MISSION AND PHILOSOPHY
Teach Thailand Corps (TTC), established by the American-Thai Foundation -- a 501(c)(3) US nonprofit -- in collaboration with Yonok Foundation, focuses on strengthening primary and secondary school education in Thailand, particularly in high-need areas. TTC recruits and places graduates of American colleges in schools in less-developed provinces to teach English and other subjects. Thai students equipped with English proficiency are better positioned to succeed in school, work, and life, and to make an impact in their communities – and in particular to better access opportunities arising from the recent ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Economic Community integration.
TTC aims to fill the needs of underserved schools in English-language education, and offers an overall enhancement in the quality of teaching and community/school involvement. In developing the program, we have learned from and applied elements of the Peace Corps philosophy of service and learning. Opportunities abound for travel and internships in various fields of interest, including social work, business, medicine and public health, and international development during school breaks or following the end of the school year. Importantly, our volunteers will have firsthand exposure to international development in the midst of the dynamic and rising ASEAN region.
BACKGROUND AND VISION
TTC is the result of a longstanding vision of Dr. Nirund Jivasantikarn. As a young student in the early 1960’s, Dr. Nirund’s life was transformed through the mentorship and guidance of an American Peace Corps volunteer in Lampang. Through this experience, Dr. Nirund improved his English skills, gained confidence, and subsequently traveled to the United States to further his education. There, he completed his university studies, engaged in his communities, and made lasting friendships.
While in the U.S., Dr. Nirund set a vision to found Lampang’s first university. Through collaboration with and support from friends and colleagues, he established Yonok University in 1988 as the first four-year liberal arts university in Lampang, where Dr. Nirund served as president for sixteen years. Alongside the university, Dr. Nirund established The American-Thai Foundation and Yonok Foundation, which have continued to improve Thailand’s education beyond the scope of Yonok University. The American-Thai Foundation and Yonok Foundation support scholarships, educational exchanges, advocacy, and literacy campaigns.
Now, Dr. Nirund has turned his attention to empowering Thai students through English proficiency by placing American teachers in underserved schools throughout Thailand. Dr. Nirund’s mission is to provide Thai students with the level of language skills that decades ago opened the doors to the pursuit of his dreams. Motivated by their own dreams and endowed with English skills, these students will have the potential to create strong relations between Thailand and foreign countries, and to become leaders to make positive changes in their home communities.
The Thai government and Thai public have acknowledged the importance of Thai students’ study of English in primary and secondary schools. However, there is a significant and broad discrepancy in the quality of language education among Thai schools. Schools in less-developed provinces often lack the resources and skilled teachers to provide effective English training. Such is the shortage of qualified native English-speaking teachers that in the province of Lampang, for example, among the 40 high schools and their 40,000 students, there are fewer than 20 native English-speaking teachers. This situation is also true of other provinces and is the critical gap that TTC wishes to fill.
With more than three decades of good working relations between Yonok Foundation and the American-Thai Foundation, we have developed a strong network of educators and universities across the United States -- including at Stanford, Mercer, University of Puget Sound, Lewis & Clark, and Baylor. These networks are valuable toward the recruitment of qualified and dedicated American college graduates who wish to spend a year teaching, learning, and living in Thailand.
We select candidates carefully in a process of close communication with the universities—acquainting the universities with our mission, our needs, and the opportunity we present to graduating seniors who wish to make a difference abroad. We select graduates who have performed well academically and have exhibited and maintained a tradition of service and leadership throughout their college years. Our teachers, once selected, are provided with training for their roles, including language and culture orientation, teaching preparation, housing, monthly stipend, domestic work-related travel, work permit, and visa.
Additionally, TTC teachers are provided with ongoing supervision, consultation, and close support to ensure a successful living, teaching, and learning experience. TTC teachers have a special opportunity to help lay a sound foundation in the education of children that will shape the life trajectories of students and their communities—and impact Thailand’s development—in profound ways. In return, volunteers spend an enriching and life-changing time living, contributing, and learning in Thailand as they gain invaluable experience toward future career endeavors.
Founder and Chair of Yonok Foundation, American-Thai Foundation, and Teach Thailand Corps Director
Yonok Foundation and Teach Thailand Corps