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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Trip Turns to Near Disaster for KJHS Teacher Gives a Chance to Help Others

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1/07/2013?
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Carol McCormick,?KJHS Teacher of Texas History and Special Education, had an unusual experience on a trip that she took this summer. She described the purposed of the trip this way.
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?I went on a four week trip to Thailand, Cambodia and Laos this summer planned by GEEO.org.? [Global Exploration for Educators Organization is a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging and assisting as many teachers as possible to travel abroad and then share their experiences with their students upon their return to the classroom]. ?These are good trips. We stayed with several families {{more}} and got to know much more than just on a vacation trip. GEEO sent us to visit many different schools while on the trip. We got to see how they teach, and, amazingly what they lack in resources but were still able to do a good job. We were shown impoverished schools and wealthy ones as well as those in-between. Many of the schools had only a piece of wood for a desk or maybe a picnic table.?
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?They don?t have bad kids there and I can tell you why. It is a privilege to go to school there. You can go to school but if you have a behavior problem they will not take you. You are told not to come back. In the schools we visited, it was very different yet the same in the ways they teach math. Something I learned was that for those who could afford it or who can get the monks to pay for it, the families will start the schooling of their children as young as 1 years old.?
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It was very interesting politically she said that ?when you are in the van (vehicle) you can talk about the government but when you are outside the van you cannot say anything about the government.? Ms. McCormick said that they learned many different things other than just visiting the school. ?There is large trade in children for slaves in that part of Asia. Karaoke there means something different, it refers to a brothel. We visited the Buddhist temples, museums, schools, and the ?killing fields? in Cambodia. Even today Laos recovers thousands of the cluster bombs (undetonated) dropped during the Vietnam War during the ?70?s. What they are worried about now is the kids digging them up or hitting them with a hoe. It is still a major problem over there.?
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?Laos was our last country to visit. We went to see several schools, the market and several temples. One of the places was a place that they are trying to save the sun bear at a nature preserve. It was the raining season there. I didn?t know anything about it (raining season) until I got there. When the rain comes in about 2 in the afternoon, it is like a wall of rain for 10 minutes. It will hurt you – that is how bad it is. The water will go from nothing to 4 feet deep. Then within 10 to 15 minutes, it is done. Other things of interested she mentioned is that they get around mostly on motorcycles with some type of cart attached ? whole families will be on one motorcycle. Their gas stations are just jugs of gas on side of the road and you go and buy a liter of gas from whomever. And, the cars over there are run by propane or at least most of the taxis.?
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?One of the last things we did was to ride the elephants. We didn?t have to but I said I not going that far and not ride an elephant. We rode them through the river along a trail that went through the jungle. But this was just before the accident that ended the trip. We were in a van on the return trip to the hotel when it happened. Most of the roads through the jungle, hills and mountains are dirt roads often muddy and slick. Anyway, we were headed up a hill out of the valley and I don?t know if the driver knew how to drive a stick shift but the van stalled and died halfway up this mountain. The driver just froze. He put it in neutral and didn?t put his foot on the brake. And so we start rolling backwards and we start yelling ?We are not on the road! We are not on the road!? And, all of a sudden we are rolling down the side of the mountain. We flipped about three times, and of course, there are no seat belts and there is luggage and eleven of us in the van. We are all on top of each other and we land upside down in this pond.?

?We start sinking and we don?t know how far out in the water we are. It started filling up with a good four feet of water and we are upside down and really disoriented. I was stuck between two seats and I couldn?t figure how to get up and the panic sets in for a minute. I had to make myself calm down and pull myself out. Then we couldn?t get the windows open and of course couldn?t get the doors open because we upside down in the water. I wound up knocking out a window with my shoulder, injuring it. We had glass everywhere.?
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?What was so funny is that the people at the elephant place came running but just stood there and watched. I guess that they didn?t know what to do. Another guy and I kicked out two windows and started to get everybody out of the van. One was under luggage and everything else, another was in the back was really hurt. The one in the front seat went through the front windshield and had to be evacuated. We went to hospital but it really was just first aid so all they did was swap us down with iodine and give us antibiotics because we had landed in the cesspool or dung water. The driver got out, went to take a shower, ate something and then came back and just watched. Later when we made the police report they did arrest him but I don?t know what happen to him. It was amazing that we all got out alive.?
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?But I would do it again. I told the kids that you can?t live life afraid. Things happen and you just got to go on. It was very traumatic for me I have been everywhere and done a lot of things but never been in a car accident. So I came home and I had broken ribs and I could barely walk for about a month. It messed up my knee (they want to do surgery on that but I am just going to wait). We had four days left on the trip but I just wanted to go home.?
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When I ask her will she go on another she responded ?I am going to go again this summer.? The trip that she is planning will be on the on the Tran Siberia Railroad running across Russia, Mongolia and China ? ?that is if I can afford it.?
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On a side note she has organized a trip to Washington D.C. this year for junior high students, a first for Kennedale Junior High.

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