OUR COMMUNITY
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Special knowledge for special projects - the first ever Hill Tribe Magicians

Elementary students from Lanna International School host “Global Citizens Week”

KIS International School students visit Makhompong’s “Living Theater in Chiang Dao”

FERC appoints Representative to the Netherlands

Special knowledge for special projects - the first ever Hill Tribe Magicians

Belgian magician teaches secrets of magic to Hill Tribe students

Sylvain Sluys, (“Sylvain The Magician”), with his hill tribe students,
who will perform with him in an important free magic show
at the CMU Convention Hall on March 26.

Invited to Chiang Rai by Count Gerald van der Straten Ponthoz, Belgian professional magician Sylvain Sluys (“Sylvain the Magician”) arrived in Thailand in early February. His task was to teach the skills of magic to 12 hill tribe students at the Suksasongkroh Maechan School.
The students, all from very disadvantaged backgrounds, have acquired enough techniques during the last two months to appear in two Magic Shows at the end of March. One of these shows will be held at the Chiang Mai University Convention Centre on March 26 at 7 pm. Admission will be free and tickets will be obtainable from March 13 at Central, Kad Suan Kaew, Suriwong Book Centre, Tawahee Leasing, Chomlong Leasing and Radio Thailand Chiang Mai.
Learning magic requires countless hours of practice and concentration, but the enthusiasm of the students has been noticeable at the rendezvous since the very first day. The project itself fits perfectly with the philosophy of Count Gerald: “Search for knowledge not yet available in the north of Thailand and use it to the advantage of the poorest children”.
Whilst becoming a magician is probably a dream of many youngsters, the ultimate goal of this project is to allow the students to gain special knowledge which will allow them to make revenue with a unique and unseen product.
The show which Sylvain the Magician and his students are preparing with the support of Rotary Maechan and the Government Public Relations Office will not be simply a replica of what is seen in Europe or elsewhere in the world.
It will be deeply influenced by the Thai and hill tribe cultures, using not only costumes and music, but also ancient stories and legends of the hills. Besides the hill tribe magicians, around 40 musicians and performers will be part of an amazing show which will certainly be a first in Thailand as well as a premiere!

 

Elementary students from Lanna International School host “Global Citizens Week”

Proceeds and donations benefit Hill Tribe school

Lanna International School recently held a “Global Citizens’ Week”, involving a special community service project aimed at benefiting the Huay Kong School in Om Koi district, a school with 300 mostly Hill Tribe pupils and 10 teachers. Pupils often have to walk for up to 6 hours from their villages to the school, and as a result, must stay in dormitories during the week. Over the course of Global Citizens’ Week, the parents, staff and students of Lanna International School donated clothing, shoes and school supplies.

Hill Tribe pupils at Huay Kong School receiving their presents.

On February 15, Lanna’s Year 4 students hosted a Kiddie Café and car wash. Supervised by Jane and Erica, they organized and ran everything themselves. Even the 4 and 5 year-old foundation year students raised money by running a game booth. Many parents brought their cars and motorbikes to be washed and enjoyed sandwiches, hot dogs and soda whilst they waited. These activities raised 6,000 baht, which went towards the purchase of toothbrushes, toothpaste and food for the Huay Kong students.
On February 28, a group of Lanna School staff members, including My, Erica, Ann, Jimmy, Toey, Jim, Mr K and Mos, trekked up the mountain to Huay Kong School, having worked together to pack all of the donations into the back of a truck. Once they arrived, the group settled into their one roomed bamboo hut, after which they enjoyed a dinner with the local teachers. The following morning, they organized the students into 7 groups and rotated them through different teachers in order to learn new songs and games - a tiring but rewarding experience. After the activities ended, it was time to give out the donations, making sure that everyone got something, and to meet with local villagers to give out baby and adult clothing.


KIS International School students visit Makhompong’s “Living Theater in Chiang Dao”

Prem Center teams up with Makhampom

A group of KIS International School students, pictured at Makhampom’s Living Theater with their sculpture.

Sitting in the air conditioned vans, listening to their I-Pods and quizzing one another on pop culture trivia, 32 grade 7 students from KIS International School in Bangkok left the secure walls of Prem Center for an arts adventure. Travelling to Makhampom art site in Chiang Dao, the students had visions of rice fields and haunted wooden houses. Their fears were soon quelled by the warm and eager staff at Makhampom, who quickly whisked the students off for a series of comical ice breakers and energizers.
Founded in Bangkok, Makhampom specializes in using theater and art to inspire marginal communities and address community issues such as literacy. Expanding outside of the Bangkok region, Makhampom has built a site in Chiang Dao entitled “The Living Theater”, for the purpose of hosting NGOs, school groups, community organizations, and other groups for seminars, workshops, and training sessions. At the end of February, Makhampom teamed up with the Prem Center’s Visiting Schools Program to bring KIS’s budding artists to the Chiang Dao site for an overnight stay involving natural art and community service.
During the day, the KIS crew helped the Makhampom staff and local students to build a new playground in a local Hill Tribe school. Even as laborers, these boys and girls practiced art techniques whilst painting monkey bars, tunnels and merry-go-rounds with bright colors and natural motifs. When they weren’t brightening the play structures, the students tested their muscles by spreading gravel around the slides, bamboo structures, and tire swings.
After creating their playground masterpieces, the KIS students dove into the world of traditional Thai toys. They learned that you do not need fancy tools or expensive materials to make fun toys, all you need are the natural materials all around. With wooden sticks and eggplants they made tops and helicopters, whilst with bamboo sticks and banana leaves they created windmills propelled by fast movement. During the toy-making workshop, the students learned and practiced carving techniques and whittling skills using traditional methods and tools.
Continuing with the natural theme, the KIS students utilized the stones, leaves, trees, and fields around them to create natural art installations, which they photographed for further use in class back home. Using technical skills, theory previously learned, and inspiration from well-known artists such as Andy Goldsworthy, the young artists searched for texture, pattern, and color in the natural surroundings.
In the evening, the KIS group further tested their boundaries by staying overnight in wooden houses on the Makhampom site. For these youngsters from Bangkok, the quiet of Chiang Dao was both refreshing and a little scary. Before going to sleep, the Makhampom staff led them through theater games which involved using their bodies, rather than clay, stones, or leaves, to make sculptures. They left the following morning feeling more appreciative of the quiet of Chiang Dao and the chance to try something new. As their art teacher would say in lessons, “artists need to experience to create interesting art”.


FERC appoints Representative to the Netherlands

The Foundation for the Education of Rural Children (FERC) recently announced the appointment of Ans Scholten as its Representative to the Netherlands.

Ans Scholten, the recently appointed FERC representative to the Netherlands.

Ans graduated in sports in her native Holland and went on to coach volley ball, working in the major leagues and managing sports clubs in Tilburg. She married Jo Wolfgang, who managed the family business, producing authentic Dutch candy for both retail and wholesale customers, and eventually left professional sports, working with Jo in the candy manufacturing business until they decided in 2004 to retire to Chiang Mai. Both volunteer locally as teachers. Ans is active in the Chiang Mai Choral Society, continues to enjoy sports, and is an avid bird watcher. She will work to promote FERC and its work with children to the people of the Netherlands.