Two Centre College rising seniors, Margaux Crider and Tyree Wilmoth, seized the opportunity to do research abroad this summer with the Luce Grant for Asian Studies and the Environment.
In the mountains of northern Thailand, Crider and Wilmoth spent a month at an organic farm called Happy Healing Home. The farm is a sustainable living project that teaches visiting volunteers about meditation, agriculture and local Lanna culture.
As part of their self-designed research project, both students participated in the farm’s day-to-day activities, including planting and herding water buffalo. They also conducted interviews with the farm’s owners, Pinaan Jim and Pinaan Tea, to better understand how they navigated the local agricultural system’s challenges and related to the food they grew.
Both students commented that they greatly enjoyed the interview process and got to know the owners’ family better.
“The experience and the people shaped the research, rather than the research shaping the experience,” Crider said.
“Pinaan Jim and Tea were incredibly patient, knowledgeable and willing to share, honestly and openly, with us about their lives,” she continued.
Centre’s highly ranked study abroad program and personal faculty-student relationships prepared Crider and Wilmoth for this immersive summer experience. With a strong foundation in environmental courses, both rising seniors have studied abroad with Centre’s semester-long residential programs.
Crider has also taken advantage of the programs during Centreterm, visiting Thailand for the first time in January. She and Wilmoth cited these experiences as confidence boosts that made them feel more comfortable conducting research abroad.
“Centre has provided me with numerous international experiences, and through them, I have learned the significance of interacting with people from all cultures and walks of life,” Wilmoth said.
Additionally, Crider noted that faculty mentors have led by example and guided her throughout the research process.
“My professors prepared me more than anything,” she said. “They’ve encouraged me to go outside my comfort zone, seeking knowledge and new experiences with passion and kindness.”
To present their research, Crider and Wilmoth plan to compile the footage they filmed in Thailand into a documentary.
“I’m excited to share what we learned, and if this documentary turns out well, I’ll be encouraged to pursue another project like it,” Crider said.
The research duo aspires to take the skills they gained in Thailand and apply it to their future careers in organic agriculture.
“People and the environment are struggling,” Crider explained. “I feel like this is a large enough issue that I have no choice other to pursue it, and hopefully, one day, find a solution to it.”
By Kathleen Murphy ’18
August 18, 2017