It’s high time I actually started blogging about what brought me to Thailand in the first place. Saving children one American smile at a time! Blech, cheezwiz line.
In case you don’t want to read the full story below, here’s an awful lazily written poem for equally lazy readers:
PiA tossed me to Chiang Mai Land
TLSDF gives me job and baht
In return, I save children with English.
That sounds arrogant, please let me revise
Research, write, read, translate, learn thai, noon lap
Oh, I plead the 5th, so scratch that last one
Twitter, FaceBook, blog, social media
Newsletter, website, field site visiting
Not to mention, schmoozing with VIPs
And business travel across the land
All to give the children what they need most:
Life skills, education, nurture, care, safe.
I am just a nube to this industry
Fresh face and yet unjaded in the world
Of international development.
Let us see what I can do. I got this.
Princeton in Asia, based at Princeton University, afforded me a one-year fellowship to work with The Life Skills Development Foundation (TLSDF) in the northern city of Chiang Mai. The organization implements 5-6 programs per year focused on child rights and development, and is currently leading an exciting initiative related to the UN Child Rights Convention (UN CRC).
While I’d like to say I work for a non-governmental organization (NGO), that label is tied to political activists engaged in illicit activity, according to the Thai government, so NGO’s are instead referred to as “foundations.” At the moment, I’m involved in a variety of activities, which is quite flustering to be honest. There are pages of acronyms I have to memorize and stacks upon stacks of past reports I have to read through – oh, and did I mention I’m the only American in the office? à Meaning, I also have to learn a whole new language. Beyond this, I conduct research, write proposals, translate reports from thai/broken English to formal English (Google Translate: not helpful), and assist the advocacy programs.
The project I am most active in currently is advocacy work for the new UN CRC Optional Protocol 3. The OP3 campaign was initiated in 2006 by the NGO Group in Switzerland to address severe violations of child rights in states lacking legal remedies. It aims to establish an international standard for a complaints mechanism that will prevent abuses and enable victims to seek retribution. It has since been adopted by the UNHRC, but needs ratification by 10 states to enter into force. Thailand is to take the lead amongst the Southeast Asian states in the ratification of OP3. More info can be found on: Ratifyop3crc.org
I’m very enthused to be a part of this as it incorporates many facets of a career I would be interested in pursuing. As of yet, I’ve been able to converse with leaders in the Thai child rights community (at the Governor’s House, no less!) and abroad, research and understand UN policies, begin developing an advocacy strategy and communications procedure and learn about lobbying. Once my Thai language skills pick up, above common restaurant lingo, I can start getting into the meatier work.