HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Chinese New Year Festival celebrated spectacularly in red

Prem hosts Asia Pacific IB Workshops

Australia Day celebrated at the Grillstation

Another look at Hall of Opium Museum in Sob Ruak

Chinese New Year Festival celebrated spectacularly in red

Chin Ratitamakul

Thai-Chinese people gathered in Lao Jow Alley to celebrate their New Year, with Chiang Mai Municipality as the co-host. Along Thapae Road all the way to the alley at Wororos Market, thousands of people watched the grand parade, which ran from Thapae Gate to Lao Jow Alley. The opening ceremony was presided over by Thongchai Wongrianthong, Chiang Mai’s deputy governor and Chinese consul Peng Ren Tong.

Dr. Ken Santitam, Chiang Mai Municipality’s permanent secretary, said the objective of this event was to create unity amongst the Thai-Chinese community, Chiang Mai people, tourists and visitors.

The parade represented members of associations, clubs, educational institutes, and business entrepreneurs. In the alley, the shops were all decorated in Chinese style and there were many kinds of Chinese food available for the festival visitors to experience.

(From left) Dr. Ken Santitam, Chiang Mai municipality’s permanent secretary; Thongchai Wongrianthong, Chiang Mai deputy governor and the Chinese consul Peng Ren Tong joined in cutting the ribbon to begin the ceremony.

Young maidens dressed in traditional Chinese garments took part in the grand parade, making a memory they may never forget.

Young Chinese “warriors” march through the streets of Chiang Mai.

These pretty young lasses helped Chiang Mai bring in the Year of the Monkey at the grand parade.

The Chinese Dragon featured prominently at the celebration.

Traditional Chinese figure marching in the parade.

Many people participated in the festival in Lao Jow Alley where the shops were decorated in Chinese style.

Prem hosts Asia Pacific IB Workshops

Katherine Voll

Beginning Jan. 17 and continuing until Feb. 9, international school teachers from around the Asia Pacific region have been flooding Prem’s campus, rushing off to classes, taking part in workshops and generally remembering what it is like to be students again. For three weeks, Prem Tinsulanonda International School is hosting the International Baccalaureate Organization’s professional development workshops.

Prem teachers Deborah Beran and Susan Searle take time out from PYP workshops to pose for a photo.

The workshops are divided into three sessions, which are geared towards three different teaching categories: the Primary Years Program (PYP) which was held Jan. 17-19, the Middle Years Program (MYP), held Jan. 23-25, and the IB Diploma Program, which will be held from Feb. 7-9.

Prem began hosting this conference in March of 2001 and in January 2003 it became the first center in the Asia Pacific region to be given a franchise to provide IB workshops. This conference is now becoming a yearly tradition at Prem.

PYP workshop leaders (left to right): Justine Smyth, Linda Douglas, Gerry Campbell, Sandy Paton, Peter Kenney, Louise Hurley, Christine Gilliland, with Prem Conference Coordinator Ezra Schuster and Prem Center President Lister Hannah.

“The Prem Center is more than a rapidly-expanding school,” explained Lister Hannah, the president of Prem Center. “Amongst the other things it does, it runs IB teacher workshops for the Asia Pacific region. These workshops draw from more than 70 schools from 20 different countries.”

Participating teachers, he added, have flown in from countries as widespread as Australia, India, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

PYP workshop participants hard at work (and enjoying every minute of it!).

While some of the workshops will focus on more general teaching strategies, other workshops cater to specific subject areas. This year’s IB Diploma workshops, for example, are designed for Biology, Chemistry and Physics teachers, subject areas in which it is particularly crucial to stay up-to-date. Enrollment for the workshops has been high and Prem will be hosting more than 200 participants over the course of the three-week period.

“This is an exciting opportunity for teachers to keep up to date on the PYP, MYP and IB philosophies and to hone their teaching skills. It’s also a great way for them to stay networked and meet up with other teachers in the region,” said Ezra Schuster, the conference coordinator at Prem.

The feedback from workshop participants thus far has been very encouraging. Ezra Schuster notes that, although many of these teachers have attended professional development conferences in the past, several participants have commented that their experience at Prem has been truly exceptional.

“Prem is happy to be able to serve the international teaching community in this way,” Schuster added. “We have the facilities to provide a great regional center for these kinds of workshops. Hopefully the participants will walk away having enjoyed themselves and having acquired skills which will make them even better teachers.”

Australia Day celebrated at the Grillstation

Tie me kangaroo down, sport!

Marion Vogt

What do Germans, Australians and Americans have in common? They all like to party and for the 7th consecutive year, a large group of these nationalities met at the Grillstation for one of Gypsy’s sparerib BBQ nights. It has become a tradition to celebrate the Australian National Day at Gypsy’s place.

A mixed crowd from the US and Australia, exchange students who study at CMU and those who came from Perth with Prof. Ian Fairnie in the middle (back row). (Photo by Michael Vogt)

Another reason for the celebration is the friendship between Gypsy and exchange-student Professor Ian Fairnie from the Curtin University Perth, who once again brought his students (8 Australians and 15 Americans) to Chiang Mai.

Long time friends (R) Gypsy and Ian Fairnie with students and teachers from CMU and Curtin University (Perth). (Photo by Michael Vogt)

Australia is known as a country with many multicultural communities, which explains in some ways the Aussie open-handed approach to life, and Prof Ian’s group is on a tour to experience three different Asian cultures: Buddhism in Thailand, the completely different understanding of Buddhism in China and the Christian way in the Philippines.

Gypsy (L) from the Grillstation relies on “hands on” experience when he prepares his BBQ ribs at his restaurant opposite the Porn Ping Tower Hotel. (Photo by Michael Vogt)

Prof. Ian Fairnie said, “The understanding of a different culture lies in the foundation of its religion and getting to understand the differences is part of our undergraduate students program. I did not come with them to teach or preach, they have to experience, they have to ask questions and they have to participate. 30 percent of their final grade will rely on this trip.”

But the Australian National Day was not a study night. It was a mix of cultures that had one thing in common. Let’s party and have fun.

Another look at Hall of Opium Museum in Sob Ruak

You’re a dope if you don’t go

Annelie Hendriks

In the heart of the Golden Triangle where Laos, Myanmar and Thailand meet at Sob Ruak, 10 kilometers north of Chiang Saen in Chiang Rai province, a huge new museum is well worth visiting.

The tunnel of hallucinations.

The Hall of Opium Museum teaches the visitor, in a very educational and entertaining way, the story of opium and its derivatives morphine and heroin in vivid set pieces, multi-media displays, very well made life-sized wax models of historical figures, beautiful objects such as carved pipes, opium weights, pillows and lamps, a carefully reconstructed cargo of an 18th-century British ship carrying opium and a opium den in Thailand, photographs and written commentary.

A Chinese merchant, smoking opium.

The exhibition starts with a long dark and cold tunnel which at first you cannot see the end. Bas-reliefs of skeletal figures in great pain accompany you until you reach the end of the tunnel of despair, danger, fear, suffering and mystery.

The story of opium includes interesting, but also disturbing, information about the background of the opium wars, the relationship between drugs and crime controlled by criminal syndicates, the worldwide efforts to control trafficking and the physical and psychological effects of taking drugs.

The view of three countries - Laos, Burma and Thailand.

Case studies of people, from different ethnic and national backgrounds, affected by drug addiction are very illustrative and impressive. As is the Gallery of Excuses or the Gallery of Victims in which famous persons who fell prey to drugs show the descent from euphoria to great suffering and lost talents.

The museum.

It is an example for many other museums in Thailand. The Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Mae Fah Luang Foundation, with a loan from the Overseas Economic Cooperation Fund of the Japanese Government and with help of the Ministry of the People’s Republic of China has done a very good job. It is also praiseworthy that the museum does not avoid difficult subjects such as legalizing drugs, medical uses of opium and drugs, crime and corruption.

Research for this museum began in 1994 and is the result of an initiative started in 1988 by Her Royal Highness Princess Srinagarindra, the late Princess Mother of His Majesty the King of Thailand. She started to rehabilitate the forests and the lives of the people living in the heart of the Golden Triangle in Thailand, ending their dependence on opium growing and its use and to educate them on the history of opium in the Golden Triangle and throughout the world, and build their commitment to join the fight against illegal drugs.

This museum aims to be more than just a museum, and would like to become an educational center for the youth of Thailand. They expect 100,000 students to visit their educational program in 2004. The museum would like to become a research center of importance for South East Asia on opium, opiates and other narcotics.

The exhibition ends with the ‘Hall of Reflections’, a quiet room where people can reflect on what they have seen and learned. The room will be well used, because there is so much to reflect on after visiting this place.

The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-3.30 p.m. telephone 053 652 151.