HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

IC-ACE honors students at Montfort College

Learning to eat a nice lunch

Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui to wed

Maha Dewi dance performance highlights beauty and truth

East Timor represented at Prem

An Ajarn meets the Nakrian

IC-ACE honors students at Montfort College

Mike Hock

The IC-ACE team recently enjoyed a busy day handing out awards to outstanding students at Montfort College.

Soon after the official launch of the “CC2U: College Connect” program, IC-ACE presented the first CC2U Performance Recognition Award to recognize academic excellence in local students who decide to pursue US university degrees through CC2U.

Patana Lee receives his award from IC-ACE in a special ceremony at his old school, Montfort College.

The evaluation criteria encompassed GPA, ITP TOEFL scores, and interviews. A week before flying off to start his undergraduate degree in psychology at a top-ranked community college in California, Patana Lee received his award at his old school, Montfort College. The Award is worth a maximum of US$1,000 (THB 42,000) applicable towards tuition and fees in the first year at Santa Monica College, L.A., California.

IC-ACE also recognized the efforts of a high-achieving 11th Grader, Kanyasiri Panasahatham, who had the top score in a recent mini-TOEFL assessment test at CMU International Center.

Kanyasiri Panasahatham (11th Grade student) receives a commemorative T-shirt.

The final award was given to English Program 11th Grader, Chaiya Manageracharath, for Outstanding Achievement in an ITP TOEFL test. Aiming to study at a U.S. community college, Chaiya took the standardized test at CMU International Center in June and came away with the highest score in the group, over 600 on a scale of 677.

IC-ACE provides free educational counseling in CMU’s International Center (off Nimmanhaemin Road) and was recently appointed a member of the US State Department’s global network of Education USA Advising Centers.

Learning to eat a nice lunch

English teachers from Sacred Heart College arranged a training “Set Lunch Course” for students in primary level at the Rydges Amora Tapae Chiangmai Hotel. In the picture, English teachers and hotel staff are teaching the students closely how to eat a nice lunch.

Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui to wed

Time he made an ‘honest’ bear out of her

Preeyanoot Jittawong

The wedding of Chuang Chuang and Lin Hui, the Chinese Panda bears, would be organized as a Lanna traditional wedding ceremony, as both animals would be ready for breeding by February next year. Pandas born out of wedlock do not fit the Lanna image that the province would like to put forward.

Sophon Damnui, director of the Zoological Park Organization, under the Royal Patronage of HM the King.

As well as the nuptials, an international conference will be organized during November 21-23, joined by countries researching pandas such as USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, Germany and Mexico. The Zoological Park Organization would report, share and exchange information on the progress of panda research.

Both pandas have been in Chiang Mai since October 10, 2003, and they are healthy, but like many foreigners staying in Thailand, both animals are overweight but efforts are being made to control their weight by increased exercise.

There are only five zoos around the world displaying pandas, and if Chiang Mai Zoo is considered up to the task, then it will be supported with overseas funding.

Maha Dewi dance performance highlights beauty and truth

Staff reporters

Waewdao Sirisook and Supreeda Wongsansee were the principal dancers at a performance entitled Maha Dewi (Great woman) at Gong Dee Studio last Saturday evening. While Thai dance emphasizes mystery and religious expression, Western dance has historically focused on beauty and truth as themes. The Maha Dewi took as its theme the common and universal attributes of “the feminine” across cultures, expressing the narrow roles that cultures have imposed on women.

Waewdao Sirisook, who interpreted Thai and Balinese dances, holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Chiang Mai University and spent a considerable amount of time at Sekolah Tinggi Seni studying dance in Indonesia. She combines traditional Lanna dance with non-Lanna dance and drama in a style that is all her own.

Supreeda Wongsansee is a graduate of Chiang Mai University and teaches at the Chiang Mai Ballet Academy. She has studied the art of Flamenco dance in Bangkok and Budapest and was certified as a Flamenco teacher in Spain.

Waewdao delighted those who are familiar with the highly standardized traditional Thai dances with her re-interpretation into visually dramatic pieces. Traditional musical instruments provided the perfect accompaniment. Supreeda’s Flamenco was breath-taking. Guitar and percussion, simple music with strong beats that perfectly expressed Flamenco, accompanied her. Each dance emphasized not only the theme of women’s traditional and restrictive roles in society, but also the strength and beauty of each woman.

It was a popular theme, and there had to be two performances in one night as the first one sold out just days after the tickets were available.

East Timor represented at Prem

Jake Nicholson

Beneath the clean Lanna shirts and navy blue skirts, Prem students are anything but uniform. For instance, Ana Xavier adds to the school’s diversity as the school’s first student from East Timor.

Ana Xavier (top center) adds East Timor to the nationalities represented at Prem.

After winning a scholarship competition in her home country, Ana has made her first journey abroad to study at the Prem Tinsulanonda International School in Mae Rim. She hopes to spend two years studying at Prem.

East Timor, Ana’s home country, gained its independence in May 2002 after about 450 years as a Portuguese colony and 24 years under Indonesian rule, making it now the youngest country in Southeast Asia. For East Timor to be independent now, Ana says is “just amazing.”

“Our system is democracy,” Ana tells me proudly. “We can give our ideas. The people are free.” The old system, she says, was very limiting. Now that the country is independent, Ana says, “We can take part in that celebration.”

Ana’s eyes are on Oxford…

Living in East Timor has prepared Ana for any challenge she may face in Thailand. She has excelled academically, been president of her school’s student body, and lived through one of the most tumultuous political changes of our time. Nothing can faze her now. Except homesickness!

Upon first mention of her friends, Ana’s face lights up as she asks me, “You want to see a picture of my old friends?” From her backpack, she quickly unsheathes her photo album, which she totes around daily. She shows me pictures of her friends singing, laughing, playing in their homes, hanging out on her home beach, and posing in front of postcard views that she calls home.

She shows me the statue of Jesus, the world’s second largest, where the town goes to pray or jog. The memory of her parents’ seafood restaurant by the beach is a fond one.

Having learned English only through English class at home, language is a daily learning process for Ana. “But I’m here for two years,” says Ana, “and it’s gonna be fine.”

Being one of a kind also has its ups and downs. “On the first day, I thought, ‘I’m alone,’ but I think it’s okay.” By the same token, Ana is glad to be unique, “because at this school many come from Korea, USA, Japan, but from my country I’m just one.”

As for the future, Ana plans to study hard, continue her passion for soccer and guitar (she shows me another picture of her band “just for fun”). She also hopes to contribute something to Prem, “maybe not too big, maybe just small, but I hope I will do it.” And her eyes are on Oxford.

Anything else? I ask. She would like me to include the name of her president, Kayrala Xanana Gusmใo, who is “like our hero for independence.” Her other heroes are Maria Do R๊go and Julio Xavier, her mom and dad. They call her every night at ten o’clock.

An Ajarn meets the Nakrian

Elayne Clift

They are from Thailand, Burma, Japan, Indonesia, Turkey, China, Korea. They are eager, polite, and curious about their new teacher, or Ajarn. They are so young – mostly 19 or 20 – that I feel like a western relic. But age, and teachers, are respected here and the students’ beautiful, dark, almond-shaped eyes are fixed attentively upon me as I introduce myself and the courses I will teach this semester in Payap University’s English Communication program.

Elayne Clift, a writer and adjunct professor at several colleges and universities in New England, USA, is teaching English Communications at Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand this year.

Universally, they want to speak English better, to travel widely, and to learn more about the world. And in an icebreaker exercise I give them on our first day together, they reveal that universally they hope for peace to prevail everywhere.

Coming to teach here has been a new challenge for me. While I’ve taught many academic courses in the U.S. ranging from Women’s Studies to Health Communication, this is the first time I’m teaching English skills to students who are struggling to become fluent in my native language while I understand nothing in theirs. (Luckily, when I asked them to make table tents with their names on them, almost all of them wrote their adopted western names.) So I must learn to slow down, to enunciate clearly, to interpret idioms, to plan creative, well-paced lessons week by week. At home, I plan semester by semester, so the pressure is on.

But as the first week of my new teaching adventure progresses, I grow increasingly comfortable with the challenge. Both my Thai and expatriate colleagues have made me feel very much at home, and my students are so eager that even when I ask them to fill out a brief questionnaire about themselves, they whip out their electronic dictionaries and oversized erasers, hunker down over their papers, and give it all they’ve got. When I tell them about my prior experiences and travels, they gaze up at me as if I were a movie star and one student writes on her questionnaire, “I want to be an internationalist, just like you!”

As we begin to focus on the work before us – oral presentation, listening and speaking, writing in English – we begin to develop a group dynamic that includes trust, inquiry, and risk-taking. It also includes having fun. These classes are by definition practical, dynamic, applied. So each day I arrive in the classroom armed with exercises that I hope will be challenging, instructive and fun. Sometimes they flop, like when I handed out names of famous people and asked the students to write the questions they would ask their famous person if they could interview the historical figure. (I was surprised to find that many students didn’t know about Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, or Napoleon!) But most of the time, the exercises work. The students talk or write about things they wish for, animals they would like to be, guests they would like to invite to a dinner party. These early exercises serve as icebreakers, assessment tools, and practice sessions for the work ahead. They let the students experience my teaching style. They help me learn the personalities of the young people I will work with. After each class during the first week, I know them better. I see where their strengths and areas for improvement lie and I sense who is especially well motivated. I know who is doing okay as a college student away from home for the first time, and who is feeling lonely and afraid. And I return to my lesson planning with a bit more confidence about what is needed and what techniques (and games) will be most effective in the week to come.

At the end of the first week, there is an orientation for new students followed by an awesome buffet lunch. Three of my Chinese students rush up to me there and ask to take my picture with them. A Burmese young man, bright and articulate, tells me how much he likes my class. Two Thai students smile and wai (bow with clasped hands) deeply when they see me. An Indonesian waves vigorously at me from across the open terrace. I leave for the weekend after my first experience as an Ajarn confident that I can teach successfully in my new university. Then I head for my resource materials, eager and a bit anxious, to plan for the coming week.