YOU WOULD NEVER EXPECT this in Wisconsin, this ornate Thai pavilion. It seems so out of place in a state that brings to mind beer, brats, cheese and the Green Bay Packers.
Yet, in the Olbrich Botanical Gardens in the capital city of Madison, a Thai pavilion centers a space of water features and tropical gardens. It is the only Thai pavilion in the U.S. and only one of four built outside Thailand. The Olbrich pavilion was a gift from the Thai government and the Thai Chapter of the Wisconsin Alumni Association to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. UW-Madison has one of the largest Thai student populations in the country.
On the Saturday afternoon I visited the gardens, the cultural mix of pavilion and peoples reminded me that we truly are a diverse country. Here I was, an American of German ethnicity, viewing this Thai structure while simultaneously delighting in observing youth celebrating quinceañera in Wisconsin.
I appreciate any opportunity to grow my cultural awareness, whether through art, music, food, customs, gardens or simply observing.
We are, at our most basic, individuals who desire food, shelter, security, health, happiness, love and joy. Or so I see it.
In Thailand, common roadside pavilions provide shelter from weather. The Madison pavilion is a work of art, a place of serenity, a structure fitting a palace or temple grounds. In that it differs from the simpler of Thai shelters.
Most of us never live such lives of gold leaf opulence. I certainly don’t.
But I appreciate the opportunity to glimpse the untouchable wealth of a world beyond beer and brats.
PLEASE CHECK BACK next week as I take you into downtown Madison and conclude this series from Wisconsin.
© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling