location: Ta Mung Ethnic Minority Boarding Primary School
Ta Mung Ethnic Minority Boarding Primary School is the main school in its village; there are four total. The school has 331 total students, of which, 237 are boarding students. The boarding school exists because many of the students come from villages that are seven or eight miles away from the school and there is no road to drive on, only a walking path. The path takes half a day to walk from the school to the villages and is on a slope that isn’t safe to use during rainy season. Ms. Doan, the deputy headmaster, spoke about the school, the children, their studies and how to keep the students connected to their culture. We reviewed the new activities in school: hand washing and clean water education, children’s interest groups and training for teacher communication with students.
Children’s interest groups is an initiative that focuses on embroidery techniques taught to the students by local masters. In this school, all of the students come from either the Hmong people or the Thai villages. As such, the students are taught by two volunteer women, one from the Hmong village and one from the Thai village. They educate the children in both Thai and Hmong embroidery techniques so they can continue the local culture and contribute their crafts to the local market.
In this school, the class is taught to 37 girls and three boys. The program encourages boys to joining and hopes to change the social idea that sewing is “for girls”.
The children are educated in basic embroidery techniques so that they can assemble a small purse or seat cushion. The idea is for the students to learn how to make simple products that can be sold in the market, not difficult costumes.
The paper backing creates structure for the students and acts as a template to correctly sew each flower.
The major take away the headmaster learned is that the Hmong community and Thai community use different types of threads; she had simply bought colorful ones. Each community makes their own thread and the colors, thickness and texture are therefore different. Thai thread is usually bigger like a wool yarn and can be used for flocking while the Hmong thread is smaller, smoother, more durable and can be used to make very nice patterns.