Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
Arriving to Bangkok and the Rotary Peace Center has been so amazing. From the very first moment we’ve been taken good care of by Rotary, Rotarians and the staff at the Peace Center. I was like many other fellows lucky to be picked up at the airport by our host counselors. I have two wonderful host counselors who have taken good care of me. I’ve been taken out to dinner, been given a «this is what you need the first days» bag and been taken to a New Years party with the host Rotary Club. That was a great evening, where I met many nice Rotarians and their families, ate good food, enjoyed the river-view and listened to karaoke. The hospitality we’ve all met is highly appreciated.
I am so thankful! I am thankful for being chosen for the Rotary Peace Fellowship. I am thankful for meeting and getting to know all the lovely people in the group, at the Rotary Peace Center and Rotary. We all are eager to discuss conflict resolution and peace, and we have already, over the first few days, had many interesting conversations and discussions. Gathering men and women from different countries, with different backgrounds and experiences, different ages, different cultures, different languages in, for most of us, a foreign country makes for an exciting and unique learning environment. Most of us have gotten a local SIM-card, and some have experienced that getting a SIM-card can also be a practice in conflict-studies.
I must admit, it’s great to be a student again. Walking around the campus, testing the facilities like the gym and the pink campus bus and getting ice cream from one of the kiosks in the area has put me into student mode. Margaret (another Rotary Peace Fellow) and I were lucky to meet a nice student on our bus ride who could address our curiosity of the different buildings, the dormitories, the university uniform, etc. The insignia and shoes. She, who by the way was doing a Masters in English, told us that when they go from being a Bachelors to a Masters student, they no longer have to wear white shoes as a part of their uniform. They can choose themselves. So, she had brown shoes with white dots. That’s not really a «need to know», but interesting anyway. So, now I’ll start looking at the students’ shoes with some more knowledge. Exploring markets and stores, fighting ants since I was stupid enough to leave an unsealed box of cereal in my room, and buying tickets to the SkyTrain has put me into «being a foreigner» mode.
Throughout the first week we were introduced to the Rotary Peace Center. What an initiative that is! We have learned what will be expected of us, both when it comes to behavior and assignments. We have learned about Thai culture. We have tasted many different Thai dishes, learned some useful Thai phrases, and have learned more about Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation. As a Rotaractor, I already know Rotary quite well, but it’s always nice to be reminded of what a wonderful organization it is. I think it is important that we receive these updates and knowledge, so we can avoid some of the worst cultural mistakes. And, so that we can be more aware of what a great opportunity we all have been given by being accepted as Rotary Peace Fellows. Friday we also gave our individual conflict presentations—eight minute presentation on a topic we’ll look more into during the program. Listening to all the different conflicts my new friends are working on makes me feel very interested and humble. And now we are ready to face the academic challenges waiting for us!
I’m thankful and humble, and I am very much looking forward to the next weeks!
Turid Astrid Reksten, Norway
Rotary Peace Fellow
January 2014 Session