During my time volunteering in Thailand with GIVE volunteers, I had the opportunity to spend a week on a Permaculture Farm about 6 hours North of Chiang Mai. This Permaculture site is located at a primary school called NongBua and supplements the diets of the students that are boarded there. I fell in love with this project and created a video to show how amazing it truly is.
Permaculture, as stated in the video, utilizes the relationships between different types of plants and how their biological make-up can allow for a symbiotic relationship. The plants, the environment, and even the farmer in terms of yield benefits exponentially compared to conventional mono-cropping techniques.
Likewise, when traveling to a place where people may live, sound, or look differently, it is mutually beneficial for each individual to recognize those differences and learn how to harmonize the diversity. Coming to the conversation with an open mind, being slow to speak, and quick to listen can create an opportunity for growth for both parties. This fosters strength and empowerment at the local level that can inspire a global movement for coexistence.
Many times “the white savior” complex can infiltrate our experiences when coming to developing countries and communities. These preconceived notions can hinder our opportunity to learn and grow from and alongside others in communities. The local farmers working with GIVE volunteers at the permaculture site at NongBua school had immense knowledge and experience of farming. They were eager to teach me and humor my silly questions. They would take the time to walk me through each of the projects and how they would come to fruition.
Permaculture– and this site specifically- inspired me to see people for who they are, to challenge my understanding of their reality, to give people a voice and hear their story, and to fall in love with how beautiful diversity can be. That’s how we can change the world- using our differences as a way of strengthening and uplifting each other.