May 5, 2006

Students to teach in Thailand’s royal palace school

Four Sacramento State students will have the opportunity to teach in the presence of royalty thanks to two Sacramento State professors’ strong ties with Thailand.

Communication Studies Professor Thomas Knutson and English Professor Richard Adams have established a new program where students will teach at the Chitralada Royal Palace School in Bangkok. Knutson said the school was originally only for the royal family but has now expanded to 1,500 students. The Sacramento State students will leave on May 15 and will spend 10 months teaching English to students in grades equivalent to seventh through 10th in America.

“It’s a life-changing opportunity that will influence them for the rest of their lives,” Knutson said. “Working over there will be absolutely invaluable to them.”

H.R.S. Princess Maha C. Sirindhorn and other school officials approved Kyle Hardwick, Casey Mayville, Dwight Turner and Jen White for the program from a pool of 20 student applicants.

Knutson said his connection with the school was established because his friend Geoffrey Hattersly, a former speech writer for Margaret Thatcher, is the director of the school’s English program. Knutson is also well-versed in the Thai way of life and has taught and conducted research at several Thai universities for more than 10 years. He also helped establish a school in Nong Khai, Thailand called the First Global Community College in 1994.

If the program is a success, Knutson said he would like it to continue every year and hopes it will expand. Knutson said the students will be paid $400 U.S. a month and provided accommodation close to the school.

To get the students adjusted to living and working in a different culture, Knutson and Adams held a seminar for the students on Thai culture. Turner, a junior majoring in communication studies, said students who had previously been to Thailand offered advice at the seminar and two Sacramento State Thai students spoke about the differences they encountered going to college in the United States.

“It was really good to see both sides,” Turner said. “They taught us the cultural values, the big differences and what it is like to live in Bangkok.”

Hardwick, a graduating English major, said he is excited but feels he will still experience a slight culture shock when he gets there. He said while he is not very familiar with the language he doesn’t think it will be an issue because the Thai students are encouraged to absorb as much English as possible.

Hardwick said each student will teach their own class but will be provided with textbooks, lesson planners and a translator.

Communication studies senior Mayville said she has had previous experience tutoring students in Mexico and feels the opportunity will be valuable to her career plans to work in the translating industry in some capacity.

For more information contact Professor Thomas Knutson at (916) 278-6941. Media assistance is available by contacting the Public Affairs Office at (916) 278-6156.

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