Baylor alumnus creates educational opportunities for Thai, American citizens

Grace Fortier | Photographer

By Mariah Bennett | Staff Writer

The American-Thai Foundation will be hosting an informational session for students interested in applying for its collaborative project Teach Thailand Corps from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Oct. 20. This session will take place in the Career Center’s lobby conference room, located within the Sid Richardson Building. It will include a Q&A, and RSVP’s will be required on the Handshake page for the event. The program is searching for graduate students of any major to teach at schools in underdeveloped areas in Thailand. Interviews begin in January, Career Center office manager Amanda Kuehl said.

“I am beyond thrilled the American-Thai Foundation is here,” Kuehl said.

The American-Thai Foundation was created to support and empower underprivileged Thailand citizens through education. It also supports their beneficiaries’ health, as well as public and civic affairs in Thailand. The American-Thai Foundation created Teach Thailand Corps with its sister foundation, the Yonok Foundation.

All three organizations were founded by Lampang, Thailand native and Baylor alumnus, Dr. Nirund Jivasantikarn. Jivasantikarn also founded Yonok University in 2012.

“I’m a serial creator,” Jivasantikarn said. “When I went back home … I started so many organizations.”

Jivasantikarn is currently the president of Teach Thailand Corps, created in 2011 with the mission to strengthen education in primary and secondary schools in underdeveloped areas by hiring American college student graduates to the towns to teach students English. Jivasantikarn said hundreds of Baylor students have participated and English was a very helpful tool in his own life.

“I became successful because of language, because of English,” Jivansantikarn said. “I could convey my meaning, my mission, I could connect.”

Jivasantikarn earned his Bachelor of Science in biology in 1970 and a doctorate in education in 1981. Jivasantikarn said he learned about philanthropy while at Baylor. The self-coined social entrepreneur created his foundation greatly based on the Peace Corps. He also started it based on how the Baylor founders earned funds. His university was also based on numerous Baylor qualities. Specifically, the qualities of campus life and curriculum.

“I said, ‘There must be dormitories!’” Jivasantikarn said. “Campus life is important to me, I grew up and made friends on Baylor campus.”

In his time at Baylor, Jivasantikarn said he received great support and advisement from former president Herbert H. Reynolds. When Jivasantikarn wasn’t able to attend his father’s funeral in 1968, Reynolds made sure he was looked after.

“He sent someone to take me out to dinner and to reach out to me,” Jivasantikarn said.

Jivasantikarn said Reynolds also helped him network and connect with others.

“President Reynolds eventually helped me find a way to organize the American-Thai foundation and to mobilize resources,” Jivasantikarn said.

Eventually, Reynolds attended the opening of Yonok University in 2012. Other past Baylor involvement has included fellow graduates and alumna Whitney Smith.

“I know Baylor, I think the school is great,” Jivasantikarn said. “It provides nurturing of a type of volunteerism, one of compassion and caring.”

Notably, Jivasantikarn previously visited to recruit students in 2012 with his son. Jivasantikarn said a Baylor graduate first worked with the American-Thai Foundation in 1988, Jivasantikarn said.

“It’s a life changing experience for those who return,” Jivasantikarn said. “They always tell me, ‘I’ve grown and never realized I could do so much.’”