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November 15, 2012

Local voices from around the globe: One visit shows centuries of differences


I observed women cooking in two of the leaf woven shelters. They used familiar cooking instruments such as sauce pans and pots that were given to them by Thais from the neighboring villages. The pot of rice in one dwelling was held above the homemade flame by a stick through the handle, sitting between the crooks of two forked branches stuck in the ground. Sticky rice was also being prepared in the traditional method, coconut milk-soaked rice packed into the hollows of bamboo, roasting over a small fire. The extent of each family’s food was one bag of rice and another bag of snacks hung from the lattice work of the ceilings. As hunter gatherers, the Sakai also kill the eatable animals that they can with their homemade weapons.

Stepping into a setting older than civilization as I know it, I stood between the huts in utter awe as the children stared at me, likewise, mouths agape. I was probably one of only a handful of Caucasians they’ve ever seen, if not the very first. Between me, my manufactured clothing, my glasses and haircut and their barely sufficient provisions lay eons of time and the impossible differences inherent therein. It was an experience more powerful than I’d bargained for. My brief visit to the Sakai village, I know, will stay with me for years to come as it was one of the most affecting adventures I’ve ever been on.

Zak Aldridge is a junior at Milford Central School. To read more from him, visit

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