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FEATURE | ‘Bus Ride’ to Phuket: A Documentation of CLSU Student Leaders' Journey in Thailand

September 07, 2022 - 09:14 am

Mitzi Trix Fernandez / SCO

Our journey felt like a wild bus ride. The unimaginable blend of excitement and nervousness filled the air as we travelled to our destination – Phuket, Thailand.

Boarding our first international flight reminded us how fortunate we were to be selected as delegates of Central Luzon State University to the 7th Global Leadership Program – an international event spearheaded by the Association of the Universities in Asia and the Pacific (AUAP) and the Phuket Rajabhat University (PKRU).  

 As we reached Phuket, we started feeling the quiet anticipation of the journey that is about to begin. We have seen unfamiliar faces, passed through unfamiliar routes and places, yet the anticipation of gaining new knowledge and experience made us shiver with excitement!

 PKRU was our first bus stop. We were warmly welcomed by the AUAP and PKRU. During the bus ride, we played a game that tested our communication skills, teamwork, and creativity. In a short while, we were able to make friends. Indeed, the game was conducive to building the foundation of our relationships. Fortunately, our group did not just break the ice, we also got the most detailed output.

 In the afternoon, an interactive discussion about multiculturalism took place. While the session made us appreciate the diverse culture in Thailand, it also left us - at least among us CLSU delegates - wondering if acceptance really is the key to a free community. After the talk, we were able to roam around the campus with the President himself. Fellow students from the host university entertained us during the night with their classic Thai dance and ensemble. Later that night, we also met our fellow Filipino who works in Thailand. That day, our hearts were filled with stories, encouragement, tips, and laughter.

Our second day was a peaceful warm ride. Our morning session was composed of learning about increasing productivity at the Phuket Pearl Factory and Farm. There, we had a closer look at the different types of pearls and how the farmers cultivate them. After, a motor yacht adventure to Coral Island filled our afternoon. Delegates were given the opportunity to explore Phuket’s vast, majestic open sea. The proud claim of the tourists on their beautiful sunset was also highlighted as we delight in our socialization night with a calming view. We went to the festival at Phuket Old Town were local products lined up in the street can be seen. Indeed, it was a night to remember.

Like children on a school field trip, we enjoyed the sightseeing activity. We had a hands-on experience at the pineapple farm where we planted, picked, chopped, ate, and drank fresh pineapple. We also went to Chalong Temple and ended our day with a breathtaking view at the Promthep Cape, also known as the "Tail of the Dragon” where the waters shine like diamonds in the ocean.

During the tour, we heard some local stories and learned more about Thai culture from our tour guide, Teacher Sally. In the morning, Baan Khanan Cultural Village generously welcomed us with first-hand experience of their history. From their classic Thai dance, cuisine, ancient house, game, and hobbies, we gained a generous amount of lesson during our short stay in the village.

Meanwhile, in the afternoon, the delegates were given the option to choose between fruit carving, Thai boxing, and classic Thai dance as their activity. While learning, we realized that like most Philippine folk dances, Thailand’s cultural dance also depicts the everyday living of its people.

The next two days was concentrated on knowledge transfer. Several talks on the following were presented by well-respected international speakers: The Employability of Undergraduate Students by Dr. A. Eskandari; Reinventing Higher Education by Mrs. Ying Sawheny; and Creativity of Leadership by Dr. Alvaro Barbosa. Moreover, an interactive discussion on the leadership principle was made by Mr. Thames Kraitat. All the lectures were equally important, however, this topic earned a specific spot in our hearts. Through this discourse, we gained additional perspectives about leadership and learned more about ourselves.

Farewell Dinner Party was held that night in recognition of all the participating universities and student representatives. We danced, sang, and took pictures – hoping to keep our memories for a long time.

Our journey in Phuket was like a wild bus ride filled with exciting flavors of lessons, experiences, realizations, leisure, and people. Indeed, Phuket is a beautiful place filled with beautiful people. The diversity of their culture and cuisine strongly reflects the diversity of their people – making this region one of a kind.

 Our love for growth and passion for service helped us connect with one another regardless of the cultural differences.

 It was the realization of love as the universal language - the warm greetings, the laughter and non-verbal cues that overcame our language barriers.

Like grown students during the last day of school, memories are permanently etched in our hearts as we head back to our homes. Clueless as to when we will see each other again, nevertheless we remain supportive of each other's successes.

 The last day of our Global Leadership Program journey felt like the final stop of our school bus ride. The blend of joy and sadness filled the atmosphere. It was indeed a bittersweet adventure. We are all heading towards different destinations in the future, but this travel experience will linger in our hearts and minds for a long time.

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Mitzi is a fourth year Development Communication student. She is an academic achiever and a student-leader who currently serves as the President of the Department of Communication and Development Communication Student Council, BOP and Head of Committee on Student Activities for the College of Arts and Social Sciences Student Government. Mitzi was joined by four other student-leaders in the weeklong Global Leadership Program namely: Sherren Punzalan (BSBiology), John Nikko Espiritu (BS DevCom), Laurence Ramos (BS DevCom), and Joel Collado (BS Psychology).