The Hills of Knowledge founders Sylvain Guisetti-Nanakorn and Franz Dobersberger are in the process of establishing a Thai charity foundation for the purpose of supplementing the educational systems by aiding the teachers and students of lesser developed rural areas in ethnic minority regions along the Mekong River in Chiang Rai, Thailand and Chiang Tung , Shan State –Myanmar.
Sylvain has been a volunteer teacher for the past 6 months assisting 6 schools in the Chiang Khong District of Chiang Rai province. During which time he was teaching English and Chinese to students in government schools in rural villages representing, the Tai-Lao, Tai-Lue, Kamong, Hmong, Tai Yai ethnic groups. These children speak their native languages at home thus, in the early years they must learn the central Thai dialect which is not the same and in some cases not at all similar to the tribal languages that they speak at home and in their villages. Thus, the challenge is to get them to speak, read and write the Thai central dialect for all their educational purposes. Now one can imagine that to add English and Mandarin Chinese to the mix creates additional challenges in their learning curriculum. Never the less we feel that if they are able to master English and or Chinese the student’s chances for success in life will be greatly enhanced. Knowledge is power and with each additional language one learns its as if they are a given a key that may open an extra door or window of opportunity for their future.
Chiang Khong runs along the mighty Mekong bordering Laos and Myanmar and with the Asia Highway it is only 260 KM from Yunnan Provence in China thus making it Thailand’s door to ASEAN and China. That is why we feel it is so important to teach these children English and Chinese and start them at an early age.
Sadly the local governments schools have a limited budget and are not easily able to meet the current needs of basic education let alone deal with the many learning disable led students. So we have decided to dedicate ourselves to the supplementation the education system along with support of the local departments of education in the following ways.
- By having the co founding director Mr. SGN to be based in Chiang Khong
- By having Mr. SGN study for a TEFL (Teaching English as a foreign language ) certification
- Setting up a legal charity foundation
- Having Mr. SGN teach English and Chinese to the students
- By assisting in raising funds for the bakery coffee shop project that is currently under construction at the Tung Nue Primaary school in Chiang Khong.
- Establishing a scholarship program for higher education for those who are scholastically capable but not financially.
The Bakery and coffee shop is a two story building that is currently being built. Its main upper street level floor will be a coffee and cake shop selling coffees grown by the AKU children in Chiang Rai and the cookies and cakes that are baked in the school bakery kitchen. Test and sample runs are being conducted since last year to give the children and introduction to baking. The idea is to have the children bake goods to sell in the shop and to work in the shop as well. This is Sort of a barter system for education, allowing them to work for their education. Perhaps they will be able to receive an introduction to the service industry that would give them the chance to learn a trade that would get them a job in the many new hotels and restaurants that are opening in the region.
The ground floor of the building will be a classroom that will have all the modern teaching equipment to teach both Chinese and English.
This may also offer a chance to the Learning disabled students to have a better start in life for not everyone is able to move on to higher education.
As Chiang Khong is located at the easternmost corner of the golden triangle its immigration as been greatly affected by the many years of civil war that engulfed the Dai peoples and other ethnic races from both Myanmar and Lao thus as in any country the newer to arrive is always the last to fully assimilate into society that is why we wish to focus our full efforts in this area.
For a basic introduction to Chiang Khong and Its ethnic make up, read here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiang_Khong_District
Hmong people generally come from the hill and mountain area just south of China. According to genetic evidence, Hmong people lived in China for 2000 years before generally migrating south in the 1700s. They moved to escape the oppressive Qing Dynasty.
Most Hmong people came over to the US after the Vietnam War. Although they are generally peaceful, during the war they were recruited by the CIA to act as spies. Shortly after the US pulled out of the war, a new leader came to power in Laos. The Hmong were persecuted for their anti-communist involvement in the war and many of them fled to Thailand refugee camps.
Today there are about 250,000 Hmong Thais in Chiang Kong and we feel these are the most in need of assistance to allow them to mainstream into Thai society.
The Tai Lao
With Lao just being over the river, over the years of civil war and strife many Lao peoples have come over into modern day Thailand. The main or largest community of Thai-Lao is the village of Baan Pak Ing which is rich in agriculture , growing, corn, tobacco, teak and cassava this community was established over 90 years ago and has been growing ever since. These people speak the Lao language and are very hard working however due to economic circumstances many of the children are not living in a family with the father and mother intact. Mostly their parents are away working in Bangkok, Phuket or Pattaya and the children are left to be raised by grandparents and are often behind in Thai Language and writing skills. They are however the sweetest of all the children of all the schools we have ever helped.
The Tai Lue
Originally from Yunnan today as well as in China they live along the high hillsides of the easternmost border of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. They primarily inhabit the Kengtung district and the region where the Shweli River crosses into China. They are also found along the Mekong river border of Laos and Chiang Rai province in Thailand. Their language, Lu, belongs to the southwestern group of Tai languages. Since Central Thai is the common language used at the markets, many Tai Lue merchants are bilingual. In Chiang Khong the village of Sedonchai is a predominantly Thai Lue village and its government school is one we assist.
Tai Yai, Tai Dam
The Thai name for the Shan people is Thai Yai, meaning great or big Thai. Indeed though possessing distinct cultural traits, a very separate history and inhabiting adjacent rather than overlapping regions, the Shan people are a part of the greater Thai ethnic community— which also includes Lao, Tai Lu, Black Tai ,White Tai and numerous other subgroups, including Northern Thai that are found throughout Chiang Kong.
Is a graduate from the Les Roche Hospitality Management School in Switzerland for over 25 years he worked in the food service hotel and hospitality industry in over 14 different countries, he was the co founder of the largest baked goods manufacturing and distribution bakery in Myanmar.
Sylvain is fluent in 12 languages and has always been fascinated with learning other languages. He has been volunteer teaching in Thailand for over 2 years and now wishes to spend his time spreading his knowledge of languages and the hospitality industry to the children in the rural areas of Thailand and Myanmar.
Is the driving force behind A & F TOUR TRAVEL which was established in 1999 to fill a void in the Asian travel market, offering personalized service to International travelers looking for trustworthy local individuals to make sure that their “Dream Vacation” remained exactly that, rather then becoming their “Worst Nightmare”.
As a veteran in the Western client service industry for over a decade, who saw the need to translate his values of providing unwavering perfectly professional services to an international clientele looking for an authority in South East Asia that they knew and could depend on. His belief is that knowledge is power – he and his staff support HILLS OF KNOWLEDGE with all their heart’s * HILLS OF KNOWLEDGE support and supplement local government schools in the rural areas of Northern Thailand
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