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Under the Spotlight

Jaroonroat “Tom” Krasaesuk

By Shana Kongmun
Well known in the expat circles, Tom has to be one of the most open people around. Friendly, well-spoken and always willing to lend a hand or an ear, Tom also hosts on the “Helping Hands” Radio station at NBT.
Dedicated to the idea of helping people, Tom volunteered for the Helping Hands Radio shortly after it was started in 2001 after he had returned from a 4 month scholarship program in Singapore. “I heard this new radio show in English and wanted to help. When I heard they needed volunteers I called and auditioned.”
The radio show, while certainly useful to the foreigners here is a boon to the local Thais. According to Tom, many locals listen to the radio shows to improve their English, the Helping Hand Radio was a cooperation between the government and local people to help promote the use of English. Something that is becoming of greater importance with the upcoming ASEAN Economic integration, Tom pointed out.
The son of schoolteachers, Dad from Mae Ai where Tom grew up and Mom from Mae Rim, and the grandson of a schoolteacher, his grandfather actually founded the school in Mae Ai where his father taught, Tom turned away from academia after entering Chiang Mai University. He said he wanted to be something different and so began studying political science. He noted that he had been elected President of the student body at the age of 10 and that had inspired him to public service. “It was an idyllic childhood, my school was in a lychee orchard and at lunchtime we would sit in the trees, eating lychees and talk about everything.”
Although his perceptions of lawyers was that they were not very honest, after graduating Tom started weekend law classes and he hopes to pass the bar later this year. He felt knowledge of law was useful and he could use it to help people. He used his knowledge to help members of the Expats Club, he said he tries to explain to foreigners who want to move here that life will be different and that it is not the same as being a tourist. He understands that the complicated rules can make things seem difficult but feels that he can bridge that gap between Thai and foreigner to make communication more successful.
It was his travels to Singapore and the US that made him realize people needed to be exposed to other places and other ideas so that they could gain an appreciation and love of their home. “I think people should have the opportunities to see things differently and see how things can be changed. The most important thing”, he noted, “is if you want to change things you must change yourself first, then you can change the world.”
Tom feels that his work at Helping Hands has done just that, he said that one of his listeners, Pramoon from Lamphun called in to tell him that she had listened to the radio station for a year and was so excited because she could finally follow it in English. Tom noted that they get callers from around the province, the villagers in more remote places like Mae Chan as well as taxi drivers in town who call in and like to try to speak English.
He said that encouraging his listeners to reach out to people, to be brave and go out and speak to people in English, “We learn by doing”, Tom said. He added that many people think they must follow a set course in order to learn English, spend money and time at schools and that if they can’t afford these schools then they won’t learn English but Tom said, you don’t need to follow these steps, “You just need to go out and be brave”.

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Jaroonroat “Tom” Krasaesuk