Bond still strong after five years

MARSHALL – On Monday morning, Southwest Minnesota State University welcomed 11 doctoral students and two advisers from Udon Thani Rajabhat University in Thailand, who’ve come to study the American educational system.

This marked the third such visit from the Royal University of Udon Thani, established in 1923 and a two-year agricultural and teacher training school that was granted university status in 2004. The university has been rated one of the top 10 universities in Thailand for the past four years.

The city of Udon Thani is about one hour from the capital city of Bangkok by plane and a little more than 30 miles from the border of Laos.

“We had a professor, Robert Larsen and his wife Primjit, who is Thai,” said Sharon Kabes, professor of education. “They came to me. Primjit was working at the UTRU, and they asked about setting up a program in teaching administration. So some of their people came over, and we signed a five-year agreement. Now we have another agreement.”

This is the sixth visit of scholars and administrators from UTRU who’ve come to visit.

“It’s a three-week course,” said associate professor Somkid Sroinam. “We’ll study in class and visit schools. Mostly we expect to learn about American education and American culture.”

The delegation, which includes two students from Laos, will visit area schools, starting with the Marshall Area Christian School today and the Clarkfield Charter School on Wednesday. Next Monday, they’ll observe a parent-teacher conference in Walnut Grove, and on Oct. 30, they’ll get a chance to participate in a pumpkin carving at the SMSU Student Center.

At the welcoming ceremonies, the Thai delegations presented gifts to their hosts at SMSU and Pimpichya Congkiatkarn performed a traditional Thai dance of welcome.

“We say in Thailand, ‘If you are my teacher for a day, you are my teacher forever. If I am your student for a day, I am your student forever,'” Sroinam said.