Celebrating a Language

Welcoming a Baby Elephant!
July 26, 2023
The Elephant Caretakers of Thailand
August 17, 2023

By Eva Dalstra – 5 week intern

Ever since I was three years old my dream has been to see elephants. I knew coming into this internship that I might want to represent my time here with some form of tattoo, but I didn’t know what. I love going to see the elephants every day and interacting with the Mahouts, but I didn’t expect during my 5-week internship to find myself loving my new village life so much.

I find life here so peaceful, the people are so friendly, there are so many cute animals everywhere, like the dogs, chickens, pigs, buffalo, cows, and cats, and the women make beautiful, weaved goods, I’ve literally bought four bags. There are two dogs, biscuit and scooter, who hang out on my porch who really help to make the place feel like home. I also really love doing village English lessons. I find that it is not only a fun way to get involved in the community, but it has also helped me to learn more of the local language.

I knew that I wanted to have part of this place with me forever, but I didn’t know how. The people here speak Karen, their native language, and only the elders really know how to read and write in it. I also think that with so many dying languages in the world it is important to celebrate each other’s languages and pass on our knowledge so that many of our worlds beautiful languages don’t disappear. So, to combine my love for elephants and have a piece of the village with me I decided that I would get the word elephant in Karen, Gu Chaw tattooed on me.

I went to Tuh, one of the village elders who teaches guests here how to weave baskets, and he wrote down the word. The next weekend I went to Chiang Mia and got it permanently written on my body. My time here has really gone so quickly, I am so grateful for all the experiences that I had here, and I am honored to carry a piece of it with me forever.

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