Traveling with a Purpose

Mai Xee with family in Thailand

Mai Xee is a Psychology major at Minnesota State University, Mankato and will be graduating this May. She was born in Thailand; a year later her family arrived in the United States where they stayed with her mother's parents in Oak Grove, Minn. Her father worked very hard for the family to move out on their own. Mai Xee's family is her inspiration to work hard and to give back to others in need. "I am thankful to have such understanding and supportive parents," Mai Xee said.

During Mai Xee's time at Minnesota State Mankato she has formed great friendships through her extracurricular and volunteer experiences. It was when she gathered with six other Minnesota State Mankato students that a journey to give back was formulated. In the fall of 2014, the group decided they were going to raise money to provide school supplies such as pencils, paper and notebooks to elementary students in Laos. They had heard about the school from an uncle of one of the students in the group who was living in Laos. The group decided to raise funds by taking orders for their homemade egg rolls. The $1,000 they raised helped to pay for school supplies and provided some assistance for the group to fly to Laos and deliver the supplies in person.

The group set out for Laos in late November 2014 with a large suitcase full of supplies. Their destination was Zalb ia liab, or Town of Red Dirt, in Laos. At the school, children in kindergarten through fourth grade wore white and blue uniforms and were excited to see their visitors. The principal and assistant principal were thankful for the supplies as they were a "gift from us to them," as Mai Xee put it. During a tour of the school the group observed that there were no electronics and there was only one water station for the entire school. Also staying true to its namesake the ground around the school was red in color and seemed to get everywhere.

For Mai Xee this adventure was about giving back. "To volunteer my time and raise funds to not only purchase supplies for the students in Laos, but also travel there and meet some of the students meant a lot to me. It meant that I will be able to impact not just the kids here in my community, but kids who are on the other side of the world," she said. "My goal is to live and travel with a purpose, to experience another culture, and to see how different people around the world live."

The adventure continued for Mai Xee and the group when they boarded a bus to Thailand for some site-seeing and to explore another culture. It was a 10-hour trip and the bus was packed with passengers, some even sitting on make-shift seats in the aisle. Once in Thailand the group was able to embark on adventures in snorkeling, parasailing, bungee jumping, go-cart racing and visiting many of the temples. The group had traveled with a purpose and out of that, they were able to experience a great adventure.

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