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Update March 16, 2016

CMU students in mock U.S. election debate

Students in a win –win situation as they learn debating skills

Dean Dr. Ora-orn Poocharoen (4th left), U.S. Consul General Michael Heath (center) and U.S. Consul on Political and Economic Affairs Jennifer Barnes-Kerns are joined by representatvies from the American Corner at the CMU Library, consular staff and faculty at the opening of the Mock Debate.

By Shana Kongmun
Chiang Mai University Political Science students took on new roles on Tuesday, March 15 as Republican and Democrat candidates in a mock U.S. election debate at the Uniserv building. Outside the debate room was a comprehensive display on the electoral process in the United States presidential campaign; covering everything from primaries to the Electoral College. Inside was a room full of enthusiastic supporters sporting campaign stickers cheering for their favorite candidates.

U.S. Consul on Political and Economic Affairs Jennifer Barnes-Kerns and ), U.S. Consul General Michael Heath before the start of the debates.

The Dean of the Political Science and Public Administration Faculty Dr. Ora-orn Poocharoen reminded students that the debate was being held for three key reasons; to raise awareness and increase understanding of the U.S. election process, to learn how to debate and obtain the skill sets to do a debate in English. Finally she said it educated students and the general public about “the importance of understanding international relations and international affairs and how that affects our daily lives.”

U.S Consul – General Michael Heath opened the event reminding students that this debate was an important part of the political process and noted that even though some of the debaters didn’t necessarily support the positions they were arguing that it gave them a good look into the debate process and may open their eyes to other viewpoints.

Students representing the Republican Party ready for the debate which was conducted entirely in English.

He said, “The purpose of this is to provide you with a forum to discuss issues that we discuss ourselves during the election season.” He noted that important primaries were being held that night and added that it would not determine the exact winner but go a long way towards knowing who were the leading candidates.

The table representing the Democrat Party supporting their candidate and his running mate.

“We’ve been very fortunate to have some very eloquent Chiang Mai University students representing the Democrat Party and the Republican Party here today”, the U.S. Consul General said as he opened the debate. He continued, “We want to stress that when these students come up to give you their opinions, these are not necessarily their own opinions but they’ve been asked to provide what they think a candidate for the Democrat Party or a candidate for the Republican Party might present on a certain issue. And of course we must realize that even our own parties also have many differences between them; the Democrats themselves and the Republicans themselves don’t always agree with each other on what we should be doing in terms of foreign policy, immigration or protecting the environment. So, we have to recognize that just because we have two parties doesn’t mean we necessarily have two points of view.”

Representatives for the Democrat Party (left) and Republican Party (right) take to the stage to debate.

He reminded the students that they will all have the opportunity to vote on the candidates after the debate and said that there is no one right answer but did ask the students to not necessarily vote for the positions they already agree with but said he would like to see the students vote for the side they think presents their opinions in the best way and makes the most clear presentation of their positions on each issue.

U.S. Consul General Michael Heath thanked the students for their hard work in preparing for the debate, the volunteers and the American Corner as well as sponsor s.

The students then took the stage to present their case on various issues including foreign policy, ISIS, the economy and immigration, the very issues many Americans are discussing now.

Outside the debate was a comprehensive exhibition of the U.S. electoral process.

The students said they were very excited to have the debate although several confessed it was difficult debating for policies they didn’t support but that it was a great learning opportunity and did open their eyes to differing points of view.

Anantara’s Annual King’s Cup raises millions for Thailand’s elephants

Funds to go to Mae Taeng Elephant clinic and more

Elephants feast after the Polo matches on National Elephant Day.

After four days of fun festivities, the 14th annual King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament came to a close on Sunday March 13, 2016 coinciding with Thailand’s National Elephant Day. Ten teams with players from around the world, including Miss Thailand, the New Zealand All Blacks rugby players and professional polo players created many memorable on (and off) pitch moments.

The captain of the King Power team is presented with the winning trophy by H.E. Privy Councilor, Air Chief Marshal Chalit Pukbhasuk.

A total of 20 unemployed ex-street elephants took part in this year’s tournament, during which time they received full veterinary checks from the Zoological Parks Organisation of Thailand (under the patronage of HM the King of Thailand) and the Department of Livestock Development. In addition, all elephants were given essential vitamins, food and care which are not available to them during their normal daily lives.

Polo players go for the ball while the mahouts guide the elephants in the match.

The tournament was introduced to Thailand in 2001 by Anantara Hotels, Resorts & Spas and has grown to become one of the biggest charitable events in the Kingdom, raising funds for projects that better the lives of Thailand’s elephant population. THB15 million has been raised this year taking the total raised to date to an impressive THB 47 million (US$1,300,000).

The money raised from the 2016 tournament will be donated to a variety of elephant related pro-jects including funding a new mobile clinic in Mae Taeng, Chiang Mai which has the largest concentration of trekking camps in Thailand. Funds will also be donated to the Zoological Parks Organisation of Thailand to support projects to improve the year round lives of the 200 elephants and mahouts in Ban Ta Klang, in Surin Province where the ex-street elephants face ongoing hardship.

Other significant benefits from the money raised by the tournament include: the ongoing Thai Elephant Therapy Project which has been underway since 2009 in conjunction with Chiang Mai University’s Department of Occupational Therapy, with future clinics to include children with Down’s syndrome and other conditions. A THB 500,000 gantry to help lame elephants stand, donated to the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC); 4,000 trees planted in Hua Hin for elephant corridors to stop farmer/elephant conflicts; funding a conservation curriculum for schools to teach children the importance of conservation and protection of wild elephants in Thailand and funding Asia’s first workshop to show traditional elephant trainers and camp owners the benefits of Positive Reinforcement Training for captive elephants.

The event has something for everyone, kicking off with a spectacular opening parade, with the opening ceremony overseen by Thailand’s last ‘elephant spirit men’ (Kruba Yai), traditional dancers, plus the daily trunk-to-trunk action on the pitch.

Day two saw the tournament host one thousand children from schools all over Bangkok. Known as Chang Noi Day (Little Elephant Day), the children were invited to get up close with the elephants and learn more about their national animal. A range of educational walks, games and activities all teaching the benefits of elephant conservation and wellbeing were showcased by the organisers.

Saturday was ‘Ladies Day’ known as ‘Bangkok’s Ascot’ where ladies from all walks of life dressed to impress with the best dressed lady winning major prizes including a trip to Paris. On pitch, an exhibition penalty shoot off between the New Zealand All Blacks rugby players Olo Brown, Robin Brooke and Charles Riechelmann and Thailand’s most famous trans-gender cabaret show members Miss Tiffany – the All Black’s showing their sporting prowess by winning 2-0.

The highly anticipated final was presided over by the King of Thailand’s Royal representative, H.E. Privy Councilor, Air Chief Marshal Chalit Pukbhasuk. Reigning champions King Power went head to head with rival team Rueang Chang in the finals and managed to retain the coveted King’s Cup trophy by scoring two goals in the dying moments of the match, resulting in a final score of 9-7.

Update March 14, 2016

Thai Freedom House celebrates ten years of service to the community

Founder Lisa Nesser was joined by Shan and Thai speaking staff to give a tri-lingual talk on the work being done at Thai Freedom House.

Shana Kongmun
Thai Freedom House celebrated its tenth anniversary at a gala party held in the courtyard of the Chiang Mai Arts and Cultural Center behind Three Kings Monument on Saturday, March 12, 2016. The charming old colonial building, which dates back to 1927 and acted as the first Provincial Hall for Chiang Mai, was the ideal backdrop for the charming Shan dancers that took the stage.

Young Shan dancers took to the stage to delight the crowd with their performance at the ten year anniversary party

Guests at the party enjoyed the dances, a photo exhibition, and delicious vegetarian Shan delicacies along with the opportunity to take photos in traditional dress and purchase hand made goods.

Thai Freedom House provides education in Thai, English, Shan and Burmese and works with the local migrant community and ethnic minority groups to provide better opportunities through education and training. Thai Freedom House also provides mosquito nets, beds and clothing to construction camps throughout Chiang Mai, making life inside the camps a little more bearable for the workers and their families.

Young students ready to take the stage at the party.

Thai Freedom House is supported by the popular vegetarian restaurant Freebird Café and the adjacent thrift store where donations of all kinds are accepted. Those which can be of use to migrant workers and refugees are passed along while those that won’t fit or are inappropriate for their lifestyles are sold and the donations used to purchase supplies to help those in need.

Manaswat (Kim) Chutima and Tim McGuire of Old Chiangmai enjoyed traditional herbal drinks and snacks while they watched the show.

Chiang Mai Night Safari holds ten year anniversary party

Dr. Sarawut Srisakun, Acting for Director of Pingkanakorn Devleopment Agency, four sub-district headmen and Chiang Mai Night Safari staff in a group photo at the 10 year anniversary party.

Dr. Sarawut Srisakun visits one of the elephants enjoying the khantoke dinner at the party.

Nopniwat Krailerg
The Chiang Mai Night Safari held a celebration for the tourist attraction’s tenth anniversary on March 10, 2016 presided over by Dr. Sarawut Srisakun, Acting for Director of Pingkanakorn Devleopment Agency and four sub-district headmen.

The celebration was held by the Pinkanakorn Development Agency (Public Organization) by the Office of Chiang Mai Night Safari held the celebration under the theme of “One decade of Chiang Mai Night Safari creates good relations with communities in four sub-districts and returns happiness to animals” event on the occasion of the 10 year anniversary and entering the 11the year of the Chiang Mai Night Safari.

Mr. Weerapol Boonchuduang, Director of Animal Welfare Management reminisced on the animals at the Safari, noting that there are 140 different kinds of animals totaling 1,500 animals. The Chiang Mai Night Safari also provided 100 bags of organic fertilizer and promotes and supports agricultural careers in four sub-districts. He said that during the past 10 years, over 7,000,000 people have visited Chiang Mai Night Safari.

There was a khantoke dinner for the many of the animals at the Night Safari including elephants, ponies, sheep, snakes, rabbits, deer, and iguana. There were many tourists and students participating in the event.

Update March 4, 2016

Mayor visits Chiang Mai International Rotary water safety project

Kids from the class along with their teachers, Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn, members of his team and Chiang Mai International Club Rotary members at the pool for the visit.

Shana Kongmun
Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn visited the Bronco Kids Sports Club swimming pool inside the Old City on Wednesday, March 2, 2016 to review the Chiang Mai International Rotary Club’s progress on their Children’s Water Safety Project with Natthasak Thawudom, or Kru Payu as he is known to his students and friends, and his team at Broncos Kids Pool. Rotarian John Schorr, who has been working closely with Kru Payu on the project with Chiang Mai International Rotary, chatted with the Mayor about the development of the project and lessons. Kru Payu also explained to the Mayor about the program that has been developed on how to teach kids to be safe in water.

Chiang Mai Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn (4th right) Natthasak Thawudom (center) and Rotarians John Schorr (3rd right) and Joe Evans (far right) are joined by officials from the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education to observe the class in session.

As John Schorr explained to the Mayor and his team from the Ministry of Health and Education, drowning is the number one cause of death for children in Thailand and the Club plans on networking with other clubs and organizations to train teachers in how to teach children to be safe in water. Kru Payu teaches basic water safety skills including flotation, and other swimming skills to kids from schools that he and the Club select, targeting schools with large populations of underprivileged kids. This is the third class that the Club has sponsored with Kru Payu and his team, teaching 36 kids from a city school.

Natthasak Thawudom (Kru Payu) explains to Chiang Mai Mayor Tussanai Buranupakorn about the classes and the lesson in progress at Bronco Kids Sports Club on March 2, 2016.

As the two explained to the Mayor, over 1300 children drown each year in Thailand and the Club hopes to reduce that number through this program. The Mayor is very happy to support this project in the city schools and has provided a bus to bring kids from school to the pool for each class, he said. He added that it was great to see Chiang Mai International Rotary Club so involved in helping the local people.

The Chiang Mai Municipality is covering the costs of transportation to bring the kids to the lessons each week.

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

CMU students in mock U.S. election debate

Anantara’s Annual King’s Cup raises millions for Thailand’s elephants

Thai Freedom House celebrates ten years of service to the community

Chiang Mai Night Safari holds ten year anniversary party

Mayor visits Chiang Mai International Rotary water safety project