2017-02-15 / Front Page

Students to travel to Thailand with math teacher

By NEIL P. ALLEN

The students who will be traveling to Thailand are: top (left to right) Jacob Ameden, Zoie Brooks, Alexander Urbaska and Braeden Vartuli; bottom (left to right) Michaela Stillwagon, Siyanda Jacobs, Quinn Kelloway and Andrew Peloso. Jacob Gouger is also going but not in the picture. — COURTESY PHOTOThe students who will be traveling to Thailand are: top (left to right) Jacob Ameden, Zoie Brooks, Alexander Urbaska and Braeden Vartuli; bottom (left to right) Michaela Stillwagon, Siyanda Jacobs, Quinn Kelloway and Andrew Peloso. Jacob Gouger is also going but not in the picture. — COURTESY PHOTOTOWNSHEND — Math teacher Rence “Mr. Rico” Ricohermoso will be bringing nine students from Leland & Gray Middle/High School to explore Thailand this spring, including the school Ricohermoso taught at before moving to Vermont eight years ago.

“I’m originally from the Philippines,” Ricohermoso said. “I taught math at a school in Thailand for three years. That’s where I met my wife, who was from Dummerston.  She was teaching English at the same school.”

Thailand was chosen because Ricohermoso likes the culture and wanted to share it with the students, he said during a phone interview.

“I want them to explore and experience Thai culture,” he said.

The students will leave on April 13 and return 12 days later.

“It is going to be a long trip,” said Ricohermoso. “It is going to take about 24 hours with layovers and they’ll be on the plane for 15 hours.

“I’ve told them to make sure they get the homework they will be missing and work on it while they’re on the plane so they don’t have to worry about it when they get home,” he continued. “We will probably also bring games.”

Only one of the students has traveled internationally, and there are some who have never flown before.

“They’re excited,” said Ricohermoso.

One of the places the students will be going is the school Ricohermoso taught at for three years.

“I go back to Thailand every other year and visit the school I taught at. I have friends still teaching there so there is a strong connection,” he said. “My former boss is really excited about it. The teachers are excited, too. The students will do some activities together. My students are interested in learning Thai dancing, music and Thai writing and speaking.”

Before they go they will get some basic language training, according to Ricohermoso.

“In Thailand, a lot of people do not speak English. The vendors know how to speak basic language,” he said. “The students will be relying on me and our translator.”

The trip has been planned through EF Tours, which is a company that specializes in educational trips around the world. The trip includes a tour guide and translator.

“This is the first time I’m taking students on a trip so I wanted to have help with it,” said Ricohermoso.

During the trip, they will be visiting ancient temples and other historical sites and exploring some natural wonders as well, such as the Saiyoke Yai Waterfall and National Park and the Elephant Nature Park, an elephant rescue and rehabilitation center.

“The students are really excited about the elephants,” Ricohermoso said. “They will get to bathe the elephants and give them food.”

The students will also visit Sparrow Home, a home for Thai children whose parents are incarcerated. They are planning on bringing school supplies and to give the home a donation to help pay for school uniforms.

“All students in Thailand, regardless of public or private school, are required to wear uniforms,” said Ricohermoso.

In addition to cash donations for the uniforms, the students are collecting donations for the school Wat Bampheng Tai in Bangkapi, Bangkok, which is close to the Kwan-Riam floating market. — COURTESY PHOTOWat Bampheng Tai in Bangkapi, Bangkok, which is close to the Kwan-Riam floating market. — COURTESY PHOTOsupplies including pencils with erasers, colored pencils, crayons, coloring books, notebooks, rulers and markers. They can be dropped off at the school or Ricohermoso can be contacted to arrange for them to be picked up.

The trip will cost approximately $3,500 per student.

“It is more expensive because we are using a company for the trip as it is my first trip with students,” said Ricohermoso.

In order to pay for the trip, the students have held many fundraisers since September including a raffle and two dinners. They will be holding a bingo night in Jamaica in March, which will be their last fundraiser.

At both dinners, Thai food was served, which has helped the students prepare for what the food will be like in Thailand.

“I have told them it will be really spicy, even if they ask for it to be not so spicy, so they are aware,” Ricohermoso said. “They like the Pad Thai and really like the spring rolls.”

For more information or to make a donation, you can contact Ricohermoso at fricohermoso@lelandandgray. 

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