Through an NUVISIONS abroad and Sweet Mango Tours partnership, eight Norwich students and two alumni traveled to Pa Chan, Thailand, for a most unusual and rewarding winter break. While there they constructed a community kitchen that had been designed by Norwich students and community leaders on a previous visit, and taught English to children ages 6 to 13.

For the majority of their stay in country, team members lived with village families. In addition, the team was hosted at a luncheon by members of Thailand’s Norwich Alumni Association, several of whom hold high rank in the Royal Thai Military. This was the third time an NUVISIONS Abroad team has visited Pa Chan in as many years. Two of the students have been on all three trips.

“The relationship with the village has always been wonderful,” said student Alexandria Manousos. “They are so welcoming to us, especially on this trip, because we were working daily with the villagers, playing with the kids, and just generally living their lifestyle for a solid two weeks. The goodbyes were tearful, because Norwich and Pha Chan have become like a family.”

Before the Norwich students and alumni left, they inscribed their names and left their handprints in the stucco of a beautiful new community kitchen, as a permanent reminder to themselves and the villagers that they will forever feel a part of Pa Chan.

“After completing the project it was clear that we had all shared something remarkably powerful,” said student Gina Fantoni. “It was an exceptional feeling of togetherness that transcended cultural, religious, linguistic, social, political, and economic barriers.”

Participants included: Gina Fantoni ’13, S. Alexi Yasus ’13, Alexandria Manousos ’12, Joel Sweetser ’12, Mariekirlou Sare ’14, Kimberly Martin ’14, Katrina Aucoin ’12, Daniel Colon ’15, Kevin Beal ’05 & M’08, and Joseph Fisher ’11. On February 21, the group shared a video, slide show and stories about their service trips during an evening fundraiser that included dinner, a silent auction, and door prizes. All proceeds benefited the Pa Chan community kitchen project.

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