24 August 2023

Study and Site-Visit Programme for Students from China

Ninnart Ratanasukhon
AUN Programme Officer;

From 23 July - 5 August 2023, the AUN Secretariat welcomed two batches of Chinese students for a five-day study and visit programme in Thailand.

The programme was designed to offer the students a tailor-made opportunity to learn and experience ASEAN, and to explore diversity while earning in-depth knowledge in various aspects through lectures, on-site exposures, cultural workshops, and organisation visits.

Set under the theme of “From the Silk Road of yesterday to the Belt and Road of tomorrow,” the goal of this programme is to provide the students with opportunities to explore the realities of contemporary Thailand and the conditions of the present era as a consequence of historical reasonings. By revisiting history’s well-trodden path and reflecting on the new outlooks, students can equip themselves with the critical and reasoning skills fit for modern leaders in tackling the challenges of the contemporary era. The students were also offered the opportunity to explore their passion for international organisations, develop their global competencies in international communication, and finally work together as one for the shared future of humanity.

Now, strap up and join the students in their five-day exploration across Bangkok!

Organisation Visits: Panyapiwat Institute of Management, ASEAN Centre for Sustainable Development Studies and Dialogue, UNESCO Bangkok Office, and the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)

Undoubtedly the much-anticipated part of this programme is the visit to the various private, public, and international organisations of importance around Bangkok. The visits offered the students unique opportunities to explore their passion for international organisations and participate in a dialogue session with experts from the fields. The organisations that warmly welcomed the students on this occasion included:


Panyapiwat Institute of Management - Founded in 2007, Panyapiwat Institute of Management (PIM) is Thailand's first and largest corporate university. PIM is the pioneer of work-based education, an approach that exposes students to real-life working environments while also obtaining academic skills that are relevant to market needs. Students were welcomed by Mr. Liang Bingqun, one of the main leaders of CP Group, who fascinated them with insights on the trends of the industry, operation and employment standard of large transnational corporations, and the role of ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative from the viewpoints of experts from major enterprises.


ASEAN Centre for Sustainable Development Studies and Dialogue - ASEAN Centre for Sustainable Development Studies and Dialogue (ACSDSD) was conceived in 2019 to drive forward sustainable development cooperation in the ASEAN region through research, capacity building, and concrete cooperation among ASEAN and ASEAN’s external partners. The centre is housed at the College of Management, Mahidol University, where the students were warmly welcomed for a dialogue session with Asst. Prof. Dr. Benjalux Sakunasingha, a full-time faculty at Mahidol University International College, who engaged the students in a presentation on the progress of SDGs in Southeast Asia and China. The presentation also expanded to cover specific goals in SDGs, like the goals on gender equality and environment. Students had the chance to explore how transnational corporations and the private sector can contribute to SDGs through their innovative campaigns as well.


UNESCO Bangkok Office - Established in 1961, the UNESCO Bangkok office originally served as the Asian Regional Office for Primary and Compulsory Education with the aim of promoting peace and human development through education, sciences, culture, communication, and information. Welcoming the students at UNESCO is Mr. Chairat Chongvattanakij, a consultant on content creation for the Public Information and Outreach Team, and Mr. Santibhap Ussavasodhi, a Public Information Assistant who leads and coordinates the Public Information and Outreach Team in promoting a better understanding of UNESCO's missions. The students were eager in discussing with them the work of UNESCO related to intangible cultural heritage in Thailand and China. Many also took the opportunity to explore more about career paths in an international organisation like UNESCO.


The Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) - Established in 1947, the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) is the most inclusive intergovernmental platform in the Asia-Pacific region. The Commission promotes cooperation among its 53 member States and 9 associate members in pursuit of solutions to sustainable development challenges. The ESCAP secretariat supports inclusive, resilient, and sustainable development in the region by generating action-oriented knowledge and providing technical assistance and capacity-building services in close cooperation with other United Nations entities and intergovernmental organisations in the region.


Cultural Workshop: Flower Garland, Thai Desserts, and Thai Weaving Workshop

Cultural workshops provide the students with valuable hands-on experience in the arts and traditions long passed down in Thai Society. In this Study and Visit Programme, students had the opportunity to undertake three cultural workshops, consisting of: 


Flower Garland Workshop - Flower garlands serve as an important symbol of veneration and respect in Thailand. They are used on various auspicious occasions, be it as a gift of respect to one’s parents or teacher or as a welcoming gift to honourable guests. Flower garlands are also commonly used as an offering to Lord Buddha or spiritual deities in religious ceremonies. During the workshop, apart from learning how to make this traditional symbol of respect and veneration, the students also got to learn about the symbolic meaning of flowers in Thailand and also the national flowers of ten ASEAN countries.


Thai Desserts Workshop - Street foods are an integral part of Thai culture and in this workshop provided in collaboration with Wandee Culinary Art School, the students got to try their hands in making ‘Bua Loi,’ a simple yet well-loved dessert of Thailand. Bua Loi is made from rice flour, rolled into small balls, and cooked in coconut milk and sugar. This simple dessert can be found commonly across Thailand and has been recorded in Thai history from as early as the 16th century. At the end of the workshop, the students got to receive critiqued by the instructors of Wandee Culinary Art School as well.


Thai Weaving Workshop - In Thailand, colourful woven fans serve not only to banish hot air but also as an impromptu sunshade and insect swatters. Fans also appeared in many depictions of Buddha, kings, royals, and spiritual deities as an expression of veneration, respect, and high status. In the workshop provided by Cave Workshop, students got to take on the arts of fan weaving, together with the traditional Thai brocade weaving as well.


Lecture Series: TUS Park WHA’s Sci-Tech Innovation Initiatives, Plan International, and Stockholm Environment Institute

One of the unique opportunities the programme offered to the students is the lecture sessions from respected institutes, national and international, situated in Thailand. Through the five-day programme, students visited and participated in dedicated lecture sessions from:


TUS Park WHA’s Sci-Tech Innovation Initiatives - TUSPark WHA is the first innovation and incubation centre in Thailand jointly set up by TusHoldings and WHA Group. As an incubation centre, TUSPark WHA aims to support the growth of startups as well as promote sci-tech cooperation between China, Thailand, and other ASEAN countries. At TUS Park WHA, the students heard from Mr. Yuheng (Francis) Chang, senior vice president of TusCity Group, China, who provided them with an inside look into the fast-changing business world, now building on the thriving scientific and technological invention, allowing them to expand their vision on future careers in the fields of technology and science.


Plan International - Plan International Thailand has been working with communities, civil society, and the government to advance children’s rights and gender equality since 1981. Key areas of work include gender justice and women’s empowerment, protection of migrant children’s rights, and helping stateless people to exercise their rights and access service. Welcoming the students at Plan International Thailand was Mr. John Mcgown, the country director of Plan International Thailand, who fascinated the students with their experience-rich sessions on Plan International Thailand’s endeavour to advance children’s rights and tackle the issue of domestic violence in Thailand. The session also opened a floor for students to exchange views on possible areas of improvement and the potential to take on both matters.


Stockholm Environment Institute - The Stockholm Environment Institute Asia is an international non-profit research organisation focussing on gender and social equity, climate adaptation, disaster risk reduction, water insecurity and integrated water resource management, transitional agriculture, renewable energy, and urbanisation. Dayoon Kim is a Research Associate in Gender, Environment, and Development (GED) Cluster who provided the students with an engaging lecture and discussion session on pressing issues such as climate justice and gender equality. Using the newly-released Hollywood megahit ‘Barbie,’ Ms. Kim prompted the students to take a new look into the multiple dimensions of womanhood and gender equality, stimulating a lively discourse that expanded as far as the portrayal of womanhood and women’s experience in mass media.


On-site Cultural Exposures: Wat Phra Kaew Museum, Grand Palace, and Khon Traditional Performance

An integral part of the programme, the on-site cultural exposures took the students to Bangkok’s most recognisable landmarks, where traditions, history, arts, and culture are preserved into the modern era. In this programme, the students got to visit:

Harbour_Grand Palace.JPG

Wat Phra Kaew & Grand Palace - Undeniably the renowned icon of Thailand, Wat Phra Kaew housed the Emerald Buddha, an image of meditating Gautama Buddha made of green precious stone and clothed in gold. Within its vicinity is the Grand Palace, a former residence of the royal family. Established in 1782, the Grand Palace consists of not just the royal and throne halls but also the administrative and government offices. The students were warmly welcomed by Dr. Torpong Jamtawee, the former Director of the Southeast Asian Studies Programme (SEA), Faculty of Liberal Arts, Thammasat University, who guided them through the historical and cultural roots and importance of Wat Phra Kaew and Grand Palace in Thai society.

Khon Traditional Performance at Sala Chalermkrung - Khon is a prestigious masked dance that originated during the Ayutthaya period (1350-1767). This theatrical performance is considered the representative of high art cultivated by the Thai royal courts over centuries featuring graceful movements, combat choreography, rituals, traditional music, narration, singing, and poetry. The students viewed this performance at Sala Chalermkrung, a historic amphitheatre that has been standing for over 80 years. Apart from taking in the age-old performance arts, some students also shared interesting connections they have seen between the roots of Thai performance arts and the performance arts of various ethnic groups in China.


The five-day programme concluded with a presentation that crystalised the students’ learning throughout the five days in Thailand. Many showed their own dissection of Thai culture, history, and tradition they had seen and connected its roots to one another’s. Many also compared and contrasted the similarities and differences they had seen between Thailand and China, from culture, arts, and history to the expression and exhibition of historical facts and figures itself.

The most delightful part of their presentation, however, is undoubtedly the personal development and aspiration the students had discovered and experienced during the five-day visit. Many found the dialogue and lecture sessions a great opportunity for them to express themselves and exchange their thoughts with their peers and experts. The organisation visits also inspired the students about future skills they would like to obtain and how they could contribute to the global agendas like climate change, sustainable development, and gender equality.

The five-day visits and the growth and aspiration we had seen in the students also brought us, the AUN Secretariat, joy and positivity. All the best to the students in their academic pursuits and future endeavours!