Today you will embark on a once-in-a-lifetime experience at the Thai National Elephant Conservation Center (TECC). As forests across Asia are disappearing, the Asian elephant is at a critical juncture, with virtually no wild habitat left their numbers are in decline. The TECC is the largest center of its kind and a global model of successful elephant sanctuaries. Supported by the Thai government, it houses the King of Thailand’s white elephants, the first elephant hospital and the only elephant school in the world.
Today you will work with your own elephant and mahout. The mahout-elephant relationship is an ancient bond that nowadays only exists in a few places in the world. You will join the partnership for the day learning firsthand about this ancient bond and way of life. You don’t have to be an animal lover to appreciate these majestic animals and this is an experience that you will remember for the rest of your life.
Head back to the hotel for dinner and time to debrief with your group. At the end of each program, students reflect on their experiences and the issues they engaged with, and talk about how to apply this new understanding to their own worlds. During or after their closing discussion, groups participate in Rustic Ties, a unique and powerful activity that allows students to capture the memories and learning moments of their program to process and share with their communities back home.