Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Project Reading in Chiang Rai, Thailand

A group of 17 School of Health Sciences (SHS)students spent a meaningful two weeks of their March term break doing community service in Wiang Kaen, a district in Chiang Rai, Thailand. The project was led by SHS lecturer Dr Bala S. Rajaratnam.

“We worked with the Lions Club of Singapore, Somerset to secure story books and textbooks from their outreach program Project Reading mms. We also contacted the Singapore-Thai Chamber of Commerce to identify two deserving schools which would benefit from the project. Besides sorting the books, the students also created skits to excite the children to learn English. The skits were even tested with children at the NYP child care centre. The preparation took about three months,” said Dr Bala.

The students taught English skills to children below the age of 12 at the the Panghud Sahasart School and Koon Kuat Pittiya School. They also equipped and furnished three libraries at the schools with some 2,000 donated books, complete with a cataloging system for the loan of books.

In addition, the team also educated children from the nearby villages on the importance of personal hygiene and basic first-aid.

According to Dr Bala, there were some minor hiccups along the way. However, the excited looks of the children’s faces made it all the worthwhile.

He said: “The challenge was to be able to think and react on your feet, as what we had planned in Singapore changed significantly when we were at Wiengkaen. For example, we faced communications problems travelling in the hill-tops location. We overcome these by identifying four Thai students who were good in their English to support the project.”

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