Here it is! Finally!
On 22nd October 2013 Year 10 and 11 IGCSE Art and Design Students visited Aj.Kitikong Tilokwattanotai’s Printmaking Gallery and Studio on Nimmanhemin street, soi 17.
Aj. Kong and his assistants, also fellow artists were very kind, showing us around, answering questions and offering advice.
“Labeling a task as easy equals doable. Labeling it as Hard means we will probably not even attempt to do it”
“Make art no matter how you feel. It will show your emotions. Don’t only make art when you feel (emotion) like it”
P. Pooh, the International program’s motherly Janitor gave year 8 a wonderful pottery workshop this past 15th October.
It was a wonderful little time and P. Pooh is a wonderful teacher: patient and caring. She has experience teaching these workshops since she normally gives these workshops to other schools who visit her family’s workshop in San Kampaeng.
Here’s a great introduction to MUN for those of you new to it.
On November 15 th we will attend our 6th Model UN, hosted by Grace International School and taking place at Payap University.
How did Kaotoo (age 15) and Lisa (age 16) end up receiving two out of only three standing ovations at TEDxChiang Mai 2013, a conference where twenty out of the twenty five speakers were adults famous in their fields of Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED), who were flown into the conference from Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bangkok?
How did Lisa manage to finally come to terms with her grief and Kaotoo sing “Viva la Vida” and improvise in front of 550 people two years after he declared to me that he had no interest whatsoever in Music?
Well, it was a lot of courage and work on their behalf and some more hard work and cunning planning on the part of their art teacher, Mr. Nicolas.
(Please excuse any possible ranting in the following story; it’s just that I am extremely proud of my students as well as of myself, since I have achieved one thing off of my bucket list. And it only took me 3 years! I promise to tone it down in future posts
It all started more than five years ago when I first fell in love with TED talks. To me, they were a breath of fresh air: Courageous, imaginative people would share their experiences and inspire me; all within a strict eighteen minute time limit, so that they were forced to respect the viewers time as well. It was delightful, and I drank these talks in like water for my soul and whenever I was lacking in inspiration, ever since then, they have given me the strength to push on-wards and pursue my dreams; to not give up.
When I first started working at Varee International, I was working as Head of Arts as well as Humanities teacher. The school being in its infancy (I joined the school only two months after it opened) I had the exceptional opportunity to create new programs. My inspiration from TED conferences had never left me and not so deep down I wanted to participate in one of these conferences one day, and even better, to have some students participate and thus enjoy the same benefits I had reaped for so many years.
However, the school having just started and the students still quite young, I had to go one step at a time. So I created the Model United Nations to give the students a very clear use for their Humanities knowledge as well as to give them public speaking practice.
A year later I created the Improv Comedy club to teach the students the art of improvisation, and also as a way to prepare them for acting in a play.
The following year I directed the schools first fully student produced play, Alice in Wonderland. This gave the students, and particularly one of them, Kaotoo, practice in singing. Kaotoo had a year earlier said to me, in no uncertain terms: “I do not like music. ” I bet him he would change his mind. And by the time the play rolled around, he had a singing role which he hesitantly tried out for and got.
Finally, in December 2012 I felt my students were ready for a TEDx experience. TEDx conferences are locally and independently organised TED events. I wanted to organise Chiang Mai’s first TEDxYouth Conference so I contacted the organiser of a previous TEDx conference in Chiang Mai, Mr. Martin Venzky-Stalling. Martin very kindly invited me to help organise TEDx Chiang Mai, the first larger version of the smaller conferences Martin had organised for the past two years. I agreed and in April 2013 we met, along with almost a hundred other TED enthusiasts, for the first time at The Meeting Room Cafe to watch some online TED videos and to begin planning our own conference to be held sometime in autumn 2013.
At the meeting, I suggested we invite students to participate as a way to involve the local community more, and thus the idea of student auditions was born. From then on I worked with June Unland (whose children attend Prem International) as well as the rest of the TEDx team in order to organize the first time a TEDx would have student speakers as well.
Some time later I encouraged my students to join and four of them signed up for the first auditions: MJay, Lisa, Kaotoo and Anna-Mae.
A little background on these students: They are the students that try everything once and never say never. They had all participated in Model UN, most of them in the improv club and all of them had major roles in the school play. I felt they were the most prepared. Lisa at first did not want to try out for TEDx because her story was too painful, but I made her a deal that if she would just write it, I promised to stop nagging her. I knew, from my own experience using writing to help heal my own emotional wounds that it might just help put a smile on her face.
The following day she said she had written it and I asked her how she felt. She said better. Then I asked her if she wanted to try out for TEDx. I promised to coach her and the rest of them and I told her that the next step in healing herself would be to say these words out loud.
I cried the first (and every time since then) time she gave her talk.
Anyways, these four students along with 16 other students hailing from Chiang Mai and Bangkok tried out. Out of these twenty, after a series of auditions, four were chosen: Kaotoo and Lisa from Varee International and Ben and Sun from Prem International School.
Then each school continued coaching their students for the big event on September 14th 2013 at Le Meridien Hotel. For over 3 months I met with Lisa and Kaotoo at least once or twice a week during lunchtime to practice their speeches. I saw these students grow. I have know Kaotoo since he was twelve and Lisa since she was 14. I have seen them mature and I felt so proud every lunch when I heard them pour their hearts out. It took great courage and persistence on their behalf to keep coming to the practices.
On the day, Kaotoo improvised in front of 550 people, amazing them with this ability and Lisa made hundreds of people cry, including her father who had never heard her speech before.
After her speech, I asked Lisa if she felt better now and she replied yes. Later on, at the after-party a young American woman approached Lisa to tell her that she had been trying for the past ten years to write what Lisa had just said. She told Lisa that she felt like a huge weight had been lifted from her. I could tell Lisa was shocked to hear that she had so much power.
But my greatest rewards were seeing Kaotoo’s parents jumping up and down in excitement after the event and the following day seeing Lisa smiling radiantly at lunch time. I hadn’t seen her smile like that in a year.
Check! One more thing off the bucket list for me!
Oh! And I even forgot to mention that I was the only artist exhibited at the event! My first solo show.
That’s TWO checks off my bucket list!
NOTE: All individual talks recorded at TEDxChiang Mai are currently being edited and as soon as they are available, in about a month or so, I will post links here.
A picture of the first TEDxChiang Mai Planning meeting. I came here straight from work, that’s why I’m wearing the red Varee polo shirt.
Here’s Lisa and Kaotoo, on sound check day. They were doing math homework and arguing over who was better at it.