Reaching beyond the limits of language directly into the hearts of Thai children and having their hearts touched in return was the order of the day for participants in the Global Leadership and Service Project (GLSP)–Bangkok, now in its fourth year.
One group of students in the Global Leadership and Service Project returned to Baan Rachawadee, a modern, government-sponsored complex that delivers services to people with special needs.
Composition of group shows global range.
The 2008 GLSP-Bangkok, which took place from March 13-24, 2008, brought 24 students from Florida International University together with two recipients of travel grants from the College of Business Administration, one from Baruch College and one from George Washington University; a student from St. Mary’s University, San Antonio, Texas; a student from Colombia, the head of the international business department at Arkansas University; Robert Hogner, associate professor, Department of Management and International Business and coordinator of the college’s Civic Engagement Initiative; and 21 students from partner university Chandrakasem Rajabaht University’s (CRU) English Club and Community Development Department.
GLSP participants formed warm relationships with each other and the orphaned kids with disabilities at Baan Rachawadee.
Activities took place at three sites: Baan Rachawadee, a modern, government-sponsored complex that delivers services to people with special needs; the Foundation for the Better Life of Children (FBLC)—a pre-school that rescues children living on the streets, and a new site: a Royal Family-sponsored community pre-school in the economically disadvantaged area of Klong Toey.
“Last year, I worked with severely disabled kids at Baan Rachawadee,” said international business major and this year’s team leader Andres Franco. “The kids this time had even more severe physical and mental disabilities, but we had an amazing connection to them.”
Each year has brought expansion to the project’s concept.
Because of the severe nature of the kids’ disabilities, students in the GLSP weren’t able to use their prepared curriculum but did a lot of dancing and singing instead.
“At closing ceremonies at the three sites, tears flowed freely,” Hogner said. “The tears–from our students and those from CRU—reflected the happiness they felt for a task well done, their sadness at having to part ways, and their realization that the children who had been part of their lives for five days would not be there the next day.”
Although the university group has just returned, plans are already underway for the fifth GLSP-Bangkok, offered through the college’s Civic Engagement Initiative and supported by the Center for Business Education and Research (CIBER), Asian Studies, the Honors College, the college’s executive dean’s office, and the Department of Management and International Business.
Among those plans is one for institutionalizing the GLSP as a full Alternative Spring Break program through the university’s Center for Leadership and Service. Also, planning with CRU has begun for “up-country” Thailand projects with multiple, but smaller teams.