Muse Club Field Trip to Chiang Rai

By Cathy Kemp, with reflections from Muse Club members

Earlier this year the Muse Club traveled to Chiang Rai to the Catholic Mission Center of Wiang Kaen to give the children at the center the opportunity to explore their interest in both art and music. The center is home and school to over 30 Hmong children aged 6 to 16. While there, the Muse Club members organized art and science craft projects and taught the children different musical instruments and songs. Our high school students loved their experiences at the center. Here are a few reflections from some of the students on the trip.

Natakrit (Eke) Ratanachai, Grade 9

“I haven’t gone on many service learning trips so far. However, this has been one of the most memorable and enjoyable experiences of my life. Not to sound extra, but I really do feel that way. The kids were super enthusiastic, running to our bus when we arrived and running after it when we left.

This year, the main focus was on teaching music and art. Personally, teaching music was incredibly fulfilling as we get to see the children we taught perform. Oh, did I mention that every single kid performed after just two days of being taught? They were unbelievably quick learners—they love to learn and listened attentively as we spoke—and they played some really good music.

On the last day, right before we left, the kids each had flowers. They could give them to any of us, and when the children I taught came to give me flowers that felt really fulfilling. I still keep the flowers at home today and wish that they would’ve never wilted…. but nonetheless, my memory of the trip stays with me.

When I say I enjoyed this trip, I do not mean that I enjoyed [it] because of my friends or the hotel or any such thing.... From the bottom of my heart, seeing how happy the kids there were, made me—genuinely and honestly—very, very happy.”

Karn Techatanates, Grade 10

“When I went [to Chiang Rai] I expected to have issues working with the kids...especially since I've never taught anyone how to play music before, but I found these kids to be very cooperative and friendly. What baffled me most was how fast they learned the instruments. They went from not knowing how to read notes to being able to play songs within three days. And when we left it was very touching because they genuinely didn’t want us to leave. It opened my eyes about how much potential is in people that, if not given a chance, could be wasted.”

Raks Sivaraks, Grade 9

“The trip to Chiang Rai was really exciting and enjoyable. I am really interested in music, and this was the perfect trip for me because I got to communicate with other passionate people through the power of music. Since I am a little shy around new people, I thought that going to teach kids music would help me improve my communication skills. After going to Chiang Rai, I improved both my social skills and my music theory knowledge. The kids were very nice and very eager to learn music! At the end of the trip, the kids that each of us were coaching got to perform as a band. Surprisingly, the band that I coached got first place! I was very proud of our efforts.”