Thai educators meet area students on their way up

MARSHALL -? A group of educators from Thailand met with 12 area high school students enrolled in the Upward Bound program on Wednesday at Southwest Minnesota State University.

Eleven PhD candidates and two advisers from Udon Thani Rajabhat University are in Minnesota as part of a cooperative program between SMSU and Udon Thani.

Upward Bound is a federally-funded program for low income students or students whose parents did not go to college. The SMSU Upward Bound program enrolls 57 students a year and currently has 10 on the waiting list, according to Assistant Director Amy Nemitz. In the spring, 17 will graduate, creating places for students waiting to get in to the program.

“We take them from ninth to 12th grade,” Nemitz said. “They have tutoring twice a week and in the summer there is a six week program where they live on campus and have classes in math, science, English composition and Spanish. And they have college tours, so they can get a feel for what kind of colleges are out there.”

Students in Upward Bound come from Thailand, Somalia, Karen refugees from Burma, Guatemala and Marshall.

After introductions, Nemitz asked the students to tell the educators how they got to America and what they hoped to get out of Upward Bound.

“When I was 5, I moved with my family to Thailand because of the war,” said Mu Hser from Burma. “Then I moved to Virginia, then to St. Paul. This is my first year in Marshall. I like Upward Bound because it helps me with my homework. I don’t like to do homework at home.”

Hser said she wants to study music education in college.

Shine Naw is a senior, originally from Thailand.

“They help you prepare applications,” Naw said. “And you get a chance to see a lot of colleges.”

When asked about his plans for the future, Hussein Osman from Somalia said he wanted to become a psychologist specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy. Shianne Hasert said she wants to be a pediatrician. Three wanted to be nurses and one young woman wanted to be a policeman.

Tasana Ketmanee is a PhD candidate in educational administration.

“When we ask them about their future I feel they are confident in themselves to be what they want,” Ketmanee said.