Payap People

Namthip Siri

Namthip Siri would fit the stereotypical image of a Thai university student.  Only she's attending a Thai university that is English speaking.  The only daughter of proud and protective parents, Namthip has spent pretty much her entire life in Chiang Mai and frankly, couldn't imagine living anywhere else.  She attended Sacred Hearts for her primary and secondary education.  Although English is her second language - which means she could have easily attended any number of Thai uni's and studied in Thai - she nevertheless chose the challenge of an International College (IC).  "I really wanted to improve my English," says Namthip.  "So attending Payap's International College meant I could improve my English skills and earn a degree at the same time."  Namthip is a first-year student in Payap's International Business Management (IBM) program. 

Namthip is a Chiang Mai girl through and through.  Her only experience outside Thailand was a short stint in Singapore and a six-month exchange program in Perth, Australia.  "I really didn’t like it," says Namthip, of her experience down under.  "I cried nearly every day.  I missed my family and my friends so much.  And I missed Chiang Mai."  Namthip's short experience in Australia has convinced her that life outside of Thailand simply wouldn’t be a life she'd enjoy.  "I may spend the rest of my life traveling…but honestly, I can’t imagine living anywhere other than Thailand.  This is my home.  My only home."

Namthip considered other schools for her college education, but in Chiang Mai, there really wasn't much in the way of competition.  She had considered Chiang Mai University (CMU), but was not impressed.  "Their international program is bi-lingual - which essentially meant that their classes were a bunch of Thai students and Thai Ajarns speaking Thai.  I didn't want to spend the extra money attending an international program and speaking Thai the whole time.  I can do that in a Thai program for a lot less."  The Payap IC program, on the other hand, is strictly English-speaking with over 60% of the students non-Thai.  "It's a real challenge for me.  English is a hard language, but I think I'm improving.  No, I'd say I’m definitely improving.  My English skills, that is."  Her academic record isn't yet what she'd like it to be, but she knows she can improve.  Namthip will probably concede that she's excelling at Payap in other ways - mostly outside the classroom.  Which is not to say she doesn't take her studies seriously.  "It's a little harder than I thought it would be, but I'm adapting and I'm determined to improve."

Outside the classroom, she’s making many friends and enjoying university life.  Contrary to what people think, she vehemently denies that she is a “party queen.”  “I have no idea how that rumor got started, but it’s absolutely not true,” insists Namthip.  “I’m quite the stay-at-home girl.  Certainly, I like to hang out with my friends from time to time.  But mostly, I just like to stay home and read or listen to music.  I also help my mom out in our grocery store (family business).”  One of her best friends, Ms. Siriket (or “Fern”), another Payap People profile, concurs.  So it must be true. 

Like many students in the IC program, Namthip enjoys the diversity in the program, with over 30 countries represented in the student body and faculty.  She also enjoys the university activities, although she believes there’s not enough.  “We should definitely have more activities, especially activities with the Thai-side students.”  Truth be told, the IC can be somewhat of an island unto itself, separated from the rest of the university.  But the university leadership has been trying to integrate the IC with the main side, although it’s very much a work-in-progress.  The IC Student Union, for example, has been participating more and more with their Thai side counterparts.  Namthip also believes that the university can improve the cafeteria and sports facilities.  “It would be great to have a swimming pool.  I’d be swimming every day.” 

Namthip’s goals upon graduation are still undecided.  She may continue on with her education, or go to work, perhaps as an Air Hostess.  The latter is a job that many young ladies in Thailand aspire for, mostly for the excitement of travel and the good pay.  But Namthip has a dream job that is still a dream at this point.  “I think I might like to be a fashion designer some day.”  It’s something that she’s thought about, but she’s still too shy to even talk much about it.  “It’s only in my head at this point.  But who knows what the future will bring?”  One thing that Namthip is adamant about is her independence.  She believes that women can empower themselves by education and not be so dependent upon men.  She also believes that the Thai government should do more to help women, particularly those who have been abused or abandoned.  “If I was leading this country, I’d make sure that these women who have been victimized by men are looked after.”  Pretty strong stuff for a girl who considers herself shy and reserved...well, somewhat.  “I am a little shy upon first meeting people, but once I get to know them, I can be pretty outgoing.”  But she knows what’s important in her life.  Her family.  Her friends.  Her country.  And of course, her pet dog “kai-mook.”  The girl’s got it all.

Written by Aj. Samuel Santisuk Chinnapongse

December 8, 2009