This diversity – of which they are probably unaware and therefore all the more poignant – represents a future where all, no matter colour or nationality, can live, work and ‘be’ together. It also throws up random opportunities where kids can dress up in their various national costumes.
For Justine Broadhurst-Bristow, the Head English teacher at Kajonkiet Kindergarten English Programme at the Kathu Campus, such events are both incredibly fun and beneficial.
Speaking at the school’s second annual Heritage Day on September 7, South African-born Mrs Broadhurst-Bristow said, in-between serving sausage rolls and samosas, “We came up with this because at one point we had many South African teachers, and we celebrate a Heritage Day there.”
She explained that, much like the purpose it serves in her homeland, Heritage Day encourages South Africa’s people to celebrate their unique cultural heritage and diversity of beliefs and traditions.
Throughout the day at Kajonkiet, little stalls were set out representing a multitude of countries, and visiting guests and parents enjoyed all manner of cuisine and foods, from sushi to pasta.
Mrs Broadhurst-Bristow said that the ‘food fair’ was merely a culmination of the past two weeks, “Each class has been learning about a country, to show and find similarities between it and Thailand.”
She added, “What we are trying to show is that all these kids from other countries are the same as them, they may look slightly different and have different languages but they are essentially the same.”
To achieve this goal, the children, aged from 2-6 years old, have been doing various projects, learning a little of different languages and also picking up traditional dance moves.
Kajonkiet’s Heritage Day was also held as a fund-raising event, as Mrs Broadhurst-Bristow explained. “We’ve managed to raise B54,000. Next month we are sending one Thai and one foreign teacher to the Coleridge school in England. They’ll be working with the kids and teachers there to learn more about British culture and children and bring back what they learn.”
This inter-school initiative was launched and funded by the British government up until 2010. However, this year – not surprisingly given the harsh economic climate in the UK – the funding ended.
Recognising the mutual benefits that children from both schools were getting from the experience, Kajonkiet set about saving and raising the money to pay for the costs themselves.
“We’ve been doing a lot of Skype chatting recently,” said Mrs Broadhurst-Bristow. “It’s so cute. The children are often so excited when they do that, that they can hardly talk.”
Children from both sides have been sending each other gifts and crafts over the last few years and have even launched their own ‘ British TV show’ inspired game that they call, ‘So you think you can sew’.
“They have sent us material and clothes for a Victorian-style dress and we had to make it while being filmed. Then we will send a traditional Thai costume and ask them to do the same,” Mrs Broadhurst-Bristow said. It’s cultural exchange at its finest.