In the first week of May 2017, the Rights for All Program’s Education and Identity project held a Youth Camp in Chiang Mai for students on MAP scholarships. There were 44 Shan and Akha students who joined the activities between the ages of 12 and 17-years-old. The students represented 9 Thai government schools in areas across Northern Thailand. Youth Camp was facilitated by MAP staff from the Chiang Mai and Mae Sot offices, as well as representatives from the Internet Foundation for the Development of Thailand based in Bangkok. The 3-day event gave MAP scholars living in different areas a chance to bond with one another, learn together, and raise questions in a safe space.
The Internet Foundation for the Development of Thailand facilitated sessions on social media safety and cyber bullying. The sessions hit home for students, who described incidents of fraud when purchasing items off Facebook ads. Students were able to reflect on the “image” of themselves that they create on social media pages and that others create for them, as well as the internal pressures this induces. Other sessions at youth camp focused on gender and sexuality, disaster preparedness, and documentation requirements and procedures for hills tribe peoples and migrants in Thailand. The gender and sexuality session opened up discussion amongst students about their changing bodies and gender stereotypes. The disaster preparedness and documentation sessions sought to address the practical issues students and their families face living in rural areas, as well as challenges to accessing schools and social services in Thailand as members of hill tribes and/or as migrants.
In order to encourage a sense of comradery amongst MAP scholars, fun, team building activities were central to Youth Camp. Students participated in relay races, role-playing activities, and ice breaker activities that got their bodies moving and introduced them to one another. On the final night at Youth Camp, students participated in a “fashion show,” where teams of students designed the concept behind a made-up superhero and outfitted one of their team members using random materials. Youth Camp students were thrilled to be in the company of one another, building a foundation of trust and community that will serve them as they continue to reach for success inside and outside of schools.
Youth Camp participants and facilitators.
Students engage in a fun icebreaker activity.
MAP scholars role-play a cyber bullying situation.