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Thai-American Young Leadership Program 2016

It was our pleasure to host four outstanding young people in this very special program for a second year. I enjoyed these enthusiastic young people without reservation. To be quite honest, they exceeded my expectations, and have made a lasting impression upon me. We now have four new friends, who are well prepared to spread the word of the Thai model of sustainable development.

This year, I took a new approach in regard to what sort of guidelines the participants should follow in order to make the most of their experience. I explained that most people in Thailand are aware of His Majesty’s philosophy of sustainable development, but are unable to incorporate such into their daily lives. We presented a challenge to the young people; identify the obstacles and challenges toward obtaining SD goals. Their observations were more astute than I had ever expected.

We were very fortunate to place the participants with families who were prepared to be good hosts. In addition, each person was placed in a local school. The latter accomplished two goals; the young people are fluent English speakers, and could share their knowledge with both students and teachers as well, as well as observing shortcomings in the Thai education system. At the end of their stay, everyone had strong suggestions for making the education better.

In terms of Sustainable Development, all of the participants become acutely aware of the obstacles to the integration these values into daily life. Everyone left with a sense that many of these hurdles can be eliminated. I saw each young person gain great insight into the lives of people whose world is much more limited than theirs. These people were all committed to share the benefits of their lives in The United States.

Joyce is a very low key young woman from San Francisco. Her quiet, gentle ways, hide a person of great strength and purpose. She was quite concerned about the vices that she saw near her home for her stay. Joyce would like to return to Thailand, and pursue a career helping others. I warned her that salaries for such employment are not high here. She replied that this was of no consequence.

Jenny is from Los Angeles, and is a college student on the East Coast. The youngest of our participants, she is very wise for her age. She was a keen observer of the problems prevalent in the Thai education system. Jenny’s family has developed a very successful diversified agriculture operation, of which she became quite familiar. She was constantly telling us, “Use my talents to the best advantage.”

Jaynie is from Texas, and has lots of energy and is very outgoing. She was placed with a host family that does not have an agricultural operation. The family has a small, successful business. Without our provocation, Jaynie was able to see that sustainable development is not only farmers, but its precepts are applicable for all us. Jaynie’s acut e sense of observation added a lot to our program.

Ping was our only man. He is from Chicago, and grown up beyond his years. Ping identifies problems, and solves them. He quickly identified some antisocial behavior that is an obstacle toward young people in his village. This young man gives more readily than he takes. Despite a promising future in America, he is interested in pursuing a career in Thailand.

I hated to see these wonderful people return to their lives in The United States. We have made friendships that will be long lasting. I wait with pleasure to see the contributions that these four young people will make to Thailand, and the world.

Voice from AFAR 01