There are 59 days left of planning and anticipation (but who’s counting?) before our GROW Intern team leaves for Thailand! I’m Abbey – a senior at Whitman and the GROW Coordinator in our GlobeMed chapter. We are so excited to finally meet our partner program at Burmese Women’s Union (BWU) and spend almost 2 months getting to know the amazing women who make this organization run as well as the women in the Burmese migrant community in and around Mae Sot. Mae Sot, Thailand is a town on the border of Burma, and though I’ve never been, I’ve learned that it is a bustling hub of NGOs because of its proximity to a legal border crossing zone.
What is GROW, anyway? The easy answer is to tell you that it stands for Grass Roots On-site Work, and that it’s the program in GlobeMed where students go to work with their partner programs over the summer. I’ve come to understand GROW as something more complex than a trip and a great opportunity for students (though, it certainly is that).
For me, planning GROW has been the component of the GlobeMed model that upholds our integrity as an organization. We will be ambassadors for our school, our organization, and our country while abroad. But even right now, communicating with our partner reflects who we are as funders. Who we are as people. And that is just it. We want to be people. Individuals. Both of our organizations, worlds apart, are just made up of individuals. Each one of us has a story to share. Something that’s brought us here—into this budding partnership. My hope is that our first GROW trip will be about seeking these stories as we share ours. I believe that this kind of continual acknowledgment of individuals deepens a typical funder-recipient relationship to a true partnership.
It is my hope that through all the logistical planning, unforeseen complications, travel weariness, and communication challenges we will undoubtedly encounter (despite my best efforts to organize complication away), we would hold on to that vision. We will strive to be storytellers—using the individual stories to paint a picture of the whole. Opening to tell our own stories, and learn about ourselves in the process, as we seek out the authentic stories of Burmese women in Thailand.
– Written by Abbey McGrath, GROW trip coordinator for GlobeMed@Whitman