From ice to rice continued…

Jonah and Zoe giving their rice to Nui

Jonah and Zoe giving their rice to Nui

Who has their eyes on Nui’s ice-cream?

Our good friend in Angola, Robyn Fox, came up with the idea of the (bag of) rice challenge – instead of wasting precious water in Angola and doing the ice bucket challenge Robyn suggested donating a bag of rice to someone instead.  A wonderful example of thinking outside the box and being ‘innovative and proactive’, maybe we will see a GC Award submission from Robyn in the near future… an exemplar global mentor!

The girls getting their hair washed

I was nominated by Sarah Travis-Mulford to do the rice challenge after she had made her of rice to the Hand to Hand Foundation.  I have also been encouraging my two oldest children to do the ice bucket challenge ever since I nominated them in Sukhothai a number of weeks ago when I did the ALS ice bucket challenge – they have managed to avoid it all around the north of Thailand and Laos!  

Today they dipped into their own pocket money though and instead of suffering the shock of ice cold water agreed to buy a large bag of rice each and both chose to donate it to our friend Khun Nui.  We spent a lovely lunch and afternoon with Nui; Jonah’s highlight being ice-creams and Zoe’s having her hair washed and blow dried!You can read Jonah’s version of his rice challenge here.  He has now nominated: Morgan Howard, Ben Harrison and Nampetch Bennett for the rice rice challenge (see my nominations below).

I actually took my bag of rice to the Fountain of Life Children’s Centre last week and gave it to Kru Wannee.  I did explain to her what it is all about and I think she understood, I am sure it will all be eaten up and enjoyed either way.  Now it is my turn to nominate three people for the rice challenge and I choose: Karen Partyka, Sego Mokgothu and Sara Menges.  Three people in three different countries (Scotland, South Africa and the US), it will be interesting to hear back from them and finding out how they got on and who they have passed the rice challenge on to.

Kru Wannee accepting my bag of rice for the Fountain of Life

Kru Wannee accepting my bag of rice for the Fountain of Life

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The Fountain of Life Children’s Centre with Kru Wannee

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The Fountain of Life Children’s Centre was the very first community partner that I was fortunate to engage with and learn from when I arrived to live and work in Thailand back in 1999.  It is a learning day centre for young children that do not (or cannot) go to Thai school, especially for children of migrant workers who have no ‘identity’ in Thailand. The centre was founded and is coordinated by the Good Shepherd Foundation, a group of amazing Catholic sisters who are dedicated to improving the education opportunities and living standards of children (and women) across South East Asia.

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The centre is largely funded by the Jesters Care for Kids, a community based group that raises funds and supports development projects specifically for young people in the Pattaya and Chonburi area.  The highlight of their busy calendar being the Jester’s Fair that takes place once a year in early September.

Sabrina at the Fountain of Life Children's Centre

Sabrina at the Fountain of Life Children’s Centre.

I have taken many student and teacher groups to the centre to learn with the children and staff there.  For a number of years part of our school induction programme for new staff involved a visit to the Fountain of Life and meeting the children and staff.  We always challenged the new teachers to immediately engage with the children and to find out who they are, where they come from and what their dreams are – language should never be a barrier or obstacle when learning through service and creating sustainable community partnerships.  The Fountain of Life also visited our school regularly and were included in numerous activities, projects and whole school events.  As part of the community partner programme at the school the Fountain of Life became the permanent learning partner and integrated into the curriculum planning for Year 1.

The Fountain of Life Centre

The Fountain of Life Centre

I have also taken many visitors to the Fountain of Life through work as well as personal friends.  Kru Wannee, the head teacher at the centre, is always very welcoming and understands the importance of community engagement and support.  The children enjoy meeting new people and learning where you come from.  They are always keen to demonstrate their English and sing songs or draw pictures with you.  The centre also makes a wide range of impressive handicraft items, for example cards, which are for sale and the proceeds support the running costs of the centre.

Kru Wannee on the left

Kru Wannee on the left

Kru Wannee is an amazing teacher and lead learner and another inspiring community leader whom I always look up to and try to learn from.  She has an extremely calm and reassuring manner and loves the work she does at the Fountain of Life for the children and her team of teachers.  She is a dedicated and passionate Thai educator and an amazing role model.  I asked her a few questions about her role and what education in Thailand means to her, please see below:

Why did you become a teacher? I would like to help poor children.  I love the children and teaching is a great job.  I really do love this occupation.

What do you think makes a good education? You must teach the children to do it themselves. Allow the children to have a good quarity of life and help them see the value of having a social mind and helping other people. Making sure that all the children can access education who are without  documentation or are from a different country.

What is special about the Fountain of Life Children’s Centre? All of the children have the right to development at the Fountain of life. The Senior staff and children have equality.  We give the power and opportunity and expect respect from the staff, parents and children. We work within a network to protect every child.

How can people support the Fountain of Life? Be a volunteer. Donate money in the bankbook and the office in Pattaya. Promote the center and tell people you know. Do activities with the children and take them on outings. Donate money for education.

What advice would you give people about living and working in Thailand? If you have time you can help us to play games  and sport  with the children and contact Sr.Jimjit or Sr.Joan. You can teach English or handicrafts once a week. Invite the people to visit the center. Contact other people to help the children and raise the funds to support us. Love the city and country you stay in and always help that area.

Sewing for global citizenship

Contributed by Karen Partyka

Sewing with Karen

Sewing with Karen

I started sewing earlier this year. I wanted to be free from being told what to wear by fashion and be creative. I also started making little things for other people, bags, lavender sachets etc. Then recently I saw online about a woman called Lillian Weber. She is 99-year-old and for the last two years she has been making dresses for girls in Africa through an organisation called Little Dresses for Africa.

Lillian Weber making dresses for others

Lillian Weber making dresses for others

 

 

 

So far she has made more than 840 dresses and she plans to make 150 more by next May which will mean on her 100th birthday, she will have made her 1000th dress! I was so impressed by this lady, she took her talent and decided to do something with it beyond her own life. I looked into this organisation and decided I could start making dresses.

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The organisation mainly gives the dresses to girls in orphanages and to families who would have to choose between food or clothing but could not pay for both. I was horrified to read that during one of the trips to Sudan, they gave the dresses to little girls who were wearing absolutely nothing. Clothing is a basic necessity and one of the UN Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Having clothes gives you an identity, gives you a purpose and dignity. People who live in the developed world have no idea what it is like to have nothing to your name and how having one item of clothes which is yours only, you don’t have to share, just yours, can be the little seed which will grow. The charity’s motto is “We’re not just sending dresses, we are sending Hope

Watch this – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (always good to remind yourself)

We all have talents and gifts, when I was sewing my dresses I was thinking I was sending these to African countries and that my dresses would be saving the children. These dresses will not change their lives in a day and I am not saving these children. But it is a partnership, these children deserve the right to have the opportunity to develop into global citizens and to take up their place in their community and the world. One of these girls could become the leader of their country and allow it to prosper and years down the line they will teach me.

“Just because you can’t count it doesn’t mean it doesn’t count.” Sir Ken Robinson

The Michigan Difference

Contributed by Brittany Tang

Michigan

After spending three weeks at the University of Michigan, I am starting to feel the energy in the air, the buzz of academia, the passion and excitement of being part of what is essentially a small city. The first week I dipped my toes into the academic pool of my classes. I got used to what was expected of me and how to succeed. After I felt sufficiently settled and comfortable with my studies I started searching for leadership positions and community service based clubs to join.

I ran for and was elected President of the Events Planning Committee (EPC) for the HSSP (Health Sciences Scholar’s Program) community. As the President, I help facilitate weekly EPC meetings, I design agendas and communicate with the representatives from each HSSP committee. I am also a member of the HSSP Community Service Committee. Myself, along with others in the committee plan service endeavors for the HSSP community: volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House for families with children in critical condition, volunteering at Indian Trails Camp for children and adults with disabilities, ect. I recently received an email from a 4th year MD PhD student who is working to establish an NGO to help provide health care for people in Uganda. A group of  students including myself, will be establishing a sister program for the undergraduate school to raise awareness for the NGO Progressive Health Partnership (PHP) as well as raise some funds. The link to the project is as follows: Progressive Health Partnership | People Helping People. I am also part of an organization called the VIEW (Volunteers Involved Every Week).  The mission of this organization is to “empower students to become educated leaders and create social change in partnership with local organizations and communities”. This club in particular, stood out to me because of its emphasis on global citizenship and community service. I am very excited to be part of the team!

Finally, from a more academic point of view this past week has been extremely busy because I am in the process of searching for undergraduate research opportunities. I sent out multiple applications for multiple research projects and I have had lots of very educational interviews. I am really enjoying the entire process of finding a project I am interested in researching to securing a place on the research team. I have yet to commit to a particular project, at the moment, however by next week I will have my research position. Overall, I think the most important thing to remember is that balance is so incredibly important. Attending university has really challenged me in a positive way and has allowed me to grow into the individual I endeavor to be. I hope to continue down this path of leadership, service, academia and research and I am very excited to see how this first year turns out!

To read more posts by Brittany please click here.

Acting local and thinking global with Anita

Contributed by Anita van Dam – a Global Ambassador

Since the beginning of this Year I have started working at a zoo in Kerkrade, Netherlands, called the Gaia Park. I go there once a week when possible where I work with the primates, for example cleaning the cage, creating recreational activities and making their food and feeding them.

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As a member of the EAG (Environment Action Group) in the school, we collaborated with IKEA for them to switch off all their lights during Earth Hour to raise awareness. I was the supervisor for the group and we also handed out leaflets to costumers and told them about the event and asked them to participate.

Earth Hour

Earth Hour

During my holiday, I bumped into Nancy Gibson* from the Love Wildlife Foundation. She and a few others were heading for a meeting to talk about the opening of the New Dolphinarium in Phuket and so I asked to join in. Below is a link to a rerun on the Phuket News TV about the event.

*Nancy Gibson will feature on a post under speakers soon
Anita and Nancy in Phuket

Anita and Nancy in Phuket

Anita meeting with the Love Wildlife team in Phuket

Anita meeting with the Love Wildlife team in Phuket

I am now in Direct contact with the people there and will be raising awareness in the Netherlands and the other United World Colleges in attempt to make this international.
Making Thai krathongs

Making Thai krathongs

I attended project week where I went to Poland with 5 other students to work with an organisation called Siemacha who work with children who need help in studies or whose parents do not have time to take care of them. Here I led a session where I taught the students about Thailand and had an activity where I taught them how to make krathongs.
The International Fair

The International Fair

Another event that I joined was the International Fair where I had my own Thai stand with pictures and items from Thailand as well as cooking some Thai dishes such as fried rice, rice with Thai omelette, kao man kai and sweet pork shred with sticky rice. I also participated in the international fashion show.
Cupcakes!

Cupcakes!

I also participated in Storytelling Bakery where we learned how to make cupcakes as well as decorate them. We had a story attached to each cupcake that related to each other and had the cupcakes decorated to match the story.
MUN in Italy

MUN in Italy

I have also participated in an MUN conference in Italy with the school United World College Adriatic. It was a great experience and I had a lot of fun. I made many new friends as well as learned the procedures while also getting to see the city. The topics were against me therefore I had to work harder and make my points strong in order to protect my country (India) which was being accused of things we had not done.
Thanks for the update Anita and good luck with your studies in your final year of school at UWC Maarstricht. Please keep us posted with your progress and achievements.  
The GC Award Team.
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Chipseng Thor – a man all about community partnerships

Chipseng with his wife Char by the Seuang River

Chipseng with his wife Char by the Seuang River

Last week I had the pleasure to spend three days with an amazing man and good friend who lives in Laos.  I was fortunate to meet Chipseng in early 2011 through a mutual friend of ours on a community project in Laos (one of the best service projects that I have experienced).  After observing Chipseng passionately lead the project and masterfully connect the visiting group and the local community he knows so well together I decided to invite him to Thailand later that year to experience an international school setting and to allow as many of our students and staff to learn from Chipseng as I had done.  It was great to be able to get the chance to take my family to Luang Prabang in northern Laos and to meet Chipseng and his family and to find out a lot more about what makes this man such an inspiring community leader and developer of educational partnerships.

The mountain along Seuang River where Chipseng was born

The mountain along Seuang River where Chipseng was born

Chipseng was born north east of Luang Prabang in the countryside along the Seuang River that flows into the Mekong.  He is Hmong, people that traditionally live in the highest mountain areas of Laos and other parts of South East Asia. He moved to Luang Prabang when he was only 7 years old to study because, as he told me, he had the ‘authority’ then to leave his family, even though he was the youngest son and was expected to stay in the village and look after the family.  At that time there were no roads and he had to trek and take a boat along the river for two days to get to Luang Prabang.

At that time Chipseng could only speak Hmong. He had to learn the Laos language when he got to school and spent 8 years studying and living at the government school in Luang Prabang. The school was started to give children from the rural areas an opportunity of an education.  He then attended high school for three years and met Chan, his wife. They married after high school and Chipseng’s parents came to live with them in Luang Prabang. He wanted to go to university but had to support the family and joined the Laos Army instead for 3 years. During his time in the army he felt there was a lack of opportunity to develop himself and to also support the community so he left the army and went to teacher training college and studied English for 3 years whilst working freelance as a tour guide. He joined Educational Travel Asia 4 years ago after meeting Graham Harper* on a project. Chipseng is now the project manager for ETA Laos.

*Soon to be be featured under speakers

Chipseng with the Headteachers of Pak Xeng School in a typical classroom

Chipseng with the Headteachers of Pak Xeng School in a typical classroom

Chipseng really loves his job and you can see it.  He knows everyone and he has their full trust and loyalty.  He is one of those unique people that can connect and bring people together to create mutually beneficial learning outcomes and sustainable partnerships.  He repeatedly tells me that he is happy that through his work he has a good opportunity to help and support the local people and his community. He believes it is important to develop international understanding amongst the Laos people but also tourists and international students that visit Laos.

Chipseng is passionate about the partnership of education and tourism and the symbiotic role they should have on one another. He uses a teacher who has not travelled as an example and  questions how that person can impart knowledge and understanding effectively without understanding other people and cultures.  He wants this for the Laos teachers and is working closely with Graham Harper and ETA to ensure that the communities and the schools along Seuang River benefit directly and in a sustainable manner from the increase in tourism and also from international educational partnerships.  A number of international schools and universities already work with Chipseng and visit Seuang River on an annual basis.

Pak Xeng School classroom

Pak Xeng School classroom

Chipseng took my family and I to Pak Xeng, a village about 3 hours from Luang Prabang.  We were honoured to have been hosted by a home-stay family (something every international student and educator should experience) and visited the primary and secondary school.  We met the students, the teachers and also the headteachers and shared a number of facts about our own schools and experiences.  One standout fact is that Pak Xeng Secondary School has 60 – 70 students per class.  You could tell the teachers work very hard and do their very best for the students and never complain. Chipseng and the headteachers showed me around some of the classrooms and explained that the next project is to improve the roof (which was falling down) and to replace the broken desks and benches (see photos).  I said to them that these classrooms were obviously not being used at present and they quickly replied that there were and that there was nowhere else to teach the students.

The roof above the classrooms

The roof above the classrooms

Chipseng and ETA are looking for educational partners to support the Pak Xeng School project.  The approximate cost to replace the roof and to improve the classrooms is $12,000.  If you think your university, your school, your social group, your family or yourself as an individual would like to support this project and/or visit Seuang River as part of a service learning community project then please do contact Chipseng or Graham below:

chipseng@buffalotours.com

graham@buffalotours.com

I highly recommend Seuang River as a place to visit and a community to connect with and there is no better person to do that through than with Chipseng Thor.

Pom and Kong – future leaders of Thailand

Pom

Pom

Kong

Kong

How long have you studied at the Mechai Patana School for?

– Kong has been at the MPS for fives years and remembers Goldfish PLC, a Regent’s School business and social enterprise group that visited the school a few years back.

– Pom has been at the school for two years.  They are both in Grade 11.

The natural environment

The natural environment

Why did you come to MPS?

Pom – My mother told me about the school and when I came to visit I liked the natural feel to the school and how the students were learning.

Kong – I liked the school environment and the fact that the school focused on project based learning and gave the students many different experiences to learn from.

Mechai Patana students who have studied at Regents over the last three years

Mechai Patana students who have studied at Regents over the last three years

What is your favourite thing about MPS?

Kong – opportunities, e.g. the one term exchange with Regents School in Pattaya.

Pom – Learning to play the ukulele and having a ukulele band at the school, I like to learn about music and love playing it.

What do you want to study at university and what career would you like to follow in the future?

Pom – I would like to study languages and work as a guide, possibly have my own business for travellers.

Kong – I would like to be a linguist and have my own translation business.

Another one of those messages

Another one of those messages

How does the MPS help the students become global citizens?

Pom – The school focuses a lot on business and social enterprise and we learn how to give back to our communities.  We are also expected to be tour guides to visitors who come to the school and to think outside the box.

Kong – The school has taught me to be sharing and caring.

A future MPS student and global citizen?

A future MPS student and global citizen?

If you were a teacher what would you say is the most important thing about teaching young people?

Pom – It is important to teach young people how to help themselves and how to help others.  Most teachers in Thailand only teach about the subject.  At MPS we learn how to help ourselves and especially how to help others.

Kong – To teach the young people how to be a good person and how to share with each other and to care for each other.

Khop khun krup Pom and Kong.