Boarding as an anthropological field
Visiting anthropological student researcher
Nina Kaae chatting with students.
By Nina Kaae, MA student in educational anthropology, Aarhus
Told in two parts by Nina, this is the first of two parts on her
fieldwork in Chiang Mai.
In spring 2013 I was told by Aarhus University to find a site for my
anthropological fieldwork for the fall semester. It could be anywhere in
the world, anywhere I could spend three to four months in research. At
the time I was working on an exam paper about globalisation and global
citizenship. I was inspired and keen to find a place where I could learn
more about these topics. Since education has been a big part of my
professional life I thought an international school would be a great
fieldwork site – people from many different places gathered at one
place; a meeting point between national and global, global citizenship
as an educational goal, and the main focus group being children and
A friend of mine, a Canadian who was teaching at The International
People’s College in Denmark had visited the Prem Tinsulanonda
International School last year and recommended the school to me. As
Prem seemed to be just what I was looking for I contacted the school
through Principal Stephen Mcllroy and Director of Boarding Linda Buck
and four months later I was on my way to Thailand.
For four months I lived in the Prem boarding community while doing
anthropological fieldwork, researching how global citizenship comes into
play at the school. As a fairly well travelled Dane, I am aware that I
viewed Prem thought my own cultural glasses. Had someone else been here
instead of me they might have observed something different.
“Immigrants” and “expat children” are relatively recent terms in the
schools I had been teaching at in Denmark, so the intercultural
dimension at Prem was new and exciting. I wondered what daily life at
school and in boarding would be like with children from all over the
world. What connected them? Which cultural differences even mattered in
an international school?
I spent lots of time observing the students and talking to them about
their daily life at school, where they were from and what their future
plans were. I participated in many lessons and the morning assembles,
and attended special celebrations, but primarily examined boarding
routines. I learned a lot about what boarding life at Prem was like –
but I am sure I could learn more if I could have stayed longer! As an
anthropologist it is important to know and to understand the people
around you, and that is what I tried to do.
Using a large world map, a box of pins and a roll of red thread, I asked
each boarding student to put a pin in the country that they were from,
and that those who had parents from different countries to put a pin in
both countries and connect them with the red thread. However it did not
take me long to figure out that the task of pinning the country “you are
from” was not as easy has I had imagined it to be. A lot of the students
did not know where to place their pin or pins.
For the students from Korea, Japan, Bhutan and China, born and raised in
one country, the task was easily completed, and the students with
parents from two different countries also managed the task, but then it
seemed to get more difficult.
A student asked me: “Are you asking which country I was born in or which
countries I have lived in?” Another student knew he was from a city in
the USA, but he did not know how to find it on the map. Another student
helped him by using Google maps to find the right place for his pin. I
don’t think I have ever seen a Danish student using Google maps to find
out where they are from, so anthropologically this was a great
Several other students were completely bewildered as to where they
should place their pins.
Where do you put your pin if you have lived in eight different countries
and both of your parents are a mix of two or several nationalities?
Where are you really from if your parents are from different counties
but you have never lived in either of those countries? Where are you
from if all family members were born in different countries and you have
lived in four different countries? Where are you from if can can’t
remember the order of the countries you lived in, because the list is so
Each conversation about pinning the map made me more aware of the
diversity among the children. I was keen to know more.
The second part of Nina’s story on Third Culture kids will be in the
ASEAN visit for Payap
Members of the Faculty of Science and
Faculty of Social Sciences of Payap University organized a trip to Laos
and Vietnam last month to study “Management education and culture of
Biogents donates mosquito traps to Mae Hong Son school
A small school in Huay Haeng, about one hour
from the Thom Lod cave in Mae Hong Son Province is made up of children from
different hilltribes including Hmong, Pa- O Shan and others. The school has
suffered severely from mosquito problems so through Mark Isenstadt of Vector
Collector, German mosquito trap maker Biogents donated several traps to the
school for use in the boys and girls dormitories. Included in the donation
were solar power panels and accessories. The school master, K. Pimook, who
has taught at the school for more than 20 years was very excited by the new
project. Mark will visit the school periodically to check on and maintain
the traps throughout the year. Children from the school are seen here with
one the traps, it is hoped it will help reduce the incidence of dengue fever
Success on and off the
field for hill tribe kids
Jenny Morgan, who has worked tirelessly to raise
funds for the Hill Tribe Fund with Choo and Chai.
By Richard Lockwood
As well as doing so well on the field with the boys winning the
Plate competition and the girls winning the hearts of players and audience
alike, the 2014 Chiang Mai Sixes was a wonderful week for all the children
supported by the Hill Tribe Fund. Many generous donations were received
during the week that will make sure the children can be looked after for
another year and to continue with their education whether at school or
college. Six children live at home with coach Chris Dodd and his wife Toy
while several others are also supported while they continue to live with
Money is raised throughout the year with fund-raisers held in Bankstown in
Sydney and in Ios in Greece so that more than 300 000 Baht was raised by
Jenny Morgan and her friends, Susie, Jacki and Ruth. All involved with the
Hill Tribe Fund as well as the children themselves would like to say thank
you for the marvellous generosity of all the players at the Sixes and from
all the other sponsors around the world.
There were also several generous donations of cricket equipment and sports
clothing as the photographs of the kids with Tokyo Dingbats and with Russell
from Yarrambat demonstrate. Aree and Sangdao looked simply delightful
dressed in their Taranaki Taverners’ blouses, while the junior cricket
programs in Chiang Mai and Lamphun are also well supported. Every player who
made nought is presented with a yellow plastic duck and required to pay a
fine and a fantasy cricket competition raised 50 000 Baht as Jenny Morgan
was once again at the heart of everything that the Chiang Mai Sixes stands
At the end of a marvellous week at the Chiang Mai Sixes, the future looks
bright for the children who stole the show with their wonderful cricket
skills and will their willingness to help the tournament in any way. As well
as being the most talented young cricketer in Thailand, Bunchuai will soon
be taking a Level II coaching course in Malaysia and he will become the head
coach of his team. Chanchai, Cher and Choo are also training to become
coaches and the boys will be attending college to learn other skills. Nok
dreams of becoming a professional cricketer, while Aree and Sangdao are both
hoping to become teachers in the future. The Hill Tribe Fund is helping to
transform these children’s lives and it is hoped the good work can continue
for many years to come.
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