By Amanda Tolentino
Baylor graduate Dr. Nirund Jivasantikarn and his son Ekapon Jivasantikarn are traveling to various universities to recruit graduating seniors to teach English in Thailand for 10 months from June to March with a two-week break in October.
The Jivasantikarns will host an information session on the teaching program at 4 p.m. Monday in 203 Cashion Academic Center in the Hankamer School of Business.
The program, Teach Thailand Corps, is geared toward recent native-English speaking college graduates who will the receive the opportunity to teach English to Thai students throughout Thailand’s provinces.
Nirund Jivasantikarn, who graduated in 1981 with a doctoral degree in education, said the purpose of Teach Thailand Corps is to recruit graduates from American universities to teach in underserved schools from kindergarten to 12th grade in Thailand for a year.
“For this ongoing year we have 24 teachers. We will need 50 teachers for 2013. I come back to Baylor once a year to advise with faculty and to recruit,” Jivasantikarn said.
The program’s requirements include graduates of bachelor’s degrees or higher. Jivasantikarn said although the teacher can have a degree in any field, education and English could serve as an advantage for the program.
“We look for someone who is adventurous, forward-looking, is open to new experiences, and has the ability to adapt to a new environment,” Jivasantikarn said. “For extracurricular activities we like people who have a background in music and sports, which will be easy to bridge the gap to as a tool to build relationships.”
Teach Thailand Corps is a voluntary program, but provides housing, a monthly stipend, a work permit and visa to the teachers.
Teachers will participate in an online language and culture orientation as well as a basic teacher training before the school year begins.
The program matches candidates based on their preferred teaching age level.
Teach Thailand Corps also offers a six-week program for undergraduate students who wish to participate in the program, but cannot stay the full 10 months. The short-term volunteer opportunity is available any time of the year except during April and May.
Jivasantikarn said his hope for the students and teachers is to gain language and culture experience from working with Thai peers.
Ekapon Jivasantikarn, a graduate of Stanford University, serves on the board of the American-Thai Foundation.
“Teachers will obtain a development of skills, they will have a working and living abroad experience, they’ll be able to show they can take the initiative and that also carries over to what the teachers want to do next from graduate school or working in any chosen field,” Ekapon Jivasantikarn said in regards to the additional personal benefits teachers will receive.
Teach Thailand Corps was launched in 2011 with 15 students with help from the American-Thai and Yonok Foundation. Jivasantikarn started each foundation along with the establishment of Yonok University.
“My vision was to found a university to serve those who need a college education,” Jivasantikarn said. “It was Dr. Herbert H. Reynolds during his presidency along with the vice president and deans that advised me how to go about founding the American-Thai Foundation. We were able to raise funds from USAID, friends, and friends from Thailand.”
Jivasantikarn said his inspiration to establish a university came from his experiences growing up in Lampang, Northern Thailand when only four universities were located in Bangkok.
“Realizing the lack of faculty and teachers in Thailand, we lack a lot of things,” Jivasantikarn said.
Jivasantikarn said English-speaking teachers are an important tool for students in Thailand to advance their education.
Jivasantikarn received aid from former Peace Corp volunteers to originally establish three foundations: American-Thai Foundation, American-Thai Christian Foundation and the American-Thai Educational Development Foundation. From this Jivasantikarn established Yonok University, which opened in 1988, the first liberal arts university in Jivasantikarn’s hometown in Lampang, Northern Thailand.
The American-Thai Christian Foundation and the American-Thai Education Development Foundation merged into the American-Thai Foundation to form one foundation. Teach Thailand Corps is a program under the American-Thai Foundation.
Thailand is one of the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which consists of 10 nations: Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, The Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar. The association has an statement declaring they will become integrated in 2015 for close cooperation in trade, cultural and educational, and security.
“It’s everything from the personal enriching experience to having a sense of a rewarding year,” said Ekapon Jivasantikarn. “As well as the enriching experience of living in an underserved community and being able to see the impact your contribution is having on the lives of the students. That also connects with Thailand’s trajectory as it further develops and connects with the bigger context of the ASEAN community of becoming more of a union and seeing how the work the teachers are doing is helping the country prepare its citizens’ future workforce.”