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Prem students help out the dogs of Nom Pla Mong by building a sala

International Day at Prem brings students, teachers, families and the community together

Prem students help out the dogs of Nom Pla Mong by building a sala

Prem students complete the installation
of the sala for temple dogs at Nom Pla Mong.

By Sandra Clyburn
During a recent “day out” at Prem Tinsulanonda International School several students not usually connected with either Design and Technology or Hand to Paw came together to undertake a special project. They had been asked to build a platform for the dogs. Throughout the course of the afternoon they discussed, planned and developed a design for the building of a “sala” for the temple dogs of Nom Pla Mong. By the end of the session they had selected from several designs the one that they agreed would best meet the requirements for the dogs during the colder winter months. Providing the dogs with a raised platform to protect them from the winter dampness was a priority in the building and design process. It was also decided that the structure would be built of bamboo.

Dogs enjoy their new shelter built by Prem students.
Bamboo was selected for a variety of reasons. It is environmentally friendlier to use than wood given that it grows up to 10 times faster than a normal tree and therefore is a more “sustainable” product.  In Thailand, bamboo grows in abundance and is far cheaper to use as a building product than wood. It is known for its durability and sturdy composition when handled correctly. Bamboo being native to this part of the world can usually sustain the persistent and often torrential rain that is experienced during many months throughout the year.
Bamboo, does however, have to be protected during the building stage as the students quickly discovered.  The yet to be completed “sala” was left out during a particularly violent rainstorm. Some of the bamboo became waterlogged and then infested with ants. Ten steps forward, one step back as the saying goes. Thankfully, at this point, the students were already committed to the assignment and were not going to let a little rain dampen their spirits. For the students it was back to the drawing board and the re-building of a large portion of the project.

Temple dog enjoys a treat at her new shelter.
The students realized that the organization, planning and implementation were going to take much longer than they had initially anticipated. What started as a “day out “ project soon became a commitment far beyond the few hours of a usual day out activity. Time was arranged to continue working after school.  Approximately 12 + hours later they proudly completed the “sala”. They had also quite incidentally formed an effective team that collaborated and cooperated to successfully complete the task.
Arrangements were made to transport the platform to Wat Nom Pla Mong. A. Shan then organized a follow-up trip to the temple in order that the students could move the “sala” to a convenient location selected by the monks. Another special moment that brought laughter all around occurred when the “sala”, although quite light, was too big to fit through the doorway that led to the backyard of the temple. Heaving it over the cement retaining wall was considered but the decision was finally made to carry it around the fence. The “sala” finally was positioned in its proper location and was quickly “tried out” by both students and dogs!
It was rewarding for the students to actually meet the temple dogs and see that this building project was purposeful and made a contribution to the community. Now Hand to Paw has not been known to miss an opportunity to engage “volunteers” so we soon had the students cleaning bowls, giving treats and making sure the dogs had water before we left. It was a special afternoon for the dogs who never seem to get tired of treats and TLC and for the students who had the positive experience of doing something beneficial in the community.

Prem School students carry the hand built sala into the temple at Nom Pla Mong.

International Day at Prem brings students, teachers, families and the community together

The Japanese booth offered Prem School International Day
visitors sushi and other Japanese delicacies.

Story by Paul Middleton
Photos by Jedsadapong Wongkiew

The International Day at Prem Tinsulanonda International School is an annual event, where the public, parents, staff and students are all invited to come onto the Prem campus and celebrate the diversity of Prem’s international community. The event has consistently been a great success, and one of the most anticipated social events on the Prem School Calendar, this year was certainly no exception. Scores of guests poured onto the campus early Saturday morning, ready for the stalls to open, and the multitude of shows to get underway.

The British booth provided real “cream tea” for parents, students, and others who attended Prem School’s International Day.

The theme of this year’s international day was ‘dancing around the world’. True to the description, there were upwards of twenty different acts, each showing off their national costume and dances to the on-looking crowds. Of these dances, examples included traditional Japanese and Indian dances performed by students, as well as a traditional Canadian dance by Mary MacLachlan- a Prem School teacher. Of special note is the dance performed by Prem student, Boni, who performed her national Indian dance with great vigor on her own. In between the various dance routines and displays, guests were able to browse any of the thirty four stalls, each of which represented a different nationality. This offered people the chance to sample the different foods and activities from these different cultures. There was cream tea on sale at the UK stand, sushi at the Japanese tables, hockey games at the Canadian area, and many stalls that students had taken it upon themselves to organise for their respective countries.
While the main reason for the event is of course to create a day of entertainment and enjoyment for visiting guests, International Day also offers a fantastic opportunity to raise money for various local charities and beneficiaries. One such charitable venture has been the development of the ‘Prem Bears’, which were named Ted and Suzy by two competition winners on the day. Proceeds from the sale of the bears went to the ‘Jester Care For Kids’ charity. Likewise, the event helped find new homes for two little puppies who had been brought to the event by the ‘Care for Dogs’ representatives from Wat Ma Man.
The final feature of the day was the flag procession, where students had the opportunity to parade the flag of their national country around the main piazza, before taking their place on the main stage in front of the crowd. This was a deeply moving display which signified a wholly appropriate conclusion to a truly remarkable day. This leaves just one problem- matching these high standards next year!

Prem School students perform for the crowd of family,
 friends and other students at International Day.

Prem School teacher Mary MacLachlan performs a traditional Canadian dance for the crowd gathered for International Day on Saturday, November 14.

Chiang Mai Charity Calendar sales raise money for charity at Prem School.