Learn about sustainable development directly from villages in Thailand!

ISDSI Films: Voices from the village

ISDSI runs experiential study abroad programs in Thailand for American college students. We’ve learned some amazing stories, and we want to share them.

ISDSI FILMS is a project at ISDSI recording the stories and lives of our friends, colleagues and teachers in the villages and communities we work with and learn from in Thailand.

This is, and will remain, a work-in-progress, as we spend time recording the stories of  villagers as they share about the ecology and cultures of Thailand and Southeast Asia.

Our goals

  • Give villagers a voice in talking about the key issues in sustainability, ecology and culture they are concerned about
  • Give people who can’t travel to Thailand and Southeast Asia a chance to learn about some of the most interesting issues in sustainability in this part of the world
  • Provide faculty and others teaching tools and media that they can use in the classroom, seminars and workshops on ecology, culture and sustainability

The films

  • Weaving a New Pattern: Karen tribal women tell how they are able to keep their culture alive through traditional weaving.
  • A Sustainable Life: Pi Aun tells his story of leaving the city to return to his home village to grow organic vegetables.
  • Mangroves and the Ocean: Ma Te explains how she cares for the mangroves, and how things have changed for her community with climate change and plastic pollution in the ocean.
  • Elephant Conservation and Ethical Tourism: Pi Pat explains his approach to saving the Asian elephant, and some of the problems around so called “ethical” tourism.
  • Elephant Health Care: Dr. Tip talks about being an elephant veterinarian, and how she uses both traditional herbal medicine and modern medicine to care for the elephants she loves.


ISDSI Films are a collaboration between local community members, ISDSI students and instructors, and Rachel Roff, our talented filmmaker.

The initial idea for ISDSI Films came out of the experiences ISDSI’s Executive Director (Mark Ritchie) had learning from our amazing community partners, and wanting to find a way to capture and share those stories.  Inspired by memories of growing up with the “FoxFire” series of books about Appalachian traditions, folklore and knowledge, the new tools of film and the Internet provide a great way to both record and spread what is happening in Thailand.

Working with Rachel has given voice to the stories, and captured the incredible experiences our students are having living and learning from local communities.

Our filmmaker


Rachel Roff is a filmmaker with a heart for telling stories. She graduated from Calvin College and got her start in the professional world of media through Community Television production. She believes that videos are in the perfect crossroads of art and advocacy. She has mentored youth through the process of media-making, and gotten a taste of fast paced ad agency life, while honing her own storytelling voice as well. She first lived in Thailand as an ISDSI alumni back in 2009 and has already seen how just seven years can have a huge impact a developing nation. She is excited to be back with ISDSI to preserve and share the stories, smiles, and complex beauty of these changing communities and ecosystems.

Her website is at www.RachelRoff.com


For more videos and program information, check out the following pages:

YouTube Channel

Vimeo Channel



We’d love to hear from you about issues that you are interested in! We’re telling the stories of communities we are involved with at ISDSI, so be sure to take a look at our programs and courses to see the topics we’re able to engage with.  If you’ve got ideas, email us at [email protected].


ISDSI Films are shot with the following equipment:

Canon 70D
RØDE VideoMic
GoPro Hero3 Silver
DJI Phantom 3 Drone

Application Deadlines

Semester Application Deadlines: Fall – March 15 / Spring – October 15

Summer Application Deadline: April 1

After the deadline we will accept students on a space available basis, so contact us at [email protected]

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