I never know where to start when describing my experience with ISDSI, other than that it was incredible. There are plenty of accounts already about the amazing and life-changing way ISDSI approaches education, so I won't try to repeat what has already been said. Instead, I'm going to list a few things that I think make ISDSI unique:
1. Learning directly from farmers who are experiencing the challenges of sustainable development everyday gives a whole new perspective on the issue. ISDSI has an incredible relationship with all of the communities they work with. This is one thing I think really distinguishes the program.
2. ISDSI classes are challenging in a way I've never experienced before. Experiential learning sometimes feels more like play than work (I mean, you get to backpack through Thailand!), but you learn so much and it is constantly forcing you outside your comfort zone.
3. The students that were in the program with me were from all majors - environmental studies, biology, economics, and sociology just to name a few - and it was amazing how this diversity allowed us to look at sustainable development through different lenses.
4. The ISDSI faculty and staff are almost entirely Thai natives - they really put sustainability into practice.
5. Yes, you will learn to have full (if simple) conversations in Thai. I didn't think it would be possible to learn how to converse in an entirely new language in 4 months, but halfway through our group led an entire interview in Thai without a translator. I also had a full conversation with one of my host dads about Karen culture.
6. I'm still in touch with my Chiang Mai host family. Kee-tung!
7. The "this could be your classroom" promos are not exaggerating. I kept thinking those words to myself all semester.
If you like the outdoors and adventure and are looking for an immersion program that will challenge you - this is the best you can get.