Each year we welcome over 2,500 students and staff from schools worldwide.
21, 22 and 23 January, 2019
Exploring the Chao Phraya
Having arrived early in order to prepare, (the deck was soon cleared, journals and pencils clipped together, life jackets laying in neat rows,) our barge team settled in for what we suspected to be a long wait. However contrary to the whims of Bangkok traffic we were not waiting very long. Over each of the three days we lined the students up in front of the life jackets, and each day you could visibly see excitement change to nervousness and back again in an instant. This nervous energy lasted through our safety briefing, as we fitted the life jackets (which they continued to wear for the duration of the trip), as they boarded the boat, and up until the first time ' snack time' is uttered, at which point it is immediately replaced by an obsessive desire for hot chocolate!
Our first activity is river bingo which prompts the young students to observe their surroundings and consider why the things that they see are there and what effects they (as well as themselves) might have on the riverine environment. After a quick 'river boat' song we move on to our next activity, river soup. This lesson builds upon the previous themes of anthropogenic effect on the river with a focus on pollution and gives the students a visual representation of the effects that each action along the river may have, the result is a container full of water that the kids have seen become increasingly more 'polluted' as they discuss the sources of said pollution. After such an intellectually stimulating conversation, the students have accumulated vast quantities of energy that can only be released by a little movement, 'captains coming' a Simon says type game is sufficient to expend it, as well as exhaust our own. The Barge staffs’ last activity before lunch is to investigate the water hyacinth (which can be found in vast quantities in the Chao Phraya) for macro invertebrates, challenging the students out of their comfort zones as well as considering the living world in a more scientific manner. Immediately before lunch our ELC colleagues have a chance to lead their children in some project work, in this case observing the visual world in the form of pictures and monochromatic drawings.
After children and adults alike wash our hands it is time for a lunch spread prepared by our master-chef two-man barge crew Pete and Pat, who specialise in a delicious selection of both traditional Thai and western fare. It is important to us at the Barge Program that we are not only stimulating our students academically but also that they gain important life skills with us also. To that end we prompt the children to wash and dry their own plates and cutlery, a task that they always take to with gusto, so much so that the mop is almost immediately employed.
Bellies full, the students settle in for a story depicting the relationship between a river dweller the river, tentatively indicating that simply taking the resources of the river without regard for the river itself may have wide and long lasting implications.
Finally after a packed five hours we only have enough time for one more game before the students head back to their school.