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A new summer International Program in Thailand has been added to the list of abroad opportunities for Pepperdine students. Assistant Director in the Pepperdine Volunteer Center Justin Schneider is the director for the new program and said he wants students to use this opportunity to work with organizations to help serve the Chiang Mai community.
“Chiang Mai, in the north of Thailand, has one of the highest concentration of international Non-Government Organizations and expatriates who are doing things good, both faith based as well as human aid organizations,” Schneider said.
This program, which is set to begin July 2017, will add additional options regarding the non-profit management minor and the non-profit leadership collaborative. Schneider said he hopes that this program will attract people to the non-profit management world since that is an area that he is passionate about.
“The emphasis is the non-profit management course, it’s an intro to community-based learning,” Schneider said.
Schneider said he values what the International Program is doing in East Africa and what stuck out to him was the idea of fair trade learning. He didn’t want to take students to Thailand for a month and make it all about the students. Schneider said he wanted to make the program about students gaining experience and learning tools that will also benefit the community and organizations with which students will be partnering.
Director of Speech and Rhetoric Gregory Daum, the faculty teacher and director for the International Program for East Africa, said students in this program study and look at how National Government Organizations and non-profits function. The program works with East African organizations in Uganda and Rwanda.
“We are going there to learn from the East African communities. We are going there, [with] what we hope is a posture of humility, a posture of servanthood and a posture of listening, and a posture of asking questions,” Daum said.
Daum said the program tries to put themselves on an even level with the communities in East Africa so that they can learn and listen to the voices and advice of the people.
Students will pick their preference in organizations they would like to work with based on what they are passionate about, such as organizations that help solve issues like food insecurity and human trafficking, Schneider said regarding the Thailand P.
“I love diversity of studies, diversity of students,” Schneider said. “So I want to see students who are passionate in one area and their friend compassionate in a different area, but they are coming together with the same purpose.”
Instead of hands-on service opportunities that the Volunteer Center does every week, students will be provided with a project by an organization and will use their knowledge and skills they’ve learned to help out the community.
Junior Mye Singha was born in France and moved to Bangkok, Thailand when she was a year old. Singha attended international schools in Bangkok until she was 11 years old. After a few years living in Germany and Maryland, she moved back to Thailand for International School of Bangkok for her senior year and graduated there. Thailand is still her home and she goes back every break, she said. Singha said that compared to Bangkok, Chiang Mai is more traditional than Western, so Pepperdine students will be able to experience traditional Thai culture while also learning from other foreigners.
Schneider said he would love for students to create a vision where they will recognize the values that they can provide but also areas where they need to grow in and gain more experience.
“I want them to develop a passion for community, and it can be a passion and love for Chiang Mai, which I have,” Schneider said. “But also the idea of community and what it means to be a good partner and a good neighbor.”
For more information on the Thailand summer program, visit community.pepperdine.edu.
Follow Chad Jimenez on Twitter: @itschadjimenez