New Environment, New Experiences

Willams throwing buckets of water onto an elephant

By Michelle Cruz ’20

Bryan Williams, who is a sophomore World History teacher and a junior Advisor, recently had an unforgettable trip to Thailand. Several students and teachers from Pritzker will be headed to Thailand in the Spring of 2019, and his information could be beneficial or might even convince others to join the trip.  

He was there for two weeks. Williams went to Thailand with his girlfriend, Bri, and her two other friends from her a capella group in college.

As Williams explained, “We slept in hostels–a hostel essentially is where you pay for a bed; you don’t pay for a room–and our smallest hostel was about eight people and our largest hostel was about 10 people per room.” When sleeping in the hostels, one does not know who the people are, and it can either be a unisex dorm or individual genders. The hostels gave Williams, and other guests, a cabinet to put their belongings in to keep their personal items safe. Williams also stated that the hostels were very cheap, and they saved a lot of money compared to staying at a hotel.

While staying at the hostels, Williams stated that he met very interesting, cool people. For example, he met some people from Finland, France, Germany, and the Netherlands.   

Williams described the people in Thailand as “the nicest people. They were so willing to help you with anything, and anything you need, they would be willing to help with just a smile on their face. I guess the saying in Thailand is like the land of smiles. And it definitely reflects on its people because its people are just so kind. I can’t say enough good things about the people in Thailand.”

Williams said that the environment was different in each part of the country. For example, in Chiang Mai, he said it is a lot slower because it is an older city. However, “If you were in Bangkok, it is similar to Chicago being that it is a big city and there’s a lot of people.” The biggest difference he found between the environment from over there and here in Chicago was that everyone was more nice over in Thailand.

Their social norms were very formal and very respectful. For example, people had to wear pants if they were to go into a temple. Women and men cannot show their shoulders or knees and are to be covered up when entering the temples. He also learned that women are not allowed to physically touch a monk, such as shaking their hands.

Williams was not shocked so much by the differences in their everyday life. However, he was shocked by their driving since he described it in a way of them not having any rules to driving; unlike here in Chicago, where there are traffic laws that need to be followed.  In order to help give a better image of what he was talking about, he said, “They do not ever use their turning signals; they would just start going over [the lanes]. You’ll see up to five people riding their scooters at once.” He said that Thailand was different from Chicago but not up the point where it was a “backwards country.”

One aspect he found interesting was their connection with religion. The religion in Thailand is very important to the people there, “which is something you don’t normally see so much in the United States, or not so much on display, but it was very interesting to see.”

The most exciting thing he found in Thailand was meeting the elephants. Williams had stated, “We went to an elephant sanctuary, and it’s a really sad story because the elephants themselves are all taken from these trekking, logging, and circus companies, and they’re living their happy lives now. But elephant painting and riding are all really bad things for the elephants, and they end up breaking their foot. They’re forced to work or forced to breed. This nature park I went to rescues all of them and lets them move around freely. You get to bathe them, feed them, pet them, splash water on them, and you contribute to their happiness.” Pritzker students will be visiting the same park, Elephant Nature Park, when they travel to Thailand in Spring of 2019.

When Williams learned more about the elephants’ lives, he realized that the many things that elephants are forced to do; for example, in a circus, can be very bad for the elephants. No matter the size of an elephant it can greatly impact them negatively.

According to Williams, the weather in Thailand was hot, “even though we went in their summertime [which is winter time for us], it was still hot. At one point it was a hundred degrees warmer in Thailand than it was in Chicago.”

When Williams was asked if he enjoyed Thailand, he gave an immediate response, very excitedly, saying he would recommend anybody to go to Thailand if they have the chance. “I would recommend to Pritzker because they’re going to Thailand next year for spring break, and you would be a fool if you didn’t at least look into it. It’s just one of the coolest countries ever.”

Williams would like other people to know that they should explore other cultures. He said himself that he is not much of a traveler, however, going to Thailand made him want to travel more. Experiencing the different cultures will help others learn more about themselves and the other culture.

**For more information on the Thailand trip in Spring of 2019, please contact the trip coordinators, Journalism teacher Katie Curtin and College Counselor Jane Knoche.