Target 4:  Engaged Community Partners. FWSU staff and students will collaborate, innovate and conceptualize ideas and learning with local, regional, state and global partners to make a difference in their community, state and world.

Action Step: Engage community partners in a focused collaborative inquiry process.

Indicators of Success: Learning outcomes will be expanded to encourage curiosity, communication, and digital citizenry.

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6th grade students at BFA Fairfax recently had a visitor provide an educational and artistic workshop to support their social studies curriculum. Mr. Supanya Khienjaren or as he was known to us, Lek is a social studies teacher from Bangkok, Thailand. He is working in the United States this spring and is providing art, gym, and social studies workshops to schools in the northern Vermont area. Lek teaches at an all boys school with an enrollment of 5,500 students and was quite surprised at our small class sizes.

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Students prepared for the visit the day before Lek arrived by learning a little about Thailand’s geography and cultural so that they would have a frame of reference for his presentation. Lek started with a slide show that displayed many cultural aspects of Thailand. Students asked many questions as he gave an overview of his country’s religion, government, recreation, dress, education, food, art, customs and traditions.

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Next, he explained Phahumyam Line Art, a beautiful art form that is used in many Buddhist temples and artifacts. Lek gave step-by-step directions on how to draw and create the lotus drawings on the gold cardstock he provided. Students added detail with jewel-like accents and messages on the inside of the card. Lek was very impressed with how creative and engaged the 6th grade students were during the presentation and art project.

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Students were very positive and really enjoyed the experience. In their reflections, students expressed appreciation for the experience:

“Thank you visiting our classroom, I enjoyed learning about Thailand and how to make a Phahumyam Line Flower drawing.”

“Thank you for coming, I enjoyed everything, especially making the mini cards of the lotus flowers. It is interesting is that some kids have to take the Sky Train to school because of the traffic in Bangkok, that is very different than how we get to school in Fairfax, Vt.”

“Thank you for coming to our school to teach us about Thailand. I it found interesting that over 90% of the country practices Buddhism and that you have a King. That is a big difference from our country.

“Thank you for coming to our school and for taking 22 hours to come all the way here. One thing I learned is that there are schools with just boys and just girls. Also there are very big traffic jams. I noticed a similarity and that I think is – humor!”

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