My Student’s Time accidently Revisited

As panelist in the conference

From 25-26 October 2012, I was invited to be panelist/speaker during a conference at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. The theme of the conference was “Confronting Unequal Worlds of Development: Crisis of Public Knowledge and the transnational Social Science Agenda in ASEAN”.

In the evening of 24 October, I supposed to arrive at SASA International House. By name, I expected the house of a “three-four stars” hotel. Upon arrival, I found that the “house” is equal to normal student’s hostel and it caught me by big surprise. It was rainy evening and we spent exactly two hours from airport to hotel due to traffic jams. However, staying in this house, is good for me to reflect my time as student in the former German Democratic Republic (GDR), in the 80th. We used to live in similar condition. We had basic equipments provided for students. After checking in, I would like to have username and password for internet connection to send some info to organizer. In Cambodia, you could get WIFI connection in any coffee shop, mobile phone shop or even at small guest houses. Here, the first reply was “no work”. They sent one technician to my room to check; he could not understand a word in English. I asked him about username or password, the reply was “no have”. So, I was left in my own trouble. But, it later turned out, that I was checking-in in the wrong hotel and the receptionist let me check-in without any problem. SASA International House is located two houses away. Amazing Thailand! Actually, it was my own fault.

At the stage talking about Cambodian approaches

What amuses me as well was the incident the next morning. I woke up very early to work on my notes for the presentation and reserved 45 minutes to go from my accommodation to the function venue. I expect that it would not be that far since we are in the university’s compound. When I questioned the receptionist for the place I want to go, nobody speaks enough English to talk to me, let alone the knowledge where it is. I went to the street and asked the students. Again, nobody knows where it is and their English is rather poor, as University’s students. I asked myself, how come that these Chula’s students speak so poor English? The students asked the guard for help and they could tell me where to go in a very broken English and Thai. Fortunately, I also understand some Thai words, since I used to learn it some years ago in Germany. I took the shuttle bus and after two stations, I asked again. This time, I talked to the professors (foreign and Thai) to find out. Finally, I arrived there just five minutes before official start up. Since I do not want to be late, I was lucky to be there on time.

During the first day of the conference, especially in the morning, around 200 participants, mostly students joined us. In the afternoon, the students have their classes; the number comes down to 74 participants, including 35 women. I did my job as panelist in the second day of the conference. The theme of our panel discussion was: Regional Economic Integration and the Resource Economy: Exploring the Interface of Public Knowledge and Public Policy, from the Cambodian perspective. I hope that I have contributed to the success of this conference and might help to shed some light to the darkness….Thank you to organizer, especially M-Power for inviting me to participate in this conference.

During the first day of the conference

What I wanted to highlight in this short articles are:

  1. After I left my student’s time more than 20 years ago, I feel like being a student again to stay in a modest student’s campus.
  2. I participated in this meeting at the Faculty of Political Sciences. Since I got my degree in Political Sciences in 1992 from Germany, I have somehow connection to this faculty.
  3. Not so many Thai people could speak proper English. I have been to Thailand about a hundred times. Every time, I have difficulties to communicate with them in English; being a taxi driver, a student, hotel staffs or even some academicians, let alone common people. I still wonder why?
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