University of Vermont

Asian Studies Outreach Program

Looking at Thailand Today

Seniors from Spaulding HS explore traditional Thai Values and the 21st Century

Stefanie Cravedi, Visiting Scholar alumni Nattanan Lengluan, Visiting Scholar Somrit Sangchan, and Gerry Gatz at Spaudling High School

In the summer of 2012 educator Stefanie Cravedi, from Spaulding High School, spent three weeks in Thailand as a participant of the Institute on Thailand and its Cultures where she learned about the culture and history of Thailand. In the weeks following the Institute, Cravedi developed and refined a curriculum unit for her senior English class that would ask the students to look at several aspects of Thai culture, drawing upon cultural similarities and differences, in order to articulate what is gained when studying another culture.

The opportunities to study abroad are rare and challenging, which is why Cravedi sought to answer the question of "How can we learn about other people is we can't travel to their country"? The answer was found, in part, by creating opportunities for the seniors to study with Visiting Scholars from Thailand.

One of the stepping stones into the new unit was an observation of the wai khru ceremony, a Thai ritual in which students pay respects to their teachers in order to express their gratitude and formalize the student–teacher relationship. The classroom workshop was made possible with support from Visiting Scholar Somrit Sangchan and Visiting Scholar alumni Nattanan Lengluan, who helped explain the many details surrounding this ancient tradition.

The unit will continue for four weeks, and will include reading essays on Thailand and connecting electronically with students from Bangkok Christian College in Thailand. The curriculum unit that Cravedi developed, "Thailand Today: Traditional Values and the 21st Century", is available online and in paper form at the ASOP library.

 

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