An emotional goodbye

MARSHALL – Students and advisers from Udon Thani Rajabhat University in Thailand bid farewell to their hosts at Southwest Minnesota State University in closing ceremonies on Thursday after an eventful three-week teach-and-learn visit.

“Thank you for coming to our university, thank you for taking this big step, for learning from us and letting us learn from you,” said SMSU President Connie Gores.

The city of Udon Thani is in the northeast part of Thailand, close enough to the border of neighboring Laos for many Laotian students enroll in the university.

The delegation of nine students from Thailand, two students from Laos and two Thai advisers came to SMSU as part of a five-year cooperative agreement entered into between SMSU and UTRU in 2008. This year, the partnership was extended for another five years. The students are all Ph.D. candidates in educational administration, and there are now more than 100 graduates of the program in Thailand and Laos.

“I very much enjoyed the culture, and I saw snow for the first time,” said Pattaranit Dangsri.

As part of its mission to study the American educational system, the delegation visited area schools and got the chance to talk with teachers and students. But they also had the chance to do some shopping and sightseeing around the state.

“For me, seeing the headwaters of the Mississippi,” said Pimpichaya Congkiatkarn.

This was the third visit to SMSU for adviser Dauch Tanterdit.

“What I notice is the self-confidence of American students,” Tanterdit said. “In Thailand the students are not so self-confident as American students.”

Ceremonies concluded with exchanges of gifts. Today, the delegation will go to the Twin Cities for some sightseeing and to visit the Mall of America.

In an emotional farewell, Tanterdit taught the audience the phrases “Kob khun krub,” meaning “thank you,” and “Chok dee,” Thai for “good luck.”

“We always get a warm welcome from everybody, from bus driver to professor,” Tanterdit said.