HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

About the Cub Scouts in Chiang Mai

The Diatonic Harmonica - the little miracle

Prem Volunteers partner with ‘Habitat for Humanity’

APIS enjoys best showing yet in forensics tournament

About the Cub Scouts in Chiang Mai

Turning points in the history of boy scouts

Joel van Dorp and Andrew Thaibinh
(Grade 4, CMIS)

In 1899 revolts against the English army came from South African farmers called the Boers. One of the soldiers in the war was named Robert Baden-Powell. He later became a war hero. After the war, Robert Baden-Powell wrote a book called, “Aids to Scouting.” He was surprised to learn that boys were using it for outdoor activities. He rewrote the book with a new title, “Scouting for Boys.”

Wolves, Bears, and Webelos proudly display their troupe signs. (Photo by Sandra Saowapon, teacher/parent)

Millionaire Chicago publisher William Boyce formed Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The story goes like this: Mr. Boyce was going to a meeting in London, but he got lost in the mist. A boy asked him if he was lost. He asked if the boy could take him to the meeting place. The boy took him there and refused a tip. Wondering why the boy would refuse a tip Mr. Boyce asked why and the boy said he was a Boy Scout and was just doing a good turn. He told the boy to stick around until after his meeting. After the meeting he asked to see the boy’s leader. The scout brought him to Baden-Powell and after a little talk Mr. Boyce was so impressed he hot-tailed it back to the USA and started the BSA.

The same year BSA started, Boy Scouts in Thailand started! Now about 180 countries have a Boy Scout program. Boy Scouting sure has come a long way!

The way Pack 731 celebrates the Blue and Gold Banquet

Pamsmsaw “Nat” Tanasaniperk (Prem)

What normally happens at the Blue and Gold Banquet is that we all gather and sit down with our parents. The Scout Master gives a speech and we eat our dinner when he finishes. We call it the “Blue and Gold Banquet” because blue and gold are the colors of scouting.

When we finish our food the Scout Master comes out and announces the den leader of the youngest den, the Wolves. Then the den leader calls out the scouts’ names and the scouts’ parents give their awards to them. The same goes to the Bears, which are the second youngest. Then the Webelos den leader gives the Webelos awards to the scouts.

The Chiang Mai Blue and Gold Banquet

Matthew Saowapon and Jesse Kosonen
(Grade 5, CMIS)

During the Blue and Gold Banquet the Cub Scouts, their parents, and their siblings did many things. First, the Webelos scouts did a flag ceremony. Then after we had presentations and the cub scouts had a gift exchange. After that they watched a slide show about the history of cub scouting.

Each boy was presented with a patch, activity pin or sports belt-loop. The parents presented the awards to the Bear and Wolf Cub Scouts because the parents and leaders work together to help the scouts with their achievements. Each of the three Wolves was presented with the Wolf patch. Most of the Bears Scouts were presented with their Bear patches and some also got their gold arrow achievement. The first year Webelos received pins and the Webelos patch. Some also got their compass emblem. The second year Webelos received pins. Some Webelos II got their compass emblem and some got their east or south pins. Some scouts also received belt loops and sports or academic pins. At the end the Webelos II’s got their arrow of light which is the highest award in Cub Scouts.

Why I like being a Webelos

Nathan Metzler
(home school)

Probably the most interesting project in Webelos was earning my craftsman activity pin. I liked building all the fun craft projects. I liked experimenting around with clay and building projects out of wood. Some of the things that I built were simple, such as a little clay cup and a small skateboard ramp. This is what I liked about Webelos Scouting.

Our Cub Scout Campout

Daniel Emilsson and Evan German
(Grade 5, CMIS)

Last August, for our Cub Scout campout, we went to Khun Kitti’s farm in Chiang Dao together with the older Boy Scouts. After unpacking and lunch our activities started. We did things like knot tying and nature hikes. That night, we had a bonfire and around the campfire we had skits. Our skit was about some scouts and an invisible bench. Everyone applauded enthusiastically, and we all learned new ways to clap for our friends- like the “watermelon cheer” and the “rocket cheer.” After that we played “capture the flag,” then it was time for bed.

The Diatonic Harmonica - the little miracle

Dave Toussaint

There is a new importance being given the harmonica here in Thailand. It is at the height of its popularity. Everywhere I go I hear the harmonica coming from radios, music stores and boutiques as it seems to feature in most of the Thai “sing-a-song” genre of pop music. Every restaurant has a resident guitarist with a harmonica on a harness. Neil Young style mostly but many can play a bit better than that! Buskers too, seem to deem it a necessary piece of musical equipment.

I have just walked the length of Ratchadamnoen Road from Thapae Gate in Chiang Mai. Among the many musicians there, playing traditional Thai flutes and various plucked and bowed instruments, I counted at least four buskers with harmonica and guitar and one blind man playing harmonica and singing.

They seem to play a variety of harmonicas including tremolo and octave models, mostly cheap Chinese ones. I do spot the odd Marine Band and Lee Oskar though and I have seen a few Big River Harps among the cheaper ones.

Thailand has really woken up to the harmonica. Harmonicas are now being used in schools. There are many good players and there seems to be no difficulty in adapting the “little miracle” to Thai music.

It is now recognized that this wonderful instrument is a great aid to learning and developing other skills in such areas as Languages, Mathematics and even Sports!

One of the reasons is that the instrument is played “blind”. It is in the mouth and cannot be seen by the player. This helps to connect visualization to memory and movement, and helps to improve precision in motor skills.

There are many kinds of harmonica. In the West at least, the most popular is the 10-hole diatonic also known as the “blues harp” among many other sobriquets.

It is this diatonic harmonica that I think most deserves the title of “little miracle”. It has arrangements of both chords and scales and is available in every key. This is a wonderful introduction to music theory for those who wish to learn. To study the diatonic makes modes and relative majors and minors quickly understandable. The circle of fifths will quickly be appreciated as players learn to play in the different “positions”. The relationship between pentatonics and blues scales and modes is also apparent.

It was originally designed to play German “oompah” music and was often referred to as a “mund orkester”. This is because by alternately lifting and replacing the tongue over the first three holes the chord can be introduced whilst playing the tune over the middle four holes, thus accompanying oneself. The last three holes could be used to extend the melody line or could also be blocked to produce chords, giving an alto-chordal accompaniment.

When this comparatively cheap instrument arrived in the USA it was quickly taken up by black musicians who then discovered something truly wonderful; that by contractions of the throat and movements of the tongue and jaw especially over the chord holes they could squeeze out many notes and in between tones that were never built into it! They were trying to play their own music and this was the fantastic result.

The diatonic harmonica is today the ONLY instrument that is now predominately played in a way that the makers did not intend and in fact did not even know was possible!

A really skillful player can bend and squeeze, overblow and overdraw a total of 37 different notes from the ten holes. Only 20 notes (19 different ones as the lower 2 draw and 3 blow produce the same note because of chordal requirements) were intended by the manufacturers! The blues itself makes use of in-between or “flattened” notes for further expression and the diatonic is perfect for this. It is very versatile and can sound like a host of other instruments including trumpet, flute, whistle, electric organ, violin, electric guitar and of course, accordion to which it is related.

Many people will hear a harmonica on a record or an advertising jingle, film soundtrack etc. and not know what they are listening to. They may think it is an electronically produced sound! It has also been used to comic effect to imitate animal noises and famously, train sounds.

The harmonica has long been used as a teaching instrument in Chinese schools and is now really taking off in Thailand. I hope that the diatonic will be first on their shopping list although they are generally a little dearer than the 100 baht paid for the Chinese tremolos.

I play a few different harmonicas myself and do enjoy the speed and fluidity of the chromatic for instance. The diatonic cannot rival it for accuracy over a fast and complicated piece, especially if there are key changes! That said I usually try to play everything on the diatonic, even those tunes which are far easier on the chromatic. The reason? In a word, “feel”. The diatonic being manipulated largely by the throat and even the diaphragm has a warmer more personal feel to it. The sound is more emotional and as far as blues is concerned it has more “guts”. It truly is a “little miracle”.

Prem Volunteers partner with ‘Habitat for Humanity’

David Michaels

On four separate weekends in February and March, students and staff from the Prem Tinsulanonda International School worked with the ‘Habitat for Humanity’ organization to build a house for a family in Chiang Mai. When the project was completed, Mr. La had a new home, and the involved members of the Prem community had a sense of satisfaction that can only be earned from committing one’s heart and body to a worthwhile goal.

Aisyah gets her hands dirty while helping to build a house for Mr. La in Chiang Mai.

Several months ago, Prem’s CAS (Curriculum, Action, Service) director, Randall Haime, attended a professional workshop in Bangkok where he got the idea to contact Habitat for Humanity, a global organization that builds homes for those in need. He saw the potential for Prem students and staff to work on a service project, and volunteers eagerly stepped forward.

The construction project began with a site visit and inspection of the materials and tools provided by Habitat for Humanity. Volunteers first dug a septic tank and then filled the house’s foundation. They painted the roof supports with rust-proof paint, and used concrete to build the floor and walls. Finally, workers laid bricks to complete the walls and planted trees in the yard. All this construction was done over the course of four non-consecutive days.

Prem students help build the foundation for a house while working with Habitat for Humanity.

The house was built near Highway 118 in Chiang Mai for a Thai man named Mr. La, his wife, and two grandchildren. Mr. La is a garbage collector whose son-in-law borrowed money from him to set up a local business. When the business failed, the money was lost and Mr. La could no longer afford to pay the mortgage on his house. He lost everything, except for his grandchildren who were left by his daughter and son-in-law when they fled the country.

Mr. La worked right alongside the Prem volunteers in the construction of his new home. Using his experience as a garbage collector, he gathered all the tiles used to build his roof.

The team from Prem gained immeasurably from building Mr. La’s house. According to Randall, “Not only did they work hard and seem to enjoy the process, they donated their time on the weekend for a cause they believed in.” At the end of their four days, they felt the satisfaction of building a home from scratch. Some of the students were extremely touched by their experience and wish to continue to help Mr. La. Several ideas for future assistance include landscaping and donating furniture.

In the future, Prem will continue to work with Habitat for Humanity, specifically in the context of tsunami rehabilitation in southern Thailand. Prem is currently looking for a sister school in the affected region with which to make a connection.

On the last day of construction, after much progress had been made, Mr. La expressed his deep appreciation for all of the volunteers’ efforts. With visible emotion, he thanked those students and staff who helped build him a new home, and give him and his wife a place to raise their grandchildren.

Randall, aptly speaking for the entire team of Prem volunteers, remarked, “We all worked together: staff, students, and Mr. La himself. We built a house as a group with a single goal in mind. It wasn’t a chore - it was just something we all wanted to do.”

APIS enjoys best showing yet in forensics tournament

Craig Young

American Pacific International School was proud to represent Northern Thailand as the only international school from Chiang Mai at the third annual Invitational SEASAC Forensics Tournament held at Ruamrudee International School in Bangkok.

APIS competed against four other schools: RIS, International School Bangkok (ISB), International School Eastern Seaboard (ISE), and the American Embassy School – Delhi. The APIS team of ten students added a multinational element to the competition as it consisted of students from Thailand, America, Switzerland, Korea, Japan, India, and Burma. The teams competed in five categories: duet acting, oral interpretation, original oratory, solo acting, and impromptu speaking.

American Pacific International School (APIS)

Duet acting is an event in which two students must memorize and perform an excerpt from a published play. They may not use props or costumes but must rely on their own talent and abilities to bring the piece to life. This year, Amanda Everett (12) and Kathleen Owat (10) paired up to perform a scene from Everything in the Garden by Edward Albee. May Zaw (11) and Patrick Braendli (12) worked together to present a scene from The Prisoner of Second Avenue by Neil Simon.

Oral Interpretation is a solo event during which the student must present a work of poetry or prose without the use of actions or gestures. Richard Barclay (11) selected a portion of Ultimate Power: the Official Ninja Book, Sae Mi Oh (12) presented Elbert’s Bad Word by Audrey Wood, and Kay Zaw performed You Are Special by Max Lucado.

Writing and presenting a speech is a daunting challenge that was taken up by two students. Representing APIS in the Original Oratory competition were Somsak Hendricks (12) and Sasha Suresh. The former moved audiences with his speech entitled “My Father” while the latter questioned Chinese foreign policy and called for political action in her speech “Tibet: an Occupied Country”.

Taking on two competition categories, Amanda Everett tested her acting abilities in Solo Acting with a scene from Jenny Does Shakespeare by G. L. Horton.

Impromptu Speaking is a difficult event in which a student chooses between two topics, is given one minute to prepare, and speaks for up to five minutes “off the cuff.” The only student to accept this challenge was Tomu Oshidari.

Out of the three years that APIS has been competing at the RIS Tournament, this year saw its best showing yet. Six of the ten competitors were in the top of their rounds. Kathleen and Amanda, May and Patrick, Kay, Sak, and Amanda (again) earned spots in the semi-finals. After one more round of competition, May and Patrick and Amanda had proved themselves worthy of the finals.

The final round of competition was performed before all the participants in the tournament. At the end of the day, Amanda’s solo performance earned a fourth place finish. May and Patrick proved themselves on stage and were awarded second place.