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30 MILLION SEEDS:
KEEPING THE RICE BOWL OF THAILAND FULL
DOCUMENTARY PRODUCED BY REBAKAH DARO; EDITED BY NORA RYE; PHOTOGRAPHY BY JULIA VANWAGENEN
STUDY GUIDE WRITTEN BY REBAKAH DARO

SOUTHEAST ASIAN STUDIES

Ohio University

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CONTENTS
30 Million Seeds: Keeping the Rice Bowl of Thailand Full
IN THE CLASSROOM 30 MILLION SEEDS: OVERVIEW 30 MILLION SEEDS: INTRODUCTION PLANTING AND INCOME SUPPLEMENTATION
KEY POINTS DISCUSSION QUESTIONS SUGGESTED READINGS EXERCISES ..10 .10 10 11

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SMALL SEEDLINGS AND YOUTH MIGRATION
KEY POINTS DISCUSSION QUESTIONS SUGGESTED READINGS EXERCISES ..12 .12 12 13

GREEN PADDIES AND CHEMICAL USE
KEY POINTS DISCUSSION QUESTIONS SUGGESTED READINGS EXERCISES ..14 .14 14 15

HARVEST AND COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS

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CONTENTS
KEY POINTS DISCUSSION QUESTIONS SUGGESTED READINGS EXERCISES .16 .16 16 17

30 MILLION SEEDS: POST-VIEWING QUESTIONS 30 MILLION SEEDS: BIBLIOGRAPHY 30 MILLION SEEDS: BEHIND THE SCENES

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IN THE CLASSROOM
Welcome to 30 Million Seeds: Keeping the Rice Bowl of Thailand Full! This 30-minute documentary follows the lives of one rice-farming family in the Central Plains of Thailand. Instructors in a wide range of disciplines are encouraged to use this media in the classroom. This guide is intended to help instructors in preparing to use the film and integrating key ideas and topics into classroom discussion and activities. Instructors in the fields of political ecology, anthropology, economics, biology, and geography may find the film easily integrated into their curriculum; however, topics related to other disciplines may also be found within the film.

NOTES ON THE FILM______________________________________________________________________________________________ The film 30 Million Seeds: Keeping the Rice Bowl of Thailand Full is divided into four main sections, not including the introduction. The four sections closely follow the typical rice production cycle and use this natural process to introduce four ideas or issues confronting the typical rice-farming family currently. These issues are not confined to rice farmers, but are issues that farmers and rural families around the globe are facing everyday. The film s intent is to bring global issues into a local perspective using the village of Mahachai and the lives of its residents. The first section of the film looks at the process of planting and the methods employed by rural farmers to finish this task. The section then explores the idea of income supplementation by farmers and their family members, often made necessary by the very methods the farmers are using to plant, tend, and harvest their rice. The next section of the film explores the topic of youth migration in connection with the previous topic of income supplementation. This section also follows the rice cycle through the application of fertilizers to the young seedlings. As the rice grows, farmers in the film begin to add chemical inputs for a number of reasons. These issues of chemical use and their effects on the producers health and on the rice itself are discussed in the third section of the film. Options for alternative methods of production are also briefly discussed. Finally, the film follows the farmers as they begin to harvest their fields. This section concentrates on the global to local connections occurring within the village. While many of the problems the farmers

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5 face in this Thai village are happening around the world, many rural communities are left on their own to find the answers to their problems. Despite development initiatives happening within the country, these farmers have found their own answers and as the film shows, probably will continue to in the future.

NOTES ON THE GUIDE______________________________________________________________________________________________ This instructor s guide closely follows the format of the film, allowing instructors to show the entire film or if short on time, a section that highlights the themes and issues that she would like to discuss in the classroom. Each section of the guide provides an introduction to the corresponding section of the film along with key points that should be discussed in regards to the film. Discussion questions and exercises are also provided to encourage full understanding by students of the issues that they have viewed in that particular section of the film. Finally, additional readings are suggested for the instructor that would like to make connections with already existing literature that discusses the same or similar themes. These suggested readings are pulled from websites, journal articles and books from across disciplines.

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30 MILLION SEEDS: OVERVIEW
During the summer of 2008, Julie Van Wagenen, a photojournalism major, and Nora Rye, a video production major, accompanied me during my thesis research project in Thailand. While I conducted the majority of the research, Nora and Julie concentrated on the taking of still photographs and film footage. Throughout the course of the research, footage was shot for the production of this documentary focused on the lives of the farmers of the village of Mahachai in the Central plains of Thailand. The goal for this footage was the creation of a research-based video that explored the lives of the farmers in Mahachai and the factors influencing their everyday decisions. This film draws examples of common problems currently affecting rice farmers in Thailand from the lives of these research subjects. It explores the ideas of agricultural chemical use, youth and urban migration, and income supplementation within the Mahachai village through filmed interviews and footage of living conditions, social activities, and riceproduction methods. The hope for this film is to provide the viewer with a visual image of the farmers lives and a clear link between growing global problems and local solutions. The video, titled, 30 million seeds: Keeping the Rice Bowl of Thailand Full is a 30-minute documentary, produced in part by Nora and myself. It explores the global problems confronting the local community of Mahachai and the solutions that the community has found to these problems. Using the rice cycle as the basis for the storyline, the narrative of the film highlights the Pitsawong family of Mahachai. Na Ban, Na Nong, and Sam take the viewer through broadcasting, fertilizing, spraying and harvesting of the rice and share the everyday situations that they face through farming. Na Ban takes the viewer with her to the 3 am market in nearby Sai Ngam as she explores income supplementation activities in response to the narrowing labor market in Mahachai. Na Ban s son, Sam, shares with the audience his frustration with farming and his struggle to obtain higher education in the nearby provincial capital of Kampaeng Phet. Na Ban s husband, Na Nong, contributes to the film by demonstrating the normal processes of chemical use on his rice fields. Other extended family members join in to share their experiences and how these relate to the events that the Pitsawong family experiences.

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30 MILLION SEEDS: INTRODUCTION
INTRO Exporting nearly 10 million tons of rice in 2008, Thailand is the world s number one rice exporter. In contrast to Thailand s record-breaking year in 2008, Vietnam and India, number two and three, suffered from a drop in exports due to environmental problems such as blights and soil contamination. Thailand saw this as an opportunity to increase its presence in the global market economy, and profited largely from its efforts. The nearly 30 million agricultural workers in Thailand that actually grew this grain saw little of those profits. This video provides insight into the issues facing these farmers, their possible motivations for participating in the global market economy, and finally the solutions that the are enacting locally for globalized problems. In an age of growing globalization, emerging trends among a community may point to new developments within the population as a whole. As food security issues grow in importance in the coming years, trends among the producers of food resources will concurrently grow in importance. It is important to understand the possible repercussions of these social movements so as to propose viable options and solutions to maintain the long-term health of the land used to produce our food resources and the health of those who produce them. OVERVIEW OF MOVIE THEMES Broadcasting and income supplementation: This chapter of the film presents the most common form of planting used by farmers, broadcasting. It explains how this method is enacted due to a shrinking labor market, but at the same time proposes that the shrinking labor market may be due to this method. Finally, this chapter shows the results of this method, which is the growing trend of members of farm families seeking outside employment to supplement their farm income, both within the rural community as well as in larger urban areas. Small seedlings and youth migration: Through this chapter of the film, viewers are introduced to the idea of youth migration for education. Growing numbers of rural youth are leaving their rural communities to seek higher education in larger urban areas, often struggling to help their family at home when they can. With more and more youth leaving the countryside for urban areas, some worry that farming is a dying profession; however, others still believe that the rural youth in Thailand do not receive the educational opportunities equal to that of their urban counterparts. 7

8 Green paddies and chemical use: The third chapter explores the idea of a growing liberalized market economy that encourages the production of high yields of low quality grains such as rice. The farmers are encouraged by quick returns in the market to use a plethora of chemical additives on their rice fields. They often ignore negative impacts on their health and the environment, but few alternatives are available and little education is offered. Harvest and community connections: Many of the problems, such as youth and urban migration, a shrinking labor market, and increased chemical use are affecting rural communities around the world. These problems are recognized by academics, scientists, and the even the farmers, but still the connections between communities suffering from the same problems are rarely made. Communities are often left on their own to find solutions to problems. In the case of Mahachai, kao deet is one such problem. This issue is being researched by scientists, but the results are not being shared with the community, leaving them unaware of a solution. Local communities are counteracting this problem but doing as they have always done and finding their own localized solutions to problems both local and global. PRE-VIEWING QUESTIONS y Quiz students as to what they already know about the country of Thailand. What are their preconceived notions about the country? The people? The sources of income? Exports and products? y What are some of the problems that farmers in the United States are facing currently? How might these problems compare to farmers in other parts of the world? y Do students know of any development programs or non-governmental organizations that are at work in Thailand? How do these interact with the local community? y What do students think of the term globalization? What does this term mean to them? What images does this term conjure up for the students? How do students think this term might apply to a film about rice farmers in Thailand? SUGGESTED READINGS y Bryant, J. and Gray, R. (2005, Sept.) Rural Population Ageing and Farm Structure in Thailand. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

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Coclanis, P. (1993, Oct.) Distant Thunder: The Creation of a World Market in Rice and the Transformations It Wrought , The American Historical Review, Vol. 98, No. 4, pp1050-1078

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McMichael, P. (2008) The Globalization Project in Practice. Development and Social Change: A Global Perspective. Los Angeles: Pine Forge Press

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Rosset, P. (2009, July/Aug.) Fixing our Global Food System: Food Sovereignty and Redistributive Land Reform , Monthly Review, vol. 61, no. 3, pp114-128

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PLANTING AND INCOME SUPPLEMENTATION
KEY POINTS y The Green Revolution ushered in a new era of rice farming. One such change was the switch from traditional methods of transplanting rice seedlings to broadcasting the germinated rice seeds. y Farmers in many areas now prefer the broadcasting method as it is quicker and easier. Many also claim that there are no longer enough farmers in the area to transplant the seedlings. However, as broadcasting requires fewer farmers in the planting of the fields, this method conversely cuts the labor market exponentially. y As the labor market shrinks in many rural areas, many members of rural farming families are forced to look for income supplementation activities off of the farm. y While some rural laborers will find work close to home, others are forced to large urban areas to find work. y The latter solution often separates families, leaving children at home in rural areas with their grandparents while their parents send money home when they can. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS y It has been suggested by some scholars that women are disproportionately affected by shrinking labor markets. How might the situation in Mahachai affect women? How is this different from what the men in rural communities might face? y As the rural labor market continues to shrink, what are some other options for families to consider? y How might families counteract a shrinking labor market without leaving the farm or the community? y What are other consequences of an urban migration for employment that the film might not have discussed? How does this affect the rural communities? SUGGESTED READINGS

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11 y Kabeer, N. a. (2002) Leaving the Rice Fields, but Not the Countryside , In S. Razavi, Shifting Burdens: Gender and Agrarian Change under Neoliberalism, Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press, Inc., pp109-150 y Shiva, V. (2006) Saying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development , In N. Haenn and R.R. Wilk, The Environment in Anthropology: A Reader in Ecology, Culture, and Sustainable Living, New York: New York University Press, pp183-190 y Sen, A. (1990, Dec. 20) More Than 100 Million Women Are Missing , The New York Review

EXCERCISES y Thoroughly explain to students the difference between a broadcast system of planting rice and the traditional method of transplanting. In small groups, have students discuss and chart the possible benefits and drawbacks of each system including economics, labor, and distribution of income. y Have students read through the article Agriculture and Beyond: Finding Women s Place in Thailand s Rural Farm Economy , which is a research paper based on the same data as this film. Have students discuss the reading in connection to the film. The paper is located at the following web address: http://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AdlNXvm88IFVZGdydHh2OF8yMjhkNGo3djJjeg&hl=en

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SMALL SEEDLINGS AND YOUTH MIGRATION
KEY POINTS y As more outside income becomes available to families, more and more children are being sent to further their education in larger urban areas. y While often an economic strain on families, higher education for children is highly prized as a possible escape from the life of a farmer. y Some fear that as more children are leaving the rural areas for education, fewer and fewer will stay on to take up the life of rice farming, thereby depriving a country of their largest group of food producers. y Others claim that not enough children of farming families are getting the educational opportunities they deserve. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS y The film expresses the idea that while some youth are sent to larger urban areas for further education, others stay in the community to live a life very similar to their parents. What are the benefits and drawbacks of each of these situations? y In the film, Luang Lat mentions the possibility of a future when his generation is gone and no one knows how to farm rice anymore. Is this a viable future for Thailand? y In a country where such a large part of the national income originates in agriculture, what might be the government s role in the education of rural youth? y How might female and male children be affected by the trend towards youth education?

SUGGESTED READINGS y Bouis, H.E. (1991, May). Rice in Asia: Is It Becoming a Commercial Good? , American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Vol. 73, No. 2, pp522-527 y Jokisch, B.D. (2002, Dec.). Migration and Agricultural Change: The Case of Smallholder Agriculture in Highland Ecuador ,Human Ecology, Vol. 30, No. 4, pp523-550

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13 y (Would like at least one more here still looking. I have the least amount of resources for this topic.)

EXCERCISES y In the film during this section of the video, students are introduced to the character of Sam. Divide students into small groups and discuss questions that they would like to ask Sam if they were to have the chance to interview him about the topic of youth migration and education. Have the students draft the answers they think Sam might give. Once students have finished, bring the class back together for a classroom discussion and analysis of Sam s answers opening up the class for analysis of other groups answers. Encourage open discussion of answers and any other groups possible disagreements with these. y In groups, have students explore the financial side of youth education. For example, how might youth education cost a rural farming family and how might it benefit them, both in the short and long run.

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GREEN PADDIES AND CHEMICAL USE
KEY POINTS y The current market economy encourages the production of mass quantities of agricultural products, generally regardless of quality. This has led to the widespread use of chemical products such as pesticides and herbicides by farmers. y y These chemical inputs allow farmers to produce higher quantities of usually lower quality grains. Farmers often ignore negative impacts to their own health in order to stay competitive in the market. y There is also the misconception by farmers that chemicals would not be available to use if they were dangerous; however, the farmers that use these chemicals often suffer from chronic health problems. y Few alternatives are available to the farmers to work their fields without the use of additional chemicals. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS y The farmers in the film are engaged in the use of chemicals in their rice paddies. What are the more obvious advantages to using these chemicals? Disadvantages? Looking more closely at the global and local connections that influence these farmers decisions, what is the liberalized market economy s role in the use of these chemicals? y What are some possible (and feasible) alternatives for farmers that do not want to use chemicals on their fields? SUGGESTED READINGS

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15 y Rigg, J.D. (1985) The Role of the Environment in Limiting the Adoption of New Rice Technology in Northeastern Thailand , Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, New Series, Vol. 10, No. 4, pp481-494 y Pimentel, D. (1996) Green Revolution Agriculture and Chemical Hazards , The Science of the Total Environment 188 Suppl. 1, S86-S98 y y Pollan, M. (2006, May/June) No Bar Code , Mother Jones, pp38-45 Raynolds, L. (2000) Re-embedding Global Agriculture: The International Organic and Fair Trade Movements , Journal of Agriculture and Human Values, vol 17, pp297-309 EXCERCISES y Have students read through the article The New Green Revolution: Prospects for Sustainable Agriculture in Thailand s Wet-rice Production , which is a research paper based on the same data as this film. Have students discuss the reading in connection to the film. The paper is located at the following web address: http://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AdlNXvm88IFVZGdydHh2OF8yMjdkY3FqNnY1Zg&hl=en y Have students review the maps found at each of the websites below and discuss their findings as they pertain to the country of Thailand. The first website looks at genetically modified organisms and their regulations around the globe. Before looking at the map, have students predict whether they think Thailand allows GMOs or not. Then, have students discuss the effect of GMOs on chemical use by farmers in general. How are they linked? The second website looks at the effects of climate change on seeds around the world. How are fertilizers and chemical herbicides and pesticides linked to climate change? How might the issues highlighted on the map affect the future of rice farming in Thailand?
  http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/pubs/Worldwide%20GM%20Regulations%2011.2005.pdf www.seedmap.org

 

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HARVEST AND COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS
KEY POINTS y Despite the commonality of many of the problems that the farmers of Mahachai face, there are few connections being made between global research or development schemes and the local communities needs. y Few educational opportunities are offered to farmers and many are illiterate or read with basic competence. y Problems such as kao deet are being researched by scholars and scientists around the world, but the research is rarely disseminated throughout rural communities and the farmers that need the information the most. y Many rural communities are left on their own to find solutions to both local and global problems that they face everyday, although connections would be easy to make. DISCUSSION QUESTIONS y If the trend of finding local solutions to global problems on their own continues as it has been, what solutions might the Mahachai community find to the other problems presented in the film, such as a shrinking labor market, youth and urban migration, and expanding chemical use? y How might local communities go about making globalized connections with others in similar situations in order to share and disseminate useful information? y What is the role of multi-national organizations in situations such as the one found in the film?

SUGGESTED READINGS

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17 y Bebbington, A. (2000) Reencountering Development: Livelihood Transitions and Place Transformations in the Andes , Annals of the Association of American Geographers, vol. 90, no. 3, pp495-520 y Fisher, W.F. (1997) Doing Good? The Politics and Antipolitics of NGO Practices , Annual Review of Anthropology, vol. 26, pp439-64 y McMichael, P. (2008, April and July) Peasants Make Their Own History, But Not Just as They Please , Journal of Agrarian Change, vol. 8, nos. 2 and 3, pp205-228 y Reed, D. (2002) Poverty and the Environment: Can Sustainable Development Survive Globalization? Natural Resources Forum26, pp176-184 y Shepherd, C.J. (2005) Agriculture Development NGOs, Anthropology, and the Encounter with Cultural Knowledge , Culture and Agriculture, vol. 27, no. 1, pp35-44 EXCERCISES y Prior to viewing the film, have students prepare for the class by locating at least one development project or development organization at work within Thailand. After watching the film, have students present their findings to the class and discuss how their project or organization might pertain to the rural population of Thailand. After all students have presented, have students discuss how these projects or organizations pertain to the information presented in this section of the film. How might the Mahachai community benefit from some of the projects or organizations? What issues might these global organizations or projects have overlooked when implementing their work locally? y Have students read through the article Perspectives and Situations: Local Responses to the Political Ecology of a Thai Village , which is a research paper based on the same data as this film. Have students discuss the reading in connection to the film. The paper is located at the following web address: http://docs.google.com/Doc?docid=0AdlNXvm88IFVZGdydHh2OF8yMjZjazJ3NXNkbg&hl=en

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30 MILLION SEEDS: POST-VIEWING DISCUSSION
After viewing the film, students should be encouraged to discuss their reactions to the themes, issues, and characters in relation to their ideas on the topics before viewing the film. y y y y y How have their ideas changed? What information caused this change? What ideas have stayed the same and why? Are there any ideas presented in the film that students in the class disagree with and why? What is Thailand s role in the world economy in the coming years? What are the possible futures for Thailand s rice market? Rice farming communities?

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30 MILLION SEEDS: BIBLIOGRAPHY
Bebbington, A. (2000) Reencountering Development: Livelihood Transitions and Place Transformations in the Andes , Annals of the Association of American Geographers, vol. 90, no. 3, pp495-520 Bouis, H.E. (1991, May). Rice in Asia: Is It Becoming a Commercial Good? , American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Vol. 73, No. 2, pp522-527 Bryant, J. and Gray, R. (2005, Sept.) Rural Population Ageing and Farm Structure in Thailand. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Coclanis, P. (1993, Oct.) Distant Thunder: The Creation of a World Market in Rice and the Transformations It Wrought , The American Historical Review, Vol. 98, No. 4, pp1050-1078 Fisher, W.F. (1997) Doing Good? The Politics and Antipolitics of NGO Practices , Annual Review of Anthropology, vol. 26, pp439-64 Jokisch, B.D. (2002, Dec.). Migration and Agricultural Change: The Case of Smallholder Agriculture in Highland Ecuador ,Human Ecology, Vol. 30, No. 4, pp523-550 Kabeer, N. a. (2002) Leaving the Rice Fields, but Not the Countryside , In S. Razavi, Shifting Burdens: Gender and Agrarian Change under Neoliberalism, Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian Press, Inc., pp109-150 McMichael, P. (2008) The Globalization Project in Practice. Development and Social Change: A Global Perspective. Los Angeles: Pine Forge Press McMichael, P. (2008, April and July) Peasants Make Their Own History, But Not Just as They Please , Journal of Agrarian Change, vol. 8, nos. 2 and 3, pp205-228

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20 Pimentel, D. (1996) Green Revolution Agriculture and Chemical Hazards , The Science of the Total Environment 188 Suppl. 1, S86-S98 Pollan, M. (2006, May/June) No Bar Code , Mother Jones, pp38-45 Raynolds, L. (2000) Re-embedding Global Agriculture: The International Organic and Fair Trade Movements , Journal of Agriculture and Human Values, vol 17, pp297-309 Reed, D. (2002) Poverty and the Environment: Can Sustainable Development Survive Globalization? Natural Resources Forum26, pp176-184 Rigg, J.D. (1985) The Role of the Environment in Limiting the Adoption of New Rice Technology in Northeastern Thailand , Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, New Series, Vol. 10, No. 4, pp481-494 Rosset, P. (2009, July/Aug.) Fixing our Global Food System: Food Sovereignty and Redistributive Land Reform , Monthly Review, vol. 61, no. 3, pp114-128 Sen, A. (1990, Dec. 20) More Than 100 Million Women Are Missing , The New York Review Shepherd, C.J. (2005) Agriculture Development NGOs, Anthropology, and the Encounter with Cultural Knowledge , Culture and Agriculture, vol. 27, no. 1, pp35-44 Shiva, V. (2006) Saying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development , In N. Haenn and R.R. Wilk, The Environment in Anthropology: A Reader in Ecology, Culture, and Sustainable Living, New York: New York University Press, pp183-190

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30 MILLION SEEDS: BEHIND THE SCENES
Our thanks goes out to Gene Ammarell, Ann Brown, Haley Duschinski, Roger Good, Frederick Lewis, Christina Paolucci, and Pete Souza. The never-ending support and guidance of these individuals allowed us to successfully conduct the research necessary for this project as well as the creation of a large database of film footage and still images required for a film project such as this. The researchers would also like to thank the Provost Undergraduate Research Fund, the Honors Tutorial College Dean s Discretionary Fund, the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards, the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, the Founder s Vision Award, and the Luce Fund at Ohio University. The generosity in part by these groups helped make this film a reality. This project would not have been possible without the successful collaboration between three individuals working within separate but very understanding departments. Without the understanding and cooperation of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Honors Tutorial College, and the Visual Communications Department this project would never have even happened. We appreciate their understanding and encouragement of this unique collaboration and sincerely hope they continue to encourage future students to pursue such projects. Finally, we would like to thank the village of Mahachai for their understanding and cooperation during the course of this research. They took such interest and pride in this project, continuously offering their time and suggestions for the research. All of their hard work in making this project a success is much appreciated and we hope they feel that this film does justice to the tenacious lives they lead.

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