Shawnigan EDGE program visits Thailand
The Shawnigan EDGE leadership program is a popular Spring Break alternative that has many students vying for one of the sought-after spots on the tour. EDGE stands for: Engagement, Development, Gratitude and Experience. The objective of each year’s selected project is always collaborative in nature, seeking to immerse Shawnigan students in living and working conditions in the country they are visiting and for a cause that will benefit the local community. The motto is to help provide a hand up for a community — as opposed to a handout — and one of the best ways to do that is to improve access to education. That is why this year’s EDGE project is sending students for their fourth year of partnering on a project with the Chiangrai College of Agriculture and Technology (CRCAT) Ban Natoe campus, one of eight sub-colleges or satellite campuses of the CRCAT in Thailand.
Ban Natoe is located in the northern tip of Thailand, just a few kilometres from the Myanmar border. There are six hill tribe cultures within a relatively short radius, making it a place of rich and fascinating diversity—especially because each hill tribe has its own first language and distinctive culture. All of the hill tribes are relative newcomers, most having moved to Thailand within the past 200 years. Being isolated by their rural locations and their cultural differences, they are hampered by poverty and a lack of education.
CRCAT’s Ban Natoe campus brings education and agricultural training to hill tribe students. The CRCAT is well known for its strong focus on sustainability and highly regarded for its proven record of effectiveness in delivering education to rural people. This time the Shawnigan EDGE team is helping to construct a new kitchen and a covered dining area for the Natoe students who, up until now, have had to prepare all of their meals in a tiny bamboo hut and then find a place to squat down and eat it. The project is much too big to be completed during the three-week trip, so Shawnigan students are funding and working on one phase of the construction. The first phase for the foundation work was already completed in December by students from ITE in Singapore, which also partners with Natoe in the same way as the Shawnigan EDGE Leadership Program.
It is a privilege for Shawnigan students to work alongside the hill tribe peoples in a shared endeavour, to appreciate by experience something of what life is like for the less-privileged 98% of the world’s population, and to witness firsthand how happiness can exist in the complete absence of material wealth.
-Kelly K 3/27/2012 1:48:40 PM