Khun Nui – ‘I have a disability but I am not disabled’

A disabled body becomes an obstacle,

If broken limbs defeat your heart,

But love does not come from outward appearances,

It comes from the hope we nurture inside.

                                                                       Miss Thanaree (Nui) Fungpinyopap

Nui speaking at the We Walk Together conference in 2010

Nui speaking at the We Walk Together conference in 2010

Khun Nui has an inspiring story and she is an amazing person.  This is a lady that you must meet and invite into your school or organisation.  Ask her to tell her story and give her own thoughts about education and personal challenge to your students and colleagues.  Then let your team spend time with her and enjoy her company for the day – she likes to eat lunch!

In 2010 Khun Nui was one of many speakers at the Round Square International Conference – she had never spoken publicly before but had worked with the Regent’s students and staff for a couple of years through the community partner learning programme.  When it came to speaking in front of 850 people, 77 schools from all over the world and a royal family there may have been a bit of apprehension on her part!  On the day she really delivered – speaking from the heart and with emotion – there was not a dry eye in the audience.  Khun Nui also received the longest standing ovation of the whole conference.  Since then Khun Nui has spoken a number of times and always focused on her powerful message “that having a disability does not mean you are disabled,” something we can all reflect upon and think about when we find something challenging, difficult or even frustrating.  Below is an account of Khun Nui’s story.  You can also find Khun Nui via Facebook.

Khun Nui with the We Walk Together team at the Father Ray Foundation

Khun Nui with the We Walk Together team at the Father Ray Foundation

A Miraculous Child

My Story – by Miss Thanaree Fungpinyopap

When my father Thanakorn first laid eyes on me he was quite shocked; I was born without my arms and legs. Thankfully my father was a strong man and he promised in his heart to love me despite my disabilities. My mother however struggled to accept me for who I was. My mother’s family also felt my disabilities would bring great shame down on their decent name. They cruelly persuaded her to abandon me and my father.

My mother left our home as I neared my first birthday. I would learn later that she found a new husband and immigrated to Australia. My father now had to assume the role of both father and mother. This was an immense task for him to undertake; especially in those early years. He worked tirelessly to make sure I always had food to eat and clothes to wear. Despite the difficulties my disabilities presented he was always patient and loving with me. He often reminded himself that he was blessed with both arms and legs, whereas I, his daughter, was not. My father was also very protective of me and had little patience for those who looked down on me.

My father knew he couldn’t take care of me all his life. He understood how important it was to teach me how to become independent, confident and happy, so that one day I could take care of myself. Thankfully many of my father’s friends also offered their support. Then Tim, my first nanny, came into my life. Tim became like a surrogate mother to me. My father often took me out of the house and brought me around the town and countryside. People looked at me strangely. They turned their heads and stared as we walked by. But my father was defiant and proud to be with me. He helped teach me as a child not to feel shame for who I was. He always told me that ‘you are disabled in body, but people who mistreat you are disabled in the heart. You should be proud in everything you have; you are entirely able as long as your spirit is strong in your heart.’

When I was seven years old my father hired tutors to come to my home. This would be my first step on the road to education. I really enjoyed studying and I amazed everyone with my beautiful handwriting. I also loved to research books and learn more about general knowledge. I was delighted when I finished primary education; it was my first great achievement. As I neared the end of senior high school I learned of the Tongku School for adult education. This school allowed for its students to study and work at the same time. I applied and was accepted there. I studied here between the ages of eighteen and twenty. The principal of the school, Komkrit Junkajon, was exceptionally kind and helped me a great deal. One day he came to visit me at home. He confessed to be that he found me an inspirational person who gave him great strength to fight many of the problems in his own life. He said I was a miraculous child. He said the world would be a better place if everyone had my positive outlook on life.

My father got remarried. Soon I had two young brothers to play with. Unfortunately this meant the expense on our household increased and my father’s business, a car repair shop, struggled more and more. As our debt mounted my father and step-mother argued often. The stress led to my father suffering a brain hemorrhage and he passed away. This was a terrible tragedy for me. Sadness overwhelmed me. I wished I could have followed my father on his journey and not remain here all alone.

I didn’t think I could live without him.

His death led to further problems with my step-mom. She couldn’t handle the stress of maintaining the household and she put the blame on me. There was no love left for me in the house and I knew I had to leave. At first I had nowhere to go. My real mother was now living in Australia for over twenty years and I learned that she still couldn’t accept me and my disabilities, even after all this time. But then a former customer of my father’s shop, Daorung, who ran a tour guide company, gave me a job as a tour operator. I worked here for nine months.

Khun Nui receives a gift of thanks from Eye

Khun Nui receives a gift of thanks from Eye

After I finished working here I was taken in by P’Nuch and moved to house near my old home. During this period I was desperately sad. I put on a brave face and told everybody I was fine, but behind closed doors I cried myself to sleep and prayed for my father to rescue me from my loneliness. Then, as if my father heard my prayers, an old friend of his helped turn things around for me again. After my father’s old friend heard of my plight he offered to take me to Bangkok to live with him. He bestowed on me the same love and kindness that my father did and he restored a lost spirit in my heart.

It was during this time I applied for a two year course in Computer and Business Management in English, at the Redemptorist Vocational School for the Disabled in Pattaya. This was the first chance I had to enter the school system on a full time basis. At first I was both excited and nervous. Excited at the prospect of learning, nervous that my disabilities would make me stand out. But soon this worry vanished as I made many friends and immersed myself in study. It felt like a second home for me. My grades were good and the life lessons I learned here as a disabled person was invaluable. Fr. Ray wished his students to become independent people and rightly proud of themselves; I thank him for this legacy, as do all of my fellow students at the school.

My world became even larger when Fr. Deang presented me with a red electric wheelchair since I just came for 3 days. It was as if I had been given a pair of wings as now I could go anywhere I wanted to on my own. Entering my last term at the school I got a job at the Postway Company and I worked in telephone marketing and advertising. It gave me the opportunity to show that a disabled person could work as well as anybody else.

My graduation day was a great success and delight for everybody. I proudly received my certificate and felt ready to take on the world. I was ready to climb all obstacles and fight for what I wanted; a good job that would allow me to support myself and a family. My next step was to begin a BA in Public Relations at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University. I graduated in November 2008 and receive my BA on January 15, 2010 and would like to thank all who have supported me in achieving this.

After Postway Company closed down I was lucky enough to be taken on by doctor Surapol as a salesperson of Zhulian Company. I traveled around Thailand with the good doctor presenting products to consumers such as toothpaste, shampoo, vitamins, ginseng coffee, wheat grass powdered drink etc… This job was my first opportunity to really see the beautiful country of my birth, Thailand, and was a liberating experience. I always wish the doctor good fortune on his travels and thank him for showing me my country.

Today I work, thanks to Khun Anon and all the priests, at The Redemptorist Centre Pattaya. I really like my job taking reservations supervisor. I also enjoyed to take care all the group guests to come here and love spending time in the beautiful natural surroundings of the centre. Here I have finally found a peace in my life and can achieve all those things which my father wished me to achieve; independence, self-belief and hope for the future.

Things I have learned in my life; ‘Positive thinking is everything – speak only with good words – treat others as you wish to be treated – give and you will receive.’

Written and Translated by:

Miss Thanaree (Nui) Fungpinyopap

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Finding the leader in you

This is the story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.  There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.   Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.  Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job.  Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.  It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have. (Author unknown)

Leading by example

Leading by example

What type of leader are you?  Leadership lessons from dancing guy.

I strongly believe that there is a leader in everyone and that as a teacher it is my role to help young people (and my colleagues) discover what type of leader they are and what skills and values they bring to the learning environment and team.

“A good leader, when his work is done, his aims fulfilled, they will all say, ‘We did this ourselves.’”  Lao Tse

It is wrong to assume that a leader always leads from the front, is bold and confident – gives directions and delegates tasks.  Leadership is about inclusion and bringing the best out in everyone, achieving success for the common good.  By doing this we must look to go out of our comfort zones and also encourage others to do the same – but always remembering that each persons comfort zone is very different to others.  This is what the Global Citizenship Award is all about, helping people leave their comfort zones and discovering who they are and what types of leader through global citizenship you can be in the world today and also in the future.  We all have a role to play and can contribute in many different ways.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives.  It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”  Charles Darwin

Amit delivers the opening address at the We Walk Together conference

Amit delivers the opening address at the We Walk Together conference

Don’t become a slave to social momentum, don’t be someone that seeks comfort over change.  Try something new everyday, speak to somebody new everyday, challenge yourself to be different and find the leader in you.

Think about the opportunities and possibilities instead of the challenges and problems.

If you change your thinking, you will change your actions!

Khun Mechai – transforming education in Thailand

Khun Mechai with the RS 2010 student steering committee

Khun Mechai with the RS 2010 student steering committee

The Mechai Patana School, also known as The Bamboo School, in Buriram in the North-east of Thailand is an amazing place for learning and community engagement.  In fact Khun Mechai Viravaidya, the founder of the school, likes to refer to the school as a 7Eleven – a ‘hub’ for the community that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year.  Khun Mechai has never done things by halves and is one of the leading social entrepreneurs and innovators of education in Thailand today.  Many people knew of Khun Mechai as ‘Mr. Condom,’ the man who spoke out in the 80’s and 90’s about the imminent threat of HIV/AIDS to Thailand and travelled the country promoting the use of contraception and using his ability to use humour and wit to get the message across to the (especially rural) Thai people.  He has rightfully been recognised with numerous awards and global positions for his work on population, development and HIV/AIDS issues as you can see in his short biography below.*

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

Today, though, he is still working hard for the rural disadvantaged and believes education is the key factor to bringing better opportunities and equality to rural communities and the people.  The Bamboo School is a unique and holistic approach to education within a typically rote learning based Thai education system.  His model gives young rural people the chance to learn life skills and the confidence to use them to be successful in life – not just for themselves but also for their families and their communities, ultimately preventing the educated from migrating to the urban centres such as Bangkok.  The Mechai Patana students engage in service learning, work experience, social enterprise initiatives, the interviewing and recruitment of their teachers, financial responsibility, creativity, sustainable thinking and action, etc.  They really are amazing global citizens who are independent learners and succeeding academically.  Khun Mechai has recently formed a partnership with a prestigious Thai university that has recognised that the MPS students are equipped with the learning skills and values to be successful in tertiary education and beyond and has agreed to offer places to every student that graduates from the Bamboo School.

Who is teaching who?

Who is teaching who?

Khun Mechai spoke at the We Walk Together conference in October 2010 and is an inspiring speaker for young people and educators.  I strongly recommend that you visit the Bamboo School in Buriram or in Jomtien (south of Pattaya), even better invite Khun Mechai into your school or workplace – you will not be disappointed.

*Khun Mechai Viravaidya is the Founder and current Chairman of the Population and Community Development Association (PDA), one of Thailand’s largest and most successful private, non-profit, development organizations. Since 1974, PDA has initiated community- based family planning services, innovative poverty reduction programs, large-scale rural development and environmental programs, as well as groundbreaking HIV/AIDS prevention activities throughout Thailand.

Mechai Viravaidya had a pivotal role in Thailand’s hugely successful family planning program, which saw one of the most rapid fertility declines in the modern era. The rate of annual population growth in Thailand declined from over 3% in 1974 to 0.6% in 2005, and the average number of children per family fell from seven to under two. Mechai Viravaidya pioneered and championed many of Thailand’s social mobilization and community development efforts that are now taken for granted. Although much of his time was spent in the NGO sector, Mechai Viravaidya has also served in the Thai government as a Senator, in 1987 and again in 1997, and as a member of the cabinet during 1985-86 and 1991-92. As a Minister to the Office of the Prime Minister for Anand Panyarachun in 1991-92, Mechai Viravaidya was the chief architect in building Thailand’s comprehensive national HIV/AIDS prevention policy and program. This initiative is widely regarded as one of the most outstanding national efforts by any country in combating HIV/AIDS. By 2004, Thailand had experienced a 90% reduction in new HIV infections. In 2005, the World Bank reported that these preventative efforts helped save 7.7 million lives throughout the country and saved the government over US$18 billion in treatment costs alone. In recognition of his efforts Mechai Viravaidya was appointed the UNAIDS Ambassador in 1999.

Apart from his involvement in the government and the NGO sectors, Mechai Viravaidya has business and corporate experience as member of the Board of Directors and Chairman of many major corporations. He also served as trustee on the Board of many Universities and international organizations. For his efforts in various development endeavours, Mechai Viravaidya has been accorded numerous awards and recognitions including: the United Nations Gold Peace Medal (1981), the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service (1994), one of Asiaweek’s “20 Great Asians” (1995), the United Nations Population Award (1997), and one of TIME Magazine’s “Asian Heroes” (2006). More recently, Mechai Viravaidya has been awarded the Nikkei Asia Prize for Regional Growth (2007). Again, PDA and Mechai Viravaidya were the recipients of the Gates Award for Global Health in 2007, and are one of the Skoll Awardees for Social Entrepreneurship in 2008, both of which are awarded with a cash gift of one million US dollars.

 

 

We Will Remember Them

The UK entered the First World War at 23.00 on the 4th August 1914, 100 years ago.

In October 2011 myself and a group of five students of different nationalities had the opportunity to visit the World War One battle fields in Belgium and northern France prior to attending a student conference in the UK.

Personally, the three days that I spent visiting the battlefields, was one of the most moving and significant learning experiences that I have ever experienced.  I was extremely grateful to have such a knowledgeable guide and passionate historian with us, bringing real meaning and context to every site we visited.  I am determined to return again in the near future, hopefully sometime during the next four years – the 1st July 2016, to commemorate the fist day of the Battle of Somme would be particularly special – and share my thoughts and experiences with my own children.

I would like to share with you this four minute video clip that the five students put together for our Remembrance assembly the following November back at school.  I think it gives a powerful perspective through their own eyes and I hope that they too realise the significance of the next four years when they reflect on their memories, emotions and the impact visiting the battlefields had upon them.

We Will Remember Them

(film by: Ha Eun, Mae, Nancy, Daniel and Nine)

 

We Walk Together

The Regents International School Pattaya hosted the Round Square International Conference in October 2010.  The student chosen theme was inspired by Father Joe Maier and based on community partnerships and service learning – We Walk Together.

77 schools and 850 delegates from every habitable continent attended the two week conference.  What was your highlight of the conference?  

We Walk Together logo 2010

We Walk Together logo 2010

The 2010 Round Square International Conference Statement:

We must establish a long-term relationship with our environment and community. We must build upon the foundations of what we already have and give everyone an equal opportunity to  pursue their goals.

To do this, we will:

Walk without pity, doubt and apathy,

Walk with empathy, conviction and humility,

Take small, careful and sustainable steps along the way.

Because if we don’t walk today, we will have to run tomorrow.

RS 2010 Student Steering Committee

RS 2010 Student Steering Committee

Father Joe Maier – We Walk Together (RS 2010)

Student Steering Committee with Khun Nui at the Father Ray Foundation

Student Steering Committee with Khun Nui at the Father Ray Foundation

We Walk Together RS 2010 (Mayo 2009 version)

We Walk Together Glove Dance, choreographed by Yeoi Shin Jung and performed by the Student Steering Committee

We Walk Together, music by Amit Garg and sung by RS 2010 Student Steering Committee

Peter Dalglish

In October 2010 the Round Square community of schools was privileged to be given the opening key note speech of the annual international conference by Peter Dalglish.  He is an inspiring and motivational speaker and presenter to young people and also adults.  Peter is a passionate advocate of human rights and especially those of the child and has vast experiences and many powerful examples and messages to deliver to his audience.  Peter is currently working for the United Nations in Afghanistan but is always keen to connect with schools that embrace learning through global citizenship and human rights advocacy.

Peter speaking with students from Regents International School Pattaya after a presentation

Peter speaking with students from Regents International School Pattaya after a presentation

Peter Dalglish is the founder of Street Kids International, and is a leading authority on working children, street children, and war-affected children. After graduating from Stanford and Dalhousie Law School, Peter Dalglish organized an airlift of food and medical supplies from Canada to the starving African nation. His encounter with emaciated and destitute refugees seared him for life. Peter Dalglish returned to Canada from Ethiopia and informed the senior partners of his law firm that he was giving up the profession to pursue a career alongside some of the world’s poorest children. In an isolated desert region along the Sudan’s border with Chad, Peter Dalglish organized humanitarian relief for women and children displaced by drought and famine. In Khartoum in 1986, Peter Dalglish began the Sudan’s first technical training school for street children, funded by Bob Geldof of Band Aid. Pickpockets, petty thieves and housebreakers were transformed into carpenters, welders and electricians; the graduates were hired by local businesses. In May, 1986 Peter Dalglish set up a bicycle courier service run entirely by street children in Khartoum. The kids delivered mail and newspapers to offices that they once had broken into; along the way they learned the importance of discipline and hard work. In recognition of his efforts on behalf of destitute African children, in 1988 Peter Dalglish was selected by Junior Chamber International as one of the ten outstanding young people of the world. Inspired by the tenacity and ingenuity of kids society had written off, Peter Dalglish returned to Canada in 1987 to found Street Kids International. Armed with $200, a borrowed office and an American Express card, he launched an agency that has become a global leader in designing creative self-help projects for poor, urban children. Between 1988 and 1990 Street Kids International in cooperation with the National Film Board of Canada developed Karate Kids, an animated film about HIV prevention; today the cartoon is in distribution in 25 languages and in over 100 countries, making it one of the largest initiatives for street children anywhere in the world. On account of the success of Karate Kids, in 1994 Street Kids International received the coveted Peter F. Drucker Award for Non-Profit Innovation.

Peter with Asadullah in Kabul

Peter with Asadullah in Kabul

In 1994, Peter Dalglish was appointed by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau as the first director of Youth Service Canada, the Government of Canada’s civilian youth corps. In 2002 Peter Dalglish was appointed as the Chief Technical Adviser for the UN’s child labour program in Nepal. Peter Dalglish now serves as the Executive Director of the South Asia Children’s Fund, which promotes quality education for profoundly disadvantaged children in the region. He is a founding board Member of the Board of Directors of Ashoka Canada, and is the recipient of three honorary doctorate degrees, the Fellowship of Man Award, and the Dalhousie Law School Weldon Award for Public Service.

Why global citizenship scholarships are important

A young Manoj

A young Manoj

Manoj Chapagain is an amazing young man from Nepal.  He came to Regents School Pattaya in 2009 (thanks to Peter Dalglish and Dr. Virachai Techavijit) as a shy Round Square scholar and has just graduated this June from Year 13 with an IB Diploma score of 35 points, a fantastic achievement of personal challenge and academic achievement.  The best aspect of Manoj’s learning journey since leaving his home community and rural school in Nepal has been his enthusiasm and passion to have a go at everything at the same time consistently demonstrate high moral values and politeness to all those he meets and befriends.  To Manoj studying in an international school setting and with core values based upon the Round Square IDEALS has meant that everything has been an opportunity for him and a privilege to embrace and make the most of – which the rest of us often take for granted.  He is the perfect role model for fellow students and educators to have in a school – I only hope that my children have the opportunity to learn with and gain a friend for life like Manoj.  I know for a fact that Manoj’s fellow peers in his year group have gained as much if not more than Manoj himself by having him in their cohort for the last five years. #whoisteachingwho?

Manoj's old school in Nepal

Manoj’s old school in Nepal

Apart from the whole new country, culture, learning through English and having to live in a boarding house experience Manoj’s first major challenge was to speak at the Round Square International Conference hosted by Regents School Pattaya in October 2010 in front of 850 people and HM King Constantine, the President of Round Square. He did this superbly and was one of the most popular speakers of the conference.

We Walk Together

We Walk Together 2010

Having Manoj in the school allowed us to develop a community partnership with his old school in Nepal, something Manoj was very keen to establish. This was achieved through a social enterprise group created by Manoj and his friends called: Project Nepal. The group worked hard to fund raise to buy a number of computers for the school and were able to visit the school with Manoj at the end of June. Further below is a letter and some images from Manoj regarding the project.

To achieve the Global Ambassador Award a young person is required to complete their targets and personal reflections across all 16 Identities but must also commit to continuing to support and stay connected with their school or community beyond graduation as a global citizen.  Manoj has certainly done this and created a legacy that hopefully many younger students (and teachers) will follow and thrive from as they too challenge themselves to become global citizen learners and high achievers.

Who is teaching who?  Joyce and Ellen - part of the Project Nepal team

Who is teaching who? Joyce and Ellen – part of the Project Nepal team

Dear all,

I hope you all are well. I would like to share with you all a summary of a small project that I completed this summer with the help of teachers and students from Regent’s

I asked some of my friends and teachers to help me raise money to buy computers for my village school,where I studied as a little kid.  We came up with name ‘Project Nepal’. This started August of 2013. My friend Joyce and some other friends encouraged me and were willing to support me fully. Thus, We started doing fund raising events such as dodge ball tournament, computer game tournament and many other events at Regents. In addition my friend Joyce who helped me enormously to raise money by asking her friends back in Taiwan to donate money to this project. She has contributed the most to this project.All together we raised 3400 USD. Futhermore, Mr Alex(a friend of Peter’s in Bangkok and my friend too ) contributed 46250 npr to this project,totaling upto 364250 npr

New computers in the Nepalese school

New computers in the Nepalese school

The school already had a room that needed painting,carpeting ,a fan and many other things so when I got back to Nepal in ,I went to the village and started overseeing this.Now the room has 7 computer with UPS from project Nepal and other five computer which was donated to school by a cement factory. The installation for internet is still in the process.

2 weeks ago 5 students from Regents and two teachers visited the school, the computer lab,did an opening ceremony which was fun. . They stayed in my village ,in my home for two nights and it was amazing to see my friends in my village. Everyday we used to walk to the school where my friends used to play games,interact and teach English to the school kids.It was fantastic for me to see students from regents interacting with kids in my village. It felt great because I was part of the village school during my childhood and then I also became a part of Regents family. It almost felt like joining two family togethers. This is the first Project Nepal “PROJECT” and it was successful.

I would like to thank everyone for all their help! I would still like to continue with “Project Nepal” and help many other schools and poor kids in the future.

 Manoj

Mr. Bolland - a Project Nepal team member and also a Global Mentor

Mr. Bolland – a Project Nepal team member and also a Global Mentor