Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand
For me the year 2015 brought both happiness and misery. Shaken by a massive earthquake, which caused a huge number of casualties and destruction of beautiful world heritage sites, I am a sufferer in the true sense. But now I am here at Bangkok, availed with an excellent opportunity to change and prepare myself to be a social transformer, which is the need of the hour for a country like Nepal trying to come out of a violent past. As a student of the nineteenth class at the Rotary Peace Center at Chulalongkorn University, I am excited to meet new people, make friends, and learn from their experiences. Luckily for me, I got to meet an iconic and legendary personality whose vigor, philosophy, and determination forever moved me. His name is Mr. Bhichai Rattakul.
Mr. Bhichai Rattakul, educated in Bangkok and Hong Kong, received an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Political Science from the University of Ramkhamhaeng, Bangkok, and Kensington University, California. A member of the Thai Parliament for nine terms since 1969, he held numerous high profile positions including Foreign Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and President of the Parliament. He has also led Thai delegations to the United Nations. He has been awarded with Special Class Honor from the king of Thailand and honors from the emperor of Japan, and presidents of the Philippines, Korea, Austria, and Nicaragua. He was also awarded the International Olympic Award and Asian Olympic Award by the International Olympics Committee. It is indeed a once in a life time opportunity to get acquainted with such a personality.
Now an aged man, Mr. Bhichai Rattakul is still energetic beyond imagination for a man of his age. His inspiring speech was a challenge not only for me but for my fellow countrymen as well who spend their valuable time after retirement totally unproductively. His philosophical ideals about peace were quite eye opening. “Peace is the world’s new art,” he said. “Peace is not just a piece of paper where it is written, it is that we are seeking.”
Seemingly invincible, Mr. Bhichai has gone through the same sadness and pain that many of us face during our lifetime. His devotion and love for his deceased wife brought tears in my eyes. It is as if their love transcends the boundaries of life and death.
His attitude towards life and success moved me. “To be successful in life never change your philosophy of life, at the end you will win it.” His honesty and self criticism in front of us was very courageous. This made me realize that the essence of life is speaking the truth and it will eventually lead to successful life. He also urged us to spend the rest of life productively by serving the international community.
After the roller coaster ride of a speech, I was thoroughly impressed and inspired by him. I realized there is still a lot I can do to make this world a better place. “Never stop serving the fellow beings in this world,” he said and I wholeheartedly agree. Well, they do say the more you serve the more you get. Kudos to Mr. Bhichai.
Awani Mainali Bhattarai
Rotary Peace Fellow
June 2015 Session