Thursday, September 29, 2011

Royal Thai Scholar Soars into Learning and Dreams to Change Thailand By Sophie L.

Nyd S. ’12, from Bangkok, Thailand, put two couches together, sat comfortably and opened his U.S. history writing seminar textbook. Comfortable, Nyd sighed. As he began to talk about his journey to America, he smiled the whole time.

“It was difficult. After I graduated from high school, I had to take tests on Thai, English, math, science and the history of Thailand. I studied a lot, but the questions were not multiple-choice questions; they asked me my opinions. I also had an interview.” Nyd was one of the 45 scholars who were selected from 10,000 candidates. He was also the first member of his family to receive such a scholarship. He seemed a little shy when others might beam with pride...

Before he came to OES, he and the other 44 scholars spent their summer at Brewster Academy in New Hampshire to learn English and understand and adapt to American culture. “I played lacrosse, Frisbee and other sports. But I’m not quite sure if I want to play lacrosse at OES because I heard that I have to be very aggressive and attack people. The one that I played in New Hampshire was very soft.” The scholars also learned to use computers and IT in support of education and they learned all about the college entrance process. This winter, Nyd plans to return to Brewster Academy to start writing his college applications. “I don’t know which college I want to go to because I have to improve my English first. But I want to go to Harvard, MIT, or Stanford just from what I have heard of their reputations.”

The Thai scholarship program started when King Rama V of Thailand selected young people to go to Western universities to bring back their learning to Thailand. Now, most of the time, the scholars are chosen based on their merits and honors. As Thailand developed as a newly industrialized country, different types of scholarships have emerged. The King’s Scholars, often viewed as ‘the best ones,’ are funded by the king himself, and these students may study whatever they wish in the categories of science or the humanities through their undergraduate years. Other scholars are funded by various government ministries and agencies until the scholars acquire Ph. D. and the organizations require the scholar’s specific areas of study. After the scholars graduate, they are expected to serve their sponsoring organizations for 2 years, and 25 to 30 years for the Thai government. Nyd was sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture, and so he ‘must’ study botany. If he gives up his journey in the middle, then he has to pay some compensation to the Thai government.

“I have dreamed of studying abroad since I was in the secondary school. I have never been to the States before, but I was somewhat excited. My parents were very proud of me, but at the same time, they were sad and anxious to send me abroad. I still get homesick time to time, but I went to a science boarding school back in Thailand, so it’s a little okay.” Nyd has been speaking English since he was a third grader. However, he still does have difficulty understanding English literature and U.S. history. He is currently in English 11 and the U.S. History Writing Seminar to help him learn about basic cultures and the history of the United States. He usually spends his free time preparing for the classes and practicing speaking in English. However, back in Thailand, he liked to play his favorite video game ‘Resident Evil.’ He also played squash and badminton with his friends. He often went to libraries and read fiction and magazines about traveling and food. “Here in the United States, I want to be on the OES ski team. I’ve never seen snow in my life. Thailand is so close to the equator that it has never snowed in Thailand ever.” Playing in the snow could certainly be one of Nyd’s spare time hobbies.

Nyd’s favorite subject is biology. “I like learning stuff about humans because everything around is so close to us. But not anthropology. I always wanted to study biology, but I wasn’t sure which specific area of biology. I just like various fields of science.” He is currently enrolled in microbiology. When Nyd was asked what his commitment to and goal of his scholarship program was, he answered with confident uncertainty. “I don’t know yet, but I think I have to do something with my knowledge. I should change something. With my different and great range of knowledge of subjects, I would like to help people in the government perform research on agricultural science and botany. As soon as I go back to Thailand, things will be a lot different in the next 10 years.”

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