By Thomas Hughes
Payap University celebrated the 35th anniversary of its founding on
February 16th, with a series of lectures, research presentations, music
performances, and exhibits.
Cultural dancers, musicians, handicraft artisans and food
vendors provided a colorful and vibrant scene on the grass fields in and
around the Sirindhorn Learning Resource Center and the Institute of Religion,
Culture and Peace. Meanwhile, a day-long series of research presentations
and lectures were underway from visiting scholars as well as faculty and
students in Payap’s English-medium Masters degree programs in Linguistics,
Business Administration and English teaching (TESOL).
Dr. Kimmo Kosonen and Ajarn Noel Mann from the
Linguistics Department and Linguistics Institute gave overviews of current
issues in language policy and language development for the speakers of the
76 languages spoken in Thailand and the several thousand others spoken
throughout Southeast Asia. Then students and faculty gave presentations on
linguistics research on the Nepali, Bru, and Khmu language communities in
The International MBA lectures were keynoted by Payap’s
Dr. Somboon Panyakom and Dr. Thein Swe. Dr. Somboon gave a presentation on
non-profits helping Pwo-Karen communities, while Dr. Thien Swe gave a talk
on the globalization issues within the Greater Mekong Sub-region that are
affecting education in Thailand and that present challenges for
internationally oriented universities like Payap. These lectures were
followed by presentations of MBA student research findings on Thai-Myanmar
border trade and the situation of Chiang Mai area businesses in the art,
hospitality and wood-carving industries.
In addition to these linguistics and iMBA lectures, other
presentations were given on research in English teaching in Thailand and
Myanmar, as well as several lectures on developments in the Thai business
scene, presented by students and faculty from Payap’s Thai MBA program.
The day also featured lectures from noted scholars from
universities throughout Thailand on emerging topics such as Palliative Care,
Living Wills and issues of nationality for stateless people in Thailand. The
latter discussion featured an appearance from Chiang Mai’s stateless school
boy, Mong Thongdee, who last year shed light on the issue of nationality for
the stateless, after winning a paper airplane contest that included a prize
trip to a competition in Japan (which was finally facilitated with
intervention from Prime Minister Abhisit).
In the afternoon a celebration was held with special
guests from around the world offering words of congratulations. These
included the Governor of Chiang Mai Province along with the Consul Generals
for China, Japan, and the United States, as well as university presidents
from Cambodia, Japan, Korea and many universities throughout Thailand.
The fun-filled day was capped off by a concert by the
Chiang Mai Orchestra and students from Payap’s School of Music, including a
rollicking performance by the University’s brass band. And, based on the
energy created throughout the day, Thailand’s oldest private university
looks well positioned to continue to thrive and grow in the decades to come.