The Wooster in Thailand Buddhism class listens to an elder monk expound on the Buddha's teaching (translated by an American professor) at the famous temple of Doi Sotep in the mountains surrounding Chiang Mai.
Thailand, the ancient Kingdom of Siam, is an ideal location for Wooster students to explore Southeast Asian History, Politics, Religion and Culture on the Wooster in Thailand program based at Payap University in Chiang Mai. A primarily Buddhist country, Thailand’s underlying value system is related to Hinduism, while many of the tribal peoples have converted to Christianity, and Southern Thailand is home to a large Muslim population. Students of Sociology, Anthropology, History, Religion or Cultural Area Studies can appreciate the unique opportunities for study.
Chiang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand after Bangkok. Although an urban center, it is surrounded by agricultural farmland. In close proximity to the mountains, Chiang Mai provides an excellent opportunity to escape city life by bamboo rafting, hiking, or visiting elephant farms, orchards, gardens and waterfalls all within one hour of the city.
The Wooster in Thailand program is housed within the Thai Studies program offered by the International Programs office at Payap University. The University is a Presbyterian-related institution increasingly recognized as one of the leading institutions of higher education in Thailand. Over the years Payap has hosted many American students from across the United States, including the 2003, 2007 and 2009 Wooster programs. Although the University has several American faculty members and support staff who understand the needs of American students, the environment of Payap is very much Thai.
The Office of International Programs at Payap is well-equipped with both American and Thai staff members. Trained counselors, professors and administrative assistants are available to help students as needed.
Dr. Ishwar Harris has acted as Director of the Wooster in Thailand program, assisted by his wife Jyotsna Harris, in 2003, 2007 and 2009.
For Fall 2009, courses, taught in English, include Thai Language (required, 1.5 credits), Foundations of Thai Culture (required, .75 credits), Buddhism, Hinduism, South East Asian History, Ethnic Minority Groups, and Junior and Senior I.S. (for Religious Studies majors only).
In 2009, students are housed in the newly-constructed international dorm on campus, Paradornpap. Each student will be housed with a Thai roommate, and meals are served in the western-style dining hall.
In addition to regular classroom instruction, the program offers several weekend trips to local museums, theaters, parks, restaurants, and Buddhist and Hindu temples, including the ancient cities of Sukhothai and Ayuthai, treks to tribal villages, the archeological sites in the Golden Triangle, and Bangkok.
Students should submit the Wooster in Thailand program application (available from Dr. Harris or the OCS office) by February 2, 2009. They must also submit the College of Wooster off-campus study application by March 1st. Students must maintain a 2.5 cumulative GPA. The students are selected after a careful personal interview with Dr. Harris. Those selected are expected to commit to several evening orientation sessions in the Spring semester.
Participants pay The College of Wooster comprehensive fee for the Fall 2009 semester to Wooster. This fee covers tuition, room and board while in Thailand, as well as program-related field trip and excursion expenses.
Financial aid is applicable.
Students are responsible for their own airfare to and from Chiang Mai, as well as any personal expenses.
Please contact the Chairperson for the Department of Religious Studies or the OCS Director for more information.
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