KRU: A Student-led Project to Promote Equity in Education in Thailand

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Scott Jamieson (he/him): welcome to the empathy to impact. Podcast this afternoon we are visiting the International School of Bangkok.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): and I have Tim joining me today, who is a student leader at the school, and we're gonna be talking a little bit about a project that he is really passionate about. Learn a little bit more about that, and think about the impact he's having through his work and some aspirations that he has moving forward with this project. So, Tim, I'm gonna pass over to you, do a quick introduction, and then we'll dive right in.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: Thank you. Scott, thank you for inviting me to this. Podcast yeah. So my name is Tim. I'm in tenth grade. I was born in Thailand. I've lived in Thailand throughout my whole life. And yeah, today I would just be talking a little bit about my project called KRU that I've been working on for the past.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: Almost a year. Actually, yeah.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): So, Tim, why don't we start with just kind of a little bit of a background and overview of your project? But kind of going back to the very beginning. What were those inspirations that sort of led you to becoming engaged in this project?

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: So this project initially started last summer, where I interned at a company called Globish.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: and I was just part of their summer program. And we were doing a kind of like a small project that we had to identify and a social issue that we cared about and kind of like create a kind of a pitching pitch of hard project about that. So the issue I initially identified was inequality.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: and I had to look into solutions to inequality. But then, when I searched around, when I looked through the Internet, it talked to different people, it all came back to education. So that's when I kind of like switch gears a bit from the issue of inequality to specifically the issue of educational inequality.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: And then so through the other 2 weeks of this period at the company. I kind of worked on planning about this project, and that's when I came across the Ngo called Eef, or the Equitable Education Fund, which is a organization funded by the Thai Government in order to work on reducing educational inequality in Thailand.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: And so I knew I wanted to do something with the Eff And so

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: I thought about the idea of

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: a bridge and of exchange, of how we could connect international school

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: teachers who and international schools, who are a lot of the time, mostly more privileged than most of society to this ef but then so I look into ef more deeply, and found this program that they were doing, which is called the Homegrown Teacher Scholarship Program.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: which essentially is a program that provides scholarships for high school students in very, very rural parts of Thailand. So like maybe, like the extreme North to the extreme South, where they're extremely under

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: under privileged, and have extremely low in incomes compared to most of society. I think it's something like less than a 3,000 by port per month, which is around, say, like a hundred dollars, maybe.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: and so they're extremely underprivileged compared to the rest of society. But either. Ef through this homegrown teacher, scholarship program provides scholarships for these aspiring high school students to study in universities

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: major universities in their respective like region completely free of charge for 4 years.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: and when they graduated from this

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: their university education, they immediately receive a teaching certification to teach, and then are sent back to their homes to kind of like teach in that area in order to improve the education in their respective areas, which I thought when I first heard of. This was extremely smart and extremely cool. So I knew I wanted to do something that would partner with this homegrown teachers program so fast forward like a few months. I

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: Throughout this time I was talk. I've been always been talking to Mr. A. At Isb, and also with the Eff. Back and forth, and we fast forward a few months. We

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: had our first event under February of 20 February twenty-first of 2,024, where is be invited

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: to have 21 of these students who are about to gr in the Homecore Teachers scholarship program, who are about to graduate from their respective universities to Isb in order to take part in a exchange type event. So in this, in this exchange day, on the February twenty-first.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: we kind of went through 3 workshops that were hosted by Isb teachers, and these workshops were designed based on the needs that we identified from the Ef. Talking to the Ef. So those 3 topics were differentiation and learning teaching technology, tools for teaching.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: especially for teachers and teaching English as an additional language. So throughout that day we went through these 3 workshops and had opportunities for the Ef. Homegrown teacher scholarship students to look around ISP. So it was a great time. Yeah.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): That sounds so amazing, I think.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): thinking about, you know the contrast between your educational experience at Isb to the education in rural Thailand. There's not a lot of easy comparisons there. It's so so different in terms of resources in terms of the training with teachers have access to at your school, and so many different kind of facets that.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): you know definitely is a huge advantage for students who are able to attend a private school, or and you know, that's there's definitely a financial barrier there. So I think it's really

Scott Jamieson (he/him): an ingenious kind of way to think about, because I'm sure it's really hard to staff some of those schools, but to be able to kind of offer that training free of charge, and having these teachers going back to their home community to have a positive impact. I think it's such a cool model, and I love that your school found a way to contribute to that.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): How did you find teachers who were interested in running those workshops when you did the exchange program?

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: So essentially, we, we started with the needs of that the Ef teach that the Ef wanted. So we identified the 3 topics that I mentioned before, the 3 workshops, the differentiation teaching English as an additional language and

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: and

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: technology tools for teachers. And then we kind of went around Isb, tapping on teachers, shoulders whether they would like to be part of an opportunity like this and

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: They were all very excited and interested to take part. So that's kind of how we were able to find

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: Isb teachers. Yep.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): I figured as much. I figured the teachers would be excited as as excited as I am.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): About this initiative, and looking for opportunities to get involved. But sometimes it's just that awareness like we, I didn't know about this program, and I'm sure a lot of teachers at your school kind of in the same boat like just not really knowing that this even existed, and how we might contribute to that in a positive way. And I think it's so cool to be able to kind of set this up where teachers are coming in to get a little bit of training and benefit from

Scott Jamieson (he/him): the wealth of expertise in the faculty at your school.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: Yeah, I I feel like, what is even more like, what is another thing that's cool about this exchange experience is that both sides are really benefiting from this. So not only is are the eaf student teachers benefiting from

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: the like experience that they gain or the inspiration. But Isb teachers are also benefiting it from from it, because initially, from the start when talking to different teachers about this project idea. I realized that all these teachers who are not from Thailand, who are teaching at Isb, they left their countries for a reason, and not

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: only because they would like to like explore Thailand, for example. But they would like to interact with people from different cultures that have the similar interest as them. And that idea that area is education. So, providing these Isb teachers with an opportunity to exchange with these soon to be teachers from the Ef was a really valuable experience for them, too, I find.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): I imagine it would be, I think that would be a really cool experience to be able to kind of share some of the things they're passionate about and connect with teachers who are going to be graduating soon and heading back into these different communities to bring some of these tools to their school. I think that's so cool. And we can kind of build that connection and have that kind of reciprocal partnership where one of those things where everyone benefits.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): I think that sounds really cool.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): How did you get interested like, what made you sign up for that internship going back to the beginning. What inspired you to get involved. In the first place, cause that's not something I don't think every high school student is

Scott Jamieson (he/him): actively looking for, perhaps in in terms of how they want to spend their time.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: Well, to be honest initially from the start. The internship experience. I it was a summer program that Isb offered. Anyways.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: that kind of connected Isb high school students with various different companies that provided summer internships. And initially, I wanted, I really wanted to do something about law and how. And there's there's this company that was the offering internships about law, and but I didn't get like I signed up too late for it. So I just ended up randomly into this an other internship about entrepreneurship.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: which, led me to think of this idea so kind of from the start, like the taking part in this internship was kind of by chance, but it kind of led to something that

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: part of. So yeah, that's how that's how it started. I think, yeah.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): Kind of a fortuitous series of circumstances that really led you into this really amazing space, where, you know, you're really kind of excelling here in in the work you are doing.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: Thank you.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): Now you had a leadership summit at your school back in February, right around the same time as your event with the teachers. Tell me a little bit about that, and how you were able to kind of share your passion. There.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: So in terms of the summit. It actually happened like, I think it was a week before the twenty-first. It was a week before the event actually happened, and I had the great opportunity to kind of be be the first speaker at the summit, and kind of share my

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: process that I went through with this. With this idea for crew Kru and I think it was kind of it was good, because it kind of laid the foundation for the rest of the summit, too, because the

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: I think the the goal of the summit at the end was for all these students from different international schools to collaborate and come up with various pitches to for their own projects that they wanted to potentially work on to solve an issue. So I had the great opportunity to be the first speaker there, which I'm very, very thankful for. Yeah.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): That sounds fantastic. And what a way to set the tone for that whole event kinda sharing this community partnership and the impact that is going to have.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): Am I correct? That crew is teacher in in time?

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: Yeah. Yeah. Crew is teacher in Thai.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: and each each of the letters stands for something. So KK. Stands for knowledge.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: R stands for respect and U stands for understanding. So that that's kind of like my core values myself and also my core values that I

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: want this project that I'm doing to have throughout whatever we're doing. Yeah.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): I love it. That's fantastic.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: Thank you.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): What challenges have you faced over the past year? There's this is a lot to take on as a tenth grader. In addition to everything else you have on your plate as a student. So how have you managed all that? And what challenges have you had to overcome? Over the last year.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: Firstly, would definitely be going back and forth between the Ef and Isb cause I kind of had to like connect the 2 different organizations which has never done anything in collaboration before.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: So kind of like talking to the Ef. One of the directors of the homegrown teacher program that I contacted, and also coming back to Isb, and then talking to Mr. A. And Miss Miss Dilash put about the idea, and then going back and forth between the those 2 sides. That was definitely I wouldn't say a challenge, but it was quite a process to go through.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: Yeah.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): Definitely anytime that we are collaborating, you know, beyond the walls of our school. I I think there are challenges there in terms of just the communication. And just making sure we have that

Scott Jamieson (he/him): open communication where we're really kind of deeply understanding each other's goals and are working collaboratively towards

Scott Jamieson (he/him): George. What we're aspiring to do. And I think, you know, there's gonna be some challenges along the way. But I think it sounds like you've been able to navigate those really effectively. And it sounds like you've had some great support from your school as well.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: Also, another thing that I would like to add was another challenge, that I kind of thought about throughout the process is that the the difference between the 2 sides is so immensely huge, like we're we're talking about like polar sides of of thai society. Essentially so like, how would we kind of make the

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: ef student teachers were coming to Isb not feel bad, but also not make Isb teachers like ashamed to have be in this position. So that was one thing that was always in my mind throughout this process. But I feel like with them, having them. The ability to interact and talk to each other. That really kind of closed the gap and made each other have more understanding, more empathy for one another.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): I love that. It's so amazing. And it is a challenge. When you know we're bringing 2 groups together to make sure. You know we're coming together, you know, with a sense of equity. And you know it's not that position where, hey? We're here to help you. But you know, how can we work together to reach a mutually beneficial goal? And I think sounds like you've navigated that

Scott Jamieson (he/him): expertly.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): And this is really cool.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): What makes it so important to have programs like this, your school like these internships programs. Now, I'm thinking of some of our listeners who are working at other schools around the world, and maybe students in other schools around the world.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): What?

Scott Jamieson (he/him): As a student!

Scott Jamieson (he/him): Oh, how many sorry! I'm trying to think how I want to articulate this question

Scott Jamieson (he/him): of

Scott Jamieson (he/him): as a student at Isb.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): how are these programs? Something that benefits your community.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: I would definitely say the world is so big like the there's so much more beyond the walls of our school. And I think it's really important for us not to be trapped in those walls, and to understand that there's much, much more beyond those walls that

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: there's opportunities. There's people to talk to people to interact with.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: There's much more to

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: like the school experience than just within the walls of the school. So I feel like it's a very, very valuable

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: it's very valuable to have these opportunities to interact with whether it be organizations or Ngos, or

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: even government. The government outside of the school.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: For the students to be able to broaden their perspective towards the world.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): Very well said, I think when a lot of times we think about international schools, we, we talk about a bubble and how sometimes international schools

Scott Jamieson (he/him): exist within a community, but aren't really part of that community. And I think the more we kind of break that bubble and become part of that community and think about who we might learn from and act with, to make our community better. I think that can be really powerful.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: For sure, for sure.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): Tim, how have you grown as a leader

Scott Jamieson (he/him): through this work over the last year.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: Can I have some time to think about that?

Scott Jamieson (he/him): Of course, of course.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): Thinking about like where you are now versus where you were a year ago.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): What's is? How have you grown

Scott Jamieson (he/him): through this experience?

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: My people.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: Okay, yeah, I'm I'm ready.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: Go ahead. Yeah. So I feel like there's

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: doing a project like this. There's so many components that are part of

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: like organizing an event or.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): Reading, of.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: That is, goes beyond the walls of schools. As we mentioned before. So I've definitely gained so many skills, whether it be talking to new people, or introducing myself, or even like articulating and talking about my ideas clearly for other people to be able to understand.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: So I feel like in terms of like skills that I acquired throughout this project. I think that is definitely one aspect. Another thing is definitely

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: and my perspective towards Thailand as a country, as my country has definitely opened, much more getting the opportunity to interact with such a diverse group of people, even within one country, because there were teachers from the very north, very south

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: of the country really made me realize how big and how much more there is to Thailand than just Bangkok or Isb, so yeah, I feel like those 2 things are, what I gained and what I kind of changed me throughout this process.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): That's amazing. That sounds so awesome.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): I wonder

Scott Jamieson (he/him): if you had a chance to

Scott Jamieson (he/him): talk to the teachers from EF.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): After they had the exchange. I'm curious what sort of impact, or what sort of feedback and reflection that they were able to share. After that experience.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: Yeah. So I would like to answer this question in in 2 ways. So we actually like the, there's

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: they had the E, we had a feedback form that we sent out at the end of the day on the twenty-first, where the ef student teachers kind of

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: like talked about things that they gained from this, and stuff like.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: and yes, different strategies, different skills, different techniques that they get from this. So whether it be like how classrooms should be more flexible, should Ca accommodate the needs of different students or different strategies that help to spark a confidence, and students and even stuff like how classroom environments, much less like a accommodate all students needs and can be changed around depending on

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: what the teacher would like to teach. So there's definitely many, many different skills that the teachers student teachers acquired from this

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: experience. But I feel like, even beyond that, more, even more than that the things that they gained, and Isb also gains them rooted much more deeper than that, because, talking to them one word that came up a lot, and that also kind of fits with inspired citizens is inspiration. And how they were truly like inspired by this event that happened because.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: like I I don't wanna sound like I'm bragging on it, or anything. But in the humblest way possible. The student teachers were inspired that like a student like me, or organize, or as a school like Isb, that is so privileged and so high up in so thai society is caring about the same issues that they do and are reaching out to kind of like bridge that gap, so that

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: what they, what the teachers student teachers said to me that was that they gave much more inspiration to go back to their homes and improve the education in their respective areas. So yeah, those are the 2 things that I would say.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): Not bragging. That's something that you absolutely should be proud of. That's a huge impact. And that kind of leads me to my next question, what's next for crew? What aspirations do you have moving forward

Scott Jamieson (he/him): with your work?

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: So well, definitely, I would say we I would want this to happen more

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: often more. This exchange experience to happen more often. But of course there's limitations, and there's budgets and logistics. So I'll have to

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: reflect through the process with Isb, but also with ef and kind of like lay out a plan moving forward. But beyond that I might even want to.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: Crew might even want to collaborate with other organizations, for example, involve inspired citizens, for example, or other international schools in Thailand. So there's there's many, many opportunities that await, but just has to be laid into a plan moving forward. Yeah.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): I really like that idea of involving inspire citizens something we would be very excited to be part of. This sounds like it really connects to what we believe in in terms of equity and education. So please don't hesitate to reach out as things evolve on your end. This sounds really exciting.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: Thank you.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): Tim, is there anything else you'd like to share with our listeners that I haven't asked the right question to allow you to share?

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: I would say like

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: Miss

Scott Jamieson (he/him): I was gonna pause. You there, my! We've got some crazy thunder lightning going on. So I just lost your audio there for a second, too, if you don't mind starting over on that part.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: Oh, okay, yeah, yeah. I I also lagged a little bit, too.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: But

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: so one thing that I really like thinking about your question before. What I learned from this

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: is that like issues like this, we're we're all in this together, whether it be whether you're privileged or not. And humans inspire. Humans like people help each other. So like, what? When people ask like, why should institutions that are so privileged like ISP, for example, or like people in higher up in society. Why should they care about issues like education or inequality, which, in in a way, is not directly affecting them?

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: I I would say that it is affecting them, because we're all like

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: PE, we're all in the same country when and we're all people and the faults in the educational in system, for example, in a nation are the root of all other problems, whether it be economic or psychological. So they might seem like issues like educational inequality, or even poverty, for example.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: might not affect you. But in a way it comes back to you anyways. So we all. It's it's important that we all help each other in all these problems that are waiting to be solved.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): I hope that mindset is contagious. I I think that's absolutely, beautifully said. And I think we are moving as a global society in the right direction. If that's the kind of approach we take. So talking to you, Tim has really kind of inspired me

Scott Jamieson (he/him): that you know your generation is thinking differently than my generation, and that we are ready to do some work and collaborate and meet people on level ground to

Scott Jamieson (he/him): take on some of these challenges and work together to move towards a future that's more just and more sustainable and more joyful for all of us. I think it's all interconnected, just like you're saying. And yeah, it excites me to think the how, how the impact this work might have on the country of Thailand. But you know, on

Scott Jamieson (he/him): kind of that big picture as well as we think about how we might inspire others through this work to kind of think the same way, and take on a similar project, maybe, in their home country.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): So thank you so much for the amazing work that you're doing. I'm excited to stay in touch and hopefully have an opportunity to collaborate in the future. I think that would be really exciting, and I look forward to hearing from you and my friends at your school. As this evolves over the next couple of years. So thanks so much for taking some time at a busy time here to have a chat on the podcast, and it's been a pleasure to have you as a guest.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: Yeah, thank you so much to you, Scott, and thank you so much to Erin for inviting me.

Chinnapong (Tim) Kulmanochwong: Yeah, it was a great time.

Scott Jamieson (he/him): Alright gonna hit the button

Scott Jamieson (he/him): oops trying to stop it. Recording. Yeah, there we go.

KRU: A Student-led Project to Promote Equity in Education in Thailand
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