Page 1

ENGLISH • English Language Development (Morning) • English Reinforcement and Enrichment (Morning) • SAT Preparation (Afternoon) • TOEFL ibt Preparation (Afternoon)

SCIENCE • Experimental Design for Science (Morning or Afternoon) • Introduction to the Bio-Medical Sciences (Morning or Afternoon)

MUSIC • Guitar (Morning or Afternoon)

MATHEMATICS • Mathematics Enrichment (Morning) • Mathematics Reinforcement (Morning) • SAT Math (Morning or Afternoon)

VALUES • 10 World Religions (Afternoon) • 11 Ethics (Morning) • 12 Philosophy of Responsibility (Afternoon)

PHYSICAL EDUCATION • General P.E. (Morning) • Personal Training (Afternoon)

TECHNOLOGY • Design, Production and Publishing (Morning or Afternoon) • Let’s Build You a Tribe! (Morning)

VISUAL ARTS • Art (Morning or Afternoon)

Elective • Thai Cuisine (Morning or Afternoon) • Pre-IB/AP Mandarin (Morning)

Once your course selection has been approved by Mr. Matthew Fahey, you must go to the Finance Office to pay your course fees. Summer School fees are 34,000 baht for a full day and 17,000 for a half day. If you have any questions please see Mr. Matthew Fahey in R408 or email *Please check this list of courses regularly for updates. New courses are sometimes added or current courses may be dropped due to low enrollment.

Publication Information: Ad Astra is published three times a year by Ruamrudee International School. The objective of the publication is to report on and communicate happenings at Ruamrudee International School. At least 1,400 copies are printed per issue to send directly to all students and their families. Ad Astra is also distributed among our faculty and staff and published on the school website. The RIS family is a large and growing community of international citizens.

Ad Astra Team Editor: Elisia Brodeur Graphics Design/ Layout:

Sornchai Pongheamwattana


Rajeepan Techapahaphong

Printed by:

Media Printing Plus Limited

Ruamrudee International School

6 Ramkhamhaeng 184, Minburi, Bangkok 10510 Tel: +66 (0)2 791 8900 Fax: +66 (0)2 791 8911

Water Theme 4 Message from the School Chaplain Father Leo Travis 5 3rd Grade Water Walk-a-Thon Beatriz Mármol 6 Water of Life Elisia Brodeur 9 7th Grade Water Projects Jeremy Kes 10 1st Grade Science Project Alison Clare 10 3rd Grade Water Filter Project Elisia Brodeur

Events at School 12 ES Games Days 14 ES Science Showcase Elisia Brodeur 16 RISing Coffee Committee Grace Chanya Thanglerdsumpan 17 Gr 5/HS Computer Science

Mentoring Program Rob Golding 18 Wai Kru Ceremony 19 6th Grade Greek Gods Festival Kevin Brodeur 20 Japanese Cultural Festival Megumi Furuya 22 High School Career Day Fourth Teerakapibal 23 RIS Is at the Forefront of Health and Wellness Education Nicole Sabet 24 New Alternative Day Classroom Program at RIS Wit Pilunthanakul and Rob Conley 26 FAQs About Donating Blood Sabrena Baiagern 28 Chinese New Year Celebrations Vivian Wanfang Cheng 30 Spirit Week and HS Knowledge Bowl 32 HS Active Parenting Class Richard Curtis

Events Outside of School 33 World Scholar’s Cup 2018 Tom Wash 33 Champs at the World Scholar’s

Cup Tournament of Champions! Kerry Hampsey 35 UKMT Math Challenge Ron Meijer 36 2017 SEASAC Golf Championship Elisia Brodeur

38 IB/AP Ecology Field Trip Duncan Blair 40 VEX Robotics Competition Rob Golding 41 SEASAC Arts Festival 2018 Sara Kowithananont

Service Learning 42 Habitat for Humanity Kerry Hampsey 43 The CAS Project Nicole Sabet 44 Service Learning 2017–2018 Shirley Gamble 44 RIS Walk/Run/Bike-a-thons 46 Reforestation Project in Mae

Chaem Maren Smith 48 Lending a Helping Hand in Mae Chaem Brux Pongpraphapant 50 Volunteering at Sarnelli House Gina Suepiantham and Irene Chen 51 Service Trip to Udon Thani Julie Cho 53 The Butterfly Effect Belle Chaophatcharathavekij 54 Colors of Cambodia Shirley Gamble 56 The Good Shepherd Committee Christy James

Awe-inspiring Students 57 Launched by RIS, Bound for

Harvard Elisia Brodeur 60 Artist in Our Midst 60 Our Very Own Piano Prodigy Elisia Brodeur

Amazing Alumni 62 Michael Sawatsewi: Alumni Relations 63 Alumni News 64 SCAD Student Ambassador Mimi Komthongchusakul 65 From RIS to Managing Multiple

Refugee Camps Elisia Brodeur and Paht Tanattanawin 68 Pam Lita: From RIS to World Star Michael Sawatsewi 70 Photos of the Day Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


water, their buckets swinging and the water dripping and spilling, and I said to myself, “I want to go see that well.” I found a beautiful well, but I knew we could make it bigger and better. And I was determined to find a way to bring the water down from the well to the center of the village.


he Catholics and Protestants and most Christians are entering into a new season of prayer and a little bit of sacrifice called Lent. It’s a time when we prepare for the feast of the crucifiction of our Leader, Jesus, who died on the cross on Good Friday and then rose from the dead on Easter Sunday. But the Holy Father in Rome said that while it’s always good to have more prayer and to do some penance, the thing to do is to try to do something for somebody else. We’re very dedicated to this in our school—we have a lot of outreach and service learning projects, which we’re very happy about. I see the Water and Reforestation Program in Chiang Mai as a very scriptural activity. When the Jewish people went into the desert they had no water. So the first thing Moses did was pump on a rock to bring forth a neverending spring so the people would have water to drink and use for their crops. Water is essential for life! Our school has a great program to help in Chiang Mai, as many of the students have been helping with. Service learning is a way to to reach out and help people. It’s a beautiful thing, and I’m happy and proud of our school for all the work and thought behind it, along with the knowledge that our students have learned from this activity. This also reminds me very much of my own activity as a young pastor back in the 1960s when I worked in a village in northern Thailand. I noticed that the younger girls in the village would take their buckets and poles and walk almost a kilometer to the nearest well to get water. And then I watched them come back with their


Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

So we made a plan to get water out of this well and to the village. First, we made the well safe, and then we made it bigger and cleaned the land around it to protect the water from disease. Then we made water tanks and put a sump pump into the well and worked out a way to keep the tanks full. Next we bought 3-inch pipes and dug a deep trench, far enough down so the farmers’ ploughs couldn’t damage the pipes. We ran the pipes underground almost a kilometer and up into the village to a spot between the church and the school. Then we put up six fountains and faucets so the girls could get their water immediately, right there, right in the middle of their village! And the water was clean! I went back there in 2016. One of the elders of the village said, “Father, we want you to go out to see your well.” I was happy to see that the village government had constructed a very high water tower with a much bigger tank that we had before. They had found a good underground spring so the water was always available. And so I congratulated the village. Much like in this article today I congratulate our students for what they have done. Maybe in 40 years somebody will come to them and say, “Come and see what you designed and what you have done for the people.” Congratulations for all of your work! God bless you.

Father Leo Travis C.Ss.R. RIS Catholic Chaplain

By Beatriz Mรกrmol


he third graders at RIS are currently learning about water. This is a cross-curricular unit that also involves Science and Values, as students are exploring the water cycle, the different uses for water, and the importance of water for people and communities. With this, comes the social issue piece of talking and thinking about those who do not have access to clean water, including many people in Thailand. However, talking about this issue is not enough. The third graders are hosting a Water Walk-a-Thon on March 8th where students will carry jugs of of water that weigh about 5 litres across a 100-metre field as many times as they can in a 30-minute period. Students will be asking their parents, families, and community members to sponsor them for each lap they walk with the 5-litre jugs of water. The money that the students raise will go to the Imagine Thailand Foundation to set up water filtration systems in villages in northern Thailand. The Imagine Thailand Foundation is an organization that focuses on helping Thai communities in need. We have worked with this foundation in the past with very positive results. Last year, a representative from the organization came to RIS to personally accept the money the students raised and to thank our third graders. After setting up a new filtration system in a village in northern Thailand, they sent us pictures of kids and parents in the village to show our students the difference they had made in this community.

This year, the Water-Walk-a-Thon will take place on Thursday, March 8, from 7:45 to 9:00 am on the Godbout Turf field. Please come out and support our cause! Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


By Elisia Brodeur


n December 4, RIS hosted a fashion show fundraiser that featured an elegant collection of holiday and evening wear designed by famous Filipina designer Ms. Len Nepomuceno Mortel. The show was part of a CAS project for high school students Vint, Book, and Brux. “CAS” stands for “creativity, activity and service” and is part of the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. According to the IB website, CAS projects challenge students to “show initiative, demonstrate perseverance, and develop skills such as collaboration, problem solving, and decision making.” These three students certainly displayed evidence of these skills by helping the school put on a remarkable event for an excellent cause. The show was titled “Water of Life” because its purpose was to raise funds to provide fresh water for the people in the village of Ohm Toom in the Mae Chaem district of northern Thailand. The funds raised from ticket sales went directly to aid the villagers as part of the school’s ongoing Water and Reforestation Project, in which several other RIS students also participated. A few groups of HS and MS students made a series of trips to Mae Chaem last October to build dykes and plant trees to help efforts to reforest the area.


Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

The three CAS students, Vichayaporn Thamnukasetchai (Vint), Book Chunekamrai, and Brux Pongprapapant, visited the province of Mae Chaem last year to survey the villages and identify specific issues they could help with. They learned that the number one concern in the village of Ohm Toom was its lack of water supply. The only way villagers had access to fresh water was by collecting rainwater from the roofs of their houses. Some houses have tanks but not every house does. The poorer people in the village share a community water tank, which is meant to hold a supply of rainwater to be shared among the villagers. Needless to say, as it doesn’t typically rain year-round in Thailand, the water doesn’t last long enough to supply the demand, and so villagers walk 2 km every day to collect fresh water. The students determined that the proceeds from the fashion show ticket sales, in conjunction with other RIS fundraisers, would be used to build a new water delivery system, complete with pumps to bring fresh water to every house in the village. The students also realized that people in the village struggled to keep warm during the winter. The Mae Chaem district is situated high in the mountains north of Chiang Mai, and it can get very cold there. When the students noticed that the houses in the village had little

to no insulation in them, they decided that some of the money raised would go toward buying blankets to keep the villagers warm during the winter months. Vint, Book, and Brux also noticed that the children at the Baan Toong Gae school had no equipment to play on in the small outdoor area that functions as their school yard so they decided to use a portion of the funds collected to buy sports equipment for these school children. Vint, Book, and Brux went back to Mae Cham during the December break. Using the funds generated from the fashion show, they purchased blankets, sports equipment, and other necessities and delivered them to the villagers. (Read about their experiences on pages 48–49.) The fashion show was a spectacular event that began with refreshments provided by Jitpochana Park & Yapan

Catering.The program was emceed by Vint, Book, and Brux, who worked together to introduce two wonderful live performances by teachers and alumni. The first was a quartet of RIS faculty, Shelli Rohyans, Claudia Schmitz, Sarah Abrams, and Susannah Whitcomb, who entertained the audience of more than 200 people with three beautiful, water-themed songs that they sang acapella. This was followed by a special guest performance by alumni from the Class of 1996, Michael Sawatsewi and Debbie Klongtruadroke, who sang stirring renditions of “Say Something” and “Treasure.” After the opening acts, Vint introduced the first model, our very own Head of School, Dr. Shalee Cunningham, who was radiant as she sashayed down the catwalk in a gold evening gown. The other 30 volunteer models included faculty, parents, and ES and HS students from RIS, every one of whom looked stunning modeling the 2017 holiday and evening wear collection by renowned designer, Len Nepomuceno Mortel. Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


Len is the owner and designer of Nepomuceno Couture and BridesByLen. She’s known throughout the Philippines and Asia for her bridal and evening wear, and she also designs for foreign dignitaries in Asia. Len is the cofounder and vice-president of the Fashion and Design Council (FADD) International, a learning center for fashion, art, drama, and design. She was was awarded “Designer of the Year” and “Most Influential Designer” by Mercedes-Benz STYLO Asia Fashion Week 2017. She is also the only Filipina fashion designer nominated as an honorary member of the Royal Institute of Fashion Designers Asia. As if that weren’t enough, she has been on the Thailand Tatler Expat Society List (Arts and Culture Category) since 2014. The outfits ranged from dramatic floor-length gowns with intricate lacy details and patterns, to simple, flawlessly fitted satin dresses featuring a single standout embellishment, to stylishly contoured pants paired with gorgeous cropped or train-length tops. Several pieces were coordinated “mother/daughter” outfits, which were not identical but instead reflected key elements that were not only age-appropriate for the younger models but simply delightful in their subtle details. The adult models sported tall heels and all wore the same classic red lipstick, black eye makeup, and sophisticated pulled-back hairstyles. Each model,

from the first to the last, had clearly practiced and honed her model walk, expression, and poses. All of the models were remarkably professional, even the tiniest bridesmaid, who almost stole the show as she preceded the “bride and groom” at the end of the evening’s stylish display. The organizers wrapped up by thanking the sponsors for their generous donations. Thai Health Insurance sponsored 70,000 baht, K. Wanchalerm and K. Ple, parents of RIS second grader KC, sponsored the catering by Jitpochana Park & Yapan, and the Satjayakorn Family kindly donated 10,000 baht. Kids Foto Studio was also thanked for providing its photographers for the event. Lastly, Vint, Book, and Brux recognized and thanked the Fathers and administrators; parents, teachers, and students in the audience; the staff behind the scenes, all of the volunteer models; and finally Ms. Len, for providing her beautiful clothes! After tallying the generous donations and ticket sales, it was found that the event had raised an incredible 111,000 baht to provide all of the villagers in Ohm Toom with direct access to water. Of that, 70,000 baht was used to install the water system and pumps, and 30,000 baht bought sports equipment for the school, blankets for the elderly, and was given to the help other people in the villages of Tung Kae, Sun Kanoon, and Kee Kratai, all in the Mae Chaem district. The remaining 11,000 baht was donated to the Sererat family from the village of Pa Terng, whose newborn triplets were born 2 months premature and needed to stay in the hospital for several months. It’s safe to say that the fashion show was a huge success, not only in terms of a well-organized and entertaining evening, but also in its goal of raising money to help people struggling to meet some basic human needs.


Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

By Jeremy Kes


s part of the seventh grade curriculum, students engaged in two engineering projects around water issues that are current and relevant for today’s Southeast Asian citizens. One major concern facing the people of Southeast Asia is the increasing occurrence of flash flooding, which can lead to catastrophic events such as landslides. Landslides have been recorded in many provinces in Thailand over the past 20 years. The first water project the seventh graders worked on was to design a system for preventing landslides. The students made a model plot of land and then created a model village on their “plot.” Then the students completed research to help them design a plan to prevent landslides. They were told that they would be pouring many liters of water down their plot of land, which would represent a landslide happening. They were asked to use simple classroom supplies such as craft sticks, paper clips, paper plates,

toothpicks, and straws to save their village with their engineering skills. Then we put the students’ designs to the test. Many students were very successful as their designs were able to sustain many liters of water. Another water issue the people of Southeast Asia face is providing access to clean water for everyone. The second engineering challenge was to design and engineer a smallscale electric water desalination plant. This machine needed to have the ability to remove the salt from seawater and therefore to able to provide people with pure, drinkable water. The scientific content being studied was water cycling, and students were challenged to use

their understanding of the water cycle to promote a volume of distilled water. First, they developed a diagram of their design. Then they got into teams and combined their research into a master design, which they could build only with standard classroom and science lab supplies. Then they built a prototype of their design and put it to the test. Finally, they reiterated the design to improve the quantity of water they were able to desalinate. By the end of the project, many students had made very efficient machines that were able to produce a large volume of clean water. Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


By Alison Clare


ur first graders have been learning about the needs of living things. They learned that plants need soil, sun, air, space, and water. In order to follow the scientific method, the students were prompted to ask a question about the needs of plants. Many students were curious about water, in particular. Naree, Sean, Unn Unn, and Keen wondered how different types of water can affect a plant. Patt, Cello, Xin, and Sky wondered how the temperature of water might affect a plant. These students manipulated variables and followed the scientific method to make some interesting discoveries.

“We used drinking water, bubbly water, and salt water to water the plants. We think the drinking water will be best for plants. We know the drinking water made the plant grow better. Our hypothesis was correct.” —Naree, Sean, Unn Unn, Keen “We used a thermometer to measure the temperature of water. We made water that was 50 degrees Celsius, 35 degrees Celsius, and 20 degrees Celsius. The warm water made the plants and flowers grow better. The hot water and cold water killed the plants.” —Patt, Cello, Xin, Sky

By Elisia Brodeur


s part of a third-grade cross-curricular project involving science, math, values, and social studies, Mr. Aaron, Ms. Robin, and Ms. Jessica have been working with the third graders to make and test water filters. The idea was to create and then test filters made of clay mixed with different amounts of “raw” rice husks to see if the filters could take impurities, such as sulfur and nitrates, out of unclean—and undrinkable—water. Clay water filters are used around the world in countries that don’t have reliable electricity or dependable industrial filters. Local clay and “burnout” material must be tested in countries where such filters will be used. Our third-grade students were investigating the best rice-to-clay ratio for Thailand.

Making water filters out of clay and rice In order to test how different amounts of rice husks 10

Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

would filter the water, their plan was to test 5 different versions and 2 different types of water filters—but all used the same amount of clay as the control group. The variables were the amounts of rice and whether the rice husks were whole or crushed. If crushed, they weren’t sure exactly how much to crush the husks to make the experiment work.

First, the students predicted which amount of rice husks they thought would make the best water filters: 600 ml, 500 ml, 400 ml, 250 ml, or 100 ml. The students using crushed husks first had to rub the husks with their fingers or pound the husks with mallets. Then, using the same amount of clay (1.4 kg), the students mixed the different amounts of rice husks and clay together. Mr. Aaron demonstrated different ways to mix as it was important to distribute the rice evenly into the clay. Some kids worked with partners, others worked on their own. Some poured the rice husks onto their table, others mixed the clay and husks in their bowls. There was lots of energetic pounding and mixing! The students with the larger amounts of rice husks found that it took longer and was harder to mix them into the clay. After the clay and husks were sufficiently mixed together, the next step was to pound and roll out the clay using a rolling pin and their hands to flatten it into a rectangular shape, about 1–2 cm thickness all around. Then they molded the flatten clay around a plastic cylinder. The students worked hard to smooth out any cracks with their fingers and with clay tools. The last step was to make sure the students had labeled their filters so they would know which filter had whole or crushed husks and the amount of rice husks in each.

Firing the clay A week or two later, after the filters had had some time to dry, they were taken to the kiln in the ceramics department. There, Mr. Andy graciously helped the students fire the clay filters in the 1,000 degree heat so they would harden sufficiently.

Testing the filters Working in groups, students selected a filter and set it on top of a funnel over an empty beaker. They poured 200 ml of water into their filter and observed what happened

for 6 minutes. Some filters worked as expected, letting the water pass through the clay and into the beakers. Some simply absorbed the water and none of it ended up in the beaker. Others filtered the water very slowly. After the 6 minutes, the students measured the amount of water in the beaker. Then they multiplied the number of milliliters of water in the beaker by 10 to determine how much water would flow through the filter in one hour. The results were quite varied! Then, as a class, they chose the 4 fastest filters. Then the students tested unclean water in the 4 fastest filters to see if anything about the quality of the water changed.

The findings Among three different third-grade Values classes, the students built and tested 20 filters. They found that the flow rate varied from 0 to 2.5 liters per hour. A family in need of clean water ideally wants one liter per hour, or better. If the flow rate is too fast the filter might not clean the water thoroughly. The third-graders partnered with Ms. Nicole, who teaches HS chemistry, to use test kits to test the dirty water after it had been filtered. The final result was that the filter made with 400 ml of whole rice husk with a flow rate of 800 ml per hour, turned water that was very cloudy, or “turbid,� into crystal clear water. The third-grade students hope to pass this data on to the high school students so they can design more thorough experiments and test the filtered water using advanced techniques. Many parents, students, and teachers stopped by the display at the ES Science Showcase to check out the experiment and to observe the dirty water drip through the clay filters. Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018



n February 22nd, our youngest students in PreK 3, PreK 4, and Kindergarten participated in a special ES Games Day designed just for them. The children moved from one station to another, making their way through a variety of challenging physical activities that tested their balance, coordination, speed, reflexes, strength, and endurance. Most importantly, of course, the children had a lot of fun! On February 26th, students in grades 1–5 school kicked off their ES Games Day on Godbout Field. The morning was really well organized with a great variety of stations for the children to enjoy. Some of the 15 different activities included basketball, dodgeball, nak su rugby, an obstacle relay race, tug of war, and even a slip n slide and a bouncy castle! All of the games gave our children the opportunity to showcase their strength, fitness, agility, and reaction time, as well as build team spirit and encourage positive participation and leadership. Without a doubt, the students—and adults—had tons of fun! Special thanks to the PA for much-needed snacks and drinks and to all the volunteers and organizers who helped and contributed to making this games day a huge success.


Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


by Elisia Brodeur


he ES Science Showcase took place on Valentine’s Day this year and was presented in a different format than it has been in previous years. Two of the biggest differences were that 1) the showcase outgrew Godbout Hall and was instead spread throughout the Elementary School, and 2) there was a hilarious science-themed performance at the flagpole. The children had clearly been working hard to learn how to follow steps to solve a problem. Some children were following the scientific method, while others were following the design process to engineer solutions. The day started with the Science Showcase presentations for parents, where students from grades 1–5 were set up in different areas to present their science experiments. Some had worked individually, some in teams. Their projects were grade-level appropriate, supremely fun, and wonderfully engaging. Every student I spoke with was able to explain their project, what they made and why, how they tested their theory, and demonstrated how their prototype worked. I saw prototypes for


Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

bracelets containing erasers, a conveyor belt to clear away dirty dishes, a fun game to literally “throw” away trash, and solutions for kids who don’t hear the bell from various places on campus. Some teams had created elaborate “sandwich boards” that they were wearing with explanations of the details and results of their experiments. Others had made creative slideshow presentations that were being played on tablets or computers detailing the problem, proposed solution, hypothesis, prototype, test, and conclusion. From the first grade through fifth, these children were very excited about all things science!

After exploring all the different displays in the breezeways and multipurpose room, the parents and faculty were treated to a fabulous science-themed performance at the flagpole. It kicked off with a song written by Ms. Kim called “Awesome Science!” complete with hand movements and enthusiastic audience participation. It was a catchy tune that hyped up the already excited crowd. But what followed was creative genius at its best. The design process was enacted by a series of colorful characters, starting with the mean “Heat Miser” who appeared in an elaborate costume and threatened to keep us all hot and sweaty, claiming that we couldn’t do anything about it. He was challenged by “Amazing Ask,” “Brainstorm Girl,” “Super Planner,” “Iron Improver” and a whole host of other science

superheroes who walked tried to solve the problem of the “Heat Miser” through the steps in the design process. First they asked a question, then they thought of several solutions, made a plan to solve the problem, created a prototype, tested it, improved the prototype when it didn’t work as expected, and collaborated to fix the problem. Needless to say, the team of superheroes saved the day by ultimately making giant paper fans and fanned him away. Talk about making science come alive! The whole performance was a huge hit and clearly demonstrated each step of the design process—for students and parents alike! Afterward, each grade level went off to do more scientific activities across different areas of the ES. The Science Showcase was a great success! Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


by Grace Chanya Thanglerdsumpan


y name is Grace Chanya Thanglerdsumpan, and I’m a current freshman and one of the co-founders of the RISing Coffee Committee here at RIS. I never knew that an enterprise could improve the lives of many people, nevermind an entire village of people. That was until I attended the ServICE Conference two years ago. Back in seventh grade, Pisa (Gr 10), Ton Nam (Gr 9), and I got the chance to be part of a great inter-school meeting where we learned how our inspirations could turn into action. At the conference, we met another group of determined students from NIST International School who had established a social enterprise called “FairNIST.” This group of young students buys coffee from Thai High Coffee, which is locally grown in the Phrao district in the Chiang Mai province of Thailand. The Thai High Coffee company is currently training farmers in northern Thailand to farm and produce their own coffee. What FairNIST does is sell the bags of delicious scented beans at their school. All the proceeds from the coffee sales are used to support several development projects. Projects include buying new supplies and improving the facilities in the Omgoi region of the Chiang Mai province. Moreover, their way of helping the villagers


Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

isn’t only by donating money or giving them a onetime donation. What NIST and Thai High are actually doing is providing a sustainable source of income for the villagers. After their project was met with huge success, they decided to create a branch of international school-based social enterprises called “InterFair,” which Pisa, Ton Nam, and I decided to join. Today, this group consists of students from RIS, NIST International School, Bangkok Patana School (BPS), and KIS International School, who all work together to bridge Omgoi’s community with their own schools. That marked the beginning of RISing Coffee. As inexperienced—and rather clueless—middle school students, we made the RISing project part of the Middle School Student Council. We started off slowly, however, after much encouragement from our previous advisor, Ms. Kaitlyn, and the rest of the student council, RISing has continued to grow and is now a high school committee. The meaning behind our name, “RISing,” is to raise others up by helping them in every way we can to make their lives better and to open more doors of opportunity for them.

Several times a year, our RISing team, now with around 20 members, hosts a coffee sale where teachers, faculty, and parents are able to help support the cause one bag at a time. After the sales, the profit is shared between the InterFair group and later used to purchase supplies that the InterFair groups take with them when they go on trips to visit Omgoi. Currently, FairNIST has been going on 2 visits annually, and RISing is planning to participate in a joint trip in the future. One of the ongoing development projects is to improve sanitation and provide access to clean water in the villages. After connecting with the coffee growers and the villagers, our RISing committee hopes to have our own visit to Omgoi, where we can strengthen our connection with the people we are working to help.

Being a part of the RISing coffee committee is truly one of the best things that has happened to me and has completed my school life. From this project, I also realized that our goal was very far from the starting line, and it taught me that everything works better when it is organized and advances in small steps. Moreover, we will only be able to reach success by working as a team, and RISing is grateful for all the support from the teachers, parents, committee members, our advisor Ms. Melissa, as well as the InterFair group. Hence, I believe that community service is a win-win situation for both sides, where the giver also receives love back from the receiver and builds a strong relationship with them and the rest of the people they meet along the way.

by Rob Golding


embers of the RIS High School Tech Club started an outreach program of mentoring 5th grade students in Computer Science and programming in the ES Tech Suite after school on Tuesdays, starting at the end of January and running through March. Around 20 fifth graders signed up to participate in the program. The goal is to provide the 5th graders with some inspiring role models—both male and female—and to generally raise the profile of Computer Science and programming across the entire school community.

Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018



n January 17th, RIS celebrated Teachers’ Day with a meaningful and memorable Wai Khru (วันครู) ceremony, the Thai ritual where students pay respect to their teachers, express their gratitude, and formalize the student–teacher relationship. On this very special occasion, students are encouraged to show respect and thanks by offering flower garlands. Part of the ceremony included reciting a prayer for the teachers in recognition of their hard work and the fact that they have taught their students well. This is always a favorite day for students and teachers alike.


Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

by by Kevin Brodeur Kevin Brodeur


ur sixth-grade humanities classes have been studying Ancient Greece—its geography, history, and culture. Part of those studies focused on Greek mythology and its many fascinating tales. As part of the “Ye Gods! The Greek Mythology Project,” each student chose a specific character from Greek mythology to research, ultimately learning enough about their character to be able to personify them. The students were asked to retell their character’s story in writing as well as by giving an oral presentation that was recorded and made into an augmented reality poster using the app HP Reveal, formerly Aurasma. The culmination of the project was a celebration of the students’ work at the “Greek Gods Festival” on February 13. The festival began with an Opening Parade of Greek Gods at the PAC. Each student came on stage wearing a costume that represented their chosen God and posed in front of a vivid background while they were introduced to the audience with a description of which God they were, who they were related to, what their role was in Greek mythology, and what ultimately happened to them. The audience also learned what the students thought their particular God would do if he or she were alive today. After time for some fun photos, the students spent the rest of the day rotating through four different learning stations. They got to engage in activities that centered around knowledge and traditions that had originated in Ancient Greece. The students enjoyed making traditional Greek hummus in the Culinary Arts Center, they got to build replica water clocks and Archimedes’ screws in the Makerspace, they enjoyed the film version

of the book being read in English Language Arts—The Lightning Thief, and they explored geometric solids through a hands-on origami activity. Meanwhile, their parents were invited to tour the Middle School to find and watch their children’s posters come to life on their phones or tablets. It was truly a cross-curricular experience. Thanks to all of the teachers and parents who helped make the Greek Gods Festival such a successful and memorable day. Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018



FUKUWARAI, Face puzzle

n Friday, November 10, 2017, the Japanese Cultural Festival took place in the HS breezeway during MS and HS lunch break. There were various kinds of Japanese food being sold, some traditional games to play, and even lessons on origami and calligraphy!

Here are some comments from students describing their experience of the Japanese festival:

By Megumi Furuya


During the festival, we raised 27,062.25 baht from donations and the sale of food. All proceeds were donated to Hiroshima for the Preservation of the A-bomb Dome. The success of the festival is definitely evidence of our school’s international-mindedness. A few weeks later, we received a letter from the mayor of the city of Hiroshima, thanking our school and assuring us that our donation would help to preserve the A-bomb Dome:

“The Japanese Cultural Festival was a really meaningful experience and was definitely one of the events that made RIS fulfill its criteria as an international school. Though we live in Thailand, it was very pleasurable to ‘escape’ for a while and adopt Japanese culture.” —Tony (HS Japanese 4) “We 8th graders have a lot of fun making the posters, selling the food, and help the activity. I was selected to help the calligraphy booth, where we write our names in Japanese for other students. It was an extravagant sight, that when students get their name in Japanese written, they looked so happy and in awe. I thought to myself that ‘I’m happy that I joined Japanese class.’ There were other fun booths as well such as Fukuwarai (face puzzle), origami, and suika-wari (Japanese pinata). I hope that next year the Japanese Cultural Festival will be as amazing as this year.” —Phraewa (Gr. 8 Japanese) “Our class gained insight on curry rice, a Japanese dish originally adapted from India. We were given one class period to cook (cutting the ingredients including meat, onions, carrots and many others). Everyone enjoyed the activity, and we all gained a unique and memorable experience. I also personally learned many kitchen tricks on cutting food, and have used it when cooking at home! On the day of the food sale, we sold our food for a price of 80 baht, although some of the students gave 100 for a donation. We took turns selling the food and sold all of the curry rice by the end of lunch! The Japanese Cultural Festival has been a fun experience and I am looking forward to it next year.” —Noon (HS Japanese 3)


Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

Japanese curry rice

DANGO, rice dumpling

Japanese mothers helping at the festival

OKONOMIYAKI, Japanese pancake with meat and cabbage

“My class made butadon, or pork bowl. The steps and process of making it was easy, and it seemed delicious (most of us didn’t have a chance to taste it). But we sold out really quickly, which could be a clue that it was delicious. I really enjoyed making the food, and I hope I would get to eat some next year too.” —Tharit (HS Japanese 4) “It was my second year contributing to Japanese festival. Our class continue doing dango, the same as last year. We learned from our mistake last year and I think we did a lot better this year. Also we add another type of dango to our menu which was mitarashi dango. It is my senior year so I dressed up as a maid. It was a very fun and unique time for me; getting to see everyone reactions and entertain others.” —Poom (IB Japanese Ab Initio, Year 2) “I sold okonomiyaki with my classmates. During the class, when we were planning, we struggled with the size for each okonomiyaki and the amount of sauce each piece will have, but on the festival day I think we managed these problems well. Many students and teachers were interested in Japanese culture and I felt happy to participate in this festival.” —Moeko (IB Japanese A Language & Literature Year 1) “I didn’t know okonomiyaki is not that famous a Japanese food to foreigners. Many students ask me, “What is okonomiyaki?” I was really happy to be

answering the question because I shared my culture to students who interested in Japanese culture.” —Mina (IB Japanese A Language & Literature Year 1) And here’s a wonderful comment from a Japanese parent: “Ever since I came to Bangkok, it has been surprising to know how much Japanese culture is well accepted. The RIS community is no exception. The Japanese Culture Festival was a great chance to give my gratitude back to this wonderful community. It turned out to be another fascinating experience to witness students’ interest and love for our culture and food. One middle school boy came to our food booth where we sold yakisoba, takoyaki, and edamame, and said he had been a big fan of Japanese anime and thus became more interested in Japan. Another boy from high school, who was struggling with origami, told me he found it more fun to learn Japanese than other languages. One girl even rushed to us and said, “I can’t miss this. I love Japanese food and I think this is the start to get to know another culture.” Many non-Japanese students were singing the Japanese pop music with some Japanese students, sharing their love for the melody and rhyme. Our world has become more global than ever, but we have also seen introspective trend happening around the globe. What I see here in RIS is definitely the opposite. Thank you, RIS, for keeping high spirit to be a true global community.” —Mrs. Fujiwara Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


by Fourth Teerakapibal


ave you ever wondered what it is like to design software, treat a patient with a broken bone, or kick-start your own business franchise? If so, then the RIS High School Career Day hosted by the Student Council Assist Committee is what you are looking for. Working closely with this year’s Parent’s Auxiliary, on Friday, January 26, we were able to invite a total of 14 guest speakers from 9 different professions to share their experiences with students in the high school. This year they consisted of a lawyer, doctor, computer scientist, diplomat, film director, economist, the CFO of an insurance company, several types of engineers, and various business owners. This year’s Career Day was a very memorable one, with an overwhelming number of students participating in each session. Teachers also brought classes to sessions corresponding to their subjects. This was a great opportunity for students to learn how the content studied in class could be applied in the real world. “It was a great experience for me. I wanted to learn more about how one develops his or her own business. It was a great privilege to meet successful people in the business field,” said Best, a Senior taking IB Business. In addition to learning more about a certain field, students might discover a new interest in a career they had never thought about. “I’ve never thought about


Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

politics, but after I went to the session, I really liked hearing about [his] experiences” said Calla, a Freshman. Education is just one component of life. The more important thing is what you do with it afterwards. The purpose of Career Day is to give students a sense of the paths and options available to them in life. At end of every session, we wanted students to know more about specific careers, as well as to understand the prerequisites required for it. After Career Day, students, especially 9th and 10th graders, should be able to pick courses that will suit their desired interests. For example, a student who wants to become an engineer should take courses in mathematics and physics, while a student who wants to become a doctor should take biology and anatomy. As high school students, we are still at the inaugural stage of life. We all have dreams that we want to achieve one day, and what better way to prepare for them than listening to those who have been there before us.

By Nicole Sabet


tress, time management, sleep, and technology balance. These are the leading health and wellness concerns for students as identified by RIS parents, teachers, and students alike. In recent years, health education has expanded from a model of physical wellness (nutrition, development, risk awareness) to one that includes social/emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. Beginning in August 2018, RIS students in grades 6–9 (followed by grade 10 in 2019) will be exploring these topics in a new stand-alone health class. They will use a skills-based curriculum designed to enhance healthy behaviors and decision-making skills. More than any other subject, health is a rapidly evolving discipline that demands a current and relevant approach to meet the unique needs of students. Although teenagers are more physically safe than they have ever been before, they are increasingly predisposed to stress and anxiety by virtue of the technology that keeps them both increasingly engaged and isolated at the same time (The Atlantic, Sept. 2017). Cultural shifts, propelled by our digital landscape, suggest that what is taught tomorrow may no longer be relevant by the time our current ES students are teenagers; therefore, to keep our curriculum current we are adopting the National Health Education Standards.

Across grade levels, students will explore these concepts while being assessed on the development of healthenhancing skills. Meanwhile, teachers will have the flexibility to modify and update content to meet the changing needs of our students. Student health is not limited to life at school. Student well-being can only be fully realized if we, as a community, engage in ongoing conversations both at home and at school. Journaling, parent coffees, digital user/family agreements, peer teaching, and advocacy projects are just some of the ways conversations will take place among students, parents, and teachers. Two full-time teachers (one MS and one HS) will work in conjunction with our counselors and Dean of Students

National Health Education Standards Standard 1: Students will comprehend concepts related to health promotion and disease prevention to enhance health. Standard 2: Students will analyze the influence of family, peers, culture, media, technology, and other factors on health behaviors. Standard 3: Students will demonstrate the ability to access valid information and products and services to enhance health. Standard 4: Students will demonstrate the ability to use interpersonal communication skills to enhance health and avoid or reduce health risks. Standard 5: Students will demonstrate the ability to use decision-making skills to enhance health. Standard 6: Students will demonstrate the ability to use goal-setting skills to enhance health. Standard 7: Students will demonstrate the ability to practice health-enhancing behaviors and avoid or reduce health risks. Standard 8: Students will demonstrate the ability to advocate for personal, family, and community health.

to deliver a robust program in both the stand-alone health class and the advisory programs. Our high school is also looking to transform a classroom into a health and wellness learning space to encourage project-based learning, discussion, and relaxation. In combination with our rigorous academics and diverse service learning programs, the addition of a new and comprehensive health curriculum is just another step in RIS’s mission to develop “balanced, successful, and compassionate individuals.” Not only that, but prioritizing a stand-alone health curriculum in Middle School and High School puts RIS at the forefront of health and wellness education among leading international schools. Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


By Wit Pilunthanakul and Rob Conley


uamrudee International School has been at the forefront of providing support to students with learning differences ever since our school implemented the first international schools Special Education Needs (SEN) program in Thailand more than 20 years ago. This tradition continues with the inauguration of a new Alternative Day Classroom (ADC) Program at RIS that began last fall. After discussions between both the Learning Support Department and senior administration, the decision was made last year to offer an expanded support program to meet the needs of all students at RIS. With input from Wit Pilunthanakul and Rob Conley, plans were made over the summer to create a space that would provide a safe and comfortable working environment for students in our SEN program. Led by Wit and a team of architects, research was undertaken to build a new classroom setting that would incorporate the latest thinking about innovative spaces to accommodate a range of learning differences. The idea behind the new program was based on a number of factors, a primary reason being that both Rob and Wit saw the need to create a unique environment for students who were experiencing challenges in


Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

their regular classrooms. A key factor in this decision was based on the premise that ADC programs are not easily accessible for students in Bangkok who attend international schools. While the majority of students in RIS’ Learning Support program are provided both individual and group classroom push-in support, the ADC program differs in that it provides a specialized learning environment for students who are pulled out of classrooms at various times during the school day. Additionally, the Alternative Day Classroom provides social and emotional structures that are not widely available for students who require an alternative class setting.

The courses that Learning Support students are enrolled in are driven by an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that is developed for each student. An advantage for students in the Alternative Day Program is that it allows for flexible scheduling, so students can come in at different times of the day for one-on-one and group instruction. In addition to academics, life skill courses are embedded into each student’s daily routine. The ADC behavior program is customized and designed for each student to aim for maximum learning, while also providing students with the skills and opportunities to practice social activities in a structured environment. The ADC classrooms are specifically designated for students with learning differences in order to provide a positive educational ambience for students. Multiple classrooms were built so students can work individually, without distraction, or they can be used for students to work together with their teachers or peers. For example, the “Zen Zone” room is a break space, which serves as an area for students to go when they are feeling overwhelmed by their external environment. Other, larger classrooms, equipped with current video technology such as Apple™ TV, allow for group instruction with those students in the Learning Support program who are not part of the ADC program but who still receive classroom support. The ADC program also offers an additional learning environment space for High School students in the

Learning Support program, assisted by Matthew Morse and Andrew Parker. Additionally, a large open area gives students a comfortable space to relax, enjoy downtime, or for working with teachers (or by themselves) on assignments. The ADC program currently supports eight students, as well as the other students who receive push-in support and are provided with assistance in study skills classes. In addition to Wit, current members of the Alternative Day Class Student Support Team include Tyson Churchill, ADC Teaching Assistant; Rob Conley, Director of Pupil Services; Dan Smith, High School Principal; Gretchen DePoint, Middle School Principal; Shayna Tolkmitt, School Psychologist; Halie Peveto, Speech Language Pathologist; Caroline Scott, Middle School Counsellor; and Richard Curtis, High School Dean of Students. Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


by Sabrena Baiagern also be available in H408. The time will also depend on how you feel after the blood withdrawal. Some donors feel fine immediately after and are able to get up and leave, while others may feel faint and will need a bit more time to recover. Question: How much blood is taken? Answer: Approximately 450–475 ml of your blood is taken.


he High School Red Cross and the Thai Red Cross Society organize a blood drive twice each school year. The next blood drive is on Tuesday, March 6, 2018, so we’d like to share some frequently asked questions. Question: What qualifications do I need to be able to donate blood? Answer: You need to be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 45 kg, and have had at least 6 hours of sleep the night before donating. Question: What happens during the screening process? Answer: Whether you are a regular donor or a new donor, you will be need to be screened. There are three steps to the screening process: 1) Registration: You will fill out a questionnaire and provide your ID. If you have previously donated blood, you should bring your donor ID. 2) Mini-physical check up: A doctor will check your pulse rate, blood pressure, and ask you healthrelated questions. 3) Blood test: The tip of one of your fingers will be pricked and tested for your blood type and hemoglobin count to determine if you are eligible to give blood. Depending on how many other donors are in line, the screening may be as fast as 5–10 minutes, or it could take up to 15–20 minutes. Question: How long will the blood withdrawal procedure last? Answer: This depends on each individual. Usually, the procedure takes about 20 minutes. But if a person’s blood is very thick it may take longer. Donors should drink a lot of water before coming to donate. Water will


Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

Question: Can I donate blood if I am sick? What if I am taking medication? Answer: If you are suffering from an acute sickness then you should not donate blood. Your body is already fighting off an illness and taking blood would slow down this process. Furthermore, if you are taking antibiotics for a bacterial infection then your blood cannot be used because the bacterial infection could be transferred to the person receiving your blood. Question: What should I eat before donating blood? Answer: Eat a healthy meal that is rich in iron (such as fish and beans), and avoid foods that are high in fatty acids (such as french fries or stewed pork legs with rice). Question: How much water should I drink before donating blood? Answer: Staying hydrated is vital. On the day of the donation you should drink at least 4 to 5 glasses of water half an hour before donating blood. Question: What does the Thai Red Cross do with my blood? Answer: Your blood will be delivered to the laboratory at the Thai Red Cross for further processing, which includes separating your blood into components (including red blood cells, platelets, and plasma) and testing. Your blood could save up to three lives! Question: Will the Thai Red Cross contact me if something is wrong with my blood? Answer: Your blood test results are considered to be private and confidential. The Thai Red Cross may contact you if there is anything unusual about your results, but they will not disclose any information regarding your blood test results to anyone but you.

Question: Can I donate blood if I am menstruating? Answer: Yes. If you are not experiencing severe abdominal cramping and do not have heavy bleeding, then it is OK to donate blood. However, if you feel uncomfortable or unsure, then you are better off not donating blood. Question: Am I allowed to drink coffee or tea before donating blood? Answer: Coffee and tea are mild diuretics that can trigger anxiety and deplete water from your body. If possible, avoid caffeinated drinks before donating blood. Question: If I have an alcoholic beverage (for example, a bottle of beer or a glass of wine) the night before the donation process, will I be able to donate blood? Answer: Possibly not. There may still be remnants of alcohol in your blood the next day. If you intend to donate blood, please avoid drinking alcohol the night before. Question: Can I donate blood if I recently had the flu vaccine? Answer: Yes. Receiving the flu vaccination does not interfere with donating blood. Question: Can I donate blood if I have allergy symptoms (stuffy nose, itchy eyes, dry cough?) Answer: As long as you feel well, have no fever, and are not having trouble breathing through your mouth, then you are OK to donate blood. Question: Can I donate blood if I have asthma? Answer: If your asthma symptoms are regulated by medication, then it is OK to donate blood. But if you suffer asthma attacks regularly, then it is safer not to donate blood.

Question: How often can I donate blood? Answer: Every 3 months. Question: Am I allowed to exercise after donating blood? Answer: Light exercise is OK, but a strenuous workout or heavy lifting should be avoided. Question: Can I donate blood if I have a tattoo or body piercing? Answer: You must wait at least 12 months after having a tattoo or body piercing. This is due to a concern about whether the instruments used were sterile and free of blood contamination. Question: What happens during the donation process? Answer: An area on your arm will be cleaned and a new sterile needle will be inserted for the blood draw. This feels like a quick pinch and is over in seconds. The actual donation takes about 8–10 minutes, during which you will be seated or lying down comfortably. When the donation is complete, the needle will be removed from your arm and a bandage will be secured over the area where the needle was inserted.

Question: If I recently had surgery (minor or major) can I donate blood? Answer: No. Any type of surgical procedure will require your body to recover fully. You will need to wait at least 12 months after any procedure before you can donate blood.

Question: Why do some people pass out while giving blood or after giving blood? Answer: While donating blood, your blood is being removed from your circulatory system. As a result, the volume of blood in your body decreases, which causes a sudden drop in blood pressure. This sudden drop in blood pressure can cause a person to feel faint.

Question: How long will it take before my body starts to replace the blood I donated? Answer: The plasma from your donation is replaced within about 24 hours but red blood cells will take about 4 to 6 weeks to completely replace, which is why at least 8 to 12 weeks are required between blood donations.

For more information about the blood donation process please visit the following websites: (in Thai) (in English) blood Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


by Vivian Wanfang Cheng


hinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is the most important festival for Chinese people. This day is always celebrated on the first day of the first month of the Chinese Lunar calendar, therefore, Chinese New Year takes place on a different date each year. This year it fell on Friday, February 16. Since many RIS families have Chinese backgrounds and heritage, celebrating Chinese New Year at school has become a wonderful tradition. In our Chinese classes, students are learning the Chinese New Year customs and practicing traditional handcrafts, such as making

lanterns, paper cutting, and calligraphy. Beyond the cultural lessons with our Chinese teachers, our most successful activity is the assembly celebration prepared by our ES, MS, and HS students. Afterward, our wonderfully supportive Chinese parents serve delicious traditional Chinese food that they have prepared for the entire RIS community. This year, RIS celebrated Chinese New Year on Monday, February 12. The entire RIS community was invited to join the special celebration, which kicked off with an all-school assembly in Godbout Hall. The highlight was the energetic, loud, and visually stunning dance with brightly colored and bedecked lions and dragons! The lion was particularly expressive, with batting eyelashes and sweeping gestures. It even leapt across the top of poles and performed some astonishing acrobatic moves. The whole audience was captivated. Afterward, the students were able to pose for photos with the lion and dragon, and then everyone enjoyed the delicious Chinese food and the games and booths that were organized by the Chinese parents. This is one of our school’s favorite annual events that also highlights our international mindedness. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

新年快乐 28

Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018



Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


n February 15th, for the culminating event of our high school’s annual Spirit Week, students in the Freshman, Junior, Sophomore, and Senior classes dressed up to represent their chosen class theme at the HS Knowledge Bowl and to compete in a challenging trivia quiz in an effort to rack up some significant class points. As over the past several years, there have been some outlandish themes. This year’s themes were no exception. The 9th graders were Cops and Robbers, the 10th graders had a creepy Abandoned Hospital theme, the 11th graders were characters from Peter Pan, and the 12th graders came up with a combination of Skyfall and Dia de los Muertos. The Knowledge Bowl began with elaborate entrances into Godbout Hall, each class led by their selected

teacher representatives. This was followed by showstopping performances by each of the student teams that included creative, intricately choreographed dances complete with lighting effects carefully timed to heart-thumping music. Although the spectacular entrances don’t count in terms of team points, it’s clear that a lot of thought, time, and competitive spirit goes into their planning and execution. Two rounds of quiz questions followed. In the first round, emceed by Ms. Shirley, teachers who had been nominated by students answered the mostly entertainment-themed questions for house points. Then teams of students answer the more academic questions, jeopardy style, in the hopes of scoring big points for their team. All teams had their fair share of correct answers but the Seniors ultimately pulled ahead for first place. Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


by Richard Curtis, HS Dean of Students


arenting is a difficult job, and there is no manual to follow on how to best raise children. During adolescence, teenagers go through a rapid period of growth and development. Teens often want independence but can struggle because they lack maturity. I am offering a parenting class to share ways for parents to be able to respect their children’s privacy and space while also guiding and teaching them to make healthy choices. We cannot control our kids, but we can influence their decisions and the actions they take. Each participant will receive a Parent Guide. We will cover a variety of topics over the six weeks of the course. During class sessions, we will watch videos and review slides that introduce new material and provide discussion prompts. Participants also have activities that they are asked to do at home each week. Communication and discipline are two themes that are woven throughout the course. There is also a portion of the course dedicated to sexuality, violence, and drugs, which are areas that pose the greatest risks to teens’ health and well-being.


Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

Anyone parenting a teenager would benefit from taking this class, whether your oldest child is a 9th grader or a Senior. This class offers the opportunity for parents to learn new strategies to become more effective parents. Previous participants often say that the biggest takeaway from the class was talking with other parents and sharing ideas and experiences. Classes will be held for six consecutive Tuesdays, from March 6–April 10, from 7:30–9:30 am. The classes will take place at the Thai Cultural Center located on the second floor of the Griffith Library. Space is limited to the first 15 high school parents who sign up. If interested, please email me at:

by Tom Wash, WSC Advisor


orty-two students from Middle School and High School are participating in this year’s World Scholar’s Cup competition. We are studying six subjects with a general theme of “An Entangled World.” We will learn about each subject under subthemes of: History: A History of Diplomacy Science: The Science of Memory Social Studies: Black Markets Literature: Voices of the Inseparable Art and Music: Braving the Distance Special Area: Human Relationships

Our 42 scholars will compete in each of the four WSC events: team debate, collaborative writing, scholar’s bowl, and the scholar’s challenge. Our first competition is the Bangkok Round at Brighton College on March 18th and 19th. Our scholars will compete for a chance to go to the Global Round, at Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne, or Barcelona. Everyone is working very hard right now and studying a lot of material, but the curriculum is fun learning—and we always have Jerry the Alpaca (our mascot) to boost morale! If you would like to know more about World Scholar’s Cup or to see what we are doing, please visit the official WSC website at

by Kerry Hampsey


wo teams of students from RIS traveled to Connecticut, USA, last November to participate in the annual World Scholar’s Cup Tournament of Champions. There was a 7th grade team—Willa Blair, Supasinee (Poob Pub) Siripun, and Victor Phisitkul— as well as an 8th grade team—Panawee (Biew Biew) Sakulwannadee, Palika (DC) Sridurongrit, and Saracha (Amee) Termsinwanich. All of the students did remarkably well! In the Junior (under 15) Division of the Tournament of Champions, there were hundreds of

schools from more than 50 countries, which amounted to over 2,500 students against which our students were competing. To secure a place at the World Scholar’s Cup Tournament of Champions, the students first had to compete and place in both the Regional and Global rounds. There are three Global Rounds. Our students competed in the Hanoi Global Round. A total of five Thai schools were present at the Tournament of Champions. Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


Each year, the World Scholar’s Cup organization has a theme. The theme of this past year of competitions was “An Unlikely World.” Hosted by Yale University, the Tournament of Champions features four academic challenges: • The Scholar’s Challenge: a written exam • Collaborative Writing: teams of three brainstorm together and then write individually on three aspects of a topic • Debates: several rounds of two teams of three debating against each other • The Scholar’s Bowl: team trivia, where all of the Junior teams compete against each other at the same time

last-minute schedule changes, and sporadic wifi. To be successful, the students need both a knowledgeable advisor who can give them detailed feedback and an impressive amount of self-motivation for independent study. Tom Wash is a phenomenal WSC advisor who works tirelessly with the students to help them prepare for each competition. Here are our students’ impressive results at the 2017 World Scholar’s Cup Tournament of Champions: Team Medals Willa, Victor, Poob Pub: Team Scholar’s Bowl: Silver Biew Biew, DC, Amee: Team Writing: Gold Individual Medals

On the first day, there was a Scavenger Hunt where students were placed on teams with only students from other schools as an icebreaker. The teams then ran around the Yale University campus and the town of New Haven to find various items, take photos, and complete the designated tasks. After the academic competitions, there was also a Talent Show, where students had the opportunity to showcase an astounding array of abilities (our students did not take part in this). There was also a Cultural Fair where individual schools could set up tables with food, art, and other items to introduce people to the culture of that school’s host country. Our RIS students were excellent ambassadors, staying focused and driven despite freezing temperatures,


Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

Poob Pub: Debate: Silver Victor: Scholar’s Challenge: Literature: Silver Scholar’s Challenge: Science: Silver Willa: Scholar’s Challenge: Science: Silver Scholar’s Challenge: Special Area—Modern Mythologies: Silver Biew Biew: Writing: Silver DC: Debate: Gold Writing: Gold Champion Scholar: 56th place (out of all of the Junior Scholars) Top RIS Scholar

by Ron Meijer


n November 7, 2017, 41 of our Juniors and Seniors took part in the UKMT, or United Kingdom Mathematics Trust, Challenge. Out of those 41 students:

• 38 received a Bronze, Silver, or Gold certificate • 33 scored above the world average, which is 62 points (out of a maximum of 125) • 11 scored a Gold medal (86 points or more). (Their names are below.) • 3 scored more than 100 points—out of 125—and one of them, Nattawat Luxsuwong, scored 109 points, which technically qualified him to compete in the BMA, the British Math Olympiad. Unfortunately, because Nattawat Luxsuwong is Thai and not British, he could not participate. Here are the results:

Grade 11: • Athiwat Pathomtajeancharoen (Earth) • Sasid Sriwattana (Sasid) • Nucha Powanusorn (Mue) • Jiratchon Niamtan (Tee) • Patarapornkan Anantarangs (Patt) • Yilin Chen (Foster) • Nakyum Lee (Gina)

Grade 12: • Todsatid Teerakapibal (Todd) • Pat Boonsom (Pat) • Napat Sakulsaengprapha (Tangmo) • Nattawat Luxsuwong (Nash)

87 points 89 points 90 points 91 points 99 points 101 points 103 points (Best of grade 11) 90 points 94 points 95 points 109 points (Best of grade 12, Best of RIS)

This shows once again what a talent RIS has when it comes to mathematics. It has been a pleasure working with these students!

Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


by Elisia Brodeur



n November 23–25, the 2017 Southeast Asia Student Activities Conference (SEASAC) Golf Championship was held at the beautiful Summit Windmill Golf Club & Residence. The 3-day competition was hosted by Ruamrudee International School and brought in more than 100 talented male and female high school golfers from 15 schools all over Southeast Asia.

Friday morning marked the beginning of the 2-day competition. The students were grouped by handicaps, so players were playing with similarly abled players but they did not play with their own handicaps. As the host school, RIS hired five officials from the Thai Golf Association to be course officials on-site, and they were truly excellent.

The local Bangkok school golfers were representing RIS, NIST, BPS, and HIS. The traveling student golfers from the other 11 schools stayed on-site in the lovely rooms available at the Summit Residence. This was such a convenience for the student golfers, coaches, and parents as they could enjoy the delicious breakfast buffet at the hotel, get ready right on the premises, and head straight out to the golf course.

The golf course is in very nice condition but it was also challenging, with lots of water, a demanding layout, and tough pin placements. It was certainly not an easy course for the students. But the weather was beautiful, which certainly helped, and the course caddies were outstanding and very knowledgeable about the layout of the course. The management at the Summit Windmill Golf Course was also easy to work with.

The competition started on Thursday afternoon with a 2-person “best ball” friendly match, which served as a practice round. That evening, the young golfers were happy to head to a local mall for a little relaxation.

The first round of golf was concluded on Friday afternoon and was followed by the SEASAC Banquet Dinner that evening, at which the golfers and coaches were presented with awards for Thursday’s 2-person

Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

best ball and on-course competitions. After the awards were handed out, everyone was treated to a slideshow and video from the 2-person best ball and Friday’s play. On Saturday, the second round of golf wrapped up the whole competition. That evening was the culminating SEASAC Awards Buffet Dinner, which was a little less formal than the previous evening as students were asked to wear their school or team uniforms. The food was excellent both nights, and the head chef in particular was phenomenal. The icing on the cake was that RIS came away with some big wins. The top three individual female players were all from RIS: Kwan Meesomboon, Jess Charumattanont, and Sense Sangkagoon. The RIS girls’ team also took first place, which means that RIS has won every girls’ SEASAC golf championship since the start of SEASAC Golf in 2011: 7 out of 7! The RIS boys’ team won third place overall: Tony Termsinwanich, Winner Nakmontanakum, Tee Tiratrakulseree, Tonkla Kallayanontchai, Todd Chutichetpong, and Fourth Teerakibal. The RIS boys’ team has won 5 out of the last 7 SEASAC golf championships!

help with the planning and organizing. We also asked two of our school’s best golf aficionados, Mr. Brett and Mr. Jeff, to be the official starters on both days. The rest of the team helped with everything from scoring to bus logistics to finances to translating. Perhaps the best thing about the tournament, though, was the high level of camaraderie and sportsmanship on display all weekend long. The players wholeheartedly supported one another—across each of the 15 schools. All the student athletes, coaches, and parents represented their schools nicely and conducted themselves in an impressively professional manner. It was a very positive tournament, and RIS really enjoyed hosting these fine young men and women. We’re already looking forward to the 2018 SEASAC Golf Championships!

The RIS athletics office team did an outstanding job putting the tournament together. In particular, and a huge thank you goes to Khun Joei for all of her help. Our amazing RIS Golf Coaches, Mr. Joey and Mr. Walter, went above and beyond to Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


by Duncan Blair


n January, 60 eleventh graders from four different classes (IB Biology Higher Level, IB Biology Standard Level, IB Environmental Systems & Society, and AP Environmental Science), traveled to Khao Yai for a 3-day ecology field trip. They were accompanied by their intrepid science teachers: Dr. Alan, Mr. Duncan, Ms. Mendy, Ms. Sabrena, Ms Sandhya, and Ms. Nicole. The purpose of the trip was for the students to experience in-field ecology data-gathering techniques. The students had practiced some of the techniques in the classroom, but it proved to be a very different experience doing them in a field setting. Also, everyone practiced teamwork and communication by working in groups of students from other classes. The students stayed at a resort outside of the national park and then traveled into the park each day to do the field activities. The weather turned so cold that the students could see their breath, although none of their attempts to take selfies of their visible breath were successful. One of their first experiments was to find and dissect elephant dung. This is a standard field technique to estimate the population and health of elephants, which are often hard to observe directly in a forest ecosystem. The students counted elephant dung and made careful observations about its size, state of decomposition, and the composition of plant remains and insect life.


Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

The students also measured biodiversity of the grassland ecosystem by using a 1m2 quadrat. They lay the quadrat on the ground and counted the number of individual and range of species in order to quantify the biodiversity and assess the health of the ecosystem. This was another example of an activity that sounds easy to do but proved difficult in the field as the students dealt with large numbers of very similar-looking species of very sharp grasses. The students faced similar challenges in the forest when they discovered that it is much harder to count trees in a natural habitat than on a square of paper in a lab! They wrestled with questions such as “What counts as a tree?” “If it’s broken, does it count?” “If it’s a baby tree, does it count?” While in the forest, the students also investigated lichen, which needs clean air to grow so it serves as a good indicator of air quality. The students found a lot of lichen, so they concluded that the air quality in Khao Yai is good. The students also investigated a stream in the park. They performed several water-quality experiments, such as measuring the turbidity (the visible clarity) of the water, the number of nitrates, the number of phosphates, the flow rate, and the amount of dissolved oxygen. All of these indicate the level of pollution in a body of water. The students also sampled macro invertebrates by shuffling their feet in the stream bed to kick up sand and insects. Downstream, other students caught the debris in a net, which they then examined. They found many different species of invertebrates, many of which are

bioindicators, like lichen—if you find them, you know the stream is not polluted. The students found and examined the larvae of dragonflies, stoneflies, and mayflies, in addition to freshwater crabs, shrimp, and minnows. Besides the field experiences, the students participated in several team-building exercises, such as building a tower out of toothpicks and clay in only ten minutes. They also had to create a team cheer and a banner. At the end of the trip, the students wrote and delivered slide presentations of their research, including their findings and the conservation implications of the results. For example, the students highlighted what species indicated that Khao Yai is a healthy ecosystem and identified the main threats to the park from human activities. From a scientific perspective, the students definitely learned about the challenges of fieldwork compared to lab or classroom investigations. They also learned valuable lessons in persistence, focus, and flexibility when conditions are difficult. Beyond the science, the students learned how to work effectively with a group of people they didn’t know previously and in groups that had no formally designated leader. Despite the long days and difficult conditions, the students remained enthusiastic about the work. Their teachers were impressed, and the students asked about planning another trip. Here are some quotes from students to share their thoughts about the experience: “Just getting to experience working in the field in general, like actual ecologists, was great as we can’t normally experience this working in a classroom.” —Sydney Kiatkamolwong

“Everything we learn in class has value in the field. The more determined we are to learn in class, the more we can utilize our knowledge in the field. The feeling of having more knowledge on a certain topic than my teammates was amazing and gave me a huge boost of confidence. Furthermore, I also learned that teamwork is extremely important to getting work done.” —Brux Pongprapapant “Doctor Alan’s jokes made the entire trip a lot better.” —Karn Techatanates “I learned about the conditions that professional scientists endure every day they go into the forest to gain data. In addition, I learned how amazing nature can be despite its dangers, because I loved getting directly involved by working in the forest and collecting information. One thing that I learned during this trip is that while there is much talk about higher pollution levels, Khao Yai is thankfully still in good condition.” —Tony Termsinwanich “The most valuable learning I gained was exploring the organisms living in the stream. When we did a lab or an assignment or a worksheet on organisms in the stream, I didn’t really believe that they actually existed because they seem so unreal. However, when I actually got to see them, I was amazed. This was my biggest and most valuable experience on this trip.” —Pim Thanawong Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


“To me, the most valuable thing I gained is that [the] environment is actually not that scary. Before, the image of [a] forest to me is a most terrifying place filled with scary insects that would fly around. All of that image is now gone and replaced with a really peaceful place full with fresh air that really calms all my worries. I really am in love with the nature. Even though I still dislike insects but my imagination of the nature really changed in a better way.” —- Asma Urairaksa

“I think the most valuable thing that I gained was learning how to work with a team or working with other people in general. At first I was really nervous because I was rooming with people I don’t really know and my team was full of people that I wasn’t really close to, but it worked out and I made quite a few new friends in the process while working together to get the experiments done.” —Elizabeth Vessalert

by Rob Golding over Southeast Asia. The level of competition was really high, but the students had great fun.


he VEX Robotics Competition is the world’s fastest growing competitive robotics program for middle schools, high schools, and colleges around the world, with more than 16,000 teams from 40 countries that participate in more than 1,300 VEX Robotics Competition events worldwide. In each VEX Robotics Competition, teams of students are tasked with designing and building a robot to play against other teams in a game-based engineering challenge. Classroom STEM concepts are put to the test as students learn lifelong skills in teamwork, leadership, communications, and more. Tournaments are held yearround at the regional, state, and national levels and culminate at the VEX Robotics World Championship each April. This year, RIS had two High School teams—6 members on each—enter “The Battle in Bangkok: Starstruck Thailand,” which took place at NIST International School on Saturday, February 4th. There were teams from all


Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

Each team had to build its own robot using specific competition parts. For each round, teams were joined with another team and then competed against two other teams to score points. The goal was to have the robot pick up and place cones of varying sizes in set scoring zones. There was a programmed autonomous section and a manual gaming section. The top 6 winning teams were then graded for their overall team performance (throughout the year) and rated on their teamwork, communication, spirit, positivity, planning, and engineering in order to be crowned with the overall “Excellence Award” and thereby qualify for the world championship. Our teams did an incredible job, especially for their first regional competition. They scored lots of points in all their matches and only just missed out on qualifying for the final rounds. Next year we plan to have one junior team (grades 8–10) and one senior team (grades 11–12). Any student who can show the required commitment across the program is welcome to apply for a place on the teams. Students can also just come along and get involved as a team helper and game tester if they are not ready for competition level. We meet on Thursdays from 3:00– 4:00 pm throughout the year until April.

by Sara Kowithananont


he SEASAC Arts Festival is perhaps one of the most underrated events of all time. The term “Arts” might sound very abstract and difficult to understand. Many would try to avoid involving themselves with art, some would even be intimidated by the thought of it. However, trust me when I say that this trip is the most laid-back and enjoyable trip imaginable. The three-day weekend trip is not only suitable for students who are interested in the Arts, but is open to all students who are looking to pursue interests beyond the curriculum, engage with a new culture, and nurture friendships across borders. I never had a boring moment throughout the course of this trip as it is full of engaging activities to bring out the best in the kids participating. It offers a range of innovative and inspiring workshops, such as “Drawing with Fire” or “Afro-Cuban Music.” I was very happy with my selection of the workshop “Drawing with Fire and Painting with Light.” This workshop brought participants through a blend of art and technology to create pieces of precise works of art that humans cannot

possibly achieve with only their own hands. I was able to explore the use of laser cutting to create evenly aligned geometrical shapes that cast silhouettes when light is shined on it. For my final project, I combined ideas with my friends and decided to create nine repeated shapes of the traditional Thai pattern (Kanok) as a tribute to the Late King Rama 9. I gained so much experience through both the teachers and my friends. Going on this trip made me realize how important diversity is for ideas to be exchanged and cultures to flourish. It made me realize how beautiful the creation of art is and the irreplaceable impact it has on the world today. Art is so exceptional and extraordinary; it makes up for the abstract ideas that can never be expressed by words on their own. Yet, despite its esoteric nature, us humans can perfectly arrive at interpretations of pieces of art created. This is the power of the connection between humans and art—the capability of receiving explosive, ever-flowing, and yet never-ending, ideas from just one piece of art, proving how much art is intertwined in our lives that it is now a special form of communication that can convey infinite ideas into our minds. Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


By Kerry Hampsey


he weekend of November 25–26, 2017, the Habitat for Humanity Club had its first two day-trips of the school year. The club is involved in a Community Development project with a school in Pathum Thani, where we went to help build and work on facilities for their Learning Support students. RIS students (and teachers) built walls and painted classrooms, as well as part of the grounds, and the students also dug out a pit for a septic tank. It was certainly not glamorous work, but it was definitely necessary. Between 14 and 17 students volunteered their time to work on both days. Our RIS students were guided by hosts from the Thailand branch of Habitat for Humanity and were also able to meet several of the students and teachers from the school during the visit. Everyone was lovely, and our students gained not only new skills but also new insights.


Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

Here are our brilliant executives: Todd (president), Gracie (vice-president), Ayush (secretary), and Rohan (treasurer). They do absolutely all of the planning and legwork and organizing. I just supervise and offer the occasional suggestion. Our students are amazing; the absolute best!

by Nicole Sabet, CAS Coordinator


reativity, Activity, Service, or “CAS,” is one of the three essential elements that every student must complete as part of the Diploma Programme (DP). It’s a challenging component of the IBDP, but it’s also one of most most rewarding. In a meta-study of current IBDP students, coordinators, and alumni, the majority “perceived CAS to be a challenging element within a challenging programme, but also agree it is rewarding.” Students identified “service” as the most difficult of the three strands (the others being “creativity” and “action”) but also rated it as the most rewarding—over 85% agreed (see figure 1 in the article “How does CAS impact students, educators and life beyond IB?” on The three strands of CAS encourage students to engage in reflective practice, develop new skills, cooperate in problem solving and decision making, and investigate authentic needs within their communities. Perseverance throughout the program and the successful completion of CAS suggest that a student graduates with the maturity, resilience, and motivation to engage in continued self-development and service throughout his or her lifetime. The CAS program is a unique opportunity for students to engage in sustained collaboration with other classmates and the wider community at large. Students are required to employ a research-based approach, or framework, to their service learning, which progresses through five stages. Essentially, it requires them to embed reflection over the course of their investigation,

preparation, implementation, and demonstration of the project. This year, the class of 2019 has embarked on several service learning projects on the theme of water resources that include interaction with diverse communities and social backgrounds and engagement with issues of global significance. The Fathers are often involved involved with identifying identify the areas of need. The CAS program is typically 2 years long, with a minimum commitment of 18 months. The students will have experiences in each strand: creativity, action, and service. The culminating piece of the program, the collaborative project, requires a minimum of 1 month—from planning through to demonstration—but the goal is for the students’ projects to continue long-term, whenever possible. Several of our current IB students are working on different stages of their CAS projects. Two of the groups have written about their experiences here in the Service Learning section of Ad Astra: Maren Smith is in the demonstration part of her CAS project and reflects her experience with the Reforestation Project in Mae Chaem. And Brux, in the action part of the CAS project, has written about his portion of the experience of organizing the Water of Life fashion show. The CAS program reinforces much of our school’s vision by “nurturing intellectual development, moral character, and . . . well-being, while fostering compassion through action.” Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


by Ms. Shirley Gamble, Service Learning Coordinator


ast year we were very successful with integrating the concept of Service Learning to teach our students to use their subject matter knowledge to apply their critical-thinking and problem-solving skills in order to communicate and collaborate together, all of which is also in line with our school’s vision of fostering compassion through action.


to water for the whole village. Out of the seven villages we visited, this was the only village without electricity or running water. The villagers had to walk over a kilometer to streams to bathe, do laundry, and collect water for daily use.

In addition to supporting Father Ray Children’s Village, Camillian Home for Children Living with Disabilities, and Sarnelli House, we also continued our diaper drive for the House of Hope orphanage and the daycare at Mahathai Udon Thani Primary School.

The third project is supporting the Colors of Cambodia Foundation. We visited two primary schools in Siem Reap for four days just before Christmas to donate art supplies and provide art lessons, which are not available in their curriculum. While we were there we were also able to visit a local orphanage and play with the children.

This year we are also helping with three more big projects. The first is the school’s Water and Reforestation Project in Mae Chaem province, where we sponsored the building of 21 dykes or dams in seven different villages and the planting of trees on 120 rai of forest land.

This year, along with having fun, exercise, and building strength and endurance, we promoted the following Global Goals: #1 No Poverty, #3 Good Health & Well-Being, #4 Quality Education, #6 Clean Water & Sanitation, and #9 Innovation and Infrastructure.

The second project is for the village of Ohm Toom in Mae Chaem where we helped to provide direct access

We hope you enjoy reading about our student’s projects and accomplishments in this edition of Ad Astra.

Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


ur school-wide fundraiser took place in November, with participants each donating 200 baht to do as many laps as possible in a set amount of time. Although our original goal was 100,000 baht, I am proud to say we actually raised 153,232 baht! We were able to make donations to the following: • Sarnelli House in Nong Khai: • 5,000 baht for diapers for babies and toddlers • 24,400 baht for daily necessities and first-aid supplies • Mahathai Udon Thani Day Care Center: 5,000 baht for diapers • Camillian Home: 20,000 baht for Ensure Protein Powder for children with disabilities

• Fr. Ray’s Foundation: 31,000 baht, plus 10,000 baht from the PA for daily necessities • Colors of Cambodia Foundation: 17,000 baht • Children’s Improvement Organization (an orphanage in Siem Reap): 10,000 baht, plus 10,000 baht from Ms. Shirley for daily necessities • Tung Kae School: 10,800 baht for new volleyball posts and soccer goal posts for two fields • 30,000 baht will be put toward our second-semester projects, as yet to be determined All donations were made in honor of the memory of Mr. Daniel Hindler, our wonderful ES PE teacher who cared very much about the health and fitness of our students. We took this opportunity to celebrate his life as we gave back to others less fortunate than us. Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


by Maren Smith


’ve heard many times throughout my life “you never know what you’ve got until it’s gone.” The truth is, you don’t realize how meaningful this quote is until you really experience it. Earlier this school year, I was lucky enough to start a project in the Mae Chaem province of northern Thailand, where myself and other students went to help the people in the area get better access to clean water. I organized this with the help of two of my friends, who went on a trip with me last school year to visit the villages for the first time. This service project really opened my eyes to the things I take for granted in my life and the ways I can use what I have to help others. We helped coordinate two trips for high schoolers and one trip for middle school students, where we planted trees and learned how to build dykes and dams in several different areas throughout Mae Chaem. It was inspiring to see so many people come together to help others, even though each trip was lots of hard and tiring work. We got to visit seven villages throughout the trip, and to each we brought gifts and candy for the children and families. The most amazing thing I experienced was how welcoming the people of these villages were to us. They let us stay in their homes, and they provided us with food and water each day. The surprising thing about their giving nature is the fact that they didn’t really have much to give. By offering us food and water, it meant that they had less for themselves. This really meant a lot to me, and it helped me realize how important it is to make sacrifices for others. Until this trip, I had never truly been in a situation before where I didn’t have an


Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

actual bed to sleep on, a toilet to use, or a light to turn on at night. All of a sudden, the things that I take for granted every day were gone, and it made me realize just how important this project was. One of the many villages we visited during the trip was called Ohm Toom. Only 3 out of the 20 houses had access to power— from car batteries. The villagers walked each morning to the nearby river to get their water and bathe. They all farmed corn for a living, which was grown in vast fields, which we got to explore and help harvest. Despite all of the hardships they need to face each day, when we arrived, the people I met in Ohm Toom were the happiest of all. Maybe it’s because they knew that we were coming there to help them. Regardless, it felt wonderful to know that the hard work that myself and my classmates have done will help these people in need.

Quotes from Other Students on the Trip “I enjoyed the experience of living with a host family that you wouldn’t be able to get from other service trips; by living with a host family it made me understand more about the daily lives of other people and their environment. I was able to learn that the villagers grew rice only once per year and that it was a collaborative event where everyone helps plant and harvest the rice. The supply of rice harvested would then be their supply

for the whole year. Not only that, through this activity, I also learned about the different trees we were planting and their uses/conditions for growth and the reasons why we were planting them. My overall impression of this trip was that it was well done in terms of location and organization, despite some difficulties like hiking up the mountainous area to get to our next planting spot. Although this trip might seem very labor-intensive and tiring, I think that it was a very benefiting experience for any student who decided to go.” —Air Khomin (11-2) “This has been an incredible, eye-opening experience for me as I not only learned about the many aspects of planting trees and building dykes or dams, but also about the daily lives of the villagers at Mae Chaem. They don’t have access to many essentials that come to us without asking, yet they seem much happier with what they have. I initially had trouble with the little things, like the bathroom and beds, but I soon realized that this was all that many of these villagers had ever seen. They hadn’t been exposed to bathrooms with flush toilets or actual beds that came with proper mattresses.

Ohm Toom was the poorest village, with no water or electricity. We were supposed to stay there at first but couldn’t because of the conditions. Although this trip was mainly for reforesting trees for the villagers, it was an extremely good time to spend with friends or make more new friends with those that we barely knew in our grade.” —Soham Nayak (8-1)

Coming back from the trip, I appreciated the little things in life that I had missed and realized I didn’t actually need. The villagers were so considerate that they would always wait for us to eat first and would be the first ones to wake up in order to prepare breakfast for us. We were merely strangers who they took into their homes and treated with respect, love and kindness. For these things they did for us, there will always be a special place in my heart for them.

“It was so good, I want to stay here so much longer. The experience of working with the villagers was fun and I experienced many new things I had never done before.” —Jadon Laochinda (8-3)

The scenery was so breathtakingly beautiful that I felt like all the planting hikes were suddenly very much worth the energy it drained out of me. This experience left me with some valuable lessons and memories that made this trip incredibly noteworthy. I would highly encourage anyone to go on this astounding trip as it will leave you with a long list of ‘firsts’ which you will never regret.” —Fabiha Siddiquey (10-6)

“I liked the activities on this trip and the way that I got to spend time with my friends, even the local people are extremely nice. This trip was amazing.” —Unna Wijitprapai (8-2)

“The reforestation trip was the most fun trip all my school friends and I had ever had on any school trip. This trip was about reforestation and organized by Ms. Shirley and 3 high schoolers, Maren, Cooper, and Zora. We did a homestay with 2 or 3 students per house. Walking around you could see how beautiful, green, and very mountainous it is in Mae Chaem. And at night you could see so many stars.

“At first I thought it wouldn’t be fun. But then it was extremely fun because the host family were extremely kind and I enjoyed eating local Thai food with them.” —Ryu Fujiwara (8-4)

“It was an extremely good trip because the place where I was staying was extremely close to nature. I love staying close to nature and beautiful places.” —Pat Vithawatpongsatip (8-5) “I would rate this trip high because I was way up in the hills, and I liked how the villagers do their homestays and contributed to improving their environment with the tree planting and dam building. A mind-blowing experience was the homestay, which was awesome as our host family was super nice… It was a remarkable experience and memory.” —Mr. Mathias (MS) Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


by Brux Pongpraphapant


t the start of the 2017–18 academic year, Book, Vint, Pae Pae, and I flew up to Chiang Mai to see Father Chi and to visit several of the villages in the Mae Chaem province to investigate the various needs of the local people and see what we could do to help them. As a group, we decided to help by providing new sports equipment for the local school attended by the children from the three nearby villages of Tung Kae, Sun Kanoon, and Kee Kratai for our CAS requirement of the IB Diploma Program. We organized a food sale at school and raised over 8,000 baht. Our school had also decided to host a major fundraiser for another poor village in Mae Chaem called Ohm Toom that had no running water, and we decided to combine the two and volunteer to be the student facilitators for the school’s “Water of Life Fashion Show.” For the fashion show, we were given the privilege to showcase Ms. Len Nepomuceno Mortel’s own personal collection. First we looked for student models that were willing to walk down the catwalk wearing Ms. Len’s dresses. The feedback was amazing, and we were glad to receive interest from so many students who would later look delightful on the day of the fashion show. The fashion show featured parents and both high school and elementary school students as models who valiantly walked down the catwalk with the utmost confidence. As for our role, we greeted our guests and emceed the event, talking about the goals of the project and making sure everything ran as smoothly as possible. “Although the first steps up the stage were


Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

totally nerve-racking, the rest of it [the emceeing] came naturally. It all came together well as I reminded myself that all of this was for a good cause,” says Vint, one of the members of our committee. The fashion show was such a success that we raised an additional 10,000 baht that we could use to buy even more sports equipment for Tung Kae School and also another 20,000 baht to buy extra blankets for the elderly at the various villages in the nearby area. During the Christmas Break, we once again flew up to Chiang Mai and were met by Father Chi who took us to purchase sporting equipment, household medicines, first-aid supplies, and 150 blankets. As we spent the night in a homestay, we found out how cold it got at night and were glad we would be donating blankets the next day. In fact, our group had a very difficult time showering without any warm water so it was hard to imagine how the villagers did it every day. When we arrived at Tung Kae School, we donated the sporting equipment and the medicine to the students of the school. All items given were meant to improve the physical education program of the school, as well

as update the school facilities with better equipment. Immediately afterwards, the students were allowed to play for two full hours with us instead of attending morning classes, which was great. Book, who played badminton tirelessly with the kids, reflects, “my favorite part about playing with the kids there had to be the smiles on their faces. Even though all the students there do not have access to modern equipment, just the simple act of exercising fills their heart and soul with a complete sense of happiness and bliss.” We then drove up to the village of Ohm Toom, where the biggest concern seemed to lie. As we gave the blankets to the villagers, we could see that it really meant a lot to them. We were shocked to learn that they did not have access to warmth like we thought everybody should have. “They needed simple necessities like blankets as much as we felt we needed materialistic possessions like our phones; it really got me thinking how our lives really revolve around unnecessary items that have no significant value to our well-being at all,” says Pae Pae, clearly pondering her obsession with her phone. Not only did Ohm Toom lack electricity, the villagers also had no direct access to water. The closest water source was about a 400-meter walk from the village. This water source was a simple well with a pulley and a bucket for the villagers to retrieve water. In school, we learned all about global issues regarding the lack of access to clean water. Learning about an environmental issue is one thing, but seeing the issue right in front of you really made us understand the severity of the problem.

the language spoken by the locals, we participated with the best ideas our adolescent brains could come up with. It was pleasing to learn that the water problem in the village could be solved by a plan to install a water pump on the banks of a nearby stream and connect it to a series of PVC pipes to all 20 homes in the village. We reported all this information back to school and are happy to announce that Father Chi has already bought all the necessary equipment with the money fundraised at school and the complete water system should be completed by the time you read this article. I would like to conclude with saying that this project turned out to mean much more to us as a group than just a CAS project. This trip to Mae Chaem really defined service learning for us. The trip and the project that we had arduously prepared for was a way of giving back to the community as well. We were able to learn about the environment and the well-being of our home country while sharing our prosperity with those in need. Most importantly, we, as a group of students, were able to bond and create a strong friendship with one another. We created great memories doing great things for the greatest good for the community.

We participated in a village-wide meeting with the village officials and talked about spots where a pump, sponsored by the rest of the money raised from the fashion show, would distribute clean, filtered water to the village to enjoy. Although we couldn’t understand Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


by Gina Suepiantham and Irene Chen


s a service learning school, RIS is constantly involved in various projects that empower and help people all around the world. This year, a group of students decided to focus on the Sarnelli House for their CAS project, aiming to fundraise for supplies for the children there. Located in the northeastern province of Nong Khai, Sarnelli House is a orphanage for children with HIV/AIDs, providing a home and a safe environment for the children to fulfill their potential. Prior to the start of this project we investigated what was needed the most. After that we started fundraising with a bake sale and assisting with the annual RIS Walk/Run/Bike-a-thon. As seniors, we recruited five additional underclassmen to join us on our trip from November 17–19. Chaperoned by Fr. David and Ms. Shirley, we met at the airport bright and early on November 17th. The flight took us from Bangkok to Udon Thani, where we were picked up and then driven to Nong Khai. We met with the representative of Sarnelli House, Ms. Kate, and she told us about all of the houses located there and how the children were separated by age. That afternoon we went to Tesco Lotus with Ms. Kate to purchase all of the items on the lists that she and the children from each house had made, including much-needed first-aid supplies.


Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

We were lucky enough to participate in a homestay and were able to stay in a single house during our three-day visit. The fact that we had to share rooms was foreign to many of us, and seven girls found themselves strapped for space with just two bathrooms. Although it seemed like a challenge for us at first to be sharing a space with so many, it proved to be a great experience as it allowed us to bond during our stay there. On the morning of the second day, we were invited to harvest rice by hand with the older girls from Sarnelli House. As city kids, we had never harvested rice before and we learned a lot from it. Often, we forget about how important rice is to our lives and just take it for granted. After a while, we were weary of the sharp sickles and rice stalks that were almost as tall as us, but the Sarnelli House girls patiently helped us to keep harvesting the rice. We definitely gained an appreciation for the farmers in our nation and their hard work! In the afternoon, we prepared activities in the Hall for all the children, ranging from two years old to fourteen years old. We first gathered a bunch of supplies, including hoola hoops, jump ropes, soccer balls, and Frisbees as we planned on playing numerous games with the children, including fun ice-breaker activities such as musical chairs, “the ship is sinking!� and dodgeball. One

of the most memorable parts of the day was getting to see the older children help the younger ones. At night, we had the opportunity to explore the local walking street for dinner. To us, it was the epitome of Thai culture as it was located near a local temple. We had great fun walking around and eating with the other RIS students. On the final day, we woke up early to go play with the younger kids at their house before they headed off to Mass. We played hide-and-seek and they taught us a game called “balloon.” When we played hide-and-

seek, there was even one child that climbed up the trees and hid from all of us! In end, we became very attached to the children and they were clinging on to us before they went to Mass. We were all very sad that we couldn’t spend more time with them like the other year-round volunteers. Both of us learned a lot from this service learning project. We gained valuable collaboration and communication skills that will undoubtedly be used in our future careers. Through our service learning experience, we have broadened our worldview and have seen how simple high school students can uplift others miles away from them.

by Julie Cho Although the specifics of what we would do or how we would help were hard to grasp, we focused on following through with our plan and booked our plane tickets right away. As soon as we arrived at the school, we were welcomed by Father Prasert and shown the house we were to stay at. With a single glance, anyone would have been able to notice the lights that were falling off the school sign, the stained walls, and the lack of liveliness in some of the classrooms.


oom, Tony, Sara, Hin, and I formed our CAS group in September. We decided to volunteer our time at the Mahathai Udon Thani Primary School with the intention to teach and spend time with the students.

We walked out to the schoolyard with a cheerful countenance and jubilance in anticipation to meet the children. They were wearing shoes the size of my hands, tan from carefree playtime in the yard, and incredibly welcoming. They took us by their tiny hands and pulled us to play with them. Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


As I was spending time with the nursery children, I faced my first obstacle: I could not understand what they were saying to me. As a non-Thai speaker, I felt discomfort by not being able to utter even mundane phrases such as, “I like your drawing.” After an hour or so of playing with the three- and four-yearolds, I started picking up on body language cues. I used exaggerated gesticulations and positive tones of voice in an endeavor to communicate enthusiasm and friendliness. I adjusted rapidly and soon after, we were assembling Lego blocks together and holding hands. Although there was what seemed to be an immense language barrier and age gap, compassion was mutually understood and we were able to establish a bond. Our group wanted to return to visit again during Christmas break with 12 more of our classmates. We were very lucky to have a team that was so cooperative, helpful, and hard-working. Hin called Fr. Prasert numerous times to make sure we would bring all the school’s necessities, including play mats, pillows, diapers, soccer balls, and books. Kyle, who came along on our second trip, shared his similar experience with me as a non-Thai speaker. He said, “It was extremely uncomfortable not being able to ask them to do simple tasks such as, ‘stand up.’ Every command and question led to a blank stare and a burst of tears, and I just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. The frustration was killing me. However, the crying soon stopped and the room soon filled with happy kids and laughter. Even through all 52

Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

the challenges, it was a great joy to be able to interact and play with them.” “I personally think that this trip was one of the best trips I’ve ever attended. The kids there are gorgeous and filled with curiosity and energy. 10/10 would go again,” said Pun, recalling the January trip. He was especially adored by the children because of his contagious positivity and laughter. Pou, Chester, and Bike were also very assiduous, from painting walls for hours to spending their free time entertaining the children. Fang also attended our second trip and shared with me: “I loved the general atmosphere of playing with the children and spending time with my friends. I still keep in touch with the kids and I really miss them.” Fang continues to remember their names: August, Gam, and Num, and talks to them every now and then about their days and what they learn at school. We successfully surpassed our comfort zones, learned a new set of skills, and had a new sense of contributing to the community. I formed a new idea of my own community as well, and that it can be extended across different cities, countries, and cultures. As the trip progressed, I came to the realization of how uninformed I was about the existence of such a bright community and how much I’ve underestimated the power of caring. Although I cannot express all the emotions that were present when August held my hand or Chokul shed tears because he wanted to go home, I can say the children I met have thoroughly deepened my compassion and willingness to give, as well as have inspired me to be more actively engaged in a variety of communities. Although our good acts may eventually be forgotten or feel insignificant, it is important that we strive to be and do good anyway. My group and I are more than grateful for having had the experience of being able to help others and for learning the importance of practicing compassion and the contagiousness of kindness.

by Belle Chaophatcharathavekij


he Butterfly Effect Committee recognizes the urgency to dismantle the barriers society places on people with disabilities. Many hold the mistaken assumption that the disabled lack the capability to achieve their maximum potential due to their physical impairments. Having interacted with the disabled from various backgrounds at Father Ray Foundation, we must say, without any doubt or exaggeration, that the people with whom some regard as inferior are, in fact, exceptionally skilled and talented. On December 15th and 16th, the Butterfly Effect Committee members visited the Father Ray Foundation in Pattaya, Thailand, to interact with children with special needs, people with disabilities, and also the underprivileged children from the drop-in center. With the money raised from the school’s Walk/Run/Bike-athon events, we were also able to purchase items to donate to the Foundation that currently takes care of over 800 children. As the Butterfly Effect Committee focuses on providing a stable career path for people with disabilities, we did activities that involved designing and decorating cloth bags. This activity also helped strengthen the children’s concentration abilities and improved their hand-eye coordination skills. The disabled were able to bring

their bags home to share with their family and friends while simultaneously developing a career path. They could also use the extra materials that the committee provided to sell for profit. Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


By Ms. Shirley Gamble


hile visiting Siem Reap for the first time over the summer holidays, I began to notice how many children were all over the place even though it was a weekday. Out of curiosity, I asked a group of children why they weren’t in school. They all simply said, “We attend classes in the afternoon.” I did think it was strange that school started in the afternoon there, but I accepted their answer and continued visiting various temples. But at 2:00 pm there were still children all over the

I went back to Siem Reap two more times, and we eventually concluded that we would work with two groups: the Colors for Cambodia Foundation to teach art lessons and the Children’s Improvement Organization, a local orphanage with 37 children between the ages of 6 and 18.

place trying to sell me souvenirs. I told them I would not buy anything from them because they were skipping school. They all denied it and said that they had gone to school already that morning. Trying to figure out which group of children was not telling the truth, I asked a couple of the parents nearby. They explained that there is such a shortage of teachers in Cambodia that in order to try to teach all of them, the public schools could only offer four classes a day in their core subjects twice a day. So the children only go to school for half a day. That’s when I realized that these children don’t have PE, art, or music lessons. I started to make inquiries and found out that volunteers are desperately needed to help provide English, art, and music lessons. I immediately thought of our Muse Club members and IB Art students and started coordinating with them to come up with various ideas.


Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

Ms. Robin, one of our ES art teachers, Father David, and myself took 21 students and 3 parents to volunteer in Siem Reap from December 16–20. The students were divided into groups during the 5-day trip, and they took turns leading various art lessons and creative activities. Here are some of their responses to the experience: “Leading the advanced art students at the gallery was a great joy. All the students were friendly, eager to work with us, and eager to learn new things. And their dedication to art is quite inspirational. I would definitely work with them again, given the chance.” —Amy Sabpaisal (11-6) “The experience was very good. I expected there to be a lot of chaos but the children were really nice and cooperative most of the time. Going there to help them makes me happy and I really want to go back to meet them again. They followed instructions and were quick at learning, which was good for me since that was my very first experience teaching art to children.” —Karn Techatanates (11-4) We also had some time for several cultural activities, including visiting the famous Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm,

and Bayon Temple, and learning about leather or wood carving from local master craftsmen. “Louis, Mac and I had decided to participate in a wood carving session that was held in the Art Center of Siem Reap. Getting the opportunity to carve wood is truly a blessing experience. I’ve learned that art is more than just creativity… patience and determination play a huge role in making a wooden piece to be a decent piece of art. I spent more than 2 hours hammering on a [piece of] wood that is as small as my palm and the piece was still far from completion. I really do respect the skills and the calmness of these masters, who spend countless hours creating beautiful wooden art pieces in Cambodia.” —Pun Vitoorapakorn (11-8) “Learning to carve leather was a whole new experience for me. It is the first time in my life to carve leather, but I surely enjoyed it. The instructor led me through the steps and was very patient with me. The outcome of my work was satisfying for me to see, especially after making my arms sore carving those small details in the leather. I would love to try it again in the future.” —Eke Ratanachai (9-1)

During our visit to the orphanage, the three parents provided us all with Santa hats, Christmas decorations, and snacks while our students were in charge of carrying all the rice, kitchen items, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, laundry detergent, and washing liquid that we were able to purchase from money raised from the RIS Walk/Run/Bike-a-thons. For me, even though it was my second time visiting the children, it was one of the most heart-warming visits I have ever had. They didn’t have much but they always had the biggest smiles and were so enthusiastic and eager to have us there. I cannot wait to see them again! “When we arrived at the orphanage or the school, I felt like I was just

there to teach the kids. But the moment I stepped out of the bus, the kids gathered and greeted us like they knew us. At that moment, I felt a bond between me and the kids. I had a great time playing games, talking to the kids, and teaching them. I felt like they were my little brothers. Time passed by so quickly, and I wanted to stay there longer. But unfortunately our schedule was fixed. I hugged the kids and held their hands before I said goodbye. As the bus was leaving, I felt like I could do more for those kids and they deserve more, for they are such amazing kids. I really encourage everyone that has the chance to go on a trip like this to strive to make changes in the lives of those who are less fortunate than us.” —Tang Vataniyapramote (11-2)

Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


by Christy James


uamrudee is a community-based school that offers some of the finest education in the country. Unfortunately not all children have the opportunity to gain a similar education. The Good Shepherd Committee’s primary goal is to empower girls who are financially less advantaged and orphan girls who are not able to receive this type of education. Education is the most crucial factor of life. Information, on its own, can be paramount to health and a good mental state, etc. It can not only determine what that one person can do for their community but also their food, shelter, water, occupation, etc. As students of RIS, we are armed with this knowledge. We are privileged with the skills that will enable us to achieve whatever we want from life—good jobs, a home, a good life, and so much more. We are privileged with education! We are privileged with knowledge! Knowledge is power. And with power comes great responsibility (Spiderman)! It is our responsibility to make our community better. Education is the key solution to society’s problems. Thus it is our responsibility to educate others. It is our responsibility to provide an education for those who do not have the means to attain a comparable education. The Good Shepherd Committee is dedicated to creating a relationship between Ruamrudee and the Good Shepherd Orphanage, where our students will interact with the children there to provide them support emotionally and thus educationally. The aim is to befriend the girls so they can have someone to talk to, so they can have guidance that they will not get through their own education or at the orphanage. The Committee will work with any other club to provide the orphan scholarship girls with what they need to succeed. For example, the Tech Club can help STEM fields, the Muse Club can contribute art supplies and help them explore art and music interests, etc. Within the school, the Good Shepherd Committee has a team for advocacy. Advocacy is a part of the goal for every fundraiser, after all. There are posters of the girls for whom the funds are targeted on the board for fundraising events. There are posters that explain our motivation as to why we do this. While we might


Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

think that fundraising wouldn’t help as trips to the orphanage would, it does help. Sudaporn Pitakkuntarn (Da), 18 years old, thanked us for our donation: “I would like to thank those who are helping fund my education. May God bless you all with a strong and healthy body.” Da plans to study at Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University to become a teacher. Pikulthong Chalongvisit (Ice) is 17 years old, and she dreams of “working hard and sending money to help her parents and her siblings. If she saves enough money, she would like to build a house so she, her parents, and her siblings can live together.” Ice thanked us for “giving me this opportunity” and promises us that “I will do my best to study hard.” These are two girls were helped by donations. The Good Shepherd Committee has also planned three trips. The first trip on October 8th, 2017, was to the orphanage with big group activities. The second is on February 25th, 2018, when our students will learn from the girls at the orphanage how to make bracelets that will be sold at school. Finally, the third trip will be at RIS during Artfest when we will have lunch with the scholarship girls. During these trips, our primary goal is to create emotional connections through engagement. There will be games as a group; some in which our students and the scholarship and/or orphanage girls will be separated by age or preference. There will be cooperation with other clubs to teach skills such as music, art, etc., and arrangements for equipment, such as instruments in the case of music. Since the girls are Thai there will be less emphasis on English. In addition, to continue fostering the relationship, we have a board of memories with pictures that will keep increasing at the orphanage. Through this committee, our students make a new family with these girls. Students support them as unwaveringly as a deeply rooted tree. And just like every tree grows, so does this. With the newer and younger students simply adding on to the tree instead of replacing others. But this tree, just like every other tree, requires attention. It requires care: food, water, sunlight, etc. Thank you to all members and donations to the Good Shepherd Committee for your care and support of these girls! They appreciate it.

by Elisia Brodeur


anuvat Chutichetpong (Todd), an award-winning scientist and soon-to-be graduate of RIS, recently learned that he was accepted to Harvard. I interviewed him to learn more about what it takes to get into the best of the best. Q: How long have you been a student at RIS? A: 12 years—since Kindergarten. Q: Why Harvard (besides it being famous and obviously challenging)? A: I’m interested in computer science technology and bioengineering, but I’m also passionate about history and English. Being in a technical field typically gives you a narrower approach to things, but Harvard offers a good balance to this with a liberal arts education that will broaden my horizons. Q: What will you be studying? A: I’m still deciding between Computer Science and Bioengineering. I might do a joint concentration, so my final project/thesis will need to involve aspects of both majors. Q: What are you looking forward to the most at Harvard? A: I’m looking forward to doing advanced research, using the highly advanced lab equipment, and talking with some of the professors who have similar interests to mine. I’m also excited to meet new friends. Through the Facebook group for newly admitted students, I’ve already made new friends who are spread across the world. Q: What led you to find your passion in science and inventing? A: Receiving the “Einstein” award in grade 8. It made me realize that what I had considered “daydreaming” in class was actually a key expression of my curiosity and that my thought process tends toward inventing. Then I decided to join the Junior Science Talent Project (JSTP), which I learned about from an older friend, an RIS upperclassman. Only 60 students from all across Thailand qualify to participate. They’re given money to do their research as well as access to research advisors.

That’s when I started doing formal research because I had resources at my disposal that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Q: I understand that you’re an inventor. What have you invented? A: My first invention was an ironing board that transforms waste heat from the iron back into usable electricity. Most recently, I invented a portable, low-cost sensor that rapidly diagnoses for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). The current test takes 30 days because TB is one of the world’s slowest growing bacteria; my test takes only 3 days. I did my research at King Mongkut University of Technology, Thonburi University (KMUTT) where I worked on the development of the sensor. I also used the labs at Siriraj Hospital because that’s where they keep the samples from TB patients. I had to do the research elsewhere because the science labs here at school can’t support the appropriate level of safety; TB is a Level 3 biohazard. Q: That sounds like it took a lot of work! How did you do all that and still succeed in school? A: I sacrificed a lot without knowing if it would pay off. I missed more than 200 classes to do the TB research, Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


which took me around a year. Of course, I had to make up all that work! It was tiring and hard to juggle all of my responsibilities. And then the research failed. At one point, I regretted my decision and wondered if the several professors who had suggested that I do some “research that was more appropriate for a high schooler” were right. But two of my professors agreed with my idea, and I chose to listen to them instead. I chose to stick it out because I had already put in a lot of time and effort. Ultimately, my tenacity paid off. Q: You’ve won several awards too. What were they? A: I won the Young Scientist competition in Thailand, and I won Gold in my second competition in Taiwan (for my ironing board project), where about 57 countries participated. I was supposed to participate in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF), which is the largest science competition in the world. I was one of only 3 students representing Thailand. But the week before I was supposed to go I found out that I couldn’t because my work with TB was considered too dangerous—Level 2 biohazard materials were the maximum allowed. I was disappointed but ultimately realized that it means I’m researching something really 58

Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

important that can help people in developing countries. And I did go to to earn first place in the Biological Science category at my most recent competition: the ASEAN Student Science Project. Q: What else do you enjoy besides science and inventing? A: I’m on the RIS golf and cross-country teams and am a member of the Habitat for Humanity club. I also founded two school clubs: the Unicef Club and the STEM Research Club. At home, I like to cook with my dad, and I enjoy Marvel movies and reading. I mostly read nonfiction because I like thought-provoking books. Q: Did you feel a lot of pressure to get into Harvard? A: Not so much. Any pressure I feel comes mostly from myself. I think of it like a ladder of achievement: one success leads to the next one and then I want to do better and better. I think it’s really important to find the right ladder. Q: Do you have any tips for other students thinking of applying to Harvard or another Ivy League school? A: From a young age (grades 6–9), try as many activities

as possible to figure out your passions. Then, in grades 10–12, narrow it down to about three activities that you’re passionate about, dig deep into those areas, and contribute to that particular field. It’s all about stepping out of your comfort zone. If you’re uncomfortable, that’s a good sign that you’re on the right track and doing something worthwhile. I took classes that other people didn’t expect me to take, AP History for example. It was one of the best classes I took because it was eye-opening and made me understand my place in the world. And the thought process is not that much different from science. Q: Do you have any tips to share for managing time? A: Every time I sit down to work, I establish a goal for what I want to achieve. That way I stay focused on my work for a certain period of time. If I don’t finish, I allocate a different time to get it done and then I go jogging or biking. I also think it’s crucial to know what times of day you work best and can concentrate the most. I work best in the evening, for example. Q: How do you see your future? A: The more I research, the less sure I am of what I want to learn in the future. I also enjoy history, public policy, and politics and how they’re all interconnected, so I’m not sure where I see myself in 10 years, and I’m OK with that. Q: How has RIS contributed to your success? A: I used to be very shy, but RIS brought me out of my shell by providing activities with leadership opportunities. I think also because our high school courses are discussion-based, versus being just “fed facts,” it builds skills necessary to interact and collaborate with others. Being encouraged to scrutinize

what I’m learning has been monumental in becoming the scientist I am. RIS’ service learning programs also helped me become more compassionate and able to realize the potential impact of my research and how it can improve the world. Q: Are there any specific courses that helped you get to where you are now? A: IB Physics pushed me to think beyond my capabilities. And in AP Biology, our teacher debunked the notion of biology requiring mostly memorization because she made learning biology into more of a story. She also extended our learning beyond the curriculum by ending each class with a snippet of current science-related events or news, which helped me create connections with the real world. That class led to my interest in life science research. Q: What are you taking away because you’ve been at RIS? A: The fact that RIS offers both the AP and IB programs was really helpful for me. IB focuses on deeper understanding and research, while AP covers a larger range of topics but not in quite as much depth. I believe it’s made me a more adaptable learner, which has prepared me better for college. What struck me about Todd during our interview is that he’s not only intelligent (obviously!) but he’s also thoughtful, soft-spoken, reflective, and polite. He clearly wants to make a difference in the world, and not for the sake of being able to say that but because he truly believes it. He’s excited for his future and is open to new thoughts and ideas. I’m both excited for him and inspired by him. I can’t wait to see what he does in the future! All of us at RIS wish him the very best. Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


Comic Strip by TingTing, Gr. 7 Artist’s Statement from TingTing:


loved art since I was a little kid. My art process is actually very simple. First, I sketch out the comic or drawing I want to make. Next, I take a picture of it and upload it to my computer. Sometimes I draw over it with ink before uploading it, but usually I just use the sketch. I use a program called Medibang Paint Pro. I then go over the drawing with the digital brushes. My goal in art is to keep improving and also to get better at drawing art digitally.”

TingTing also has her own YouTube Channel where you can watch her as a speedpaint artist ( It’s fascinating—and mesmerizing! In addition to speed painting and creating comic strips, TingTing has designed a collection of Line stickers for sale: ( and She’s quite the artist and entrepreneur!

by Elisia Brodeur


IS student Phantharath (Tara) Natnithikarat has been playing the piano since she was three years old. But that’s only partly why she’s so good. This past December, Tara competed at the SET Youth Musician Competition, now in its 20th year. The SET Competition is sponsored by the Stock Exchange of Thailand in conjunction with the College of Music at Mahidol University, where the competition was held. The performers were grouped into four levels by age group: Gr 1–6 (Elementary), Gr 7–9 (Primary), Gr 10–12 (high school), and college or university (up to age 25). As a 6th grader, Tara was in the Elementary group. Out of 400 participants—across all categories and levels—100 musicians made it to the semifinals. Tara was one of them. From the semifinalists, a total of 39 winners were selected and awarded prizes and scholarships with a


Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

combined value of 1.8 million baht. Tara won the Gold medal at Elementary level. According to the promoters, the purpose of the competition is to encourage the experience of creative expression and performance for young people. Music can improve children’s concentration, thinking, decisionmaking, and problem-solving skills. It also helps teens to use their leisure time wisely and in a positive, productive way. Young people can also develop skills

that will benefit them in school and in their daily lives. Overall, music can “promote a better quality of life for all of Thai society.”

awards at competitions.” Romantic classical pieces are her favorite music to play, and a new piece can take between one and two months to learn and master.

The uniqueness of this particular competition is that singing is included as a category, it is open to all nonelectric instruments, and it doesn’t limit the style of music. The criteria for success focuses on both the quality of the music and the artistic ability of each musician. The highlight of the competition is the variety of instruments and the different types of music, such as folk music, classical, international, and Thai music. The judges were highly qualified experts from various fields, including music teachers, national artists, and media and business executives.

Tara has been a student at RIS for five years, since 2nd grade. Now in Middle School, she takes Band—but she plays the flute. She also plays the guitar and the violin at home! But music isn’t her only passion. Some of her favorite school subjects are math and art. And when she’s not practicing music at home, she likes playing with her two dogs, listening to pop music, and watching movies.

I spoke with Tara to learn more about her incredible achievement. When asked her about winning the gold medal she said, “It felt great, especially as it was my first time competing in that competition.” But she’s not new to the limelight: at just 9 years old she traveled to London—to play at the Royal Albert Hall—and also to New York, to play at Carnegie Hall! Tara has gone to the same school since she started playing the piano at three years old: The YAMAHA Music School at The Crystal. She’s also had the same teacher, K. Peetakserichai. Tara practices the piano, a Yamaha C7, at home for one hour a day, every day—even when she doesn’t feel like it. I asked her how many competitions she’s been in. “Too many to count, maybe 10–12?” Her favorite thing about playing the piano is when she “wins prizes and

I was surprised to learn that Tara’s parents don’t play instruments. Her parents wanted her (and her brother, Titan) to learn how to play the piano because they feel it helps with all aspects of life: concentration, responsibility, and persistence. Tara agrees. Her parents also want her and her brother to have an extracurricular activity that will give them something to focus on at every stage of their lives; something that will give them aim, focus, and purpose. They have to schedule time to practice their music and learn how to balance that time with their homework, studies, and school. Beyond that, they learn about winning and losing. For example, when Tara goes to a competition, she might think she’s done OK but the judges may not agree. And “that’s life.” Pretty wise words from an 11-year-old. Still, Tara only plans and practices for one competition at a time. Coming up next is the Yamaha Thailand Music Festival 2018 in April, where she will be competing with older students. With that head on her shoulders and those talented fingers, I have a feeling that she’ll do just fine. Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018



i, there! I’m Michael Sawatsewi, half-Thai/Filipino, and RIS and I go way back! Many of you might know my mother, Ms. Mars, who’s been at RIS since the 1970s, or my aunt Mendy who teaches AP & IB Biology. I’m an RIS alumnus all the way back to first grade in 1985. I spent my elementary and middle school years at RIS in its former location in Soi Ruamrudee and my high school years at its current Minburi campus, graduating with the Class of ’96. I’ve worn numerous hats over the years, but I’m a singer/ songwriter at heart. I was an advertising major during my university years, but since then I’ve been a TV host, a recording artist, a music producer, an English teacher, a voice instructor, and a magazine editor/writer, among other things. In my free time, I still hang out with my RIS friends. I love road-tripping across Thailand. I also love taking pictures and photo-editing. I’m an avid doglover with a pack of seven, big and small, at home. Yes, that’s a handful, I know. I still perform, write, and produce music, both professionally for other artists and just for fun. Most recently, I’ve been singing at various venues across Bangkok—NEST Rooftop Lounge, The Commons, Groove at CentralWorld, Brewski at Raddison Blu, and Park Hyatt (Central Embassy), among others. I’ve also been teaching corporate English to Thais at various organizations as well as at the Redemptorist

Class of ‘96 reunion at the Centara Grand Hotel (photos courtesy of Makol de Rosas) 62

Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

Language School behind St. Thomas Church. As of this year, I’m officially helping with alumni relations at RIS. If you live in Bangkok long enough, you’ll soon realize that the RIS family is less than six degrees of separation. There are a lot of us out there, and an alumni association has been long overdue. Aside from building an official database of alumni, we are looking at different ways to promote school nostalgia and reconnect alumni of different generations to the school community as it is today. There are always possibilities for reunions, networking, and collaborations, whether big or small. If you’re an RIS alumni and would like to get in touch for whatever reason, even just to visit the campus for a trip down memory lane, please get in touch with me at: I look forward to reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances as well as making new ones. I’m excited to be part of a school with over 60 years of alumni history, twelve of which I happily experienced personally. My years at RIS are some of my best memories. Now here’s to new ones!

Alumni who started at RIS since first grade get together for a picture at their 20-year reunion.


he Class of 2001 recently arranged a half-day campus visit on December 8, 2017, as part of their first big reunion in 16 years. Ms. Shirley Gamble kindly arranged a series of activities for the visitors, including icebreaker games, a tour of the campus, and a screening of their 2001 Prom video. The alumni also partook in an “Amazing Race� event where they relived key high school moments, such as singing the national

anthem at the flagpole, receiving a check-up at the clinic, filling out college application forms, and drawing diagrams for various science classes. Best of all, the visiting alumni were given an economics pop quiz from Mr. Tom Wash himself! The next day, 36 alumni from the Class of 2001 met up again for an evening of fun and nostalgia at BarSu at the Sheraton Grande.


s. Lincy Fung, an alumna from the Class of 1985 and a former member of the renowned Jeremiah singers, recently had her own Christian charity concert on November 25, 2017. The concert took place at the small hall of the Thailand Cultural Center and commemorated her catalog of Thai-Christian songs over the past 30 years. We congratulate Ms. Lincy, who is also currently a teacher here at RIS, on two sold-out shows. We are not only proud of our students and alumni but of our faculty as well.

Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


by Mimi Komthongchusakul


S Art Teacher Pavla Poch asked Mimi, a former RIS student who is now studying at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Hong Kong, to write a reflection about her visit to RIS last semester. This is what Mimi wrote about her experience: “Coming back to RIS as an alumna is definitely different from going to RIS as a student. Instead of walking through the gate with just my student ID card, I had to exchange my Thai ID card for a visitor card. A few things, here and there, had changed around the school, but I still remember the times when my friends and I were greeted by our teachers as we hurried to class. I felt nostalgic to see that the laughter in the hallway is still there and the students are enjoying themselves as much as I did back then. I had taken the IB Program; participated in many leadership and service activities, both in an out of school; and received several awards, including the Outstanding Student Award. But similar to my friends from the Class of 2017, I was both nervous and excited about how my university life would be. I’ve spent the last quarter studying at SCAD, Hong Kong campus, pursuing an BFA in animation. Although I’m only a freshman at SCAD, the final grades for all my classes were A’s. I’ve also gotten onto the Dean’s Honors List for the Fall 2017 quarter (awarded to full-time students who attain a 3.5 cumulative GPA


Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

during an academic quarter). I know that it’s only the beginning, but RIS definitely prepared me well for life and for higher education. Nowadays we have the opportunity to pursue creative careers, including but not limited to animation, game development, architecture, UI/UX design, visual effects, and industrial design. I recently visited RIS as a SCAD student ambassador and shared my experience with the IB Art students, as well as some middle school students. It felt heartwarming to see students as young as a sixth-graders be so intrigued to hear about my experience-sharing. While the 11th and 12th graders asked more about the process of preparing for a creative university program, such as preparing a portfolio and resume, the younger students asked me about the possibility of having a ‘dream job.’ The thing about getting a dream job is that you have to figure out what your passion is. Once that’s done, you only have to follow your passion.”

An interview with Paht Tanattanawin, by Elisia Brodeur


fter graduating with the Class of 2004, RIS alumnus Paht Tanattanawin went on to study in Egypt, the US, and Australia, earning a BA in Intelligence Studies and a MA in International Security Studies. He then worked for Oxfam in several different capacities and locations. Paht currently works for ACTED, an apolitical, NGO international relief agency that is committed to humanitarian relief efforts to support and protect people in urgent need. Most recently, Paht has been managing all aspects of two Syrian refugee camps in Jordan: Za’atari and Azraq. Za’atari is the world’s largest refugee camp for Syrian refugees and the fifth largest refugee camp in the world, with have a population of about 80,000 refugees. Just over 30,000 refugees live in the Azraq refugee camp.

Q: What is your job title and where have you been working for the last year or so? A: I’m an Area Coordinator, which is a top position. I manage all aspects of base operations, which includes project implementation activities, monitoring, evaluation, funding, procurement, financial management, human resources, fleet management, and all external relations.

I interviewed Paht to learn more about what it’s like to provide resources and be responsible for literally thousands of people’s basic human needs and to find out how his years at RIS lay the foundation for his interest in helping others.

Q: What does an average workday look like for you—if there even is such a thing? A: I arrive at the refugee camp at 8:00 AM and hold an hour-long meeting with all head of departments to plan operations for the day.

Q: Tell me about ACTED and its mission. A: ACTED stands for the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development. It’s a French humanitarian agency focused on emergency relief, food security, water, sanitation, hygiene, shelter, economic development, and governance, among other areas.

We’re currently constructing a wastewater network in coordination with UNICEF, so I visit construction sites in the field to ensure the heavy machinery we ordered have arrived. The deadline is imminent, so we order a third excavator to save time on digging. We also hire refugees as casual labor for this project, so I make sure that all safety precautions are taken and that the site technicians are nearby to supervise. I also make sure that construction is moving efficiently and listen to any complaints from the families in the area. Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


In the previous camp I worked at, excavation projects were slowed due to the discovery of unexploded ordinances. We had to coordinate with the Jordanian Armed Forces Royal Engineers to remove the UXOs as they posed a high risk for refugees and staff in the field. I visit another site to prepare for a delegation visit by the German President. The German government is funding our bread recycling program, which takes bread waste and processes it into animal feed that is sold to nearby farms. I visit the processing facility to prepare for the visit and brief staff on-site about the delegation. I meet with officials from the German Embassy to rehearse the tour and with colleagues from UNHCR to coordinate the timing and Gendermarie (police unit) on movement and security. There are approximately 240 refugee casual laborers at this site, including street sweepers, dry bread processors, maintenance technicians, foremen, and community mobilizers. We have around 15,000 household waste management items (reusable trolleys and household bins) to be distributed to the community next week, so I check in with the community mobilizers about proper messaging for the awareness campaign (why we are giving these items), which will happen during the weekly Community Representative meetings—an avenue where refugees can provide official feedback to all agencies operating in the camp. I check in with another project manager about food distributions for the day. We distribute approximately 250 metric tonnes of bread per day, as well as hundreds of thousands of Jordanian dinars’ worth of cash vouchers, rations, and other food donations. Today we are also distributing frozen meats donated by a rich Sheikh from Saudi Arabia. I meet with representatives 66

Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

from the Jordan Food and Drug Administration, Ministry of Health, and Syrian Refugee Affairs Directorate prior to the distribution to ensure all parties are sure about their responsibilities. Safety and crowd control during distributions is very important as people can get rowdy if they are not funneled in an organized manner and if there are no security personnel nearby. These are just some of our projects. We also work on water trucking, desludging, solid waste management, hygiene promotion, repair and maintenance of shelters, construction of private toilets, etc. We recently set up a hydroponics project in the nearby town, working closely with a Community-Based Organization (CBO) and the municipality to produce barley through the hydroponics container, sell it as fodder to nearby farms, and reinvest any profits into expansion. In between all of this I am usually checking my email, signing payments, approving procurement, or meeting with partner agencies (UNHCR, UNICEF, ACF, World Vision, Oxfam, Government of Jordan, UNOCHA, UNOPS) to coordinate all activities in the field and avoid overlap. Q: What is one of your favorite things about your job? A: I enjoy construction/operational works for water and sanitation. There is something very tangible about building a water pipeline, or delivering 2 million liters of water from boreholes via trucking to refugees. Q: What are some of the hardest/most challenging aspects of this work? A: Coordinating with other agencies in the field, information management, finding funding, and cooperating with other agencies while remaining competitive.

Q: I heard that you were just promoted, congratulations! What will your new job entail? A: I will be Head of Mission for the humanitarian response in northwestern Syria/Turkey. I will be managing multiple bases throughout Syria and Turkey, which covers a wide range of projects including WASH, food security, livelihoods, governance, and shelter rehabilitation. I will be responsible for everything from project implementation to security to financing to fleet movement. Q: What do you see as the biggest challenges at your new location? A: Security issues! In Syria, program activities will move with the battle lines between the government of Syria and the opposition forces. Air strikes, armed groups, downed communications, blocked roads, theft, accountability, and the transfer of funds are all issues that will halt or slow down operations on a daily basis. The government in Turkey is not fond of NGOs, so work permits, registration, and visa issues will prevent bringing in international staff. My portfolio will be approximately 18 million Euros, so that is a lot of staff and budget to oversee.

Regional Project Manager in 2014. Previously I worked with Oxfam throughout South and Southeast Asia, covering various urban development and humanitarian projects in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand, Philippines, and Vietnam. Q: Can you point to any particular experience at RIS that led you to work with refugees? A: In 10th grade I went on a field trip with my geography class to the north of Thailand. We conducted surveys on the economic development of the Karen tribes. That was my first experience with this kind of work. Q: Can people help with the work you do? If so, how can we help? A: Donate to relief efforts! Funding is always a major issue and neighboring countries (Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey) continue to shoulder the largest burden, with refugee populations reaching the millions. Only a small fraction are actually in Europe. Also, be open minded to people running away from war.

Q: What led you to this line of work? A: I always wanted an international career. Throughout much of my life I’ve lived in many countries, including the United States, Israel, Egypt, Thailand, and Australia, so it was natural for me to join this field. I started my work with the humanitarian relief organization Oxfam. My educational background is in international security/political science. My first experience in the Syria crisis was with Oxfam as a Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


by Michael Sawatsewi


orld Star Academy is an international performingarts school based in Bangkok that offers programs in singing, dancing, acting, and numerous other fields of performance arts. Its founder and director, Pam Lita Tavedikul, is a well-recognized veteran of the entertainment industry with over twenty-five years of experience as a performer, a recording artist, a voice instructor, a TV host and producer, and businesswoman, among many other roles. Pam is also an alumna of Ruamrudee International School. From first grade at RIS’ former campus in Soi Ruamrudee to graduating high school from the current Minburi campus with the Class of 1996, Pam has had a long history with RIS. Her sisters, Gift and Patch, also attended RIS from grades 1 to 12. Having spent her formative years at RIS, Pam has many warm memories of how her time at the school has shaped her career and who she is today. “I failed first grade,” says Pam, laughing. That was in 1985. The elementary school principal at RIS at the time, however, gave her a chance. She felt grateful not having to repeat a grade, and as young and timid as she was, Pam recalls the moment as one of great significance to her. Since then, her teachers’ kindness and belief in her helped shape her ambition, work ethic, and compassion for other students. In second grade, Pam started taking after-school lessons, notably in music and other forms of performing arts. By the time she was 12, Pam had won a national singing competition. She eventually became an honor roll student and graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA, a dream come true for her she says, given her awkward beginning at RIS. She attributes her successes to her positive experience at school. “My RIS experience was good because of teachers and friends who were supportive,” she shares. “I learned to manage my time and became more disciplined at school and with singing. I participated in almost every talent show or cultural show back then. It has had a big influence on my career today, with my music school and producing TV shows.” 68

Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

After RIS, Pam furthered her education in the United States, going on to earn a bachelor’s degree in music technology from New York University (NYU); a master’s in education from Framingham State University; and a certificate in music business from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Given her various degrees, it comes as no surprise that Pam would achieve her ambition of establishing her own music academy, which she did with World Star in 2014. “Every student should take music—singing or playing instruments—or acting,” says Pam, a steadfast advocate of the performing arts. “I believe it’s really important that students learn how to ‘perform’ in one way or another. They should perform on stage whether they become professional or not. It helps with conversations and presentations. It builds personality. If you can express yourself in front of an audience, you can become outstanding in other areas.” Pam is adamant that her own students experience being in front of an audience at least once every three months. It’s a factor that makes World Star Academy unique among other performing arts schools in Thailand in

that it consistently creates opportunities for its students to hone their performance skills, from intimate stage performances to big-venue concerts and musicals. World Star Academy also produces “You’re a Star,” a family-friendly reality-television program and kids’ singing competition broadcast on Channels 3HD and 13 currently developing its second season. The school encourages its own students to participate, although the program is also open to the general public. As a mother of two, Pam also views World Star’s events as fun, family-bonding experiences, encouraging parents to take part by preparing costumes, videoing their kids for social media, or just showing up for support. Now in its fourth year, World Star Academy is moving from strength to strength. The school not only caters to developing new talent but to seasoned artists and actors of the entertainment industry as well. There are plans to launch a new World Star branch in Thailand monthly, making it among the top-tier music school franchises in the country. And as if that weren’t enough, Pam is also in talks to bring World Star to Vietnam, Laos, Singapore, South Korea, and Japan over the next few years. She is also preparing to launch her TV program, “You’re a Star,” in Vietnam. So where did this self-admittedly shy girl get all her confidence from? “My experience at RIS with friends and teachers of different cultures, nationalities, and religions had a great influence on me,” she says. “It made me feel comfortable enough to work

with internationally-minded people, to understand them and know the differences in how we think and communicate. It’s enabled me to work with anyone, anywhere in the world, really. If I wasn’t at an international school, I don’t think I’d have had the courage to do what I do now.” Ultimately though, music was Pam’s saving grace. “I didn’t have a sense of worth when I was really, really young,” she admits. “That’s why I do what I do—to help kids like myself. There are kids who are really shy and may feel no sense of accomplishment. When they get on stage to sing and people clap for them, they start to feel a sense of worth and believe in themselves more. I believed I was incompetent, but that all changed eventually. Music helped me realize I was good at something and that if I worked hard at it, I could earn something for myself.” An accomplished entertainer, venerated teacher, and savvy businesswoman, Pam Lita has come a long way from her start at RIS as that shy little first grader.

The main branch of World Star Academy is located in Sukhumvit Soi 49. It offers programs in voice, dance, acting, emceeing, personality, piano, bass, guitar, ukulele, drums, and songwriting. For more information, visit, or call 096-987-8932 (LINE ID @WorldStarBangkok). Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


RIS Photos of the Day: 21/2/18 Congratulations to all of our RIS athletes who were recognized at this morning’s Season 2 Sports Assembly. Thank you for putting in such hard work, practice, and using your talents to help represent our school in various competitions. We are all very proud! #gophoenix

RIS Photos of the Day: 8/2/18 Today our MS students welcomed visitors from the Camillian Home, who came to speak about what the Camillian Home does, and the importance of our relationship with them and our continued support. This was a great opportunity for our young students to meet the children whom the Camillian Home supports, and develop a greater empathy and understanding of the challenges that children with disabilities face in Thailand.

RIS Photos of the Day: 6/2/18 Recently, our HS biology students made 3D models of a gene sequence on a section of DNA, as part of their class about DNA structure and base pairing rules in DNA molecules. This activity assessed the students understanding of the structure of DNA, as well as reinforced that the structure of DNA and the rules of base pairing enable the molecule to perform its function of storing heritable information.


Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018

RIS Photos of the Day: 2/2/18 This morning we celebrated the “100th Day of School” with a colorful parade, fun activities, and lessons highlighting number sense, counting, and being 100 days smarter. Today’s festivities provided opportunities for our younger students to practice and sharpen their math and observational skills, as well as learn creative ways to count to 100.

RIS Photos of the Day: 14/12/17 This morning our entire ES student body performed a lively and festive Christmas Show in the Performing Arts Center to a completely packed audience of parents and faculty. Every grade, from our tiniest tots in PreK 2 to our grade 5 students, performed its own song with gusto and holiday spirit. The enthusiastic young emcees were impeccable and articulate, and they tied each song together into a sweet and touching performance. The moving finale was preceded by a poignant tribute song to our PE teacher Mr. Dan, who passed away unexpectedly at the end of October. Kuddos to Ms. Kim and her wonderful team of behind-the-scene elves who had clearly put hours of time into helping our young performers learn their words, songs, and movements and teaching them how to perform with pride and passion. It was the perfect kick-off to the holiday season!

Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


Who can attend? All students Pre-K 4 through Grade 5 When? June 11– June 29 Tuition? Full day: 34,000, Half day: 17,000

Students will focus on Reading, Math, Science, and English Language Development in the mornings. Summer school attendees will also participate in Physical Education classes. During the afternoons, students will engage in a variety of fun and interesting elective classes like yoga, LEGO®, cooking, iMovie, and games.

Morning Learning Reading Math Science English Language Development Physical Education


Afternoon Learning Yoga LEGO® Cooking Games & Activities

Summer School Coordinator: Mathias Sanders Email:

Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


Who can attend? Students moving up to Grade 6, Grade 7, Grade 8 When? June 11– June 29 Tuition? Full day: 34,000, Half day: 17,000 Students will collaborate in groups and work with different content teachers to connect their learning to real-world applications.

Students will be expected to demonstrate learning in the following areas:

Math: Measurement and data Humanities: Students will participate in activities designed to increase literacy and English language ability

Science: Engineering process (designing, prototyping, revising) Mindfulness: Students will have the opportunity to participate in mindful ness meditation each day


Students will stay active through physical games and learning


Students will enjoy a variety of creative activities

Summer School Coordinator: Mathias Sanders Email:

Ad Astra Volume 23 March 2018


Profile for RISAdAstra