Page 1

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 numbering over 500, and published on our website. The RIS family is a large and growing community of international citizens.

Ad Astra Team

4 Message from the School

Printed by

Ruamrudee International School

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




Media Printing Plus Limited


Rajeepan Techapahaphong


10 11

Editor: Elisia Brodeur Graphics Design/Layout:

Sornchai Pongheamwattana


14 16 17 18 20 21 22

24 37

Chaplain Father Leo Travis Exhibition in Remembrance of HM Bhumibol Adulyadej The Soul of the Nation Sudarat T. Attanawin Every Great Venture Begins with a Vision Sudarat T. Attanawin Princess Sirindhorn Visits RIS for Tribute Concert New PreK 2 Program at RIS PreK–2 Art: More Than Meets the Eye Robin Banks and Elisia Brodeur Middle School Lunchtime Intramurals Mathias Sanders 2016–2017 HS Honor Roll Cooking in Japanese Class Megumi Furuya World Scholar’s Cup Tom Wash Senior Convocation HS Spirit Week HS Games Day German Exchange Program: A Meaningful Experience Christine Whitmarsh RIS Welcomes New Teachers and Staff Facility Upgrades to Celebrate our 60th Year Elisia Brodeur

40 HS Year 2 Art Show 41 41 42 44




50 51 52




“The Hours” Our Very Own Jr. NBA All-Star! ES Cross Country Star International Food Fair My Summer at Stanford Kasidis Arunruangsirilert (Ken) Finding My Future Parichamon Promsit (Atom) HS Students Intern at Sirindhorn Hospital Pavis Bhuvanit (Beam) and Saruta Lorwatanapongsa (Khaimook) My Summer Internship at Baker & McKenzie Wow-Wow Vorapanyasakul RIS Water Project and Forest Rehabilitation in Northern Thailand Water of Life Fashion Show Thailand Teaches Texas: The RIS Initiative to Help the Victims of Hurrican Harvey Lindsey Skewis The Village Explorer Project Elisia Brodeur The Butterfly Effect Mei Mei and Belle Photos of the Day

Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


My Gratitude and Love for His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej



he passing of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej is a great sadness for all Thais. The love the Thai people have for their late King is evident both by the number of people who have come out to show reverence to him and the hours they have spent in line to do so.

People who come to Thailand today see it as a country of peace and happiness. As a people, the Thais are gentle, loving, religious, and prayerful. And the leader of all of this was the King. He even became a monk for a short time to be an example to young people that prayer and goodness should be part of their growth.

From his youth to his death, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej was concerned about the wealth and happiness of his people. He was always looking for ways to make life easier for the poor people of his country. One of his projects was to save them and the land from such devastating flooding. In the past when Bangkok would flood, people would wade in water that was waist deep. Even our campus in Minburi was prone to flooding before the Royal Projects. His Majesty believed that reservoirs built on both sides of the Chao Phraya River, which flows to the sea, could hold excess floodwater during the monsoon season and then release it back to the sea at low tide.

And so I honor the late King. I have honored him ever since I was introduced to what he did for the people and the fact that he wanted them to be happy. We, as a school, should pray for him, too, and be thankful that his example will remain among the people and in books, art, music, photographs, and stories. By accepting the late King’s way of life and of love, we will be part of making Thailand—and our school—a successful model for how people should live.

Since the King’s accession to the throne in 1946, he worked to improve the standard of living for the Thai people, particularly farmers, whose lives depend on having adequate supplies of water for successful farming. The Royal Family worked together, as a loving couple, for the people of Thailand. King Bhumibol Adulyadej and Queen Sirikit made several trips to many parts of rural Thailand. Listening to the struggles of local villagers, Queen Sirikit saw particular potential in handicrafts as projects to develop and empower the people living there. Her support for the hand-weaving industry in particular brought opportunity to some of the more impoverished areas of Thailand.

God bless you.

Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

We have lived with him as our King for decades, and we are thankful for all that he has done. I will continue to pray for him, now and always.

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

Exhibition in Remembrance of HM Bhumibol Adulyadej


n October 9th, members of the RIS Thai department officially opened their exhibition in remembrance of His Majesty the Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej as part of the national occasion of the Royal Cremation Ceremonies. The HS Thai teachers have displayed information about the Royal Cremation Ceremony and its history, while the ES Thai teachers have presented a display on the biography of His Majesty. The MS Thai teachers’ section features works devoted to His Majesty’s lifetime of achievements in various fields.

The ceremony opened with the Royal Anthem, followed by welcome speeches and a ribbon cutting. Then several extremely talented high school musicians played some of His Majesty’s more famous compositions, including “Candlelight Blues,” “Love at Sundown,” “King’s Pictures Are Everywhere,” and “The Impossible Dream.” Our faculty, students, and volunteers worked very hard to set up the exhibition, so please stop by the Redeemer Hall Atrium any time during the month of October to view this wonderful display and honor the memory of His Majesty the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


The Soul of the Nation by Sudarat T. Attanawin, Director of Strategic Initiatives/HR


uamrudee International School stands by the people of Thailand as they bid their last farewell to His Majesty the late King Bhumibol on October 26, 2017. His Majesty, Rama IX of the Chakri Dynasty, was crowned King on 5 May 1950. Most Thais grew up knowing him as their only King, a bastion of stability and a beloved father figure. The King once said, “The members of a family are expected to help one another whenever there is a need for assistance. The giving of aid is a merit in itself. The giver does not expect to hear others sing his praises every day; nor does he expect any return. The receiver is nevertheless grateful. He too, in his turn, will carry out his obligations.” Throughout his amazing reign, His Majesty undeniably spent his life serving his family, the Thai people. The King constantly traveled to remote villages, up in the mountains and into the fields. Yes, he went places to help real people in dire need, but, more importantly, were his reasons for going. His Majesty was a hands-on leader who tried to understand his country’s problems and tirelessly tackled challenges to improve the lives of those who were marginalized. During his lifetime, the King introduced thousands of development projects that truly empowered those at the very grass roots. He did all of it not to earn praise, not

to get anything in return, but because he perceived this work as an obligation to his family, his people. In the documentary, Soul of a Nation: The Royal Family of Thailand (1979), a BBC correspondent asked His Majesty for his view on his role as the Thai Monarch. His Majesty replied, “To explain the meaning of the term monarch seems to be a question quite difficult to answer, especially in my own case, as I’m being known generally as the MONARCH. In fact, my role is far from being the duty of a monarch, as generally understood before. My present duty is to do whatever is useful. If asked how many plans I have for the future, my answer is I have no plan. We don’t know what will happen in the future. But no matter what happens, I will choose to do only useful things. That’s good enough for me.” Just think of the King’s “useful” work and his achievements over the last seven decades. His Majesty was instrumental in making Thailand a successful country, providing leadership despite the difficulties of political upheaval and the challenges that come with momentous economic and social change. Through it all, His Majesty instilled in his people pride, national identity, courage, and a strong sense of commitment to family. His Majesty’s journey was truly a life of giving and of serving. Although His Majesty’s death leaves behind a deep emptiness, the greater loss for the nation would be to let his gifts of service and goodness die inside us while we live. Let us carry his legacy forward!


Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

Every Great Venture Begins with a Vision by Sudarat T. Attanawin, Director of Strategic Initiatives/HR


uamrudee International School is an outstanding institution with a long and proud history of excellence. Established in 1957, RIS quickly joined the ranks of elite international schools while carving out its own unique identity. As one of the oldest international schools in Thailand, with a rich heritage and deep-rooted traditions, RIS’ distinctiveness rests upon a strong conviction that it will extend its practice of academic rigor and character education to nearby communities and regions. We are therefore pleased to announce the opening of RIS Jakarta in 2019–2020. The partnership between RIS and Pantai Indah Kapuk 2 (PIK 2), one of the biggest real estate developers in Indonesia, ushers in exciting opportunities for all who believe in the pursuit of a vision of outstanding education. Under the aegis of RIS Minburi, the goal is to plan, build, and manage RIS Jakarta based on the tried and tested instructive model of RIS Minburi. Another great venture will also be launching in the same school year (2019–2020): RIS Ratchapruek, in western Bangkok. Operating under the umbrella of RIS Minburi, both partner schools will closely follow our school’s philosophy

of academic aspiration and diligence in a supportive and inclusive community. Students will be encouraged to exceed their potential, acquire a lifelong love of learning, and embrace their social responsibilities. A plan is being developed that focuses on identifying the strategic priorities of RIS Minburi’s core services, with the aim that best supports both of our sister schools. Under the leadership of Father Apisit and Dr. Shalee, RIS looks forward to students achieving many life-changing milestones in Bangkok and beyond, and to sharing our vision and commitment to education through the establishment of RIS Jakarta and RIS Ratchapruek.

Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


Princess Sirindhorn Visits RIS for Tribute Concert


Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


or decades, His Majesty, the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, inspired, entertained, and encouraged the Thai people in countless ways. One of these ways was through his music and songs. In advance of the Royal Cremation, the wife of the one of the members of His Majesty’s original band, Wong Lai Khram (later renamed Amporn Sathan Friday Musical Band), helped to organize a memorial concert to play some of His Majesty’s music and songs. As evidenced by his favorite instruments—the saxophone, clarinet and trumpet—he was inspired most by the exciting beats and rhythms of jazz and blues. His Majesty would join the band’s live broadcasts every Friday evening from the Amporn Satharn radio station in the Palace. He would select music for the program as well as encourage phone-in requests, allowing the audience to communicate with him personally.

Ruamrudee International School was honored to host this memorial tribute concert, which was also arranged with the help of Dr. Manrat Srikranonda, one of the original band members and grandfather to current RIS student Indre Balakauskas and former RIS student Asta Balakauskas, who graduated last year. The concert was held on July 5 in the Performing Arts Centre on the RIS campus. Guests arrived at 8:00 a.m. to enjoy a preconcert breakfast. On this most special occasion, Princess Sirindhorn was in attendance. All proceeds from donations received at this most special and memorable event are going to assist the physically and mentally challenged children aided by Redemptorist Foundations.

Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


New PreK 2 Program at RIS


IS is very excited to announce our new PreK 2 program! Through requests from current parents and potential applicants, along with our own research, we saw a need to add this program to our school’s offerings. The purpose-built PreK 2 center comprises three houses: St. Michael’s, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael, each designed to mimic a home containing purpose-specific rooms versus classrooms in an institutional building. The entire center is full of color and natural light, and every thoughtful detail is evidence that the indoor and outdoor environment has been carefully planned and brought to life. From the large foam puzzle shapes in the soft play area to the music room, the library, the tiny sinks, and the rubberized race track with its totsized scooters, this is a place that ignites little ones’ imaginations and inspires learning through hands-on exploration and play. The curriculum is designed specifically for 2-year-olds and comprises three inter-related early-childhood pedagogies: the Creative Curriculum®, Reggio Emilia, and Montessori. Specific units are introduced

and then, based on what the children want to learn according to their inherent interests, that’s where the lesson goes. Essentially, the children drive their own exploration, which allows them to flourish. The PreK 2 program at RIS focuses on several specific areas of child development, particularly social skills, building a sense of responsibility and independence, and problem-solving, all of which are the cornerstones of the PreK 3 and PreK 4 programs and thus will ensure a cohesive and sequential transition to these grades and beyond. On any given day, the children are honing their grossand fine-motor skills, developing cognitive awareness in literacy and math, enjoying physical exercise, and learning preliminary life skills, such buttoning, hand washing, and teeth brushing, as well as the names of colors, shapes, and sizes. This is a time when children experience the sheer joy of moving their bodies as they learn how to walk, run, dance, and climb with confidence. They also engage in many sensorial explorations, such as investigating textures, observing nature up close, and smelling different fragrances. The children are introduced to English vocabulary through stories, poems, songs, nursery rhymes, and games. As they become familiar with letters and sounds, the children are encouraged to speak in complete sentences. To develop an essential mathematical foundation, the children discover relationships and patterns through easy, everyday activities, such as collecting, counting,


Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

sorting, and comparing the sizes and colors of different objects. They are encouraged to refine their artistic skills as they do simple arts-and-crafts projects that involve cutting, pasting, tracing, coloring, and painting. Dramatic play instills self-confidence while children learn how to be imaginative, constructive, and dynamic in their thought processes. Circle time and music appreciation introduces the children to a variety of songs, music, and dances from around the world. They also participate in a variety of cultural activities that celebrate diversity, such as Songkran, Loy Kratong, Chinese New Year, Easter, and Christmas.

Our PreK 2 program will have openings in January 2018. For further information or to apply, please contact our admissions team:

PreK–2 Art: More Than Meets the Eye by Robin Banks and Elisia Brodeur


s. Robin Banks is a new grade PreK–2 teacher at RIS this year, and she brings with her a very exciting new art curriculum. Ms. Robin is using a modified version of a program called TAB, or Teaching for Artistic Behavior. TAB is a project-based method of teaching and learning, similar to Makerspace, that allows children to choose their materials, tools, and techniques and develop their own art projects. The teacher demonstrates the tools and techniques with mini-lessons, and then the children choose their own projects based on their personal interests and goals. The children get to produce art based on what they want to learn and produce while they explore the materials, tools, and techniques they’ve been shown.

First, students learn the basics: What are the elements and principles of visual arts? What is a material? What is a tool? Then Ms. Robin demonstrates a variety of techniques from each of the art centers that she has set up in her classroom: drawing, painting, collage, fiber arts, sculpture, and ceramics. The children then apply what they’ve learned to create their own artworks. When meeting with the children individually or in small groups, Ms. Robin encourages them to use their new art vocabulary in art discussions and helps the budding artists to grow and stretch their comfort level as they make art.

Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


The six distinct “art centers” give the students opportunities to work with different art mediums. Each center has consistent features: posters that define that particular art center (fiber arts, for example); a list of the materials, tools, and techniques used in that center; reference books and other relevant resources. Ms. Robin opens new centers as the year progresses, and students are taught the expectations of how to use and maintain the items at each center. All of the materials, tools, and resources are organized so the children can access them easily, as well as return them and clean up after themselves. In grades K and 1, the children are learning the basic foundations of art techniques and styles. The second graders are learning more about the process of creating art. They get to state what they like to make and then ask themselves, “How do I get from this idea to a finished piece?” What they learn is that those final pieces will have been the result of research and many experiments and messy beginnings—all of which are an integral part of the creative process. When children make artistic choices for themselves, they start to understand where ideas come from. As they get better at designing their own projects, they realize that art ideas come from everywhere, but especially from themselves. And by designing their own projects, the children learn to be creative thinkers and problem

solvers who know how to organize themselves and plan things out. For the younger grades, however, Ms. Robin is currently assigning the subjects and techniques for their artwork as the children are still becoming familiar with the class expectations and art processes. TAB delivers more than just a pedagogy for teaching art skills. The children are guided versus simply shown how to do something and ask to replicate what the teacher tells them to do. They are intrinsically motivated because they get to think about what projects they are naturally drawn to instead of being told “here is what we are going to learn and then make.” Like adult artists, children will create art to reflect things they care about. The teacher’s role is to help guide them and articulate what they want to create. The children are learning as they explore and figuring out the process as they work. Perhaps most importantly, the children are learning autonomy by taking responsibility for their work and cleaning up after themselves. Ms. Robin hopes to eventually incorporate the full TAB program at RIS for KG–2, but for now, these budding young artists are clearly benefitting from this learning model. They’re being introduced to many different styles of art, they’re learning that “mistakes” are an integral part of learning, and they are realizing that exploration and “playing” with styles and techniques can lead to some remarkable discoveries. And all this is happening while the children are improving their art skills. Win-win!


Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

Middle School Lunchtime Intramurals by Mathias Sanders


uring break times in the middle school, the students are invited to participate in a variety of activities that are designed to help them develop teamwork, practice being compassionate, move their bodies, and have fun! These activities are part of the middle school House Team system. House Teams are groups of Advisory classes from each of the three grade levels that work together to boost school spirit, learn from children of different ages, and practice interacting with kids who may not be central to their social networks. House Team points are awarded for skillful completion of these activities. We recently held our annual Ping Pong Tournament in the middle school, which was a huge success. Approximately 25% of the entire middle school participated in the two-week tournament. Every student was awarded one House Team point just for participating. For the first round, all of the students played a round-robin format, with each student playing at least three games. Each game was played to 11 points. The players with the most wins and highest pergame point totals advanced to the semi-final round. The players for the final, championship rounds were determined through a single-game knockout round. I was impressed with how many students came to play in the tournament. About 25 girls from all three grade levels participated, along with a large group of 6th grade students. The players were so excited to either learn how to play (many had never played ping pong before) or to teach others how to play, so their skills skills ranged from, “I’ve never played before,” to “I am a ping pong master!” We played music in the breezeways during the games, and everyone enjoyed the friendly competition.

As the school year progresses, we will be hosting more lunchtime tournaments, including a benchball tournament and a badminton tournament. Benchball is a derivative of dodge ball, where teams throw balls to players on a bench. If the “bench” players catch the ball, the thrower gets to join them on the bench. The first team with all their players on the bench wins. We provide lunchtime games as a structured activity for kids during break times. It’s encouraging to see the students putting down their phones and devices for 30 minutes in order to play active games with their peers. Additionally, we structure the games in a way that all kids feel they have an opportunity to contribute. So whether we play as teams of Advisory classes or if we divide into teams of boys and girls, all students feel that the games are both fair and competitive. Here are a few quotes from some of the participants: “The tournament was awesome: the thrill of it, the intensity of it, and the fun of it!” — Lila, Gr. 6 “I love the ping pong and benchball tournaments because it is good for students to work together and have fun all together. It’s a good experience because all of us are working together, not just one of us, so it was awesome.” — Pailynn, Gr. 7 “I really enjoyed playing benchball with my house team. It was a simple game, but it was awesome! We even came up with strategies! Another reason why I enjoyed playing benchball was that everyone was kind and showed sportsmanship. Even if they were playing for another house team, they gave it their all. I hope that we will have more games like this in the future!” — Belle, Gr. 6 Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017



ongratulations to all of our High School Honor Roll students for their outstanding academic performance last year! In the past, we have recognized only the top 10 students with the highest GPA (grade point average) in each grade level. Last year, however, the HS Instructional Leadership Team, with the approval of the Administrative Council, opened up the criteria so that all students who achieved an impressive standard of achievement could be recognized. Therefore, the High School recognized students from each grade level who met the required GPA of at least 3.90 for grades 9 and 10, and at least 4.00 for grades 11 and 12. Here are the names of the 70 recipients (listed in alphabetical order) who were presented with a Certificate of Achievement—in front of the whole High School—at our annual Honor Roll Assembly on the morning of August 16, 2017.


Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

HONOR ROLL 2016–2017 Class of 2017 (GPA 4.00–4.27) Swisshaya Amphan Prapunwa (Jean) Areecharoenlert Jom Bhumitrakul Pornnapphan Channara Rittida Herabat Nam Thai Hoang Panpailin Jantarasombat Supiphat Kasetrsuwan Naman Kedia Thiti Khomin Chaniya Miller Paponek (Patrick) Nitiratanakul Pimbuppha Pongtornpipat Thithat Promlikitchai Manaka Saito Parinda Sangkaeo Sirindhra (Jenny) Suepiantham Nonthacha Thongjirachote Peeranat Tokaeo Nirat (Nicky) Wangsatorntanakun Phongsun Worrawattanapreecha

Class of 2018 (GPA 4.00–4.41) Alita Anil Pat Boonsom Pemika Boonyawuttipan Panuvat (Todd) Chutichetpong Priyakorn Inchansuk Kullanan (Mimi) Intarapuvasak Napassorn Keeratitejakarn Pattarapon Kittisrisawai Natchayakarn Komthongchusakul Chayaporn (Jean) Kraiwitchaicharoen Nattawat Luxsuwong Phattarawadee Mathupayas Rohan Nakra Parin Nawachartkosit Sun Win Win (Winnie) Pa Tejas Pal Phannita Piriyavirut Miranda Piroonhapat Nacha Rapeerattanakul Napat Sakulsaengprapha Yanika Suthidara Todsatid Teerakapibal Thanathep Thepkanjana Sirasorn Tichachol

Class of 2019 (GPA 3.90–4.17) Tonghatai Aiemsakul Patarapornkan Anantarangsi Kachachan Chotitamnavee Korranit Khomin Papitchaya (Sydney) Kiatkamolwong Maddox Mitchell Natthanich (Shinyee) Panachaisricharoen Athiwat Pathomtajeancharoen Kantabhat Pimolsaengsuriya Wilawan Poltanawasit Chanamon Pongphaew Pattichon (Brux) Pongprapapant Kathrya Ritter Maren Smith Panyada Thanaphornvisal Papichaya Vongthongsri Voraya Vorapanyasakul

Class of 2020 (GPA 3.90–4.00) Kantapat Boonme Sopanant Datta Pornpitra Laosirihongthong Pathid (Pat) Liamtrakoolpanich Divi Maheshwari Pimlapus Tanpisuth Kritin Vongthongsri Napasporn Wattanakul

Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


Cooking in Japanese Class by Megumi Furuya

Making ONIGIRI (Japanese 1)


ur students enjoyed the annual Japanese Cooking Activities in Japanese class at the end of the last school year. Maybe you’d like to join us this year? Here is what some of the students had to say about their cooking experiences: “During the cooking activity, I think that it does help us extend our learning to the next level. We studied different ingredients, seasoning, and also materials for cooking. The part that I loved the most is when we actually cooked the ONIGIRI. The part that was the most difficult was also the cooking part, because it was very hard to wrap the seaweed around the rice. My ONIGIRI was very tasty and I liked it very much. In the future years, I would like to make SUSHI.” Praew (Japanese 1)

Enjoying eating the NORIMAKI they made (Japanese 3)

“Through group assistance and teamwork we were able to skillfully make ONIGIRI for other teachers, and our cooperation was the greatest aspect of it all. The ONIGIRI we made might not have tasted as good, but with the amount of time, effort, and love we put into this activity speaks volumes that trumps the taste!” Jaosua (Japanese 1) “Making NORIMAKI was fun and I have a pleasure time making it. The procedure is hard but it was worth the result. Our NORIMAKI may not look as beautiful as it must be but the taste is very delicious. You should try it!” Non (Japanese 3) 16

Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

Making a poster of ONIGIRI (Japanese 1)

“At first, we thought that it would taste bad since it was our first time making it, but it turned out to be better than we thought it would. We also gave some to the other teachers, and I’m glad that we received positive feedback from them. Overall, this was a very enjoyable experience. Thank you, Japanese 3!!!” Opal (Japanese 3) “This year, our class made YAKISOBA. I thought that this activity was really fun and helped me learn more about Japanese food/culture. There were also difficulties while making it, like burning the YAKISOBA on the hotplate, so I thought that it might not be very delicious, but despite my thoughts, the YAKISOBA our class made was decent.” Air (Japanese 4)

Cooking YAKISOBA (Japanese 4)



he World Scholar’s Cup team from RIS qualified to participate in the Global Round in Hanoi, Vietnam, this past June. All of the RIS WSC teams met the requirements for the Global Round through their strong performances at the Regional Round in March at NIST/SIS in Bangkok. All of the Junior WSC teams participated in the Global Round, but only one Senior team went to Hanoi. All of our scholars competed hard and turned in some very good performances. Many individual and team awards were won by the RIS team. Some Junior Global Round highlights included Willa Blair, Victor Phisitkul, and Supasinee Siripun winning the overall first place trophy for the Skittles Division, as well as the first place trophy in the Scholar’s Bowl. Panawee Sakulwannadee, Palika Sridurongrit, and Saracha Termsinwanich took the fifth place trophy for Collaborative Writing, and Palika Sridurongrit won sixth place for overall scholar in the Skittles Division. Tanyanij Lerthirunvibul was the overall top school scorer.

Some of the Senior highlights from the Global Round included Zehuan Wu being awarded thirty-eighth overall in the Social Studies Challenge, and the team— comprising Zehuan Wu, Prima Suntornwipart, and a Swiss student—won fifth in the region. Two Junior teams will advance to the Tournament of Champions at Yale University, Connecticut, USA, in November: Willa Blair, Victor Phisitkul, and Supasinee Siripun AND Panawee Sakulwannadee, Palika Sridurongrit, and Saracha Termsinwanich. We are very proud of all our scholars who have worked very hard this year, learned a lot, and had a lot of fun. Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


Senior Convocation O

n August 17th, all of the grade 12 students were celebrated as they officially became “The Class of 2018” during the annual RIS Senior Convocation Ceremony. The ceremony took place in Godbout Hall, which was completely filled with the rest of the High School students, teachers, faculty, staff, the seniors’ parents and family members, and a truly festive atmosphere. Father Apisit gave a blessing before each student was invited on stage to be acknowledged and congratulated individually. The excitement was palpable, with lots of cheering and clapping as each student came up to receive his or her senior pin and graduation gown. After the presentation, the seniors left the hall to put on their gowns and then walked back in, two by two, down the center aisle and back to their seats, accompanied by resounding clapping and cheering. They all looked very proud.


Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

Principal Smith then gave a moving speech to officially welcome them as the Class of 2018. His message was poignant as well as amusing (he shared some funny personal anecdotes from his senior year). But the overarching theme was a reminder that this year would be challenging. The seniors will face adversities and struggles as they navigate a balance between focusing on their rigorous academics while trying to maintain commitments to sports, music, extracurricular activities, service learning, and their social lives. Principal Smith pointed out that those challenges will serve to make the students stronger, better, and more grateful for what they already have. He went on to talk about the depth of the friendships the seniors will cultivate year as they bond collectively, as a class. In the future, when they look back on this time, they will remember the little

things from their senior year. Those are the details that will make up a “mosaic of moments” in their memories. After the speech, five very talented seniors sang and played a beautiful rendition of “You’ve Got a Friend,” while a backdrop of wonderful slides showcased favorite moments from their lives, from their elementary school years all the way through this past summer. After the recessional, the seniors took the celebration outside and and posed for fun photos with family, friends, and fellow classmates. Those photos will be more precious fragments in their mosaic of memories. Here’s wishing the Class of 2018 the very best of luck as they continue to create a year to remember.

Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


HS Spirit Week


Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

HS Games Day

Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


The cathedral in Cologne

German Exchange Program: A Meaningful Experience by Christine Whitmarsh


r. David and I had the honor of coordinating the German Exchange Program at RIS this past year. Eight RIS students were selected to participate in a cultural exchange with Middle School students from Bonn, Germany. For the first part of the exchange, eight students from Germany came to Thailand in late February for two weeks. Our RIS students and their families graciously housed them and organized many fun social activities. The German students experienced many firsts, from Muay Thai boxing lessons to visiting the ruins in Ayutthaya. The German students greatly appreciated the generosity and warmth they received while they were here. Our families were very impressed by the German students’ politeness and maturity. All were sad to say goodbye at the farewell dinner. In June, Fr. David and I flew with our RIS exchange students to Frankfurt, Germany, to spend two weeks


Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

experiencing day-to-day life in Germany. Our students were reunited with their German friends at the airport. A couple of highlights of the trip were traveling by train to see the cathedral in Cologne and eating currywurst in a local cafe. Our students were very impressed with how clean and orderly the country is. On the final night in Germany, our hosts threw a farewell barbecue. Some of our students’ families flew in from Thailand to meet the German host families. It was a very special evening, and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Before leaving Germany, we asked our students to write about the exchange program and what they got out of it. Here are excerpts from some of our students’ essays. “My seven friends that came with me from Bangkok and our new friends from our host families welcomed me with open arms. I have never traveled too far from home before, other than Singapore, and so I was excited and nervous. Coming here, I’ve grown to love Germany. My

Siam Niramit Dinner Show

German and Thai families meet

On campus in Bonn, Germany

Haribo Candy Tour

thirst to understand and learn has made my experience both studious and enjoyable at the same time. As curious as I am, I’ve learned a lot about the history [of Germany], their traditions, and their daily lives.” Tyra, Grade 10 “I experienced many things about Germany, like structure, culture, food, and nature. But I also enjoyed the really important time with my host family, which is one of my best memories.” Nozomu, Grade 7

willing to adapt to a different country’s customs. Please contact Fr. David or Ms. Christine for an application or if you have questions. We will be conducting interviews in early November. Next year’s German exchange students will be coming to Thailand in February 2018 (10th through 23rd).

“My host, Torben, and I had a lot of fun. We went to visit many different places, like the chocolate museum, the cities of Bonn and Cologne (my favorite place to go shopping), and the best place of all: Phantasia Land. So in my opinion, a lot of people should definitely take part in the German Exchange Program the next time because you get to visit many different places.” Piano, Grade 7 We are now seeking eight exceptional Middle School students for this year’s cultural exchange. The students should be in good academic standing and have a desire to share their home and customs with an 8thgrade German boy. They should also be confident and

Kimi and Nozomu at the Dojo in Bangkok Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


RIS Welcomes New Teachers and Staff Nusrat Karim PreK 2 Teacher

Hello! I’m Ms. Nush and I’m really excited to be working at the new PreK 2 program at RIS. Although I’m Canadian, I was born in the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro and have felt deeply connected to nature since a very early age. The beauty around me inspired me to be an artist, which is how I found my calling in life. My passion has always been educating children through a practical and natural approach. So I specialized in Montessori education through the North American Montessori Education Center, which is based in British Columbia. I received my Art Education from Isle College in the UK. I have been an early childhood educator for the past eight years. I’m excited about teaching at RIS, especially because I have worked on the PreK 2 program since its inception. This is a time when children go through immense changes in their bodies and brains, and it is my joy to create a safe, calm environment for them to kindle their curiosity and creativity through play-based learning and hands-on exploration. I’m proud to be a member of the RIS community, whose values are based on love and compassion for all humanity. I’m looking forward to the growth and success of our PreK 2 program.

Bryana Carlson Grade 2 Teacher

My name is Bryana Carlson. I have been teaching for 10 years, and this is my fifth year teaching second grade. I come from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and most recently have been teaching at Edina, MN, in a multi-age classroom with first and second graders. I have a Master of Arts in Teaching from the University of Wisconsin, Fall Rivers, and a Bachelor of Science in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota. Before teaching, I worked at the American Red Cross as a youth programs coordinator. Some things to know about me: I am very close to my family and have two nephews, Drew (8) and Bennett (7). I love to dance, do yoga, got to HITT classes, cook, listen to music, and go to concerts. I also like to quote 90s TV shows and movies. I’m an avid reader and especially enjoy historical fiction and biographies. One of my biggest passions is to travel and explore new places. I’ve been to Paris, Prague, Vienna, Venice, Rome, Florence, Pisa, London, Barcelona, and more! But this is my first time to Bangkok, and I’m looking forward to exploring Southeast Asia, Europe, and Australia!


Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

Jacqueline Emond PreK 3 Teacher

Hello RIS! I’m Jacqui Emond, and I’ve been teaching at the primary level for the last 32 years. Most of my career was spent in Ontario, Canada, but I have also taught at international schools. I spent a year in Kuwait and then three years in Oman before joining RIS as a PreK 3 teacher. It is so exciting to be here and be able to discover a new culture and a new part of the world. Everyone I’ve met here so far has been very nice and helpful. I really enjoy teaching and travelling, but I also like to read, visit friends, and spend time with my family. I’m really looking forward to working with my students and getting to know their parents, as well as the rest of the RIS community.

Callie Chavers Pre KG Teacher

Hello. My name is Callie Chavers. I grew up in Flomaton, Alabama, and received my degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. I double majored in Early Childhood and Elementary Education. Before coming to Bangkok, I was a Kindergarten teacher at an international school in Tirana, Albania. I teach PreK 4 here at RIS, and I absolutely love my new students. I love to travel and have enjoyed exploring Thailand with all its abundant culture.

Jennifer “Jen” Smith Kindergarten Teacher

Hi! I’m Jen Smith. I moved to Bangkok from the wonderfully diverse, artsy city of Atlanta, Georgia, USA. I was inspired to become a teacher during my first year of college while volunteering with refugees in an after-school program. After college, I returned to that same community to teach. My professional experience includes teaching Kindergarten and grade 1 for five years. I am teaching Kindergarten here at RIS. There are many things to love about Bangkok. If I had to narrow it down, I’d say that I most enjoy the kind, progressive-minded people and the low cost of living. I enjoy many forms of art, including music, photography, visual, dance, and poetry, and I try to incorporate all of them into my daily lessons to provide an engaging learning environment for my students.

Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


Matthew Hirbour ES Learning Support

My name is Matthew Hirbour, and I have lived in Southern California all my life—until moving to Thailand this year. I received my bachelor’s degree in Human Services at California State University, Fullerton. Then I went back to school to obtain my teaching credential in Special Education from San Diego State University. I am now a Learning Support Specialist for the Elementary school at RIS. I enjoy the food, the culture, and the kind people here in Thailand and feel proud to be working in this beautiful country while doing something I love, which is teaching! I moved here with my wife, Alyssa, and our dog, Olas. I enjoy surfing, snowboarding, traveling, and having a good time with friends and family.

Aaron Schnittman

ES Art and Values Teacher Aaron Schnittman joins RIS from the east coast of the United States, with his his wife, Kate, and their three elementary-aged children. Most recently, the Schnittmans lived on the campus of a boys’ boarding school, where Aaron was head of the art department and Kate was the executive director of a non-profit organization that assists families with seriously ill children who need to travel for specialized care. Aaron earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Alfred University School of Art and Design in New York and a Master of Art from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He has taught in many sizes and shapes of art classrooms and has worked with students from all corners of the globe and from many different backgrounds for almost 20 years. He is acutely interested in developing STEAM programming within the art room and is always excited when math, physics, design, engineering, and problem solving can be worked into an art project. Aaron loves a good book, biking, sailing, and sleeping past 6:00 am whenever possible.

Lauren Pasquazzi PreK 3 Teacher

Hello! My name is Lauren Pasquazzi and I am one of the PreK 3 teachers at RIS this year. I’m originally from Rhode Island, USA, which is where most of my family still lives. I went to school at the University of New Hampshire and after graduating, I moved to Portsmouth, NH. I’m certified in early childhood education and special education and have had a lot of experience teaching grades PreK up to 1st grade. I am here with my husband, Jesse Fand. We both love to explore new places and to be outdoors. One of our favorite things about living in Bangkok so far is meeting new people and trying new foods!


Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

Evan Gropper

ES Grade 5 Teacher My name is Evan Gropper and my journey to teaching was a winding road. In 2004, I graduated from Bucknell University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management, which led me to a career on Wall Street. After many years working in finance, I decided to pursue my true passion and get a master’s degree in Childhood Education. Prior to teaching internationally, I taught for three years at Commonwealth Academy in Alexandria, Virginia, an independent school for children with learning differences. Before arriving at RIS, I taught at Albanian College, Tirana, where I was trained in the IB and PYP curriculum and was a founding staff member. In the first two years of the school, we worked to ensure that it was the first IB World School in Albania. I’m joined in Bangkok by my wife and our seven-month-old son, Andrew. We love to travel as a family and experience new cultures. Our dog, Liberty, will soon join us on our adventure. We are very happy to be here in Bangkok, and we’re truly enjoying the RIS school community. We look forward to continuing to explore Bangkok and see all of the amazing things Thailand has to offer.

Nicki Ruthaivilavan ES Grade 5 Teacher

My name is Nicki Ruthaivilavan (ROO-TIE-VILLA-VAN, or Ruthai for short), and I’m happy to be joining RIS as a fourth grade teacher. I am here with my husband, Martin, who is the Middle School Technology and Innovation Coach. We have two daughters. Everleigh is in second grade this year, and Anika is in Pre K 4. We came to Thailand from Shenzhen, China, where I taught 3rd grade for five years. Prior to that, we lived and worked in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in the United States, where I taught 2nd grade for six years. I attended the University of Iowa, where I received my Bachelor of Arts in elementary education, with endorsements in reading and language arts. I also have a master’s degree in School Library Studies from the University of Northern Iowa. I grew up on a farm in Illinois and still consider that home. I love to live the city life during the school year and then enjoy wide open spaces, fresh air, and some peace and quiet during the summers back home. I try to stay active and like to learn new things. My guilty pleasures are Sour Patch Kids candy and the reality TV show Dancing With the Stars.

Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


Robin Banks

PreK-2 Art and Values Teacher My name is Robin Banks. My family and I are coming to Bangkok from Le Sueur, Minnesota, USA. I have been teaching 3rd grade through 6th grade Art for 16 years in Belle Plaine, MN. I grew up and graduated high school in Northfield, MN. I graduated from Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I also studied at the University of Granada in Granada, Spain, for 5 months. I’m coming here with my husband, Owen, and our two kids: Gwynie (8) and Liam (4). I love horses, especially trail riding. I have a Paso Fino (type of horse) named Fernando back in the US. I love being in nature, whether it is hiking with my family, taking photos, or oil painting. I love all the sunshine here in Thailand and hearing the different types of bird songs.

Sr. Mary Danielle ES Religion Teacher

Pax et Benedicite! My baptismal name is Irene, but my religious name is Sr. Mary Danielle, OSB. I belong to the Congregation of Benedictine Sisters of the Eucharistic King. I come from the Philippines, where I earned my Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education at the Divine World College of Calapan, Mindoro, and my Master in Missiology from the Institute of Consecrated Life in Asia. I have taught Values and Religious Education/Christian Living Education at different schools for 10 years. Before coming to RIS, I was assigned to our Formation House, Davao City, Mindanao, as Assistant Novice Directress (for four years) and as Postulant Directress (for two years). This is my first time teaching abroad at an international school. I feel so blessed and lucky to be part of the RIS family. As a missionary called by God to continue his mission, I am happy and willing to give witness and to share the joy of the Gospel as a Religion teacher for PreK 2–grade 5, as well as grade 7. When not in school, I love to practice silence and meditation, do household chores, sew, make art and cards, and work in the garden. I also love to play table tennis and softball. All things I do for the glorification of God, at all times. God bless!


Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

Michael Dempsey ELD Teacher

I’m Michael Dempsey. I was born and raised in New Jersey, USA, where I received my bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Rutgers University. After several years exploring the fields of advertising and social work, I was bitten by the travel bug and took off for South America. I loved living in a different part of the world and experiencing a whole new culture and perspective. Needing a way work internationally, I became certified to teach English to adults and moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was there that I discovered my passion for teaching. I eventually returned to the States and went back to university, earning my master’s in TESOL (Teaching English to Students of Other Languages) at City College, New York. After three years teaching grade 3 in New York City, I yearned to see the world again. I relocated to Hong Kong, where I taught grade 2, Kindergarten, and PreK at Hong Kong International School for the next 10 years. Now I’m excited to be starting the next chapter of my life here at RIS, as part of the English Language Development (ELD) team in the elementary school.

Dawn Marie Singleton MS Learning Support

My husband, Poul, and I are so excited for our new adventure here at RIS and in Thailand! I have joined the Learning Support Program at the Middle School, and Poul will be coaching the U13 boys soccer team. I have a BA from the University of the Pacific, CA; a Master in Education from Lesley University in Massachusetts; and teachings credentials in ESL, Early Childhood Development, Elementary Education, and Special Education. Over the last 20 years, I have enjoyed a variety of roles in education as a Pre K, Elementary, Middle School, and ESL teacher; an AmeriCorps member; and for the last 5 years, as a Special Education teacher. I have supported students at private, public, parochial, boarding, and home schools in the United States, as well as in Kingston, Jamaica; Guayaquil, Ecuador; and Taipei, Taiwan. I have also lived in Naples, Italy, as an au pair, and I spent a couple of summer months in Wellington, New Zealand. Teaching and traveling are two of my greatest passions in life! My other interests include community service, dancing, and the creative arts. Together, Poul and I enjoy hiking, biking, and watching professional sports. We look forward to working with everyone within the RIS family!

Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


Jenna Siepker

Grade 7 Humanities and Language Arts I’m Jenna Siepker and I’m so excited to be here at RIS! I teach 7th grade Humanities, Language Arts, and Social Studies. I’m also coaching U11 Girls’ Basketball. This my seventh year teaching. For the past six years, I have been teaching 7th grade English Language Arts in Des Moines, Iowa. In June of this year, I received my Master of Education with an emphasis on Instructional Strategies and Leadership from a private college in Iowa. Before that, I attended Iowa State University for my undergraduate degree in English Education. My husband, Nick, is here with me in Thailand. He was formerly working in sales in Des Moines and is enjoying exploring Thailand. We love to travel and hope to see as many places as we can while we’re here. We have purchased bikes here and are looking for places to ride and would also love to try some camping! Nick also loves to cook—and I love to eat! One of the reasons I became a teacher is to help students realize that they can make a difference in the world through their writing and speaking. I’m so excited to be at RIS because there is a such an emphasis here on helping others and on being socially responsible. I’m hoping to help students learn about global issues and discuss ways they can begin to make a difference. We are starting this in Unit 2, when 7th grade Humanities students will teach others about a current religious conflict in the world and even suggest solutions. Be on the lookout for students to present their work during a Religious Peace Conference in early December, which everyone is invited to attend!

Sam Jones Grade 8 Math

My name is Sam Jones. I​ ​grew​ ​up​ ​in​ ​the​ ​great​ ​city​ ​of​ ​Houston,​ ​Texas.​ ​​ After ​high​ ​school,​ ​I​ ​attended Abilene​ ​Christian​ ​University,​ ​a​ ​small​ ​school​ ​ in​ ​West​ ​Texas.​ ​​I​ ​graduated​ ​in​ ​2010​ ​with​ ​a​ ​BA​ ​in Business​ ​Marketing, but after ​working f​ull​​time I d ​ ecided​​to​go back to get​a ​teaching certification​ ​in​ ​Math.​ ​​I​ ​started​ ​out​ ​teaching​ ​in​ ​Houston​ but eventually​ ​ moved​ ​to​ ​Dallas​, ​where​ ​I taught​ ​8th​ ​grade​ ​math​ ​for​ ​three​ ​years.​ ​​​For ​the​ ​ past​ ​year,​ ​I​ ​worked​ ​as​ ​a​ ​private​ ​tutor​ ​in​ ​New York and​ ​Houston​, ​where​ ​ I​ ​helped​ ​kids​ ​in​ ​a​ ​variety​ ​of​ ​math​ ​subjects​ ​from​ ​elementary​ ​to high​ ​ school.​ ​​I​ ​now​ ​teach​ ​8th​ ​grade​ ​algebra​ here ​at​ ​RIS.​​​ ​I​ ​have​ ​really​ ​enjoyed​ ​ my​ ​move​ ​to​ ​Bangkok so​ ​far,​ ​and​ ​I​ ​especially​ ​love​ ​getting​ ​to​ ​travel​ ​to​ ​so​ ​ many​ ​nearby ​places​.​ ​​When​ ​I​ ​am​ ​not​ ​teaching, I​ ​love​ ​being​ ​active​ ​and​ ​ playing​ ​sports​ ​such​ ​as​ ​basketball,​ ​soccer,​ ​tennis,​ ​and​ ​volleyball.​ ​I’m also an avid fan of ​several​ ​sports​ ​teams​ ​back​ ​home,​ ​including​ ​the​ ​Houston​ ​ Astros,​ ​Houston​ ​Rockets,​ ​and Houston​ ​Texans.​ ​(I​ ​am​ ​very​ ​loyal​ ​to​ ​Texas!)


Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

Martin Ruthaivilavan

MS Technology Innovation Coach My name is Martin Ruthaivilavan, and I’m excited to be joining RIS as the middle school Technology Innovation Coach. I am here with my wife, Nicki, who is a fourth-grade teacher, and we have two young daughters who attend RIS. I attended Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, USA, where I earned my degree in education. I began my teaching career in Iowa as a middle school science teacher before becoming a K–12 technology integration coach. For the past five years, I worked as a Learning Innovation Coach at an international school in Shenzhen, China. While I am new to RIS, I am not new to Thailand. I was born and raised in Bangkok and went to an international school here. I’m happy to be returning home! In my free time, I enjoy skateboarding, playing and coaching soccer, reading, and photography.

Felix Gabathuler MS Math Teacher

Hi! I’m Felix Gabathuler, and I’m really excited to be joining the Middle School math team here at RIS. My wife, Brienne, and I are happy to be back in Thailand after spending the last few years living and working in Costa Rica. The beaches of the Caribbean rival those of Southeast Asia, but what really brought us back was the opportunity to be part of something special at Ruamrudee. Well, that and the food. I love everything about food. Eating ranks up there with my most favorite things to do. Cooking isn’t far behind. We’ve been fortunate to travel to a lot of countries and try all sorts of different dishes. Most of them are great, some of them literally stink. Food will not be far from my mind or that of my students this year as I’m pumped to be teaching a Culinary Arts elective. Aside from food, I like to play lots of different sports. You can find me at the middle school ping pong tables learning from the young masters a couple of times a week or staying up late to watch my favorite football team on Sunday morning. Games and competition is something I try to incorporate in my classroom as much as possible. I’m excited to watch my students blast off this year and looking forward to getting to know more people in the RIS community. Stop by and say hello if you get the chance!

Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


Jennifer Guthrie MS Science Teacher

Hello! I’m Jennifer Guthrie, and I’ve joined RIS to teach 6th grade science. I’m from Destin/Pensacola Beach, Florida, and I moved here with my husband, Nick. This is my first international teaching post. Before coming to RIS I worked at an IB school in Florida. I’m really excited to be here at RIS and to guide students to explore scientific concepts through real-world engineering and design projects and experiential learning. In my free time I enjoy hiking, diving, traveling— really anything that gets me outside and moving. I’m looking forward to exploring and learning more about the natural beauty and culture of Thailand.

Bethany Curtis

MS Learning Support I’m Bethany Curtis. I am working in the Middle School as a Learning Support teacher, and I also have a 7th grade homeroom. I’m from Washington State in the United States, but I have enjoyed living in many different countries around the world. I moved to Bangkok with my husband, Jake, and our daughter, Elsie. We are very excited to be at RIS! Outside of school, I love exploring new places, taking pictures, reading, and spending time with my family. I look forward to meeting everyone in the RIS community!

Josh Koop

HS English Teacher My name is Josh Koop. I come from California and have been a teacher for 8 years. My first teaching job was in the US Peace Corps in southern Thailand. My second job was in the Sierra Nevada mountains, teaching English Language Arts to grades 9 and 10 for two years. After that, I taught at ICS in Bangkok, from 2014–2016. I joined RIS in the spring of last year and am so thrilled to be teaching English Language Arts to students in grades 9, 10, and 11. Outside of school, I enjoy playing music, specifically guitar and piano. I also enjoy competing in triathlons, running marathons, and playing ultimate frisbee. Not only do I teach writing, but I also practice writing in my own life. I’ve written 4 books, 10 novellas, and hundreds of poems. I love teaching, academia, and all the humanities. I am also a person of faith and seek to follow and be a disciple of Jesus. PS: I also like to climb mountains.


Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

Sarah Abrams

MS/HS Drama Teacher Greetings! I am Sarah Abrams, the new Middle School and High School Drama teacher here at RIS, and I’m thrilled to be part of this wonderful institution! Before relocating to Thailand, I was a New York City–based theatre artist and educator, most recently serving as the Drama Content Specialist at Urban Dove Team Charter School. My other NYC teaching experiences include Educational Director at the Shakespeare Society and Director of the Hunts Point Children’s Shakespeare Ensemble. I was as a teaching artist in theatre education, in several capacities, through the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and Town Hall. I have worked in Asia before as artistic-coordinator, director, playwright, actor, and teacher for the Edutainer theatre program at the English Village in Paju, South Korea. I have also led professional development sessions locally, nationally, and internationally at arts education conferences, as well as for private organizations, big and small. One of my favorite experiences was serving as the theatre education specialist for the CAAST Institute’s 2015 workshop sessions in Beijing and Guangzhou. I have also performed Off-Broadway and at regional theatres along the East Coast. I proudly received my Master in Educational Theatre from the City College of New York, CUNY, and I hold a Drama Teaching Certificate for K–12 in the state of New York. I received my Bachelor of Fine Art in Acting from Boston University and a certification in Classical Theatre at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) in the UK. It is a pleasure and a privilege to serve the students of RIS and I look forward to working with many of them for this Spring’s musical production of Once on This Island.

Trenton Mendelson

HS IBDP English B Teacher My name is Trenton Mendelson, and I come from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA. I teach high school English here at RIS after having spent the last 6 years teaching in China. This is my first year living in Bangkok. My wife and I are very excited to experience everything that Thailand has to offer. I enjoy playing basketball, reading literature and historical nonfiction, traveling and exploring new places and cultures, watching films, and being with friends and family. I am beyond thrilled to be part of the RIS family!

Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


Richard Curtis

HS Dean of Students Hello RIS! My name is Richard Curtis, and I’m excited to be part of this community again. Last year I came here for a few months to fill in for the MS Counselor while she was on maternity leave. This year I’ve returned with my family and am working as the High School Dean of Students. I was born and raised in Maine, USA, but I lived in Turkey for two years during high school where I met my wife, Candan. We have two children, Izzy (7th grade) and Sam (3rd grade). We are relocating from the metropolitan Washington DC area, where I worked at two different independent schools as a HS Counselor. I earned a BA in Psychology from Saint Anselm College and received a M.Ed. in School Counseling from the University of Maine. Most recently, I completed a Post Master’s Certificate in Administration and Educational Leadership at George Washington University. Some of the things I enjoy most are being outdoors, playing basketball, traveling, and working with adolescents. It’s been a joy getting to know the students at RIS, and I hope to become acquainted with as many members of the RIS community as possible. My family is enjoying life in Thailand, and we are looking forward to exploring this wonderful country.

Antonio Luna

HS Spanish Teacher My name is Antonio Luna, and I was born in Estepona, Andalusia, a beautiful town in southern Spain. I earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Granada, and I have two master’s degrees, one in Gifted Education and one in Applied Linguistics. I teach high school Spanish here at RIS. I have extensive experience, having taught on three different continents: Europe, America, and Asia. My first teaching years were in Spain, where I had the opportunity to learn the national educational system there and help students with economic disadvantages. After 5 years teaching Humanities and Languages in Spain, I moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, to my first international school, where I taught for two years. After teaching in the United States, my family and I moved to Mumbai, India, where I taught at the Ecole Mondiale World School. Then we lived in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, where I taught at the American International School and fell in love with Southeast Asia. I am here with my lovely wife and our two young boys.


Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

Taylor Siedell

HS Business, Economics, and History Teacher My name is Taylor Siedell, and I’m teaching Business, Economics, and History at RIS. I’m glad to be back in Thailand and have enjoyed getting to know my students at RIS over the last few weeks. I spent the last two years in Yangon, Myanmar, and before that I worked for large and small businesses, in finance and then F&B, in Tokyo, New York, and Bangkok. Although originally from the United States, I grew up overseas in Japan and Thailand. In many ways, Thailand feels like a second home to me. I love to cook, bake, and read. My wife and I enjoy living downtown and exploring what Bangkok has to offer. Things have changed a lot since I lived here, and the city continues to surprise us.

Sr. Micah T. Sallong MS/HS Religion Teacher

Hello! My name is Perlita​​T.​​Sallong, but my religious​n ​ ame is Sister​​ Micah​ ​Sallong, OSB. I​ ​belong​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Congregation​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Benedictine​ ​ Sisters​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Eucharistic​ ​King, and I​ ​come​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Philippines. I earned a Bachelor​​of​​Arts ​in​​Religious​​Studies from St. Paul University Quezon City in Manila. I also have a Master​​of​A ​ rts​​in​​Missiology,​majoring i​n​​ Biblical​ ​Studies, from the ​​Institute​ ​for Consecrated​ ​Life​ ​in​ ​Asia,​ ​Quezon​ ​ City. Here at RIS I​​am​​teaching​​Religion​​Class to ​students in grades​​6 and ​8–11 ​​​and​ ​Peace​ ​Studies​ ​to grade​ ​9 students.

Halie Peveto

Speech Pathologist Hi, my name is Halie Peveto. I am the new speech therapist at RIS. I graduated with a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. This is my fifth year as a speech therapist, and I couldn’t be more excited to be starting that year here at RIS. I moved to Bangkok with my husband, Tyson, and our dog, Gracie, will soon be joining us. In my spare time I enjoy reading, traveling, trying new foods, and watching movies. I think my favorite thing about Bangkok so far is checking out all the markets—there are so many! I’m looking forward to my time here at RIS.

Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


Elisia Brodeur

Communications Specialist I was born in the States but spent my formative years in England before moving back to the US after completing a BA in Communications. This is my second year at RIS but my first working at the school fulltime. My husband, Kevin, teaches in the MS and our boys, Duncan (11) and Tobin (9), are RIS students. I’ve worked in various roles in educational publishing for 19 years, the last 6 as a freelance editor and project manager. I’m also a calligrapher and a life coach. When not nerding over words, I love to watch movies, travel, read, work on puzzles, and hang out with family and friends.

Matthew Hayter

Digital Marketing Specialist My professional background includes producing television programs at BEC-Tero Entertainment, sub-editing and writing for The Bangkok Post, and most recently, marketing and branding at some of the top international schools in Thailand. I think of myself as a gentle, fun-loving, peaceful person, although I’ve been known to be exceedingly primitive and unsophisticated when it’s football season (according to my wife). When I’m not trying to find new ways to market and promote RIS, I like to spend time with my family and friends, play golf, and try very hard not to be the worst pool player in Bangkok.

Coming Soon! Annual Walk/Run-a-thon Fundraiser Our school’s annual Walk/Run-a-thon Fundraiser is coming up soon. All students, faculty, teachers, and parents are invited to participate. Registration fee is 200 baht. All monies go to support RIS service learning projects. Put the dates on your calendar and come support lots of great causes! • High School: Wednesday, November 15th at 3:00–4:00 pm • Middle School: Wednesday, November 29th at 8:00–9:00 am • Elementary School: Thursday, November 30th at 7:30–8:30 am


Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

Facility Upgrades to Celebrate Our 60th Year

by Elisia Brodeur


s part of the school’s 60-year anniversary milestone, the campus has undergone some extensive upgrades, with more changes to come throughout this year and beyond to give our children and faculty the best learning environment we can offer them. Here are some of the updates that RIS is proud to share with our community.

All-School Upgrades There is an entirely new facade in front of the entrance to Godbout Hall. This will eventually become the main entrance where students will be dropped off in the mornings. It looks beautiful at night and can be seen as you drive toward the school on Ramkhamhaeng 184.

The new Thomas Cafe has a great look and a laid-back vibe, attracting parents, students, and faculty all day long. The grounds of the school are also being improved with extensive new plantings.

Athletic Facilities This summer, several of our athletics facilities were upgraded, which is not only a great benefit to our students but also allows RIS to host more sports events and competitions with other national and international schools. Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


The Phoenix pool—formerly the Astra pool—has undergone extensive renovations and major upgrades. The pool now measures 25m x 50m, which is officially Olympic size and concurrent with FINA standards . All of the tiles in the pool were removed and replaced with a special PVC lining, which is safer because it won’t be damaged by ground settling. The pool now has 50m and 25m marked lanes, allowing RIS to host both shortcourse and long-course events. Each short end of the pool will be fitted with 8 secure starter blocks, and the longer southern side of the pool will be have 16 new starter blocks for short-course events. The pebblecrete flooring on the pool deck has been replaced with a synthetic rubber material, which is less slippery and therefore safer for swimmers and coaches. The scoreboard has also been upgraded to a state-ofthe-art LCD screen and the timing system now boasts highly sensitive touch pads. A new shade covering, which will extend across the entire pool, will keep the water, deck, and viewing areas cooler and prevent the teachers, coaches, and swimmers from getting sunburned. The shade coverings and the new flooring will also match the RIS colors to help efforts to keep our school’s branding consistent. Our viewing area will also have a separate entrance, ensuring that spectators will be kept safely away from the pool deck. There is also a new double-door entrance to the pool deck, which allows for quick access to the Aquatics offices, meeting room, storage facilities, and the recently renovated exercise room. There are also plans to repaint the entire pool facility and retile the showers. The exercise room in Phoenix Hall has doubled in size and now has a new sound system, a 60-inch smart TV,


Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

and additional mirrors and yoga mats. This room is used for yoga classes, other PE classes, dry-land swim training, and after-school EDP classes. The Godbout pool—formerly the Alpha pool—had its filter system upgraded to an automatic salt-chlorination system. The Fitness Room in Godbout Hall has been extended to double its previous size as well as having much more natural light. The new and improved gym now has an excellent sound system, a 60-inch smart TV, wifi, some new exercise equipment, and additional CCTV security.

Elementary School Facilities There have been several exciting building and renovation projects going on at the Elementary School. Here are some of the highlights: ● We are especially proud of our new PreK 2 center. ● The PreK 3 and PreK 4 children are enjoying newly renovated classrooms. ● The ES canteen has been relocated and updated. ● Our counselor’s office has been moved to the first floor. ● Opposite the ES office, a large new multipurpose room has been constructed to allow a large space for students, parents, and teachers to meet and work. ● The ES breezeway has been repainted.

Middle School Facilities

The Middle School at RIS is committed to providing its students with unique, experiential learning opportunities. This year, the middle school renovated some unused rooms in order to open a state-of-the-art culinary center. Enrollment in the class was so popular that all of the available spaces were immediately filled. We appreciate the support from RIS administrators who invested in the program and the facility upgrades.

Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


HS Year 2 Art Show

The Hours


Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

Our Very Own Jr. NBA All-Star!


eev Premer, a 10th grader at RIS, not only made it to the finals of the Jr. NBA competition but was selected as one of the Jr. NBA All-Stars for Thailand. A total of 16 juniors (boys and girls) were chosen from more than 2,400 participants. That’s quite an accomplishment!

The Thai Jr. NBA All-Star team will travel to Shanghai in October, along with the other Jr. NBA teams from Asia, to do some training and compete in some basketball games. The Jr. NBA teams will also get to attend one NBA game while they are in Shanghai. Congratulations, Zeev! The RIS community is proud of you.

ES Cross Country Star M

ax Schnittman, a fifth grader in Ms. Suzie’s classroom, joined the RIS cross country team this fall. Max has enjoyed competitive running since first grade, and he has been a top runner in his school’s cross country and track programs ever since. Last year, Max travelled to Indiana in the USA to compete in national cross country and track races. His 4x800 relay track team made it to the district championships! Despite being the youngest Phoenix on the RIS cross country team, Max practices at least three times a week. Most of his running partners are high school students, but his speed inspires them to increase their speed.

Max running during the RIS Fun Run Max is very proud to be wearing the Phoenix colors. The whole team, including Coach Koop and Assistant Coach Lauren, are thrilled to have him. Max might be made the Phoenix cross country mascot—if only they could catch him!

Max also put in a strong effort during the school’s recent “fun runs,” placing 3rd in the RIS Faculty Fun Fun and winning 1st place at the ISB run on September 9. Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


International Food Fair I

t finally arrived: one of the most awaited festivals of the year! The International Food Fair kicked off with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony presided over by Fr. Apisit, Dr. Shalee, and Fr. John. There was such excitement in the air and the day was filled with performances and entertainment provided by our students, games, lucky draws, and of course, culinary delights from across the world! We would like to thank the Parents’ Auxiliary, staff, and volunteers for working tirelessly to set up this wonderful event.


Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


My Summer at Stanford by Kasidis Arunruangsirilert (Ken)


ou might think there’s nothing extraordinary about a summer program other than the opportunity to meet new friends. For me, last summer was the most memorable one of my life. But it took four years to make it happen. It all began when I was in seventh grade. My idol at the time was Sittiphol (Neoi) Phanvilai, the owner of Because I wanted to be as accomplished as Neoi, I took part in many programming competitions. I joined Dtac Accelerate, not realizing that it was a business incubator program instead of a programming contest. Even though I didn’t make it to the final round, I was invited to observe the program. I went, but it wasn’t the business knowledge or ideas that I took away, it was the connections I made that were the most meaningful for me. I met three people there who changed my life forever: Ruengroj Poonpol (Krating), Venture Partner at 500 Startups and a Stanford graduate; Amarit Charoenphan (Aim), CEO of Techsauce Thailand and a RIS alum; and Sorawit Paiboonrattanakorn (Giraffe), CEO of Saturday School. I was particularly inspired by a conversation I had with Krating, which led me to solidify my life goal: “Get into Stanford and then get a job at Google.” Krating suggested that I attend the Stanford Summer Institutes as it offers a great opportunity to meet people with similar passions. I applied but they denied my admission. I realized that my English was a weakness and that I needed to transfer to an international school.

So I applied for a scholarship to RIS and was fortunate to be accepted. For the last two years I have worked hard to learn English, have participated in lots of extracurricular activities, and become known for my photography skills. Earlier this year, I applied to the Stanford Summer Institutes again. Not only was I accepted to the program—an Artificial Intelligence course, but I was awarded $5,000 in financial aid! Soon after my acceptance, Giraffe introduced me to Phathaphol Karnchanapimonkul (Pure), an alum of RIS and a current student at Stanford. Pure helped me prepare for my first trip to the United States and introduced me to many of his friends there. I arrived at Stanford in mid-July, and my first impression was how large and gorgeous the campus was; I loved the 1900s-style buildings, especially the Memorial Church in the Main Quad. All of the program participants and the TAs stayed in the same dorm so we could get to know each other better. Both of my roommates were fun to talk with, and—exactly as Krating had told me— many of them shared my passion for technology. A typical day at Stanford Summer Institutes began with class in the morning followed by a study session in the afternoon to work on our project. In class, we learned how to program a robot to move by itself and complete objectives, such as making it go through a maze or avoid obstacles. The course was essentially a simplified version of one of Stanford’s computer science courses.


Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

We also went on two field trips while we were in California. The first was to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, where I enjoyed taking photos of the huge, colorful park that is unique to that beach. The following weekend we went to the Exploratorium—a science museum that has lots of really cool exhibitions and where I learned many new things. But the most meaningful thing I took away from this experience was not what I learned at Stanford. The most valuable discoveries were the connections I made and what I learned about life in America. Pure had introduced me to many Stanford students—virtually— but while I was there, I got to meet them in person. I met a Thai Ph.D. student who gave me great advice about my further studies and explained how she was awarded the King’s Scholarship. Then she introduced me to Todd (RIS ’18) and several other Stanford students. I also got to meet Pure’s former roommate, who told me what it’s really like to study at Stanford. It was a great conversation that made me realize I need to think seriously about whether Stanford will be a good fit for me. I spoke with many of these new friends about the lifestyle and culture of America, which I found very interesting. Last but not least, I was honored to meet Dr. Michal Kosinski, a very kind Stanford professor. We talked about why a gap year is important and why a Ph.D. is a must. That conversation also led me to carefully consider my future. While I was there, I found out that Aim was going to be in San Francisco, so I met up with him and he introduced me to group of Thai people who live there. Together,

we formed the “SF Thais Club,” which became a great opportunity to make more connections with people in the Bay Area. Many members of the SF Thais Club have successful businesses and several are in the process of starting businesses. One of the club members works at Uber and took me on a tour of Uber HQ, which seems like a really great place to work. Then another SF Thais club member, a Thai MIT student currently interning at Google, invited us all to Google HQ. My dream was finally coming true! We had lunch at Google, which was delicious and—most importantly—free! Then we took a tour of Google HQ. Like Uber HQ, Google HQ is an amazing place to work, just as I had imagined it would be four years earlier. I believe that hard work and perseverance are important keys to any goal in life, but if I learned anything from my experiences this summer, it was that connections are very important—if not, the most important thing. I would have missed 75% of this trip if I hadn’t had any connections at the beginning. I also believe that opportunity doesn’t always come to you. It’s your job to go out and find it and then take it whenever you can. It’s like catching a train: if you catch a right one, it will take you to your destination quickly. The payoffs from my summer are the things I learned, the connections, the experiences, and the memories, none of which could be compensated by any amount of money. Even though I haven’t achieved my goal yet, I have verified that it’s the right goal for me. From now on, I’m running straight toward that goal. I’m going to make my dream come true! Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


Finding my Future by Parichamon (Atom) Promsit


’ve always been a girl who is interested in science; science is my passion. I find bacterias very cute. (I know that is weird, a lot of people tell me that, too.) But I could learn about science all day, every day. However, I still do not know what to do, as a career, after high school. A lot of people have told me to go to medical school because I love lifesciences, but I didn’t think that being a physician was for me. After many conversations with my mom, she suggested that I join a rather interesting summer program to find out what I can do in the medical field. This past summer, when most people are enjoying their time off school and traveling around the world exploring places, my mother sent me abroad to a summer program at Boston University, and I have to say, it was awesome. In the program, “Academic Immersion: Introduction to Medicine,” I was given the opportunity to explore different areas of medicine through hands-on experiences. Our daily routine consisted of a lecture/ seminar in the morning where we learned about physiology, infectious diseases, and modern medicine. In the afternoon, we traveled to the medical campus for different lab activities relating to what we had learned in the morning. For example, one morning we learned about the cardiovascular system, and that afternoon we did an ECG lab. Some of the other activities included an alcohol absorption lab (seeing how much a body can naturally absorb alcohol), a neurology lab where we got to work with cockroaches, CPR certification training, and simulation labs where we learned to do a basic health check. There were other parts of the program that made it such a great experience. We stayed at the Warren Towers (the freshman dormitory of Boston University) and were allowed to use the university’s facilities, such as laboratories and lecture rooms, as well as to study at the university’s medical campus. During my three weeks at the dorm, I learned to make friends and live on my own. I made so many unforgettable memories during my classes while I was there. However, there were two unforgettable moments that stand out and that I would


Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

love to share: the experience of learning how to do sutures and the chance to hold real human brains. (No, you did not misread that.) From the first day I received my class and activity schedule, I knew that learning to do sutures would be an amazing experience and skill to have, and I was not wrong. Most of us in the program were looking forward to this class, and we had heard a lot of amazing experiences and great tips from another group of students that had done the activity the day before. By the time we got to the class, we already kind of knew what was going to happen. Two ENT (ear, nose and throat) surgical residents were our teachers for the day. They taught us how to do basic suture stitches, such as simple interrupted and uninterrupted sutures, as well as more advanced stitches, like vertical and horizontal mattress sutures. We were given a banana and sponges to practice the sutures on, as well as many different types of surgical suture threads to work with. Some threads were made of silk and some were absorbable, meaning they do not

need to cut out the stitches later—your body will just absorb the thread (how cool is that?!). Making my first stitch was a very odd sensation. The needle is not straight, like one you use for sewing clothes, it is more similar to a hook. This made it a bit harder to aim in the right direction and to know how deep you must go. Also, you cannot pull the thread too hard or else you would rip the banana skin apart. One of my proudest moments in this program was in this class: I got a compliment from one of the surgical residents about my sutures! I was on cloud nine after that, and I even kept the banana for a week and a half after the class. (It was probably not the most sanitary thing to do, but I was very proud of my work!) As a junior in high school, the last thing I expected was to find myself holding a real human brain. But that’s exactly what happened! It was an unforgettable day. I even remember the smell of the room: it smelled like pool chlorine, only ten times stronger. Even after the class, we still smelled like brains. Our professor taught us about the different lobes of the brain and the specific features that we should be looking at. But after the lecture was the most exciting part. The brains came to the lab in buckets that were filled with chemicals to preserve them—the professor called it “Brain Juice.” The buckets looked normal from a distance, but once I opened the bucket, it was not normal at all. The fluid the brain was in was a mauvepinkish tone, and I had to reach my hand in the bucket it take it out—luckily, the professor helped us with that. Now, to the big question: what does a brain feel like in your hand? The brain felt very heavy, super dense, and it also had a very soft, squishable texture. The brain I was holding also still had the spinal cord attach it to. It was amazing to realize that spinal cords are actually shorter than you would expect. The spinal cord ends about three quarters of the way down your back. Another question you might be asking right now is how I was not scared of the brains? Honestly, I was terrified of the brains. However, by the time I knew it, the brain was already in my hand and it was not that bad. It was such a cool experience. After our exploration with the brains, our professor had us play a game called “brain puzzle.” Teams were given a brain that had already been dissected, and the goal was to race to see who could

put the pieces of the brain back together the fastest. You could say, literally and figuratively, that this was a brain puzzle game! I am proud to say that my team won. Beyond what I learned in this program, I’ve also made many friends who I’m still in touch with. I would also love to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Duncan Blair, my grade 10 biology teacher, for making this experience possible. Without the knowledge you taught us, I would not have survived the first lecture. (The first lecture was actually the whole biology 10 course condensed into two hours.) I entered this program with a question: “What I can do in the medical field without actually being a physician?” Now that the program is over, I can say that I learned so many possibilities of what I can do in the medical field. Being in the medical field can mean being a researcher, a genetic counselor, or even a forensic anthropologist. These roles in medicine are needed in the world as much as doctors are needed in the world. The medical field is all about helping people and improving their quality of life. I am happy to say that I would like to be one of those people. Ultimately, this course has helped me to understand that medicine is more than just being a doctor. Like from this quote from an anonymous person, “Be like the stem cell, differentiate yourself from others.” In order to be in the medical field, you don’t always have to be a doctor like so many others. Dare to be different. Thailand is more than willing to accept your difference. Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


HS Students Intern at Sirindhorn Hospital by Pavis Bhuvanit (Beam) 12-2 and Saruta Lorwatanapongsa (Khaimook) 12-4

It was a moment in time where we genuinely understood that the life of a doctor is not as simple as it may be perceived to be. Our deep passion and commitment for helping people to live happier and healthier lives will surely be crucial as we continue to walk on this pathway toward a career in medicine.


ver the summer, the Red Cross Committee sent two High School students on an internship at Sirindhorn Hospital. Here are their thoughts on the experience. “I want you to become a doctor because doctors are highly honored and respected in Thai society,” may be the most common phrase said by Thai parents. As we count down to our entrance exams, we realized that it takes much more than a 4.00 GPA in order to become a doctor. Ms. Sabrena Baiagern, the Red Cross Committee Advisor at RIS, gave us the opportunity to observe the work of many different doctors and nurses for two weeks this summer at Sirindhorn Hospital. We worked with highly experienced orthopedic physicians and were exposed to several kinds of wounds and injuries, as well as post-surgical treatments from many unpredictable accidents. We learned that it involves a person to step out of their comfort zone to do heavy wound dressings. We also mastered reading and understanding vital signs, including pulse rate, blood pressure, oxygen levels, and height-weight relationships. Then we moved on to pediatrics, where we met Dr. Taneenat Treratvirapong, who not only taught us about the treatment of general diseases but showed us an important aspect of being a doctor. For instance, most children suffer from obesity due to lack of knowledge about nutrition. Instead of rushing through her list of patients, Dr. Taneenat gave honest suggestions and paid close attention to all the little details to ensure the well-


Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

being of the children in her care. Furthermore, maybe because we are as passionate and engaged as we are, Dr. Taneenat did not hesitate to teach us how to diagnose a wide range of illnesses and diseases using a stethoscope. We were truly inspired by Dr. Taneenat’s mindset and dedication to help people, but what’s more inspiring is the fact that she has chosen to continue to work for eight hours a day instead of enjoying life after retirement. Our next stop was the EENT (Eye-Ear-Nose-Throat) department. We were introduced to Dr. Natthapong Angasudhasavit, an otolaryngologist. Unlike most doctors, Dr. Natthapong arrives at the hospital before 8:00 a.m. every day, even on his days off, which clearly demonstrates his high level of responsibility and punctuality—an important characteristic of a successful doctor. His truthfulness is also clearly appreciated by his patients. For example, patients with labyrinthitis (inner ear inflammation) were told explicitly to stop using cotton buds or they would end up with perforated eardrums. Dr. Natthapong’s honesty and dedication to helping people live better lives has emboldened us to proceed with our medical dreams. After Dr. Natthapong, we met with Dr. Sirinet, who taught us the basics of mydriasis. The final department in our internship was Internal Medicine. There, we met Dr. Kulthida, who although young is as talented as any other doctor. She specializes in treating circulatory and respiratory diseases, and is well-liked by her elderly patients. The one thing we noticed about Dr. Kulthida is her patience. There were several times where patients struggled to understand

the specifics of their treatment, but Dr. Kulthida always kept a smile on her face, despite the complaints she received from patients. It became apparent that one of the biggest challenges to becoming a doctor is the ability to put up with different problems while maintaining professionalism.

This hospital internship could not have been as flawless as it was without Khun Sawai Bunlu and the nursing department, as well as Ms. Sabrena Baiagern, who gave us a remarkable opportunity and experience working with professional doctors and nurses.

My Summer Internship at Baker & McKenzie by Wow-Wow Vorapanyasakul


ountains of documents on every desk. Layers of blazers hung on the door of every room. An average of two phone calls per hour and extensive sounds of typing… And there I was, sitting in a fourperson room with large windows that boasted a view of Lumpini Park, amazed at everyone’s level of organization and endurance. This is one of the most prestigious law firms in Thailand, and I was lucky enough to be there, as a trainee, every day during the month of July. Initially, I was indifferent to the idea of working at Baker & McKenzie for a month. My parents were the ones firmly hoping that I would study law at university, so they sent me to Baker with the hopes that I’d become more interested in legal work. So, without any background in law, my summer was spent translating legal documents, checking for corrections on agreements, researching for cases, and typing answers to difficult questions from executives. The experience was wonderful. I learned numerous things about lawyers and the type of work they deal with, and I even got to visit the labor court to attend a court hearing. I learned that lawyers work much harder than I expected—one of them told me that the longest she’s stayed at the office was from 10am to 7am. I learned that legal work involves difficult language and demanding clients, as well as piles and piles of documents. Seriously, I do not know how they are able to keep track of everything. Working at Baker & McKenzie made me realise aspects of being a lawyer that I had not known before, aspects that will I will take into serious consideration when I apply to universities in two years. After my internship, I now believe that having this kind of hands-on experience with the profession you are considering is crucial. Websites and movies will never

be as accurate as the real-life experience of doing the actual work involved in the job. I not only gained knowledge about law, but I also learned about the daily life of lawyers and what they have to go through in order to work at the largest law firm in Thailand. I even made friends with some of the lawyers. Better yet, I was also able to gain advice from an RIS alumna on the courses I should take and the path I should choose. Therefore, if any of you are on the fence about whether to accept that internship or not, do it. Yes, it will take away time from your summer vacation, but I believe opportunities like these are extremely valuable and useful. You will not only learn about the profession you think you’re interested in, but you will also develop better work ethics. At school, if you turn in work late, the worst thing that can happen is detention. However, once you are in a working environment, you realize that everyone else’s work depends on your effort. From this, you learn how to work with professional people in a professional environment. It prepares you for the realities of working life and the challenges and rewards that come with it. I encourage everyone to choose to miss out on a few pool parties and chill days for a month so they can try out their dream profession. Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


RIS Water Project and Forest Rehabilitation in Northern Thailand arlier this spring, several RIS high school students, along with faculty members and Fathers, traveled to villages, schools, and churches in the Mae Chaem District of Chiang Mai to learn about how deforestation and lack of access to clean drinking water has affected the environment and local communities there.


High school students Cooper Parham, Maren Smith, and Zora Blair are the High School students spearheading this initiative. In September, they gave a presentation to the 8th grade students to raise awareness about the project and solicit volunteers for the group’s October trips to Chiang Mai.

They were able to see firsthand how poverty has driven people to turn to any available resource for survival; in this case, the protected forests. Illegal logging has led to severe deforestation. Once the root systems of trees have been removed, the land becomes more prone to erosion, which in turn destroys the farmland, essentially rendering it useless. Perhaps even worse, the runoff from this now-barren land means that local communities no longer have access to clean drinking water.

Eighteen high school students and 14 middle school students traveled north to Chiang Mai at the beginning of October and spent a total of five days planting trees and experiencing authentic rural Thai life during their homestays.

To celebrate our school’s 60th anniversary and to promote the Redemptorist mission in its humanitarian outreach, RIS is part of a Water and Forest Rehabilitation project. The project aligns with the Thai Department of Forestry’s Strategic goals for 2015–2025. The project’s overarching goal is to reverse the current situation by creating sustainable options so residents no longer need to cut down the trees on protected land. Specifically, the project aims to: ● educate our school community and raise awareness about water problems in northern Thailand ● improve the local community’s access to clean drinking water and sanitation ● build dykes and protect watersheds ● plant 120 rai of trees 50

Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

More students will be going later this month. We will report on their experiences and reflections in the next issue of Ad Astra.

Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


Thailand Teaches Texas: The RIS Initiative to Help the Victims of Hurricane Harvey by Lindsey Skewis


n August 25, Hurricane Harvey, a fast-moving category 4 storm, made landfall on the Texas gulf coast. The wind gusts—up to 130 miles per hour— along with the storm surge completely destroyed many coastal towns. After making landfall, the storm then made its way northeast to the Houston area, where it caused catastrophic flooding for the next several days. As Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc across Texas, I watched not one, but two cities I have called home face unmatched destruction. My heart broke for my hometown, the small island of Port Aransas, along with my former neighborhood in the sprawling city of Houston, as family, friends, and fellow Texans experienced a disaster unlike anything these communities have seen before. My social media newsfeed was filled with photos of inconceivable devastation and pleas for help. But, amid all of the heartache, there were just as many posts of gratitude and of people recognizing the countless selfless acts of heroism and assistance. But the people in these areas lost more than just their belongings. They have completely lost the life they once knew. And many of those affected are children. A mere four days into the new school year, Hurricane

Harvey made its unwelcome appearance in their schools. Because many school districts were forced to close, these children were displaced not only from their homes, but also from their classrooms. Being so far away from home during this time was really hard for me. I wanted to do something to help, but because I wasn’t physically present it was hard to know what was needed and how I could help. That same week, I was invited to meet with the Middle School Council at one of their lunchtime meetings. I got to share with the students what I knew, personally, about the destruction in my hometown. I told them about what the students there were going through and asked our students if they had any ideas about how we might be able to help from 15,000km away.

We discussed the great influence that social media had during the storm and how, afterward, it had provided help and encouragement for those who had been affected. We also discussed what life Earn and Seya, 6th grade students, teach you how to say a few phrases in Chinese. was going to be like for those 52

Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

We raised so much awareness about the project that students from all three sections of RIS have submitted videos. Students have even created videos outside of school, both individually and together with friends. Some students have chosen to edit their videos, turning them into more elaborate productions. The content of the videos range from magic tricks to book readLila and Nisha, 6th graders, teach you how to say “Keep Hope Alive” in Thai. alouds to inspirational messages in foreign languages. A new students who were torn away from everything they video was posted daily for approximately one month. had known, and how some of them would feel very The plan was to send these messages to the students in Texas for the duration of time until they were able to confused, lost, and sad. return to their normal school environment and routines. Our MSC students suggested the idea of filming videos Many school districts in the Houston area were able to to share with the Texas students that might entertain or return to school after two weeks, but others have yet teach them while they were not in school. Our students to return. Students from my hometown of Port Aransas felt that if the plan was to solely read aloud books, that were enrolled temporarily in schools in surrounding might be too boring, and I think they were probably towns until Port Aransas schools reopen, which is right. They brainstormed ideas of what our students currently scheduled for October 16. Thailand Teaches could teach them. How to make bracelets and stop- Texas plans to use this date to phase out its daily video motion animation videos were among some of the first posting, but we will continue to post videos for as long as they are being submitted. ideas. The plan was to post the videos on social media in order to share them with the students affected by the hurricane. We created a Facebook page called “Thailand Teaches Texas.” Once the videos are submitted, I edit and upload them to the Facebook page so they can be shared with students and others.

We hope that this initiative will provide an escape into the wonderful world of learning for these students during this difficult time. If you are interested in participating, please submit your videos to Ms. Caroline (carolines@ or Ms. Lindsey ( in the Middle School.

It was amazing to witness our students coming together to make announcements, create sign-up sheets, and spread the message to others about what we were doing to help the students in Texas. Ms. Caroline, the MSC sponsor, was a huge help in organizing the students and sending out information. Teachers encouraged students to make videos during Advisory classes to earn House Team points. Other teachers incorporated making videos as part of their class activities. Mr. Walter’s and Ms. Vivian’s foreign language classes promoted creating videos in other languages, which have been some of the more popular videos posted on the Facebook page.

To see the videos that have been created so far, visit and like the Facebook page “Thailand Teaches Texas,” or scan this QR code. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the first video that explains our thinking behind the project.

Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


The Village Explorer Project by Elisia Brodeur

while learning about local lifestyles and folk wisdom, but they would be able to participate in many activities that helped them learn about living together, socializing, and meeting new friends.


ast year, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) launched a new program called “The Village Explorer.� The TAT developed seven model tourism communities and villages across Central and Northern Thailand. These villages would host school outings and family trips to encourage and facilitate learning for students outside of the classroom, while at the same time generating income for these local communities. To help advertise the program, the TAT organized a promotion campaign. Seven international and private schools were invited to participate in a contest. Each school participated in the competition by taking some of their students on a school outing to one of the seven communities. Then after the trip, each school was tasked with helping to publicize the tourism community that their students had visited through social media. Ruamrudee International School was one of the schools chosen to be part of the campaign. RIS was paired with the village of Krachaeng in Amphoe Bang Sai, Ayutthaya province. Krachaeng is a small, quaint community near the River Noi whose residents like to put their natural surroundings to good use. The aim of the experience was for students to learn how the locals live in the countryside and be open to new experiences in an outdoor classroom. Not only would they be acquainted with a simpler way of life


Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

This past spring, a select group of fourth and fifth grade students from RIS were chosen to go on an overnight trip to the village of Krachaeng with some of their teachers. While there, the students got to participate in several hands-on projects such as learning how to fish, farm, collect eggs, create local crafts, and prepare regional dishes. Specifically, the children were taught how to use the water hyacinths that are abundant in the area to craft into exquisite hats. At a small rice field not far from the village the children were able to walk in the rice fields and farm with their own hands. Even though they got soaked and their legs were completely muddy, they had an incredible experience to remember. The children also got to barb their own fishing hooks and use crickets as bait to go fishing at the catfish and carp ponds in the village. Afterwards, they got to feast on their catch-of-the-day for dinner. Next to the fishing pond, the children got to feed the roosters and hens in the henhouse and also collect the hens’ eggs. Another highlight was the mushroom farm. The children were able to farm mushrooms until they had collected a bag full, ready to be baked in an oven. They also had the chance to visit the oyster mushroom farm to see the blooming mushrooms, which can be collected and fried to eat later. The local food is an out-of-the-ordinary experience, especially when the children brought crickets raised in

the local cricket farm as an ingredient. Apparently, the deep-fried crickets are very crunchy and delectable! The children loved their experiences at Krachaeng. Here’s what a few had to say about it: “There were many activities for us to do. If you are adventurous, mud sliding and swimming would be fun. If you are relaxed, you can do Look Chup or clay plates.” — Pin (Gr. 4) “There were so many things we did with our Krachaeng friends. One was fishing and another was row boating and much more! Even though it was hot, it was so wonderful! Hopefully we will go there again soon!” — Ice (Gr. 4) “The fried mushrooms were very yummy. They tasted like french fries.” — Anika (Gr. 4) “My favorite part of the trip was getting to know the villagers and learning about what their life is like. All we learned, what we did, the fun that we had… It’s way more fun than it looks!” — Gino (Gr. 4) To promote the village of Krachaeng on social media, RIS created a Facebook page and then asked as many people as possible to advertise it by liking, sharing, and following the page. All likes and shares on the page within 30 days counted toward the the chances of winning a huge prize: 100,000 baht, which would be invested in the village’s economy. At the end of August, our school was invited to the Westin Grande in Bangkok for an award ceremony to find out which school did the best job of promoting its

village. All of the other participating schools attended, along with representatives from each of the seven communities. A few of the fourth graders from RIS who had gone on the Krachaeng trip were invited to the elaborate event where we learned that, despite our best efforts, another school had won the grand prize for their community. But it was never just about the prize. Krachaeng village offered our students an incredible opportunity to learn more about Thailand, and it opened their minds and hearts to new, life-changing experiences that they will clearly never forget. The TAT Governor had this to say at the ceremony: “We would like to invite schools and . . . families who are interested in new learning activities outside the classroom to take field trips [to] the seven communities in the ‘Village Explorer’ project. I guarantee that your kids will be able to participate in activities and have fun learning about rural Thai culture and lifestyles in these communities while opening up new worlds, unique experiences, and unforgettable and positive memories for children. Another important benefit is that the project will help generate income to support Thailand’s rural communities.” Tim Irish, our ES/MS assistant principal, hopes that we have planted the seeds of a lasting connection with this village. He would love to return to the village in the future with more ES and MS students. It sounds as if he won’t have a hard time finding new participants. As 5th grader Tonhom states, “This trip was a very great experience, getting to learn about how villagers live and work. I think that when people come here, they’re going to have a great time.” Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


The Butterfly Effect by Mei Mei (President) and Belle (Vice President)


he Butterfly Effect is a High School committee that aims to help others who are less fortunate and that “holds the belief that a small effort or contribution made in one place can create a miraculous change in other places.” To that end, members of the Butterfly Effect focus on helping the almost 600 orphans and disabled children who are being cared for at the Father Ray Foundation in Pattaya and the Camillian Home in Bangkok. The Foundation has both a daycare for younger children and a school for the older disabled children. The older kids are taught English, technology, and other life and vocational skills, such as how to write a resume and conduct a job interview. Beyond learning skills that will help these young adults sustain themselves, the intention is also to give them a sense of purpose and accomplishment. The Butterfly Effect started three years ago with around 12 committee members, but it has since grown to about 70 committee members, 35–40 of whom are very active in the group. Our committee advisor is Mr. Jaff, who is super nice. We recently organized our second trip to the Camillian Home. Our first trip was in March of this year, when


Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

we got to meet the children for the first time. Some of the children there are mentally challenged and unable to communicate, some are autistic or have Down Syndrome, and some of the children are physically challenged and in wheelchairs. The children range from ages 5 through 18. Since our last visit, the committee has been fundraising on behalf of these children. In the spring, we purchased teddy bears that we decorated and then sold to last year’s RIS graduates. Our committee succeeded in raising 30,000 baht, which we used to buy a shirt-

screening machine that we delivered on our most recent visit to the Camillian Home in September. During this visit, we taught the children how to screen shirts, which they can make to sell for profit as well as making their own shirts for fun. In addition, we taught the children how to make key chains that they also can sell for profit.

materialistic world, where we place a lot of emphasis on what we have. We feel that we have more than we need but we don’t necessarily appreciate it. The children at the Camillian Home appreciate every single thing done for them. They feel happy just because the RIS kids are there.

On the same visit, we participated in several activities with the children, such as songs and musical performances as well as coloring activities, which help the children improve their concentration skills. It was a fun visit that included tasty treats because RIS parents had donated donuts, and Jumbo, one of our committee members, donated ice cream.

We also take for granted, as able-bodied people, that we can do everything. Disabled people have a heart and feelings, too. They want to be just like everyone else but they don’t get that choice. You never know how much impact you have on the life of a person. Frankly speaking, it’s what we do and the impact we make that makes our lives valuable.

Reflecting on this visit, we feel that there were more children than there were on our first trip in March. We also noticed that the children changed over that sixmonth period. On our initial visit, one child was in a wheelchair and wasn’t able to communicate at all. This past visit, we noticed that the same child was much more talkative. Another child with Down Syndrome didn’t interact last time either. This time, he was much more responsive, paid more attention, and understood all of the instructions.

We got certificates from the Father Ray Foundation, and while our names are on those certificates, what’s more valuable to us is that our imprint is on the hearts of the disabled people.

As students ourselves, helping these children from another school makes us feel good. We live in a

We plan to go back to the Father Ray Foundation this December, this time we hope to stay for two nights. We’re still deciding how best we can help during that visit. We also hope to return to the Camillian Home in March of 2018. All students are welcome to go on these trips if they are interested. There are also lots of other activities for committee members, and we like to put all of our ideas into action. Feel free to join us! Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


RIS: Photo of the Day: 29/9/2017 Yesterday, the High School Red Cross Club and the Thai Red Cross Society sponsored a blood drive, which was a huge success! For every bag of blood donated, three lives are saved, and we had 102 donations! This means that 306 lives will be saved, thanks to our RIS community. If you missed yesterday’s donation, don’t worry, you still have a chance to donate blood on March 6th, 2018.

RIS: Photo of the Day: 21/9/2017 Today our school community celebrates International Day of Peace (World Peace Day) with the message of unity, peace, and tolerance in our society. This week our students participated in several activities organized by their teachers and other staff members that included making posters, art pieces, and origami doves that depicted their idea of a peaceful society. The objective of the activities was to promote and increase awareness among our students on the importance of peace in the world.

RIS: Photo of the Day: 4/9/2017 Our school community, including RIS families and cross country student athletes, came out bright and early on Saturday morning to participate in our very first “RIS Fun Run” of the year. We had participants from age 3 to 57 years old running the 2km or 5km course, and they all did an amazing job!


Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017

RIS: Photo of the Day: 30/8/2017 Today we welcomed 14 new members into the National Honor Society. This prestigious induction recognizes students in our community who exemplify leadership, service, and scholarship. After an arduous application process, these students were selected by our faculty. Congratulations to our newest members of the National Honor Society!

RIS: Photo of the Day: 28/8/2017 Recently our ES students (Grades 4 & 5), along with 6 other schools, competed in The Village Explorer’s “Let’s Explore the World” campaign to raise awareness about rural communities as travel destinations in Thailand. Each school was assigned a village to promote and the school with the most social media reach and engagement, would win 100,000 baht to benefit that particular village. Well done to all our students and special thanks to Mr. Tim!

RIS: Photo of the Day: 11/8/2017 Today our youngest children potted some jasmine plants as a special gift on the occasion of Thai Mother’s Day, which is celebrated on August 12. We would like to wish all the wonderful mothers out there a very Happy Mother’s Day!

Ad Astra Volume 22 October 2017


Profile for RISAdAstra