Tuesday, September 7, 2010

For Love, Not for Money.

If this pile of Bahts was in Euro, I wouldn't have come back but stayed on a loooong holiday in Thailand at least for one year (after poping in to IBS to be in the kick-off).

Money, however, is not THE issue if someone will take this brilliant advantage and challenge of experiencing professionally more in three months than most of the people in Education experience during their worklife. 

I highly recommend this kind of long exchange to all of my colleagues - and students as well!

I cannot even articulate all of it right now, after 10 days from arrival back to my work here in Finland - but as soon as I'm able to, I'll probably write some kind of reflective  "The End" to this blog  - hopefully this story with the relationships included will be a never ending one though.

Photo: Thanit B. by LOMO camera.

Mixed feelings, again: SO good to be back home with friends, IBS students and colleagues, but missing people over there in Bangkok. And that warm (read: HOT) weather too!

With love, Ajarn Outi.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Welcome Newbies - Goodbye this Oldie!

This certain event for overseas students' orientation made it clear that I'm Not The One to be in for the fall semester. It was kind of a rite & ritual for me to get out (but not to get rid of) from BUIC while the others were eagerly joining in. I nearly fell in tears, several times during the day.

First, the students had some Thai-culture related ice-breaking activities at Rangsit Campus - and, I have to tell you, that everything was organized once again SO well. There were some Finnish students as well, from Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences and Vaasa University, but NONE from our organization - which made a dull gray shadow on my day too. I know, that those serious responsibility and insurance issues affected. Anyway, I was prepared to welcome our students to Bangkok University during this week as well as I could do. In the end, I did have a few words with one guy from Mikkeli. And more with the students from Sweden in Swedish. They asked me to stay here ;)

Learning how to dance traditional Thai-folkdance was one of the activities.

How to make a Lotus flower even more attractive was one of the cultural challenges.... 
I did it myself too.

A.Jiab, my true support throughout this summer coached me how to...

And in the end of the orientation day to Thai culture we visited one of the most famous Floating Markets with its elephants.

Floating market and floating vendor.... So much to show and tell, not enough words for it right now.
Ask me for more detailed information, please. This day was a moving one among the others. For the rest of my life.

Thank you BUIC colleagues!

Dr-Nok, Jeri, Jiab, Tor, Dr. Siriwan, and all you over there! I love you <3 You made my summer!

Ko Chang... The Final Countdown!

The last week of my stay in Thailand was planned to be a perfect holiday with my son - as it was in the end but not like I had planned in advance. We both suffered from bronchitis and a horrifying cough, and my son had additionally some symptoms of diarrhea, so, the public transportation would not have been the most comfortable idea. We took a taxi, and not whatever taxi, to Trat but one of the familiar taxi drivers, and the one who was so overwhelmingly grateful for our English lessons on the tour. The cost of 3000 baht was nothing compared to the comfortability and the local knowledge of everything.

Hae had been a succesful businessman in his previous life...and his life story was a touching one, but, he had made everything himself to cope with disasters which ruined everything. And now a days he is living in peace with himself and the surrounding world after becoming a buddhist monk a few years ago, still running his own business somehow, without being bitter. There is something to learn for us, Farangs. A lot!  And, I do not recommend to become a buddhistic monk if you happen to face some failures in your life. Different story then.

Well, the Island of Elephants, Ko Chang is one of the biggest islands in Thailand - next to Kambodza. Pure nature, Nature park area, and not so touristic way of anything, yet. And, I have to add that it was purely the choice of my son.

OK, we had really good and sincere talk like mom-son on our way to Ko Chang for five hours, and when we arrived to deluxe villa on White Beach with its brilliant next-to-the-sea swimming pools....

...my adventurous son announced that it was NOT exactly what HE was looking for, and asked our chauffor to take him to those backpackers' sites. I had an utterly relaxing week all by myself. The only contact to the outer world was some New Zelandian kids to whom I told some true stories about Santa Claus who happens to live in Finland. And, after those certain story telling moments I was known as a Finn, who really knows everything about Santa Claus and his family :)
By experience, of course. And one of the most warming comments ever was from 6 years old girl: "Thank you, Madame, for this really important INFORMATION - I will appreciate it for ever!"  OMG, what did I tell her....?

I was really lucky to have six days of sun over there as it was a monsoon time and normally not too sunny. And, I think I was lucky to get this kind of pic of a tremendous thunderstorm just before all the electricity on the whole island went off. For two days. This time I was not afraid of anything but just closed my eyes and slept, tight.

I enjoyed my swimming and sleeping period, as I knew that my only son was having THE holiday of his entire life - just 12 kilometers away from me, on the backpackers' beach, reporting every now and then that he's alive. No need to worry really. And, I had my time to enjoy all by myself, muy pero muy tranquilo. I really needed it too, to recover and to be ready for my IBS challenges back home.

So, here they are, same guys as week ago. Hae came to bring us back home. Heading back to Bangkok, my home city for this summer. Bitter-sweet feelings already at that point... just a few more days to come.

It was not easy to be THE Mom of an Outgoing Party Animal in Bangkok

I had a plan. I had a glorious plan to have some quality time - finally - with my son in Bangkok. We haven´t been too much together since I started my bread-and-butter work at  SAMK by accident in fall 2002. Now he is 21 years young and verbally talented person, who seems to cope where ever, with mom, or preferably without. Meanwhile waiting him at the BKK airport I was lucky to meet these traditional thai-dancers.

Anyway, one of the most exciting moments during my stay in Bangkok was to wait him to arrive at the airport. He was concerned about how to find not-so-tall mom with dark hair in the crowds.. I was not concerned at all, as he is some 30 centimeters taller than anybody else there.

Finally he met someone a bit girlish who is high above him... at the Bangkok Art and Culture Center, BACC, my real favorite attraction by all means.

Anyway, I was delighted to be a hostess and mom in same person, BUT if he had been there for the whole period of my exchange, I'd have turned to a Real Panda Mom with really black underlines...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Under The Same Sky - Diamonds of BU at Rangsit Campus

My blogging has suffered from lack of time after final exams (and my son the party animal to visit Bangkok), but now as I'm back to Finland (and freeeezzzing)  I'm trying to put the rest of my experiences in words attaching some pics to accomplish this blog.

 I had an opportunity to combine my visit to the marvelous Rangsit Campus out of the city to an art exhibition opening - in a very good company. What else could one wish or desire? That's why I'm talking about diamonds at Rangsit Campus.

This is a very concrete example of the diamonds...an architectural result of the decision to use Design Management as important part of communication: to make it clear that Bangkok University pays attention to overall development of the university, making some unforgettable landmarks by its architecture too. So, there are two of these Diamonds facing the highway passing by.

My brilliant hostesses, Dr. Siriwan, Dr. Su and Sirima,  at Rangsit Campus IN one of its intensively coloured lifts.

Under The Same Sky exhibition opening was something nearly spiritual for me.
Tuksina Pipitkul and Susan Collins, colleagues in Fine Arts from totally different cultures had prepared a collaborative exhibition which showed us all that our sky is....but the view points and installations and the results might be seen different ways, both from their view and not even to mention us, viewers. Healing! Relaxing! Invigorating!

Southeast Asian Ceramics Museum at Rangsit Campus is amazing with its treasures!
This museum made me really silent: it houses more than 2000 ancient ceramics donated by Mr. Surat Osathanugrah, the founder of Bangkok University. The museum aims to instill an appreciation for Thai cultural heritage - and it's free for anyone to see those treasures! The only minus is the location at Rangsit... Probably it will take its place to be an important center for ceramics research and training on all aspects of historical ceramics in future - I really hope so, as for me it was a religious kind of touch to this kind of arts.

Thank you Dr. Sirivan and Dr. Su & Sirima for a wonderful day!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Fresh Air on the Island Ko Samet

Ko Samet for four nights and days was an appropriate choice by all means, although the first night was nearly claustrophobic: I was given a tiny room with a fake window, without garden view as booked - actually with no view at all as there was a sordid mirror facing my need to have a view! My own face was not the most wanted view for me but the only choice.

This was because of public holidays and overbooking. The staff behaved all too arrogantly when I complained about the room in a civilized way, and told me that I was an amateur tourist being difficult  without any reason, because I would be given another room the next day.

This was the one supposed to be also for the first night...No sun, but at least a sunflower!

The room I finally got had windows three of them on three walls making a total of 9 windows, haha
 - quite an opposite..

Well, they did not have any sense of customer service, and did not improve their attitude during the whole stay. No smiles, no eye-contact with me. Poor them.

Anyway, the resort itself was just what I needed and desired.

The Mermaid on the left is NOT me.

It is all about a legend based on poetry: "Sunthorn Phu (1786–1855) is probably one of the most respected poets among the Thai people. In the writing Phra Aphai Mani, a mermaid is saving Prince Aphai Mani from the sea and takes him to Koh Samet.

A statue that illustrates this drama is placed on the rocks between Ao Hin Khok and Hat Sai Kaew ", tells the tourist info.

It is also believed that once upon a time, Ko Samet was the home of pirates, and that until these days there is still lost treasures buried somewhere on the island. I did not find any.

Koh Samet in the Rayong province, is one of the 96 national parks found in Thailand. The nature is considered to be so unique that the authorities, The Royal Forestry Department, has decided that this island should be designated as a national park.  Tourism and hotels are allowed on Samet, with some geographical restrictions.

I took lodgings at Saikaew Beach which is considered to be the most beautiful one on the island. Amazingly white sand made even the cloudy and rainy days picturesque. Unfortunately it was raining most of my stay, but swimming in the sea is enjoyable even in rain.

And they had some pretty touristic ways of amusing people hanging out, but I did not feel to be one of those superficially regaled ones. Still tried to document some of it- but nearly forgetting my name - was it something O-related??

Some new experiences to mention was a pitch-black evening, all alone, with no electricity, being terrified by a furious thunderstorm, listening to spooky and monotonous but very loud cry of horned frogs, dozens of black flies biting my ankles - all this at the same time. Fortunately mobile phones have been invented! My friend from Finland had to call and calm me down as my SMSs were loaded with agony - I've been struck by a thunderbolt in my teens. Thanks for caring!

This certain frog is not involved in the crime of making me mad by the cry of horned frogs...but (s)he was a friendly one bodyguard-like-a-frog on my door for the first night.

 Seafood, fresh air and mesmerizing beach made me happy and relaxed.

Ko Samet is said to be easy to reach from Bangkok, and so it was en route to Ko Samet. Homeward-bound was easy as well, until I realized that the minibus would not stop on it's way to Khao San Road , the paradise for backpackers - I just saw the city campus of BU, and the district where I live, to be left behind. In the end, the taxi drive backwards to my residence took nearly as long time as the journey from Ban Phe to Bangkok.               Rainy day, you know.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Saturday Trip to Koh Kret

Dr. Siriwan invited me and an exchange artist Susan Collins to Koh Kret trip on Saturday.  Koh Kret is an island in the Chao Phraya river. The island has made a name for itself by producing earthenware pots in a variety of styles, and for the fact that most of the islanders are of Mon origin, a minority group from Myanmar.

The speciality to purchase on the island is pottery of all kind for household use or as decorative items.

If you feel like having a snack on the island, you can choose for example from deep-fried flowers to fried mini eggs.

After a slow walk on the island we took a river cruise around Koh Kret. The river boat called at some Thai dessert houses, which gave a good impression of dessert art in Thailand.

The day ended to a marvellous lunch (not including those amazing desserts) with good company. Special thanks to Dr. Siwiwan who made a special day for us by arranging everything in the best possible way - the day was enjoyable comfortability with new expierences!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Some slices of Cultural Life at BU

BU's slogan is *Bangkok University - Creative University*. And from the perspective of arranging cultural events it really is. To be creative throughout everyday education is not an easy matter as the fabrics of society and the institutional approach to education do not change in a trice.

As we well know in our brand-new Innovative Business Services programme at SAMK,  the only way to make the general impression and the workings renew, is to start from the scratch, with truly reformist attitude and commitment even though there are lots of question marks and uncertainty factors. Support from the management is an essential facilitator. Nobody can do it all by oneself, not the mundane pioneers nor the managers only - it needs amazingly much empowered willpower combined with openminded co-operation. And I guess that some of the traditional patterns are useful too ;)

Recently I have attended two really greatly organized cultural events, and some more is to come. At City Campus Gallery there was an exhibition opening week ago. Brand New 2010 introduces exhibitions by Dusadee Huntracul presenting his interesting collages, and Mute Mute, an experimental group to promote creativity and to support artists' survival in this business oriented world. Art360 Project administered by SAMK has pretty much the same objectives but more formal organization.

In the first photo: The two great Art Lovers of BU, President Dr. Mathana and Creative Manager of BU, Petch Osathanugrah, the present owner of BU, an artist himself.

This week I had an opportunity to be in the opening ceremonies of the 1st Bangkok International Student Film Festival at Bangkok Art and Culture Center BACC. Aalto University School of Art and Design had their films screened during the six-day festival. I experienced a funny surprise while watching one of their films: suddenly there was an acquaintance of mine acting on the screen! A former boyfriend of my friend from Tampere! What a small world we are living in...

The opening ceremony was extremely professionally organized - by BU Students and their supervisors. The students get brilliant work experience through both these public events and those ceremonious internal events. So do they get at SAMK too, but the scale is totally different here. As well is the support from sponsors, or more like from co-operative partners, too.

Bangkok Art and Culture Center is situated next to the MBK Shopping Center and is really easy to reach. You can easily spend hours at BACC checking out all those small galleries and boutiques. 
I highly recommend!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Working at BUIC - continued

There has been some alterations in the organizational culture since my colleagues have been at BUIC, obviously due to the change of generation: the present owner, son of the founder of BU is an artist himself. The practical changes can be seen for example in dress code: there is no more jacket suit & tights regulation for female (nor male) teachers. The general guideline is to dress so that it's polite ;) I am mostly wearing a light dress, can you imagine!? Black'n White though as you can see in the picture below.

There are smoking areas around the campus nowadays, but I do not smoke myself during working days. Most of the students wear school uniforms but it is up to the teacher if (s)he requires students dress up like that in class. Academic week used to start on Tuesday and end on Saturday - this summer session is the very first to be conducted in western way, starting on Monday and being off on Saturday and Sunday.

Right now I'm busy with designing the final exams, and, coaching the groups with their final presentations. The colleagues have been surprised to notice that my students pop in to my office and use the possibility for on-demand coaching. As well they ask questions in class, which also amazes some of my local colleagues. The set of 3 x 45 minutes lectures daily should have a break of 10 minutes in between, but I never have it as the kids are queuing to me with their questions. I am utterly (this expression is especially for all my IBS colleagues) pleased and content with this success.

Let's see how it goes next week as the final presentations are to come. I hope I'll have lots of reasons to be delighted with the students and their performance.

After seven weeks I'll be back in IBSness!