story and photos by Rob Sherrell
Thailand has been far more of an experience than I could have ever imagined. I couldn’t understand the language and I didn’t know much of the culture before traveling here but I can say that is apart of the fun in choosing this place to work right out of college. The language barrier made things a little difficult. Thai has over 30 vowels, more vowels than all of the letters in our alphabet, but I’m learning that it’s not as hard as it seems to pick up things here or there. Thai is a little like music, with letters having very specific tones when spoken.
I couldn’t talk enough about the scenery if I tried. We’re positioned up in the mountains for a total of two months and looking down on the clouds is breathtaking. Waking up each morning and walking past the wave of forestry below is a sight that took a while to get used to. It really gives you that top of the world feeling in more than a physical and literal way. We’re in the heart of nature. The wildlife surrounds you up here and even more so when you consider the Thai people’s respect for all living life and every faucet of natural world.
I’ll need an entirely new update to describe to the food here. Seriously, I’ll write another post that is specifically about how my meal experience has been. (SPOILER: It’s been great.)
My internship is with the Mae Fah Luang Foundation under Royal Patronage, one of the largest non-profit organizations in Southeast Asia. My particular job was helping to create a documentary over the Doi Tung Development Project, an initiative that not only helped eradicate the growth of opium in an area that was the height of opium production in the world, but also enriched the lives of the hill tribe people of the Doi Tung Area in the mountain region of norther Thailand. I’m officially at the halfway mark of my program and as cliché as it sounds, this job has changed my life.
Hearing the stories of the people I’ve talk to on a daily basis and coming to understand the hardships that once plagued their land can put many things in perspective. For me, this impacted the feelings of importance I had on the job at hand. The strain of the pressure to perform well as director in the making this film was a little off-putting at first. However, as I learned of the bravery and caring attitudes of the King Rama IX and the Princess Mother of Thailand when they started the Doi Tung Development Project 30 years ago, I realized how much of an honor it was to be tasked with telling the tale of how much this project has bettered the lives of thousands of people. It’s my duty as a filmmaker to let the world know of their legacy. I’m glad I’ve been able to put what I’ve learned at Indiana University into practice.
We’re wrapping up filming now and heading into post-production as my final weeks here progress. When post-production is done, we’ll be presenting what we’ve created to the entire organization. Wish me luck! Until next time –Sawadee krap!