a McDonald's, Pizza Hut and KFC. Food was very reasonable. We could eat all day long for about $2 in the college cafeteria. Things were cheaper there," she said.

She also had access to e-mail at the hotel and kept in touch with her parents by e-mail. Kristin is the daughter of Rob and Vivie Veach of Lost Cane. She is a 2002 graduate of Manila High School.

"I love attending Union University," Veach said. "It is a wonderful school with about 2,800 students. I would encourage anyone looking for a college to check it out."

Veach is majoring in education.

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