Back from a 5 year hiatus!

A lot has happened since my last past, namely, I enrolled, studied and completed a doctoral program at Chulalongkorn University. My interests in conservation, social enterprise and sustainability led me to the Environment, Development and Sustainability Program. It was an intense 4 year period as a doctoral student learning about sustainable development and international policy. For the last 2 years, I concentrated on my research and every waking moment was spent wondering if and when I would finish this massive task.

While I’m glad that my PhD program is behind me, I’ve learned so much from that experience and it has heightened my confidence that more people need to become aware and take action on the massive destruction that humanity is doing to the Earth and each other. Keeping that in mind, I’ve decided to stay in the teaching profession but have shifted to the high school level where I can teach my favorites subjects, biology and environmental science. Given the freedom and resources I have available, I think it’s an excellent place to and continues my goals of educating young people about the environment and sustainability. It’s already been an exciting month and a half where I’ve begun to see how young minds are more pliable than adults and our hope really does lie in changing the minds of the future members of Thai society. It feels good to be back in the trenches again as an educator with a mission.


The Dinner Garden Improving Food Security

Raised bed of lettuce, tomatoes, 6 different t...
Image via Wikipedia

As I started reading more about vegetable gardens, especially urban gardens, I began to see the link between gardening, food security and poverty. Even in the US, many families struggle to eat healthy because packaged foods are more readily available in urban settings and often are more costly. But, the negative side effects of the lifestyle and eating habits which have resulted are plaguing the US population with health issues such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and so forth. We all know we should eat more fruits and vegetables, but the modern city lifestyle simple isn’t conducive to it.

As people are increasingly realizing this link, more and more people have begun to start urban gardens to increase their ability to easily integrate fresh produce into their diets. For urban apartment or condo dwellers, the garden may be a few plants in containers. For urban or suburban home owners or dwellers, they may have room for a small in-ground or raised bed garden. Some lucky urban residents may have access to a community garden where they usually have more area to work with in collaboration with a group of other urban gardeners.

The Dinner Garden is a non-profit focused on increasing the trend of people to grow their own fruits and vegetables, even in small areas. They distribute seeds for free to families and school children in an effort to encourage gardening and increase food security for families across the US. As any teacher or parent knows, eating fruits and vegetables is extremely important for children’s development and studies show that it can improve energy and brain function. By getting kids involved with gardening at a young age, it can help promote healthy habits that can last a lifetime.

The Dinner Garden has accomplished so much since their beginning in 2009 and the work they are doing is amazing. Check out their website or read some other blogs which feature this organization.

Other blogs on The Dinner Garden:

Right to Play for Peace and Development

Right to Play is working toimprove the lives of children in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the world by using the power of sport and play for development, health and peace.
They use sports, physical activity and play to attain specific development and peace objectives, including the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). They believe they cancreate a healthier and safer world through the power of sport and play.Currently, Right To Play has programs in the following countries:
Benin, Botswana, Burundi, China, Ethiopia, Ghana, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories (West Bank and Gaza), Peru, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda and the United Arab Emirates.

They work towards inclusion and give children a chance to become constructive participants in society, regardless of gender, disability, ethnicity, social background or religion. A team of top athletes from more than 40 countries support Right to Play. As role models, these athletes inspire children and raise awareness about Right To Play internationally. Right To Play uses sport and play programs to promote opportunities for development, teach life skills and health education and build stronger, more peaceful communities. To do this, Right To Play trains local Coaches to run programs, thereby creating the foundation in a community for regular and long-term sport and play programming and for individual and community leadership. Right To Play also uses sport and play to mobilize and educate communities around key health issues to support national health objectives, in particular HIV and AIDS prevention and awareness and vaccination campaigns.

The Red Ball is the symbol and logo for Right to Play. Right To Play’s philosophy “LOOK AFTER YOURSELF, LOOK AFTER ONE ANOTHER” is written on the Red Ball. This philosophy embodies the ideas of looking after ones own bodies and well-being, as well as advocating teamwork and cooperation in looking after one another.

These videos feature a refugee camp on the border of Thai and Myanmar. Since more than half of the refugees are children, these sports programs become an important part of the children’s lives and uplifting their spirits.



Gender Equality Calendar 2011

This year, the calender that sits on my desk is the UNESCO-UNGEI Asia-Pacific 2011 Gender Equality in Education calendar.

The calendar is filled with wonderful photos captured throughout the Asia-Pacific region as part of a photo contest. Over 250 entries were submitted from 14 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The photos were taken by students, teachers, government workers, development workers and photographers. The 13 winning photos are featured for the cover and each month of the calendar. You can see the amazing cover photo of school children in Bhutan below.

Gender equality is more than treating women and men exactly the same. It means providing equal access and participation in decision-making processes, social responsibilities and so forth. UNESCO has the specific objective to ensuring that men and women or boys and girls, all have equal access to achieve in education to their highest potential, not on whether they are born male or female.

“Mr Condom” in Thailand Promotes Safe Sex

AIDS activist Mechai “Mr. Condom” Viravaidya discusses several “out-of-the-box” methods for promoting condom distribution and safe-sex practices in his native Thailand. Khun Mechai is the founder of the Population and Development Association and promotes having safe sex since sex in natural and absinence is difficult for most of the population. He shares his ideas such as the “Cops and Rubbers” program where the police force is recruited to help save people on the streets and back seats. His humor about sex makes it possible to bring this traditionally taboo topic out into the open in Thailand.

About this video:

Mechai Viravaidya was recently awarded the 2007 Gates Award for Global Health on behalf of The Population and Community Development Association (PDA), the organization he founded in 1974. For over 30 years, PDA has helped improve lives and strengthen communities in Thailand through HIV prevention and family planning programs that have become international models. The programs developed by Viravaidya and PDA led to a dramatic reduction in new HIV infections in Thailand, from 143,000 in 1991 to 21,000 in 2003.

Using a nationwide network of village-based volunteers, PDA empowers women to plan their pregnancies, giving both mothers and children the opportunity to live healthier lives. PDA’s comprehensive approach to poverty reduction also addresses income generation, water resource development, sanitation projects, environmental conservation, and promotion of gender equality and democracy.

Today, PDA’s 600 employees and more than 12,000 volunteers work in 18 regional development centers and branch offices throughout Thailand. Through its international training program, PDA has trained 2,900 people from 50 countries in innovative approaches to HIV prevention, family planning, adolescent reproductive health and other issues.

MDGs in Lao PDR – Gender and Education

This poignant video features a woman describing her life from childhood and her inability to get an education because she had to take care of her younger siblings and do housework. She never learned to read and write and because she was a girl, she was denied the chance for education.
Now, a mother herself, she wishes that both her sons and daughters will have a chance to get good educations.

Portraits of Street Dogs – Soi Cat and Dog Foundation

This holiday season, I’ll be buying some of the adorable Limited Edition Prints and 2011 Calendars for sale from S CAD (Soi Cat and Dog Foundation). The images of different real-life dogs at SCAD Center are humorous and cheerful. For any animal lover, these will surely be a delight. Order some prints, calendars, or cards today and the all the money will go towards the animals at SCAD.

SCAD helps the many homeless cats and dogs on Bangkok’s streets. These animals are called soi dogs and soi cats because “soi” is the Thai word for “street.” Since Thailand is a Buddhist country, the people do not believe in killing animals, but many times the soi dogs and cats can suffer from disease and injuries that can be worse than death. SCAD rescues some of these animals and tries to rehome as many as possible. In addition, they work to provide education about proper pet care and also run sterilization projects. Support the good work done by SCAD by purchasing some of the lovely artwork done by Tul or by giving a donation today!!


About Tul:
Illustrious illustrator and writer of Childrens books in both Thai and in English, Tul, has carried off awards presented for Best Children’s Picture Book at the last two annual Book Fairs. Educated in Thailand, Singapore and the USA, Tul is now a prolific and respected creator of educational children’s books based on animal characters. Tul credits his own SCAD Soi dog, Sesame (December) as the inspiration for his latest book “Ses and Me” which is hot off the press this month!

Education in Rural Thailand via Satellite

To celebrate this father’s day and the birthday of HRM the King of Thailand, I’d like to highlight some of the good initiatives that have been started by the King for the development of Thailand. This video shows the use of satellite in distance learning for rural communities in Thailand, which is supported by HRM King Bhumiphol.

Case Study on Thailand’s Pwo-Karen

From the DVD “Promoting Mother Tongue-based Multilingual Education,” this segment highlights the development of the Pwo-Karen mother tongue instruction program in the northern region of Thailand. The Pwo-Karen community came together to make an agreed upon alphabet and picture dictionary. After that, the community developed big books with local stories, and small reading books on cultural topics.

Stage 1 students focus on learning to listen, speak, read and write in Pwo-Karen. Stage 2 students continue to learn in Pwo-Karen but are now exposed to oral Thai language. In Stage 3, a Thai teacher is added to build their Thai listening and speaking skills and a transition primer is used until the languages are taught about 50-50. In Stage 4 & 5, the amount of teaching in Pwo-Karen decreases while the amount of teaching in Thai increases. English is also added in this stage.

UNESCO video on Ethics and Bioethics Workshop

Filmed at a workshop at the Science Center in Bangkok, Thailand, this video is a presentation on “Our Common Future: Our Planet, Our Oasis” for science teachers in Thailand. The displays at the workshop are shown, along with the workshop participants and some scenes from around Bangkok. For the interviews of the Thai science teachers, English subtitles are provided, and overall it seems that they acquired new ideas and learnings that they will share with their students in the classroom.


Societies and communities will progress in a more just, equitable and sustainable direction if the cultural, ethical, and spiritual values of those societies are central determinants in shaping science and technology. Bioethics and environmental ethics have been core areas of action in the Social and Human Science Sector of UNESCO for the past decade. The video shows people participating and learning, through games, about how to attain the goals of bioethics and values education