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Chiangmai's Prem International Center

Friends of the author's are Chinese. Jason was born and grew up in Beijing while his wife, Hilda, was born in Taiwan. Their two sons were born and are growing up in New Zealand. Both boys are bilingual, being comfortable with Mandarin and English, and will progressively become multilingual as their studies encompass Japanese and French. I am envious of young people who are afforded the opportunity of "Internationalism" during their developing years. It should lead to a less parochial world - a world of greater understanding and communication.

Such a place of opportunity exists on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. In association with the United World College of South East Asia (Singapore), a new school has been established near Mae Rim. Located 25 kilometers from Chiang Mai, on a huge acreage (90 acres) and set in the Mae Rim countryside, it is a school for progressive students from Thailand, the South East Asia region and beyond.

Initially inspired by such beacons as South Africa's ex-President Nelson Mandela and Jordan's Queen Noor, the United World College, locally, has an inspirational hand at the helm - that of Honorary Board Chairman, His Excellency General Prem Tinsulanonda.

The International College Prem Centre is now open for enrollments. As a day and boarding school for students of many nationalities, aged from 4 to 18 years, it offers a United World College educational philosophy. The curriculum plan, at all levels, follows the renowned International Baccalaureate. This curriculum, designed by leading world educators, takes students through to Grade 12 and the International Baccalaureate Diploma. This Diploma is a "door opener" to universities around the world (including advanced placement to universities in the United States). In addition, the College offers the International Certificate of Secondary Education to Grades 9 and 10.

This is no ordinary school. Designed and landscaped by prominent Thai architect M. L. Tri Devakul the buildings and grounds provide the perfect setting for a school. All buildings display a banana leaf motif set on the wall under the canopy of their green roof. The buildings invite. Careful thought has gone into the facilities and their design. The circular outdoor amphitheater with points for sound and lighting provides the perfect stage for the performing arts. Music, drama and dance can be set against a backdrop of water, created by a quiet lake. A large gymnasium with clever ventilation and floor surface provide a wide range of sporting courts including volleyball, basketball, indoor hockey, soccer and badminton.

Aside from featuring the English language as a common factor, one of the great "spin-off" rewards to students from various countries is the opportunity to learn from each other. Cross cultural friendships, understanding and global contacts grow apace the academic learning (in concert with English, Thai, French, Mandarin, Japanese and German are also offered as part of the academic program). The Prem Centre has four tertiary institutes located on the campus -- Languages, Culture, Technology and Environment. An already established Visiting Schools agenda will welcome student visitors from other international schools. Presently, a group of Parisian students have been sharing their native French with local Prem Centre students. This ongoing Visiting School program is a great enhancement to local activities and is a sure way of making the learning experience a fun experience.

Student "boarders" at the Prem Centre are accommodated in three level blocks of five apartments. Each apartment provides living space and comforts associated with any "home away from home". Kitchenette and study facilities, en suite bedrooms and individual balconies create a feeling of openness while respecting personal privacy. One teacher, in a Parenting role, is responsible for the welfare of each boarder resident in every unit of four apartments. Supporting the "House Mother/Father" Teacher is a team of fully trained security personnel and a multilingual Nurse at the campus Medical Centre. Care, safety and security are just as important as learning at the International College.

For the enjoyment of all students at the Prem Centre, there is a range of extracurricular activities both sporting and cultural. Thanks to the 90 acre campus, the facilities include an Olympic-size swimming pool, a diving pool and a toddlers pool. There is also a large, well equipped gymnasium, tennis, basketball and squash courts, soccer field, athletic track, entertainment amphitheater and art studios. Transfer transport, between the College and Chiang Mai town, will be available to students wishing to use this service.

In catering to the "inner boy", or girl, the cafeteria menu provides an International Buffet which is enjoyed in a large, verandah style dining area. Light, open and spacious, the cafeteria is beautifully situated overlooking the lake.

College Management includes educators from a catchment of many countries and all have wide experience in their respective fields. Proven teaching experience, plus commitment to a global and holistic educational philosophy are prerequisites for the teaching staff at the International College Prem Centre.

So, well nourished, well cared for and well educated; what an opportunity for young students. The International College Prem Centre is a welcome asset to Chiang Mai, Thailand -- and the world!

Better still prospective parents who would like to find out more are invited to meet with the College Head, Carolyn Solomon, telephone 301 500.

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