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Coming Events

Danish Planet Saigon: Easter Lunch

Your FREE ScandAsia Magazine ScandAsia is the only magazine that covers all the Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish residents in South East Asia. We also publish a ScandAsia magazine in China, Thailand, and Singapore.

Please sign up for your own FREE copy: www.scandasia.com Publisher : 211 Soi Prasert Manukitch 29 Prasert Manukitch Road Chorakae Bua, Lad Prao Bangkok 10230, Thailand Tel. +66 2 943 7166-8, Fax: +66 2 943 7169 E-mail: news@scandasia.com Editor-in-Chief : Gregers A.W. Møller gregers@scandmedia.com Managing Editor: Thana Poopat thana@scandmedia.com Advertising : Finn Balslev finn@scandmedia.com Piyanan Kalikanon piyanan@scandmedia.com Nattapat Maesang nattapat@scandmedia.com Graphic Designer : Supphathada Numamnuay supphathada@scandmedia.com Distribution : Wanvisa Rattanaburi wanvisa@scandmedia.com Printing : Advance Printing Services Co., Ltd.

Daily news and features here: www.scandasia.com

Join us at 27 Grill on April 20th, In Saigon, Vietnam, to celebrate Easter Weekend and enjoy a traditional spread of seasonal delicacies. The event will begin at 12:00pm with live entertainment and continue throughout the afternoon. The price for Adults is $50USD++/person, Children under 3 eat for free and kids under 12 eat for half price. Contact Camilla Bailey for reservation inquiries at camilla@chillsaigon.com or by telephone from 3 – 5pm at 0122 920 1656.

ECCP Golf Challenge 2014 Date: 19 May 2014 Time: 8AM (Shotgun) Venue: Sta. Elena Golf Club, Philippines On May 19, The European Chamber of Commerce Golf Challenge, takes place in The Philippines We invite you to the annual ECCP Golf Challenge this 19 May 2014 which will be held at the Sta. Elena Golf Club, Philippines. Participation Fees are as follows: • Regular Rate = PhP 4,500 • Sta. Elena Member = PhP 3,000 • Non-playing Guest = PhP 1,200 Fee includes: Green fee, golf cart for 2 players, Caddy fee, buffet lunch with two round of drinks or local beer, raffle, giveaways and golf shirt. For Sponsorships, please download the packages here. For Player Registrants, you can download the Registration Form here and fax it to (+632) 845.1395 or 759.6690. Please contact Ms. Jenny Esmao if you have any inquiries. Call telephone number (+632) 845.1324 or 759.6680. You may also send her an e-mail at jenny.esmao@eccp. com.


Past Events

MASBA visits Tetra Pak

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ASBA visited on 4 March 2014 the offices of Tetra Pak Malaysia, Singapore & Philippines in Kuala Lumpur, to learn how Tetra Pak through more than 60 years existence, became the world’s leading company for food processing and packaging solutions. The Managing Director, Mr. Gaine Clarke, elegantly guided MASBA members and their guests through the history and core values of Tetra Pak. He informed how Tetra Pak works closely with customers and suppliers to every day meet the needs of hundreds of millions of people is providing safe, innovative and environmentally sustainable products. In Malaysia, Tetra Pak is working together with two recycling partners to recycle beverage cartons. Mr. Clarke spoke further about how Tetra Pak, in line with their commitment to its motto ‘Protect What’s Good’, in 2006 developed ‘Feed-A-Child (FAC) Programme’ as the company’s primary channel for raising funds to help underprivileged children. The guests were also treated to a delicious cocktail buffet from Puzzini Swedish Pizza.

Big Scandinavian Society orphan donation

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hanksgiving Lunch for the Crayfish Party Sponsors at Chosen Children Village in Silang, Cavite, The Philippines. The Scandinavian Society was able to donate P200,000 to the important work done for mentally handicapped orphans at Chosen Children Village Foundation. Sponsors and Excom members of the SSP were treated to a guided tour of the excellent facilities of CCVF, interaction with the children and a great dance show put together. They were given insight in the operations of CCVF and how to continue helping in the important work being done. The guests were all impressed by the facilities, the professional staff, harmony and the beaming happiness that all children expressed. Thank you to Guenter Taus, President of the Board of Chosen Children Foundation, Cherrylyn Naval and Agnes Albinion from Chosen Children Village for the hospitality. The Scandinavian Society would like to thank the following sponsors for their great support: Qatar Airways, Nordea, Swedish Match, Absolut Vodka, Santa Fe, Bluewater Resorts, Atmosphere Resorts, Blue Cross, Forth & Tay, Wayfair Tours, Santis Delicatessen, Expat Magazine, Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Equilibrium. You can help too! Only P8,500 per month keeps one child fed and taken care of by professionals. Contact Chosen Children on chosenchildren94@gmail.com


News Brief

Swedish-Indonesian waste and water collaboration

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his week, the cities of Borås in Sweden and Pontianak, Indonesia, with support from the Swedish International Centre for Local Democracy (ICLD), are scoping areas for collaboration in the area of waste and water management. This is an area where Pontianak’s ambitious Mayor Sutarmidji, who participated himself in a full-day seminar recently, has very ambitious plans and Borås has very useful competence and experience. The visiting delegation included vice and deputy mayors Tom Andersson and Morgan Hjalmarsson, Tony Zetterfeldt of the company Biogas Systems and Hans Björk of Borås University, who on Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Universitas Tanjung Pura in Pontianak with a view to boosting their already active research exchange.

Bang & Olufsen opens flagship store in Philippines

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he Danish manufacturing company opened a 147-square meter showroom at the Shangri-La Plaza Mall on March 25 featuring the wide array of products that would induce one to break the bank. “This is the first flagship [store in the Philippines], so everything you see here got imported from Denmark,”said Michael Ostergaard, managing director of MJ Group of Companies. “It sounds crazy that we need to get the paint from Denmark and floor from Denmark but this is [a] flagship showroom — it requires [uniformity] in all aspects and in all forms.”

Swedish Embassy speech on education in Cambodia

Finland supports Vietnam’s tech development

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he Vietnamese and Finnish governments on March 6 signed an EUR11 million agreement for the second phase of their joint innovation partnership programme (IPP), according to Voice of Vietnam. The phase, which will run from 2014-2018, has been financed with EUR9.9 million from Finland’s non-refundable aid and EUR1.1 million from the Vietnamese Government. It aims to enhance the capacity of Vietnam’s information technology system, allowing the country to increase activities in scientific research and technology development, thus contributing to the socio-economic development of Vietnam.

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s Kristina Kühnelm, Head of Development Cooperation, Swedish Embassy, made a speech at the opening of the National Conference on Education, “Promoting Integrity to Strengthen the Quality of Education in Cambodia”, recently. She spoke about promoting integrity in society as key to fight corruption. How corruption undermines democracy and more education among the Cambodian people being the stepping stone towards a better society. “By including education on integrity in formal education programmes, young people will be equipped with the knowledge and tools required to actively promote democratic principles and values – such as transparency, impartiality, fairness and accountability – and they will thereby be able to act as agents for change and as drivers of demands for integrity in society,” was some of the words from her speech.


News Brief

Malaysian lawmaker wants Norway-style oil fund

Legoland Malaysia launches new attraction in Miniland

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EGOLAND® Malaysia will launch the new LEGO® Legends of Chima fantasy cluster at Miniland. The fantasy world of LEGO Legends of Chima will be displayed in a prominent area in Miniland and it includes seven hands-on interactive elements and animation effects. It took Master Model Builders more than 3,000 LEGO building hours to complete the models displayed in the cluster. The Miniland cluster arrived to Malaysia after a successful display in Denmark. LEGO Legends of Chima Miniland comes less than a year after the LEGO Legends of Chima 4D movie was launched in the Park. The movie uses high impact special effects such as water, wind and smoke and immerses audience in non-stop sensory adventure. LEGOLAND is the only place in Asia where you can watch the LEGO Legends of Chima movie in 4D and shows started last year.

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federal lawmaker urged Putrajaya today to set up a special oil fund for Malaysians like Norway’s pension fund, which recently ballooned to US$828.66 billion (RM2.7 trillion) and turned every Norwegian into theoretical millionaires. PKR’s Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar said most of the revenue from Malaysia’s national oil company Petronas should not continue to be spent, but be set aside for rainy days in the future like Norway’s oil fund. “Petronas cannot continue to be the prime minister’s and his Cabinet’s personal bank, with almost 40 per cent of the revenue from petroleum being used in the country’s budget,” she said in a statement today. “Compare this to Norway that only allows four per cent to be used. This shows that the government doesn’t seem to realise that our oil riches will eventually dry up,” added the PKR vice-president.

Find one Private Banking advisor, then make sure he knows many specialists

Wealth management today involves much more than selecting the best stocks and bonds. At Nordea Private Banking, we offer you an experienced personal advisor and a comprehensive overview of your wealth based on thorough research and rigorous analysis. One private banker, many specialists – making it possible. Contact Nordea in Singapore on +65 6597 1082, or e-mail jonas.bergqvist@nordea.sg

Jonas Bergqvist, Private Banker

Nordea Bank S.A, Singapore Branch is part of Nordea Group, the leading financial services group in the Nordic and Baltic Sea regions. Some products and services may, due to local regulations, not be available to individuals resident in certain countries and their availability may depend, among other things, on the investment risk profile of persons in receipt of this publication or on any legislation to which they are subject. Nothing in this publication should be construed as an offer, or the solicitation of an offer, to purchase, subscribe to or sell any investment or product, or to engage in any other transaction or provide any kind of financial or banking service in any jurisdiction where Nordea Bank S.A., Singapore Branch or any of its affiliates do not have the necessary licence. Published by Nordea Bank S.A., R.C.S. Luxembourg No. B 14.157 on behalf of Nordea Bank S.A., Singapore Branch, 3 Anson Rd #20-01, Springleaf Tower, Singapore 079909. www.nordeaprivatebanking.com subject to the supervision of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (www.mas.gov.sg).

AD_ScandAsiaThailand_Jonas_192x135_eng NEW.indd 1

April 2014 • ScandAsia.South 27/02/2014 East Asia14:265


News Brief

Norwegian Cruise liner makes maiden call at Myanmar

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he Norwegian owned, U.K. Based, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ flagship, Balmoral, has celebrated calling at Yangon, the capital of Myanmar. The 1,350-guest ship stayed for two nights in the city, and spend Valentine’s Day – aking a romantic cruise to Singapore.

Captain Robert Bamberg, Master of Balmoral, said:

Maersk gets permanent licence to operate in Myanmar

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“We are proud to be able to offer our guests such a wide range of worldwide itineraries, with so many exciting new ports of call on this “World Cruise’ – our longest ever, at 114 nights. We would like to thank the people of Myanmar to for their warm welcome and our guests are very excited to be able to see and experience this beautiful country.” Balmoral’s global odyssey takes in South America, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, India and the Middle East, and visits 24 countries, including the new ports of Hiroshima, Kobe (Osaka) and Yokohama in Japan, and Nawiliwili (Kauai) and Honolulu in Hawaii.

il and shipping group A.P. Moller-Maersk has received a permanent license to operate container business activities in Myanmar, it said in a statement on Friday, February 21. Since the European Union and the United States eased sanctions in 2012, the shipping company has experienced a surge in interest in sourcing goods to and from Myanmar, Maersk Country Manager My Therese Blank said in the statement. The Maersk Group’s three container businesses, Maersk Line, MCC Transport and Safmarine, have operated under a third party agency for the past 20 years. By increasing its presence in Myanmar, the group also sees more opportunities in the country. “By establishing our own agency in Myanmar, we will be better able to take part in facilitating global trade, support economic growth, and offer support and local know-how to customers looking to enter this market,” Blank said. The Maersk Group is also represented in Myanmar by Damco, a separate company within the Group which handles supply chain management and freight forwarding activities. Damco received its permanent license to operate its own agency in Myanmar in July 2013.

Danish firms eye Indonesia’s rising international profile

Source: Jyllands Posten, February 20. 6 ScandAsia.South East Asia • April 2014

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conomic expansion and growing middle-class have made Indonesia an attractive market to an increasing number of Danish companies wishing to export to this Southeast Asian country. But widespread corruption in Indonesia remains an obstacle to trade. Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, is experiencing a massive economic growth that goes hand in hand with huge consumer spending. This presents exciting business opportunities for Danish exports, Mathias Gredal Nørvig, Senior analyst at EFK, Danish Export Credit Agency, said in an interview with Jyllands Posten. There is an increasing demand for construction materials and machinery for cement-production as the country tries to improve its infrastructure. The demand is driven by private and public construction projects. Indonesia has been put in the attractive Next-Eleven category by investment bank Goldman Sachs, as the country is said to be on track to become a new global power in addition to the BRIK-countries. Indonesia GNP has risen by 35 percent since 2009, which makes it attractive for foreign investors. The upcoming parliamentary election in April and the presidential election in July in a country that consists of some 17000 islands, has put the foreign investments on hold, and a lot of companies are waiting to see any move towards market reform will be agreed upon. Indonesia is ranked high on the global corruption perception index, and the financial sector is mired in widespread corruption, which could dampen the sentiments of some Danish companies.


+65 6557 0028

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Mr Private Banking in Luxembourg retires J Jhon Mortensen (62) will end of April 2014 retire from his positions as CEO of Nordea Bank S.A. His interesting career also brought him to Singapore, where he was the head of the branch for several years.

8 ScandAsia.South East Asia • April 2014

hon Mortensen (62) will end of April 2014 retire from his positions as CEO of Nordea Bank S.A. Before joining the Luxembourg subsidiary in 1991 Mr. Mortensen worked for the London subsidiary of Nordea and later headed the banks’ branch in Singapore. Founded in 1976, Nordea Bank S.A. is the largest Nordic bank in Luxembourg and Switzerland, serving an international clientele in 120 countries throughout the world. “To accomplish growth and stability for the bank we have focused on our clients. We would like the clients we have now to still be our clients in 20 years’ time – and we would like to welcome their children as clients of Nordea, too,” says Mortensen. An increasing number of individuals are becoming more globalized, working and doing business abroad, sometimes in several countries. These individuals have more complex needs with regards to banking and international wealth management. In Luxembourg, Switzerland and Singapore Nordea has assembled a broad team of experts in wealth management and wealth planning specialised to provide the services requested by these globalised individuals. “The days when Private Banking clients simply required investment advice are long gone. Now, an increasingly complex legal and regulatory environment has obliged providers of financial products

and services to take a comprehensive advisory approach that also includes taxation, inheritanceand succession-planning, as well as insurance and real estate,” says Mortensen. “As a good example of this Nordea is one of the few banks who can provide tax reports for all relevant countries to assist clients in the preparation of their periodic tax declarations to the authorities. Nordea’s tax report facilitates the completion of tax returns, even for complex account structures, and provides a clear tax overview for clients and their advisors”, says Mortensen. The Nordea Group has a very strong capital base and benefits from an excellent credit rating (AA-), and is the leading financial services provider in the Nordic area. For six consecutive years, Nordea was named the best provider of private banking services in the Nordic & Baltic region by the international financial magazine Euromoney. Nordea is among the ten largest universal banks in Europe in terms of total market capitalisation. Thorben Sander (40) will from 1 May 2014 succeed Mortensen to safeguard and continue the business development of the 23 years under Mortensen’s management, developing best-in-class clients’ services and offerings. Thorben Sander has since 2010 been head of Investment Advice & Brokerage in Nordea.


Good timing for reopening of the

Danish Embassy in Manila O n August 1, Denmark will reopen its Embassy in Manila, the Philippines, as part of the largest reform and modernisation of the Danish Foreign Service in many years. The plan to re-establish a diplomatic presence on the ground in the Southeast Asian country has been on the drawing board for a couple of years, but now the timing was right, the current Danish Ambassador to the Philippines, Nicolai Ruge, said to ScandAsia in an interview at the embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. An earlier reform of the Foreign Service led to the former embassy in Manila being closed down back in 2002. But now the decision has been made to reopen the Embassy due to changing circumstances, in particular the potential for growth in bilateral trade as well as the rising political importance of the Philippines in the ASEAN region. The Embassy in Kuala Lumpur has been handling a wide range of activities related to Danish interests in the Philippines, so Nicolai Ruge sees the decision to open an embassy as a natural continuation of developments.

“The discussion has been whether to increase our presence in the Philippines by initially only setting up a Commercial Representation or to go all the way and re-establish a full-fledged Embassy“, he said. The Norwegian Embassy in the Philippines has managed visa applications to Denmark since 2002. To ensure a smooth transfer of this service back to the new Danish embassy, it is expected to be effective only from 1 January 2015. “In terms of trade promotion, we are clearly seeing a growing interest from Danish businesses. Also, the number of Danes living in and visiting the Philippines seems to be growing. We are already providing consular assistance to Danes in need on a continuous basis and this is only likely to grow. So being represented on the ground in Manila, rather than operating out of Kuala Lumpur across the South China Sea, will make a big difference”, Nicolai Ruge said. The Danish Ambassador cautioned that despite the impressive economic growth rates of the Philippines, there are many challenges to doing

business in the Philippines. Besides weak infrastructure and corruption, the business environment is dominated by local conglomerates and there are legal restrictions on foreign investments into many business sectors. The reform of the Foreign Service and the re-establishment of the Embassy in Manila will also result in some shuffling of personnel at the Kuala Lumpur mission. The position held by Jytte Nielsen as Head of Consular Affairs will be cut. She was the key person from the Embassy managing the search for missing Danes after typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in November 2013. At the same time, however, a new position as Food and Agriculture Attaché will be established, boosting the Kuala Lumpur Embassy’s trade section. The new Danish Ambassador to the Philippines, based in Manila, will be Jan Top Christensen. He has previously served as Ambassador in Lebanon. As Head of Consular Affairs, the new embassy will get Pia Heide Salman, who has previously worked at the Danish Consulate in Guangzhou, China.

Being represented on the ground in Manila, rather than operating out of Kuala Lumpur across the South China Sea, will make a big difference.

April 2014 • ScandAsia.South East Asia

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Danish thinking helps millions of Asian urban poor Top: Somsook is ACHR secretary-general, whose work benefits millions of urban poor in Asia. Bottom: Failure by governments to provide adequate housing for urban poor is commonplace. The result is squatters and slums. Šwww.t-pageant.com

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Asian Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR) helps poor people in over 100 cities in Thailand and 18 other countries around Asia achievie better housing. Secretary General Somsook Boonyabancha credits the inspiration she got during one year in Denmark. By Thana Poopat


Building communities is supposed to be the foundation of any wellfunctioning, livable city. Studying in Denmark gave me a deeper and broader understanding of housing development beyond the designing, construction and financial aspects.

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one-year professional training course on housing and urbanisation at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts’ School of Architecture in Copenhagen in 1979 offered Somsook Boonyabancha a much-needed break from her hectic work at the National Housing Authority in Bangkok. It also opened up a whole world of new ideas. Among other things, Danish social housing, cooperative housing movement and egalitarianism stood out as the kind of concepts that resonated with her youthful idealism. Thirty-five years on, these Danish ways of thinking continue to influence her immensely important job as head of an international advocacy group for urban poor’s housing rights. “The Danish social and cooperative housing, a people-driven movement supported by local governments, was the spark that got me interested in what possible solutions were available to deal with housing problems in a wealthy, egalitarian and pragmatic society like Denmark,” Somsook said. As a conscientious foreign scholarship student, Somsook’s first reaction when encountering any good idea afforded by the opportunity to study abroad was how she might adapt them to address the complex socio-economic problems associated with housing issues in Thailand. The stark contrast between beautiful, wellplanned cities and towns of Denmark and urban

©Danida Fellowship Centre

sprawls in developing countries, like Thailand, was not lost on Somsook.

What government planners forget “The problem with Thai government planners in social housing back then was they kept constructing buildings without giving much thought to human factors, socio-economic elements. Little has changed,” she said. “Building communities is supposed to be the foundation of any well-functioning, livable city. Studying in Denmark gave me a deeper and broader understanding of housing development beyond the designing, construction and financial aspects.” “In Thailand, we make it all about pricing. People buy whatever is on offer at the price they can afford. And then the urban poor are left out.”

ACHR a platform of professionals Today, Somsook’s organization, Asian Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR), is helping poor people in over 100 cities in Thailand and 18 other countries around Asia to achieve decent housing not only as physical structures for shelter. Human elements, such as access to employment and government services, must also be taken into consideration, she said. ACHR is a platform of professionals, communities and regional organisations working together on housing issues in Asia. “Urban poor are at the lowest rung of the socio-economic ladder in most societies,” Somsook said. “There are a lot of urban poor in Asia. Utter failure by governments to provide adequate housing for urban poor is commonplace. Then you have squatters and slums.” Somsook said most Asian countries continue to offer no systematic approach to provide social housing that enable people to live with dignity and a certain measure of equality.

Activistic route to social justice But building a just and egalitarian society takes time. In the mean time, Somsook has taken more or less activistic route to improve social justice. “These urban poor are part of essential labour force but their income is not enough to buy their own place to live in. Not many Asian countries do well like Singapore, Japan. Taiwan, Hong Kong.”

Faced with apparently insurmountable housing problems and budgetary constraints, Somsook said she continued to draw inspirations from her time in Denmark. “We try to help urban poor to solve their own problems through participatory process. People-driven approach. What is remarkable about Somsook’s many achievements is cost effectiveness of Asian Coalition for Housing Rights. One of her major achievements was the Baan Munkong [Secure Home] Project 2003-2005 with at a budget of only US$10 million to upgrade communities in 300 towns and cities around Thailand. “Our emphasis is not so much on physical structures but more about strengthening of communities by giving security (rights to live where they do), livelihood (being close to their jobs), access to childcare. It’s about self-help, self-determination and a self-managed solution.” We take proactive approach – not just protesting. We are open to option either to stay put or move elsewhere, depending on people’s decision and circumstances. The egalitarian society of Denmark made a lasting impression. “Denmark is one of the wealthiest countries in the world but the Danes are not extravagant. Homes and apartments are not big. People are politically active who believe in social justice and look out for one another.”

Pay more attention to community Somsook said thanks to scholarship from the government of Denmark that enabled her to acquire knowledge that she could use to advance her career working for the betterment of people in Thailand and other Asian countries. “It was an extraordinary experience. Denmark and other Scandinavian countries could do a lot more in this regard, providing training courses to students and professionals from Third World countries. “What I learned and what policymakers and architects from developing countries in Asia should have the opportunity to learn from Denmark and Scandinavian countries is we should pay more attention to community aspects of housing.” “That housing policies and housing projects should bring people together, and then we should also build a system that people share. Denmark offers this vision.” “Denmark should not be too humble in spreading good designs, good thinkings in housing and urbanization,” Somsook said. “Denmark and its international development agency, Danida, should play a more active role in creating intellectual learning space.” “People from countries around the world can learn from the Danish society. I changed significantly. My world view changed, I began to look at my profession as an architect differently and I realized that I can change the society for the better. That I learned in Denmark.” Somsook (left), three former fellows studying architecture who met in Denmark 1978-80 recently reunite with one of their teachers in Copenhagen. April 2014 • ScandAsia.South East Asia

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No rumble in the Out in the jungle approximately 50 kilometers from Vientiane lies Ban Lao Pako. Far from any semblance of civilization, the resort offers unique experiences and wildlife adventures. Most modern distractions are removed, except for taste sensations at the restaurant. By Morten Krogsholm

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ed up with bullshit. That’s how Swedish Chris Kridakorn-Odbratt describes his move from Thailand to the jungle of Laos. He had actually been looking for a place in Thailand to set up a resort, but then he got a tip that he should consider Laos as land prices were much more affordable. And so he did as he took a long boat ride one day and stumbled upon the Ban Lao Pako. He fell in love with the place and saw its great potential. A potential that he has yet to fully realize.

Back to the roots It was a cultural center for nearly 2000 years ago. The place was unspoiled. Nature in its purest form overlooking the Nam Ngum River. Through time it has to some degree been destroyed, then rebuilt, then destroyed and rebuilt again. Mostly built from local materials, using farmed wood, utilizing local traditional building techniques, the Ban Lao Pako was the first eco-lodge to ever open in Laos. You might think that the “Lao” in Ban Lao Pako has something to do with Laos - well, you’d be wrong. It actually means forest, and this is what Chris is trying to bring back. Recreating the forest and the original jungle, and also offering traditional jungle activities, such as the the steam sauna, where the staff will collect differ-

ent herbs from around the jungle, among others, eucalyptus, tamarind, lime leaves, basil. If it gets too hot for you, there is a small dipping pool with natural cold spring water. Chris Kridakorn-Odbratt hopes that he would be able to recreate an idyllic Ban Lao Pako of millennia ago. At Ban Lao Pako, everything must be as green as possible and any harm to the environment must be minimized. This seems to be the mantra behind Chris Kridakorn-Odbratt’s jungle resort. Being a resort with bungalows where guests can stay means that some services need to be provided. Among amenities is hot shower. “I researched every possible solution for getting electricity to

12 ScandAsia.South East Asia • April 2014

the resort without relying on the national grid. Unfortunately money is tight and, at the moment, prices of solar energy are sky high, not to mention the short life batteries for power storage. All these brought me to my knees,” said Chris, adding how he then decided to pay workers to lay electric wires all the way to his resort. Wind energy was not a viable option either, as there is nearly never enough wind around the area, or in Laos in general.

Respect nature and the locals “Look at that building,” Chris asked me and points at a building made of wood, which looks quite ramshackled, “It is fairly new. A couple

of years old. Termites did that to it,” he said and explained how he could have got rid of all of the termites if he had resorted to pesticides. “Sure if I used pesticides the life of a bungalow and every one of the wooden structures would be extended, but it would also kill all of the nature in the surroundings, so pesticides is a no-go,” said Chris, emphasizing his respect for the environment. As Chris’ ambition is to restore the forest to its former glory, he has to make it a point not to tamper with the ecological balance. Chris is determined to plant trees around Ban Lao Pako, many of them were there long before the resort was even built. For many of the wildfire excursions on offer, small fees will be charged. In almost every case, such fees go to the locals who have committed to nurture and take good care of the jungle. “Ban Lao Pako runs its own development program for the surrounding villages. We are helping them to raise their living standard, without harming the natural forest, with activities, such as vegetable farming, improving local schools etc. As a guest, you can be part of this by Besides a riverside view the resort also offers jungle bungalows


Our kitchen will, without a doubt, be the most modern in Laos. I’ve brought in equipment that people here have never heard of.

Food and nature is Chris’ passions. At Ban Lao Pako he combines both.

taking one of our tours,” said Chris. Located so far out in the jungle, there is always something which needs fixing or improving. Instead of hiring Chinese or Thais, Chris always works with local workers. “Many advised me against hiring local workers. And I really do not know why. I have been quite satisfied with the work they have done for me, and I also feel a great deal of responsibility,” said Chris Kridakorn-Odbratt, adding how he wants to give back to the people and to help Laos. “I have moved here, I run a resort here, so why not use the local workforce too?” Chris asked but admitted that there are some things, which he needs to import from other countries.

Modern kitchen

people here have never heard of,” said Chris and told me how he had had an Michelin chef stay at the resort who told him to call as soon as the kitchen was done, because he wanted to be the first Michelin chef ever to cook in Laos. Having run a cooking school in Thailand for Thai cuisine, Chris now dreams of doing the same at the Ban Lao Pako, but this time for Lao cuisine. Meanwhile, you are still able to get excellent food at Ban Lao Pako while you stay there. Their menu consists of both traditional Lao food and European cuisine - and unlike many other places in Asia - they actually know how to do justice to European cooking. I myself had the pleasure of sampling traditional Ital-

ian meatballs in tomato sauce and the classic German wiener schnitzel, and I must admit that it was some of the best food I have had in a long time. I might add that it was not in the least bit expensive.

Unplugged and unwind There is only Wi-Fi around in the bar area. The bungalows are stripped of TVs, radios and other distractions. “Though people come here to disconnect, I know that a lot of them still have an urge to be able to check their e-mails, Facebook, news from their home country and other stuff, so I have set up a little Wi-Fi hotspot,” said Chris. There is plenty of fun activities to do when you stay at the resort. Among them

is trekking where you can encounter some really exotic animals. You can go tubing in the river, which is located right next to the resort, Or, do as Chris said: Do nothing or just lean back, relax and read a book. Prices vary from 220.000 to 390.000 KIP (US$28-50) per night, and you get a 50 % discount after the first three nights. If you are in need of escaping the workaday existence or expanding your horizon or maybe seeing exotic wildlife, while being fed excellent food and nice cocktails, Ban Lao Pako ticks all the boxes.

Ban Lao Pako creates the perfect settings for a unique get-away

Food is really Chris KridakornOdbratt’s passion. The past couple of decades of his life had revolved around food. Having runned a professionally-accredited Thai cooking school on the beaches of Bang Saen in Thailand, Chris’ passion for food obviously extends to teaching others how to cook as well. “Our kitchen will, without a doubt, be the most modern in Laos. I’ve brought in equipment that Taking care of the nature is a big part of the maintenance at the resort. April 2014 • ScandAsia.South East Asia

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14 ScandAsia.South East Asia • April 2014


Your School T

o decide on something as important as your child’s education and well-being might be the toughest part about moving to another country. Choosing a new school when moving has become increasingly difficult for parents. There are more and more schools established all the time, and each institution has its own unique philosophy and attributes. Comparing what they offer with the needs of your child is no simple task. Most parents probably start out by asking other parents of their own nationality which school they have chosen and why. Then you find out they have chosen different schools and for different reasons and you are back to square one. There is probably no way around making your own inquiry into each available option.

Local vs International First choice is if you are looking for a local school or an international school? In most countries in Asia, a local school is an option - although certainly a more challenging option for your child. If you child is mixed Scandinavian - Asian this may, however, not be so frightening a prospect. And mostly it will have an economic silver lining as local private schools are less costly compared to international schools. However, physical punishment has not been abolished in many Asian school systems, so take this into consideration. Talk to the school how they administer physical punishment and ask if they can make an exception for your child if you are not comfortable with this. If you go for the International school, consider that international students grow up and evolve in a cultural environment that is vastly different to that of your own. Known as Third Culture Kids (TCKs), they often develop a very different attitude to many issues compared to their former friends back home. If you are uncomfortable with this prospect you may prefer to look into the option of choosing a local school or a boarding school back home. Once this is said, most expat families decide to go for the international school, at least through primary school up to grade 9, where other options may come into play. At this point, not only boarding schools in Scandinavia but also boarding school in Asia may be considered.

A few suggestions So now you have the table filled with brochures of different schools and wonder what to look for. Here are a few suggestions to help you make up your mind: First: How far away is the school from your home?

Before spending time looking through school courses, you need to make sure the school is not too far away. Bear in mind that in most big cities, it is the traveling time between your home and the school that matters. How long will it take for your child to get to school and home afterwards? How will your child be going there? Especially in cities like Bangkok, you will be challenged by some of the heaviest rush hour traffic in the world.

Fifth: Does the school have qualified personnel? This is not as obvious as you may think. The school is most likely private and qualifications for employment are not as strict as for schools back home. What educational degree do they hold? How long have they been teaching at the school? What kind of teaching methods do they prefer? Are they involved in planning and evaluating the curriculum? Will they be giving special attention to each child’s problems or personal needs?

Second: What reputation does the school have? Talk to people as much as possible. This is where your first intuition comes handy. Don’t listen to opinions expressed by people who have no children at the school themselves - parents are quick to seek confirmation of their own choice by adopting opinions about the competing schools. The age of the school is no sure indication either. Nothing guarantees that the reputation of a hundred year old school is better than a one year old school.

Sixth: What do the current students think of the school? If it’s possible, talk to some of the existing students. Are they happy there? Do they look motivated to learn? How will the school help your child get started? Do they assign so-called “buddies” (another student from the same country) for new students? Most schools have established student organizations to provide service to students at a personal level. Here, students can get help about studying, working, individual needs and so on.

Third: How are the courses at the school? The school’s courses and programs will most likely be listed in the school’s information packages. They will talk about British Curriculum and American Curriculum and - what most Scandinavians these days go for - the IB curriculum. This is important as you will most likely have to relocate again in a few years. Find out if the native language and culture of your child is taught as optional learning. It is important for your child to keep his or her ties to your cultural background. It is also important for you. Ask questions about the tests and exams which are offered and used as evaluation method. If your child is already a secondary school student, ask how well the graduating students do in getting accepted into major universities both in your current country, back home and elsewhere overseas. Fourth: What other activities can the school offer your child? Besides the fundamental course works, what kind of arts, sports, community service does the school offer? Are there proper facilities to support those activities? It seems that schools almost compete with each other when it comes to sports, thus many schools will have gymnasiums and sport complexes, which are either new or remodeled. But maybe your child is more into other activities computer programming, performing arts? Most schools offer after-school/weekend programs as well as field trips and community services. You should be able to freely pick the activities that best suit your child.

Seventh: How is the relationship between the school and the parents? You will obviously not be able to monitor your child in school. The teacher will have to be your eyes and ears. You must be notified of your child’s functionality regardless of grade, and regardless of whether it includes bad behavior or progress your child has made. Make sure that you can get informed as often as possible. You may join a parents’ volunteer program if available. Some schools may offer activities for the whole family as well.

Watch your child! Never mind how diligent you do your homework - and maybe the above list is a bit excessive you will never be able to foresee if your child will thrive at the school. It is therefore important that you make a habit of spending more time than you used to at home talking to your child about how school was today. What they did in class, and what they did outside. Let her or him tell about their new friends. Listen. All may initially sound fine and uncomplicated, but that may just be a honeymoon period. This is the most important step of them all. If your child develops in any way you find disturbing or even develops signs of discomfort with going to school, you should think twice before you tell your child that “this is life - it is not always pleasant!”. A change of school at the right time might be the single most important decision to make to put the future of your child on the right track!

April 2014 • ScandAsia.South East Asia

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ISS International School was founded in 1981 to serve the expatriate community in Singapore

ISS

is an authorised International Baccalaureate (IB) World School with a multicultural environment for students from almost 60 countries with no dominant group. It is the ONLY IB World School in Singapore specialising solely in the IB, incorporating IB Primary Years, IB Middle Years and the IB Diploma Program. It is also the first to offer a one-to-one Apple Macbook program. ISS has a high percentage of IBO workshop leaders, moderators and examiners among its staff, one of the highest in Asia.

ISS International School is:

Academic Program

Student Information

• An established PYP, MYP and DP authorized IB World School, with years of experience offering each program. • A truly international school with a multicultural environment, comprising of students from almost 60 countries with no dominant culture. • A school with outstanding student support, including ESL, counselling and university advising. • The first international school in Singapore with an Apple MacBook program. • Known for student activities, including an established CAS (Creativity, Action, Service) program with an extensive list of activities, field trips and the adventurous activity week held each year.

• ISS is an authorized IB World School offering PYP (Kindergarten 1 – Grade 5), MYP (Grade 6 – 10) and DP (Grade 11– 12). The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accreditation enables ISS to offer a High School Diploma to their IB Diploma and IB Diploma course graduates. • ISS offers pre-IB Diploma skills and IB Diploma subject preparation courses during the summer. • Academic Year – August to June (Semester 1: August to December, Semester 2: January to June).

• Students from almost 60 countries. • Class sizes – elementary school: 15-20 students, middle school: 20-24 students, high school: 15-20 students.

Faculty • Teachers from 19 countries. • Predominantly trained in United States, Britain, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. Many faculty members are IBO moderators, examiners and workshop leaders.

Admissions • Admissions staff are available year round to meet with potential families regarding admission for all three schools. • Applications are accepted year round, subject to places being available. • Please refer to the following link for the admission procedures: http://www.iss.edu.sg/ admission_procedures.php • Students must pass the English language proficiency test to be eligible for admission.

ISS International School Elementary and Middle School campus 25, Paterson Road, Singapore 238510 Tel: (65) 6235 5844 High School campus 21, Preston Road, Singapore 109355 Tel: (65) 6475 4188 www.iss.edu.sg Email: admissions@iss.edu.sg 16 ScandAsia.South East Asia • April 2014


e h T IB World School in Singapore!

Specializing ONLY in the IB curriculum

Focusing on Personal & Social Development, Maximizing Academic Excellence ISS INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL

An authorized IB World School specializing only in the

Established in 1981

IB Primary Years, Middle Years and Diploma programs

Elementary & Middle School Campus 25 Paterson Road, Singapore 238510 Tel: (65) 6235 5844 Fax: (65) 6732 5701

for ages 4 to 18. Extensive range of IB Diploma subject

High School Campus 21 Preston Road, Singapore 109355 Tel: (65) 6475 4188 Fax: (65) 6273 7065 Website www.iss.edu.sg

SINGAPORE

PROVISIONAL

M

UN

DO • W OR

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D

S CH

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CO

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Email admissions@iss.edu.sg

Accrediting Commission for Schools

options. 1st International School in Singapore with a 1 to 1 Apple Macbook program. Multicultural environment with students from almost 60 countries – no dominant group.

Outstanding student support services including university advising, counseling and a guardianship program. Esteemed faculty members with a significant number of IB workshop leaders, examiners, moderators and authors.

SINGAPORE

PROVISIONAL

D U M O ND E

Cert No.: EDU-3-3095 Validity: 12/07/2013 - 11/07/2014

ISS is registered by the CPE • Registration no: 201316975E • Registration period: 16 2014 June•2011 to 15 June 2015 April ScandAsia.South East Asia

17


International School of Bergen

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nternational School of Bergen (ISB) is situated on the west coast of Norway and offers an English language learning environment to students between the ages of 3 and 16. Our mission is to provide an internationally accredited education serving the business and Bergen communities. The educational programme of the International School of Bergen (ISB) has been developed to help prepare its students for a successful future. ISB is accredited by the Council of International Schools and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges in addition to being authorized by the International Baccalaureate Organization to offer their Primary Years and Middle Years programmes.

Our students and staff All teachers hold university degrees and appropriate teaching qualifications. Classes are small, and with students and staff representing more than thirty different nationalities, we pride ourselves in having a welcoming and including community. ISB was founded in 1975, giving us nearly 40 years of experience as an educational institution. International School of Bergen Vilhelm Bjerknesvei 15, 5081 Bergen, Norway Tel: +4755306330 l E-mail: post@isob.no l www.isob.no

International Baccalaureate

- an alternative to the Danish ‘Studentereksamen’ • internationally recognized • gives admission to universities all over the world • taught in English You can stay at Nyborg Gymnasium’s boarding school.

Contact us for more information about the programme and the boarding school.

Deadline for applications: 15th of March

Nyborg Gymnasium & Kostskole Skolebakken 13, DK-5800 Nyborg, tlf +45 65 31 02 17 post@nyborg-gym.dk, www.nyborg-gym.dk

ENGELSKSPRÅKLIG PRIVATSKOLE FOR BARN OG UNGDOM MELLOM 3 OG 16 • • • • • •

Få elever i hver klasse Trygt læringsmiljø med god individuell oppfølging God kontakt med foreldre Internasjonalt godkjente og utfordrende læreplaner Utmerkede resultater i internasjonale og norske nasjonalprøver Sentral beliggenhet med bybanestopp rett utenfor døren Contact us for more information: www.isob.no eller post@isob.no

18 ScandAsia.South East Asia • April 2014

Nyborg Gymnasium has stx, hf, IB and boarding school

A

Danish upper-secondary school environment with an international agenda. Nyborg Gymnasium addresses the growing internationalisation with programmes, study streams and a boarding school, which makes the ‘international’ the order of the day. The students at Nyborg Gymnasium have an eye open onto the world, and they are fully capable of exploring this in school. This happens, for example, if they are students in the study stream Going Global, stay at the boarding school with other young people from all over the world, or if they are students in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, where all subjects are taught in English. Over recent years Nyborg Gymnasium has expanded and rebuilt school facilities to ensure that the framework for the tuition is updated and inspiring. The latest addition to the school is a new building for the sciences, and a special ‘language’ zone. At the boarding school the students have their own rooms, a strong community, and a kitchen, with focus on organic cooking, providing the meals of the day. Nyborg Gymnasium ….en route to the world


A

The Boarding School experience

part from the fact that you and your child will miss each other, there are several benefits that your child would gain from boarding. Boarding school provides a boost in self confidence for students and helps develop their independence and self management skills while the school still providing a safety net of school-organised routines and schedules. Studies also suggest that boarding provides an added edge in academic performance, since the routines in a boarding house provide for a structured study roster and tend to result in greater time spent on homework, revision and study during these vital final years. The ‘traditional’ boarding experience is a residential boarding school, where students live together in a school-run boarding facility with shared or single bedrooms and shared living spaces. There are house parents to provide supervision, assist students, help resolve issues and answer queries – be they academic or personal. Meals, housekeeping and study support are usually included and the boarding houses are usually located either within the school grounds, or very close to the day school. Previously, parents preferred to ‘send the kids home’ so that they could finish their schooling in the country where they would likely attend university. However, given the long-term nature of some relocations these days, the child’s ‘home’ country may actually be as foreign to them as staying in Asia, where there are also several excellent boarding schools that provide the effect of ‘traditional’ residential boarding experience. Especially for the younger students one obvious benefit is that they can visit their parents and siblings at home more often. In both cases, the unique qualities of attending a boarding school lies in the complete integration between the life of the student in class and the life of he student after class. This seamless transition in the everyday life of the boarding school student from one sphere to the other gives a maximum cohesion that ordinary day schools will never be able to match no matter how extensive an extra curricular programme they might establish. This is one of the reasons why boarding schools are often better prepared for further education and a life on their own in the surrounding society than day school students.

Stenhus Kostskole Sports College Stenhus Kostskole Boarding School and Gymnasium is the right place if interested in sports, the Sports College is based on both ambitious training and education and all students are receiving customized training programs. Different options of college Football College Coaches at the Football College are the former major league players Morten Hamm and Morten Rutkjær.They both have UEFA A coach license and coaches at Northwest FC Sports College (elementary education). Both have worked with various Danish football elite teams. • Football College from 8th to 10th class (boys) Students live at Stenhus Boarding School where education and training are combined in a professional and ambitious environment. • Football College at Stenhus High School (boys and girls) Students live at Stenhus Boarding School and study at the high school. Basketball College Coaches are Trine Tims and Jesper Sørensen who are both former national team players and now coaches at Stenhus Basketball College. Trine Tims was between Nov 2007 and Dec 2009 the coach of the women's national team in basketball. • Basketball College (boys and girls and high school students only) Students live at Stenhus Boarding School and study at the high school. Badminton College Christian Møller Madsen, former elite player, is one of the coaches at the Badminton College. • Badminton College (boys and girls and high school students only) Students live at Stenhus Boarding School and study at the high school. Stenhus Kostskole DK-4300 Holbæk Phone: +45 59 43 02 69 E-mail: admin@stenhus.dk Website: www.stenhus.dk

April 2014 • ScandAsia.South East Asia

19


Design Challenge at

KIS Land By Darryl Anderson, MYP Humanities Teacher, MYP Coordinator KIS International School Bangkok, Thailand

I

For more information contact Linda Belonje Director of Marketing and Development KIS International School, Bangkok, Thailand Email: linda@kis.ac.th l Tel: +66 (0)22743444 l www.kis.ac.th 20 ScandAsia.South East Asia • April 2014

magine a Middle School where the curriculum involved designing airplanes, catapults, remotecontrol cars, Rube Goldberg Machines and water rockets. Sounds like a budding engineer’s dream! However it’s not just the engineering skills that are needed to be successful, but also marketing, creativity and collaboration. Every year at KIS International School, MYP students take part in an interdisciplinary, cross-grade level event known as Design Cycle Challenge Week. For five days each year, students put away their schoolbooks, group themselves into teams of 4-6 students and are given a challenging task. It started back in 2006 when students utilized their knowledge from different subjects to design and create battery-operated racing cars. In 2008, students not only investigated the math and science of catapults, but also the historical context behind the different uses and types of catapults. Then they pitched the design of their catapults to a panel of Medieval Lords (roleplaying teachers) seeking protection for their castles. The next year, KISLAND was born, a mythical independent empire that unfortunately had a coastline littered with rubbish. Environmental engineering experts (our KIS students) were called in to design boats made from recycled materials. The next year, with KISLAND’s rising economy and population, bridges were soon needed, so the Ministry of Transportation put out a call for engineering-minded students to create sturdy bridges made from popsicle sticks. Following KISLAND’s increasing development, the next year cars were required, and finally planes made from light-weight balsa wood. KIS Students are known for thinking outside of the box. After all, the name of our school stands for Knowledge, Inspiration, and Spirit. KIS students are smart, but they’re also motivated and truly inventive. Following the Design Cycle, they investigate the context of the challenge, create different designs, test out their plans, evaluate their success, and every day, start the whole cycle again. In addition, they use their critical thinking skills to create persuasive explanations that “sell their product” in the form of short video or written advertisements. The Design Cycle Challenge week is truly a challenge. Students need to collaborate with other students they may have never worked with before, and also come up with a product that’s successful, creative and unique. This year the challenge was even greater as students had to create a Rube Goldberg machine that connected to others. You can check out the different teams’ products, video journals and final design reports at http://kisdcc2013.weebly. com/ A video of the final machine can be found on KIS’s Youtube channel (KISBangkok) or http://y2u.be/ Hjxi5waA08Q


UWCSEA’s

Gap Year programme By Kevin Morely, Gap Year Coordinator, UWCSEA

T

UWC South East Asia 1207 Dover Road, Singapore 139654 1 Tampines Street 73, Singapore 528704 Tel: +65 6775 5344 Email: admissionsdover@uwcsea.edu.sg www.uwcsea.edu.sg

en years ago only a handful of UWCSEA’s graduating class postponed going to university in order to take a Gap Year; in the Class of 2013, 36 students elected to take a full or partial Gap Year before pursuing further education. The Gap Year programme at UWCSEA enables students to put the UWC values into practice in South East Asia before going to university. It builds on three of the key principles of a UWC education - undertaking service to others, development of self-reliance and life skills, and gaining greater awareness of self and others. Since the first students traveled to Kenya in 2004, UWCSEA’s Gap Year programme has evolved to offer a range of short and longer-term placements in a range of countries in South East Asia and beyond, with a range of experiences in various fields of endeavour. The flexible nature of the programme means that participants can elect to undertake one or more placements of varying lengths, and in different destinations, allowing them to enjoy a variety of experiences. These include teaching English in schools in Ladakh and Nepal; community development in the Philippines, Cambodia and India; legal education and human rights support in Thailand and Vietnam; sports and youth work in Malaysia and Australia; environmental protection in Lombok and Tioman; and opportunities in the arts including music, dance, visual arts and drama working with Tiny Toones, the international award-winning breakdance project in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. One student in the Class of 2013 also trialed a new placement opportunity being developed in East Timor at the Pite Bairo medical clinic. All of UWCSEA’s Gap Year placements have been developed with grass-root organisations with which UWCSEA has been actively working for many years, usually through the College’s

Service programme. Each project is carefully assessed to ensure that there is an opportunity for a meaningful contribution to be made by the Gap Year student. Only when the College is satisfied that the placement will be of benefit to everyone do we offer the opportunity to our Grade 12 students. Before a Gap Year commences, the students, their parents, UWCSEA and the host sign a fourway Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU). This MOU sets out specific expectations for each signatory, as part of a ‘service agreement’ and is designed to ensure the arrangement delivers true mutual benefit. In this way, the student (and their parents!) know exactly what they are signing up for, and the NGO knows that the students we send to them are equipped with the knowledge and desire to make the most of the placement for the benefit of everyone. The agreement outlines the placements work expectations, provides for supervision, safe accommodation and insurance for the participants, as well as making communication and educational commitments. UWCSEA’s criteria in implementing a Gap Year placement involves being able to truly fulfill a need and provide mutual benefit to both the host and the Gap Year student. Thinking through the skills of the UWCSEA graduates undertaking the Gap Year placements, UWCSEA has also developed an English Language training course to better equip our students to make a meaningful contribution. Offered in collaboration with the British Council our Gap Year students can undertake an accredited English Language Teaching course while they are still at school or as a recent graduate before they head off on the placement. As universities and employers are increasingly keen to take students with more rounded life experiences, a Gap Year spent working in a specific field can be a real enhancement to a student’s CV. April 2014 • ScandAsia.South East Asia

21


Ole’s Orphanages Young 27-year-old Norwegian has built three village-based children’s homes on the Thai-Burmese border for war orphans and victims of neglect and abuse. By Thana Poopat

I

t must have been a culture shock for 12-yearold Ole-Jørgen Edna. His Norwegian upbringing did not quite prepare him for the kind of Third World human misery that he witnessed on a family trip to refugee camps along the Thai-Burmese border back in 1998. Or perhaps it did. After all, not many families would travel a great distance to this part of the world and then chose to spend part of their precious vacation time visiting victims of ethnic conflicts from Burma. Ole-Jørgen’s father, a noted gastrointestinal surgeon and associate professor in Norway, and his mother, a cancer nurse, have always been staunch supporters of church charities providing among others desperately-needed humanitarian aid to civilians fleeing Burma’s decades-long war of attrition. The tour of refugee camps may have done little to Ole-Jørgen’s grasp of the scope of human sufferings but the experience somehow made a lasting impression on his young mind. “I never thought that simple gifts, such as

small toys, candies, toothbrushes, could bring big smiles and so much joy to hilltribe orphans in the camps,” recalled Ole-Jørgen. Another thing that seared into his memory was the sight of the sprawling Mae La refugee camp in Thailand’s northern province of Tak, home to over 40,000 Karen refugees. Located on slopey hillsides, the refugee camp appeared to be a surreal idyll against a dramatic backdrop of steeply rising limestone cliffs. “Rightly or wrongly, it looked to me like an ideal place in the wilderness, a perfect sanctuary to protect its inhabitants from attacks by the Burmese army.” “I remember saying that I would come back one day.” Ole-Jørgen thought he would be back, but it never occurred to him that he would be back to start the first orphanage seven years ago, in 2007, when he just turned 20. And then go on to found two more orphanages in Tak and eventually manage to put together the dedicated and

Ole-Jørgen with one of the children in Noh Bo

Children helping to make mud bricks/ adobe brick for our music house in Noh Bo 22 ScandAsia.South East Asia • April 2014

©Ole-Jørgen Edna

©Ole-Jørgen Edna


©Ole-Jørgen Edna

Noh Bo orphanage in 2009

well-trained staff of 20 people who today provide loving care to some 100 victimized children.

Refugees in local schools

©Ole-Jørgen Edna

The Blessed Homes, as they are known, offer a family-like environment for children to grow up in to realise their full potentials and to become responsible members of their communities. All of the children’s homes at Noh Bo, Klee Tho Kloo and Mae Oo Ho in Tak province along the ThaiBurmese border are well integrated into the respective villages where they are located. Children go to local schools and mingle with other village and local Thai kids. Each child shares a room with 2-5 other children and is supervised by a dedicated staff member who serves as a surrogate parent. Thar Oo, 15, a Karen ethnic, was one of the first children taken in by Ole-Jørgen and local church members even before the children’s home at Mae Oo Ho was built. Like other children in the village, Thar Oo goes to local Thai school. At

Grade 6, he speaks Thai, Karen, Burmese fluently and is now dabbling in English, which will prepare him for future either in Burma, if and when peace is fully restored in his home country, or the option of being integrated into the Thai society. “My mother killed herself, drinking herbicide after my father ignored her pleading not to fight the Burmese army. Then he got killed in fighting. Then my two sisters and I were taken care of by the local pastor and his wife before Ole took us in to Mae Oo Ho,” Thar Oo said. After spending several months living under the care of Ole-Jørgen and local church members, Thar Oo, then 8 years old, and a few other children moved into Mae Oo Ho children’s home after Ole-Jørgen secured the seed fund from a generous American couple. “We are so grateful. Without Ole and Mae Oo Ho children’s home, my sisters and I wouldn’t know what to do, who to turn to for help. We would not have the opportunity to go to school or to think about our future,” said Thar Oo, say-

ing he wants to continue his education in Thai school and come back to help other disadvantaged young Karen children to have a head start in their lives.

How it all started After Ole-Jørgen’s visit in 1998 to the refugee camps with family, he went back to Norway and, like most teenagers, got busy with studying and making future plans. After having finished highschool, he took one year out to study theology in London and to see the world. Towards the end of his London stay, the picture of the Mae La refugee camp kept popping up in his mind and he felt he had to come back to look at the refugee situation up close. He started looking for volunteer works at the Thai-Burmese border. “My idea was to spend one year, doing some field works, closer to the actions.” Ole-Jørgen was first offered to man an office of a charitable organisation in Chiang Mai, but soon was introduced to and got a job teaching English at the bible school in Noh Bo in Mae Sot. Then Thar Oo and the other helpless children showed up. Ole-Jørgen’s first reaction was to help support these children until they grow up and be able to support themselves. Several of the first groups of children have already left the orphanages, got married and had kids of their own. This is part of life. You deal with that as best as you can.” “We don’t want to see any of our children grow up, leave orphanage and end up like parents that some of them ran away from. It would be painful to watch children grow up to become parents who abuse alcohol, who abandon kids or who create a dysfunctional family,” he said. These young adults need secure jobs, but

Children in their school uniforms getting ready for school April 2014 • ScandAsia.South East Asia

23


©Per Arne Kvamsø

Noh Bo Academy School there aren’t many decent jobs in the villages. “Many young fathers move to Bangkok or other big cities, get separated from wives or abandon them. The young mothers then find a new husband and perhaps the new husband doesn’t want the kids who are then thrown out.”

Next plan: a youth centre Being familiar with the big picture of the village life gives Ole-Jørgen ideas how to try to help break this vicious circle. The idea is to start a Youth Centre for children after they leave the compulsory primary school or middle school to lead semi-autonomous existence as young adults pursuing vocational or university education in secure environment. The planned youth centre in Mae Sot will help kids who finish grade 10 to get them further education and job skill if that is what they op for. “Most people in the village had 3-4 years of schooling before going to work in the fields be-

cause they didn’t see opportunities. At least for my kids they should know that at least they have the opportunity. If they choose to they can continue with education and go as far as they could.” “At least we can give them job training. Vocational training. So they won’t be pushed around too easily in the Thai job market. The youth centre is more of a transition place from orphanage to adulthood and independence to being in charge of one’s own life.

Why do you do it? Starting an orphanage is not something that most people would think of when they are in their early twenties. “I’m aware that many people would find what I do a little bit strange,” said Ole-Jørgen, a committed Christian. The orphanages were shaped by his Christian belief. “When you see something wrong in this world, like children suffering or mistreated. It’s not

©Per Arne Kvamsø Dancing in Noh Bo 24 ScandAsia.South East Asia • April 2014

because they have done something wrong. What it means is the world we live in is broken,” OleJørgen said. “That gives me the responsibility to do what I can to make it right. I don’t do this because I need to be better but because of the love God has for the children.” “My core belief says every child is unique and every child has a purpose and that they are loved.” The contrast between Norway, one of the wealthiest countries on earth, and Burma, at the bottom rungs of the world’s poorest, gives Ole-Jørgen a rare glimpse into the gap between the have and the have-not. “But I never stay because of guilt. But because I met and got to know children I do care about. Whom I couldn’t just leave and not know what was going to happen to them.” The orphanages are fully funded by donations from Norway, including from members of church in the small Norwegian town of Levanger, 600 kilometres north of Oslo where Ole-Jørgen came from. Many sponsors of the orphanages are nonbelievers. But some corporations or organizations that want to be apolitical baulk at providing support for Christian organizations like Blessed Homes. Ole-Jørgen doesn’t find that reasonable. “You bring your value system, worldviews, ideals of life to what you do, religious or secular.”

A meaningful life Many of Ole-Jørgen’s friends from back home have come out to visit him. “Some of them left with an understanding that their lives too could be much more meaningful than the current life they live back in Norway,” he said. Then he quickly corrects himself. “Of course I’m not saying it’s not meaningful to have a good job and to lead that kind of a normal Norwegian life. But for me I can just say that I would certainly not exchange this life for anything else.” “Sometimes people ask me how long I am going to stay. Some even ask if I am going to stay here for the rest of your life. That’s a long time.” He said he didn’t feel the needed to give an answer. “But if children ask me that I will stay, if I’m going to move. I would say I’m not leaving. I’m staying. For children I’m dedicated as long as they need me and as long as I’m useful being a symbol, a father figure. I don’t see myself going anywhere.” “But how I’m to be involved [with children’s home] may change. Even now, the children don’t need me at an orphanage all the time. Now I’m moving between orphanages. I go back to Norway 6-7 weeks a year.” Ole-Jørgen attributes the well-run children’s homes to well-trained staff who care about the kids. “I’m not the only one that kids rely on. Like in this place [Mae Oo Ho], Mary is the big mother to them all. Way more important to the kids than I am. Of course I have a role to play here too but it’s good to see that. Not everything depends on you. It’s a humbling thought. It’s also liberating in some way.”


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April 2014 • ScandAsia.South East Asia

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26/03/14 15.17


Leverpostej Pork Liver Pâté

Leverpostej - pork liver pâté - is a delicious spread for open sandwiches and a ‘must’ in any Easter Lunch Buffet.

A

lthough usually eaten with Danish rye bread, leverpostej or pork liver pâté can also be spread on any cracker of you choice. Tweaking the recipe to fit personal taste can make it better and especially more personal when served. This amazing dish is great at any lunch - and an Easter Lunch or Christmas lunch wiothout it is unthinkable. It is also great as topping on cocktail cannapes.

Ingredients •1 lb pork liver •10 ounces pork fat •1 medium onion •1/4 cup flour •1/4 cup light cream •2 eggs, lightly beaten •2 teaspoons salt •1 teaspoon pepper •1/4 teaspoon allspice

Directions • Put the liver, fat and onion through a meat chopper at least 3 times or use a food processor. • The mixture should be quite fine in the texture. Mix in the flour, cream, eggs, salt, pepper and all spice. • Spoon the mixture into a buttered loaf pan. • Put it in a pan of water and bake for an hour. Set the temperature at medium, around 350 F. equivalent 180 C. • If the pate is browning too quickly place a piece of foil loosely over it.

Serve it with fried mushrooms, bacon bits, and red beets or cucumber pickles on Danish rye bread or french bread. 26 ScandAsia.South East Asia • April 2014


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ScandAsia South East Asia - April 2014