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FEBRUARY 2018: Yew Chung International School, Shanghai

Moving forward with Makhampom

VSP have been taking student groups to stay at the Makhampom Art Space for a long time and recently we have been working together with the foundation to increase the scope of our relationship. It was good timing, then, when Yew Chung requested a two-day stay at their beautiful guesthouse in Chiang Dao district.

The ever-impressive Makhampom team got their heads together and came up with a daring idea that could be used not only to entertain and educate their guests from Shanghai, but also to bring some benefit to a local community that they have close connections with: the villagers of Pang Daeng.

During our regular visits, we have started to include skills workshops led by Pang Daeng inhabitants so that they can teach our students about traditional life in their rural village and so this was a key part of the fun but for a two-day special we needed more…

The idea itself was simple: Yew Chung students would visit Pang Daeng on an information-gathering quest, after plenty of prep work, and propose a sustainable development project to representatives of the village the following day.

The challenge was to facilitate the learning before and during their visit to the village, and then to keep them on track as they devised their projects. Luckily, Makhampom have lots of experience of using theatre activities to discuss complex social issues and in the end the project proposals were of a high quality indeed – both creative and realistic.

The ideas ranged from boosting the villagers’ income by making handmade products for niche markets in Thailand to improving sanitation by improving hand-washing facilities and raising awareness of the benefits of using soap.

Everybody involved in the process was truly amazed at how quickly the students from Yew Chung were able to gain a good understanding of life in Pang Daeng. One of the village representatives congratulated the students on how, after visiting only once, they had managed to help consolidate her own understanding of some of the issues that she has grown up with her whole life – even offering her new perspectives on some matters.

It is now up to the Pang Daeng villagers whether they want to carry any of the projects forward but here at VSP we feel confident that we can do our own bit to support the village by continuing to work with Makhampom in the knowledge that they can provide meaningful and positive activity programs for our visiting schools.

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