Welcome to one of our most intense service programs in Southeast Asia! The program name is not a joke. If you come, you can only pack one light bag: pack one change of clothing, a lightweight sleeping bag/sack, your necessary hygiene items and medicines, and no more than five things you feel might be important during your trip. These might include a camera, a notebook, a tape recorder, or a book – it’s up to you. Just leave everything else at home. When you get to Thailand, you’ll be given a locally made backpack and $50 to buy clothing for the next three weeks. You’ll be surprised how far this money goes at the local market. You may also be surprised that many families in villages around the world live on less than $50 per month.
TRAVEL WITH FRIENDS, NOT THINGS
Rustic Pathways has friends in these villages, so you won’t be a stranger. In fact, you’ll be welcomed like family. We’ve been down the dirt tracks that lead to these places, and we’ve asked the villagers if you could visit. We’ve told them you would like to stay for a week, get to know them, and help out around the village – and they agreed! They have arranged a comfortable place for you to sleep, and have spoken at length about how excited the children will be to meet you. They’re all waiting for you to arrive.
LIVE LIKE A VILLAGER
You will visit three villages in northern Thailand, for about five days each. As you travel, you will reflect on what you have seen and heard, assess the needs of these villages, and work on designing both short- and long-term sustainable service initiatives. You’ll learn to make a plan, gather materials, work within a budget, and set a timeframe to complete the project. You will then work with the villagers and your leaders to put the plan into action. Build lifelong friendships in the villages where you work, and develop skills that will help you organize service projects back at home.
Step back in time and discover what it is like to live in a small village far away from the influences of modern society. Your leaders will arrange clean food and water, but expect living conditions to be very rustic and humble. People here don’t have many things, and students find their sincere approach to life refreshing, and love to spend time with these close-knit families. After just a few days, you will find that you have left behind the world you know. You will soon begin to groove to an entirely different beat here in the mountains of Southeast Asia.
GO HOME RICH!
This trip has a way of leaving lasting impressions and positive memories with students and villagers alike. You will likely go home inspired, with a desire to continue service long after you have left this program. The villagers will also be left with wonderful memories, and they will be grateful for all of the hard work and dedication you have put into these projects.
You’ll return home much richer than you arrived – and if you’ve used your heart and your head well, you will have given something substantial to three villages. You will not only go home a richer person in friendships and experience, but by doing your small part you will have made this world a better place. You’ll never forget this trip!
ARE YOU UP FOR THE CHALLENGE?
Come With Nothing, Go Home Rich is an intense experience that involves a lot of hard work. Generally, students who are not prepared for the rustic conditions on this program have some difficulty adjusting.
Despite being different from what you are used to, living standards in remote Thai villages are quite clean, and staff will make sure you are well informed in each village you visit. While the rustic conditions may require some adjustment, the vast majority of our students really enjoy the opportunity to live like local people in three different locations.
However, you can and should expect your comfort levels to be tested throughout the trip. We are not trying to scare you away, but the success of this program depends on having participants who are ready for this kind of experience. If you are expecting a comfortable, relaxing, five-star holiday, you will be in for quite a surprise when you arrive. Thus, we would like to state the facts clearly so all participants know what to expect:
- Mornings come early in rural Thailand and you must wake up with your host family. They will be up preparing breakfast and getting ready for the day as soon as the first roosters crow and often before the sun begins to rise.
- Personal space is very limited in many of the hill tribe villages that we visit.
- You will find yourself in places that do not have Western-style toilets or showers for extended periods of time. You will learn to use the same facilities the villagers use – you’ll be using a “squat” toilet and showering with a bucket.
- You will always be well fed, but picky eaters will not always have a lot of options to choose from. Students who do not eat the local cuisine (which is generally pretty simple and tasty) can expect instant noodles, eggs, peanut butter sandwiches, rice, rice soup, and fruit.
- You will be out of cell phone and internet range for the majority of this program, and electricity may even be limited, as generators shut off in most rural villages at about 9:00 PM.
If you are not comfortable with any of the above facts than you should probably check out another program. On the other hand, if you are up for an adventure and seeking a dramatically different service experience that will fully immerse you in fascinating cultures and places, Come With Nothing, Go Home Rich is the program for you!
A NOTE TO FEMALE STUDENTS ABOUT DRESS CODE:
Women in hill tribe villages dress extremely conservatively, and we require our students to always be respectful and mindful of the local culture.
Throughout this program, you will be expected to show respect to the local people by wearing rather conservative clothing. Conservative dress will also prevent you from embarrassing yourself and losing face in the locals’ eyes. Since most days spent in the village will involve labor-intensive service work, you will also need to wear comfortable clothing that will protect you from scrapes and scratches.
Capri-style pants generally work the best. If they’re not your style, you need to do your best to find shorts that cover your knees. When you’re teaching in a school, you’ll need to wear a long skirt or wrap a sarong around your waist. In addition, low-cut tank tops are strongly discouraged everywhere (and never permitted in a school), and whenever possible you should cover your shoulders. These points are especially important to remember any time you enter a school, where you should always look as good as you possibly can. Although you may feel fine dressed in your normal clothes, you can quickly become a spectacle and do more harm than good if you are inappropriately dressed in these traditional places. Please respect this aspect of the culture and everybody will win!
Want to extend your summer adventure and spend some time living comfortably to contrast your weeks of sleeping on the floor? Consider combining your Come With Nothing program with our fantastic Amazing Thailand Adventure tour. This program also connects to our all other great trips in Southeast Asia, China, and India.