18 April 2024

4th AUN-AYCF Thailand Chapter Underscores University’s Fundamental Role in Preservation and Talent Cultivation of Art and Cultural Heritages

By
Noppanun Sookping
AUN Programme Officer;

Art and culture compose a major part of the society which fuels both spiritual and economic pursuits of humanity by providing an endless space for a vast variety of artistic, theatric and performative expressions to take shape.

In recognition to the role of higher education in cultivating deep understanding and preservation of art and cultural heritages as well as promoting creative economy and industry, the 4th AUN-ASEAN+3 Youth Cultural Forum Thailand Chapter (AUN-AYCF Thailand) was organised in Chiang Mai, Thailand on 6-11 April 2024, with Chiang Mai University as the host. Key objectives of this forum is to promote creative thinking, deepened understanding as well as awareness about art and cultural heritages, highlighting the celebration and preservation of diverse traditional art and performance in Thailand and the ASEAN region.

In this regard, the 4th AUN-AYCF Thailand programme featured several experiential learning and cultural exposure activities that allowed students to not only observe, but also participate and live the cultural ways of life prevalent in Chiang Mai, Thailand. At the end, the Forum concluded with a grand public spectacle featuring traditional and applied cultural performances by the 4th AUN-AYCF students. The 4th AUN-AYCF Thailand welcomed 120 participants from 5 universities and representatives from educational institutes within Chiang Mai, including:

AUN Member Universities

Affiliate Universities/Educational Institutions

  • Chulalongkorn University
  • Burapha University
  • Mahidol University
  • Prince of Songkla University
  • Chiang Mai University
  • Chiang Mai College of Dramatic Arts – Bunditpatanasilpa Institute
  • Far Eastern University
  • Maejo University
  • Mahamakut Buddhist University Lanna Campus

 

On 6 April 2024, the students arrived at the main forum venue at Sala Dham, Chiang Mai University. The programme started with an opening ceremony and a welcoming performance featuring northern Lanna dance and music by Traditional Lanna Music Club from Chiang Mai University, Thailand. Following the opening ceremony of the forum, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Chainarong Luengvilai, Vice President of Chiang Mai University, extended a very warm welcome to all the participating students, alumni and academics involved in the forum. Dr. Chanarong underscored the importance of art and culture to the development of society and encouraged all the students to co-create meaningful learning experiences together through workshop and training in preparation for the final spectacular public performance.

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Following the speech by the Chiang Mai University Vice President, the forum entered an orientation session facilitated by Associate Professor Dr. Pattara Komkam, Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, Chulalongkorn University and Chair of AUN-AYCF Thailand Chapter. In this session, the students and academic staff from each university introduced themselves and got to know each other in groups before they proceeded to start the rest of the programme’s activities.

Cultural Exposure through Site Visitation and Workshop by Local Teachers (“Kru” in Thai) of Art

Following orientation and ice-breaking sessions on 7 April 2024, the first day of the programme, the students split in groups of mixed universities in the afternoon and embarked on a journey to cultural sites and centres scattered throughout the urban Chiang Mai city. Led by their peers from local universities and educational institutions within the province, each group was able to co-create their own travel and destination plan for this cultural excursion. 

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    Credit: Chompou Sawitchaya
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    Credit: Chompou Sawitchaya
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    Credit: Pleng Thanida 
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    Credit: Pleng Thanida 
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    Credit: Pongtakan Sittipa
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    Credit: Pongtakan Sittipa

Images of student groups during their free-styled cultural excursion, posted and shared in the  4th AUN-AYCF Thailand Facebook page

On 8 April 2024, 4th AUN-AYCF Thailand students had the pleasure of learning the art of "Jerng" dance ("ฟ้อนเจิง" in Thai), a traditional martial dance form rooted in the Lanna culture of the northern region of Thailand, in a workshop led by Kru Saran Suwanachot and his team of artists from Baan Sala Jerng Lanna (BSJL) Martial Arts Academy.

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On 9 April 2024, the students took on a cultural trip to the Center for the Promotion of Art Culture and Creative Lanna CMU where they had the chance to build their knowledge on cultural heritage of Chiang Mai and the Lanna culture through learning of traditional Khwan welcoming ceremony, explore real-sized houses built in different Northern Thai styles throughout history. Then, 4th AUN-AYCF students entered a three-part workshop where they learned methods on making different types of "Tung" flags, Lanna-styled flags used as decorations for different auspicious and traditional ceremonies in Northern Thailand.

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First AUN-AYCF Thailand Chapter Committee Meeting

In the morning of Wednesday, 11 April, the AUN-AYCF Thailand Chapter Committee convened officially for the first time following the signing and establishment of the AUN-AYCF Thailand early in February 2024. Held at Chiang Mai University and chaired by Associate Professor Dr. Pattara Komkam, the first AUN-AYCF Thailand Committee Meeting welcomed committee members and representatives from AUN-AYCF Thailand member universities, as well as Dr. Choltis Dhirathiti, AUN Executive Director, who led the team of representatives from the AUN Secretariat.

The committee engaged in a fruitful discussion and idea sharing in matters related to future developments of AUN-AYCF Thailand Chapter. The highlights of this meeting include the prospect of creating new academic programmes, research as well as youth activities under the AUN-AYCF banner, as well as the potential for the national chapter to host the next AYCF in 2025.

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Uniting the Power of AYCF Alumni, Academic Staff and Artists in Knowledge Sharing and Capacity Building

It would not be AYCF without an opportunity for participating students to showcase their learned knowledge, talent and finesse in their respective disciplines of art and performance in a fantastical grand performance. 
To ensure that all the participants would be able to deliver their own shows to the best abilities and with proper understanding of the cultural artforms  they respectively performed, the forum utilised the powers and experience of academics, instructors and Thai AUN Member University alumni who have participated in past AYCF platforms. As many of these people are now experts and artists in Thailand’s creative industry and art and cultural sector, their continued engagement and collaboration with the forum proved invaluable in facilitating an active learning environment for the 4th AUN-AYCF students.

In preparation for the grand performance, the students were divided from the forum into groups based on their disciplines, ranging from singing, music and dance, as well as their fittingness in each of the cultural shows. The training and rehearsal workshop was also led by AYCF and AUN-AYCF alumni who united to help lead and train this year’s forum participants with the knowledge gained from the regional AYCF platforms they attended in the past. The training and rehearsal sessions were then conducted in the afternoon continuing until the evening throughout 7-10 April.

In the morning of Wednesday, the AUN-AYCF prepared for the grand performance by first conducting a “Wai-Kru” ceremony, led by Ajarn Wathit Duriya-aungkul, Advisor to the AUN-AYCF Thailand Committee. In Thai culture, Wai-Kru is an auspicious ceremony conducted by artists prior to a performance to pay respect and commemorate departed teachers or instructors and their great contributions to the country’s art and cultural scene from past to present. The conduct of this ceremony is not only believed to bestow good luck to all the artists and performers present, but also signifies the significance of paying tribute and recognition to all sides involved in moving the society’s gears of art and culture forward.

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Celebrating Art and Cultural Heritages through the Grand Performance by ASEAN Young Talents

The 4th AUN-AYCF Thailand concluded with a grand public performance on 10 April 2024 at Central Chiang Mai Airport on 04.30 - 08.00 PM (GMT+7) where the students enacted a series of cultural shows, singing and dance reminiscent of rich cultural heritages spreading across Thailand and the ASEAN region.

At 04.30 PM, the 4th AUN-AYCF Grand Performance commenced with a set of traditional Lanna music performance and “Mareecha the Golden Deer” Ramayana Khon Dance. During the opening ceremony of the Grand Performance, Dr. Choltis Dhirathiti, AUN Executive Director and  Associate Professor Dr. Pattara Komkam, Chair of AUN-AYCF Thailand, provided background information about AYCF and AUN-AYCF Thailand in their respective keynote speeches. Assoc. Prof. Prasert Rerkkriangkrai, Vice President of Chiang Mai University, delivered a welcoming speech before passing the AUN-AYCF Flag to Dr. Watcharapol Wiboolyasarin, Deputy Director for Education, Academic Service and Corporate Communication, who represented Mahidol University as the next host of AUN-AYCF Thailand in 2025.

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The rest of the evening was colourfully painted by the 4th AUN-AYCF Students who graced the stage and delivered a series of art and cultural performances reminiscent of prevalent cultures in Thailand and the ASEAN region. These performances blended various traditional and applied forms of art together, incorporating both the student’s newly learned knowledge and latent finesse in their respective disciplines to celebrate cultural heritages to public audiences both on-site and online via live streaming.

The line-up of the cultural shows by the students are as follows:

Show Description

Traditional Northern Thai Music

Performed by Traditional Lanna Music Club from Chiang Mai University, this first show represents the beauty of traditional Lanna music rooted in the cultures of the northern region of Thailand.

“Ramayana: Maricha the Golden Deer” Khon Masked Dance

Listed in 2018 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity, 4th AUN-AYCF Thailand included Khon masked dance in the pre-show act to entice the audience with gracious dance movements and delicately elegant costumes by the student dancers.

Telling the story of “Maricha the Golden Deer” Ramayana chapter, this performance was first performed collaboratively by student representatives from the five Thai AUN Member Universities at the 11th AYCF at Ateneo de Manila University, the Philippines.

“The ASEAN Way” and “AUN-AYCF Thailand” Choir Songs

“The ASEAN Way” is an important song of ASEAN in support of the ASEAN identity in terms of harmony, solidarity and prosperity in terms of economy, politics and society – the ultimate goal of this regional community.

“AUN-AYCF Thailand” song is a group song specific to AUN-AYCF Thailand Chapter. It was first written and performed at the 1st AUN-AYCF Thailand in 2018 at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.

“Malee Ruam Jai” Harmony Fan Dance

“Malee Ruam Jai” Harmony Fan Dance is a performance of Thai traditional dance using fans as a part of the dancing movements. The harmony fan dance was the first performance at AYCF in 2016 at Universiti Sains Malaysia.

The 4th AUN-AYCF Thailand brought this performance back to the stage, using the flowers of all the five AUN-AYCF Thailand Member Universities to symbolise the continuous collaboration and exchanges of knowledge among this national chapter of universities in art and culture.

“AYCF Memories: A Celebration of Cultures”

“AYCF Memories: A Celebration of Cultures” was a collection of traditional and cultural performances from other ASEAN countries as included in past iterations of the regional AYCF since 2014. Such performances included Angklung Poco-Poco Dance from Indonesia, Basalob dance from Laos PDR, Tinikling Manmack from the Philippines, Boria from Malaysia and Hujan Gerimis Aje from Indonesia.

“The Harmony of ASEAN”

“The Harmony of ASEAN” is a new performance based on the harmonious spirit of ASEAN as a community in the aspect of ASEAN Socio Cultural Development Pillar. This performance incorporated traditional Thai music with a blend of cultural performances from 13 ASEAN+3 countries – all united in one.

“The Grace of Thai Martial Arts”

“The Grace of Thai Martial Arts” was a variety show featuring different forms of martial arts performances in Southeast Asia, highlighting the gracious movement and cultural distinctiveness in each.

“The Melody of Hope”

The final show of the night, “The Melody of Hope” conveyed the darkness of the world wrought by war and conflict, and the glimpses of hope possible through peace and unity. This show featured contemporary dance and choir singing to deliver its heartfelt message. This show concluded with all the 4th AUN-AYCF students gathering on the stage to deliver the final leg of the Grand Performance together.


 

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In light of the successful conclusion of the 4th AUN-AYCF Thailand, the AUN Secretariat would like to extend its highest appreciation to all the students, academics, universities and other parties involved in leading this Forum to tremendous success in front of public audiences. Once again, this national chapter of AYCF managed to underscore the role of universities and educational institutions in promoting the art and cultural sector of the region through active learning and networking. As evident by the spirit of collaboration and unity present throughout the Forum, AUN-AYCF has created a strong foundation for its alumni, teachers and new generations of participants to form a long lasting community of artists and performers. Lastly, the active participation and contributions of all stakeholders in the 4th AUN-AYCF Thailand also underscore the significance of ongoing collaboration across sectors. This is essential for the sustained growth and well-being of the artistic and cultural landscape in Thailand and the ASEAN region.

Watch the recorded live performance by the Student Development Division of Chiang Mai University at https://web.facebook.com/sddcmu/videos/7598875136825971.

Stay tuned as the AUN Secretariat will announce the details of the upcoming 19th ASEAN and 9th ASEAN+3 Youth Cultural Forum (AYCF) at Universiti Brunei Darussalam soon.

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