Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies and Social Entrepreneurship at the School of Global Studies, Thammasat University, allows students to explore the communities around them throughout their years at the university. Because courses are taught with hands-on experience and a vision that students care about the problems around them, the professors prepared community visits as part of their course deliverables.

I took a Civic Education class during my first semester of Year 1, and the faculty took us on several memorable field trip visits; however, my first year’s community visit at “Courageous Kitchen” was the most eye-opening experience for me. I was glad to visit Courageous Kitchen and empathize with the story behind it.

What exactly is Civic Education?

The course name, ‘civic,’ refers to a self, citizen, or community. Civic education is the study surrounding the community’s citizens and everything related. Indeed, civic education from SGS’s perspective is the installation of consciousness and awareness of one’s role and duties as a good global citizen. At the end of the course, we must produce a civic engagement project that raises awareness or changes the area of our interest.

Before getting started with our own projects, it is also vital that we can get our ideas wrapped around other existing civic engagement projects and cases to understand their own problems and solutions. It is good to learn from examples, and one of the best ways to instill us is through community field visits.

I was a little apprehensive about our visit to Courageous Kitchen. But as soon as I got off the bus and walked into the community where Courageous Kitchen was located, there were many things I wish I had known earlier, the living situation and the safety of the people there. I realized there was more to the community we had never seen before.  I was not there to feel pity for how their lives are that way, but I wanted to empathize with what they were going through.

What is Courageous Kitchen, and why did I want to visit?

Courageous Kitchen is a social enterprise that aims to support families in need. Each month they provide a helping hand to those who have run out of places to run. This means helping people off the streets and ensuring they have food on the table. Their motto is, “Courageous Kitchen inspires marginalized youth in Bangkok through the power of food!”

As part of the field trip, we were put into different groups and met with the community leaders, the religious leader, and the marginalized youths and their family members to understand the source of the problem. Because we will be working with a sensitive group, we try to consider the interview questions and be mindful of our actions. We also took the opportunity as a reflective experience to step back from a bird’s eye view and put the context into learning.

What is the key takeaway?

This is a great experience for us to step back and realize that not everyone can put food on their table. It is great not to take things for granted, especially when we got enough to eat and a roof to sleep on. This is also an opportunity for us to conceptualize the source of the problem and come up with a next step, possibly a solution or project that could help the marginalized youths.

Thammasat Khlongluand Withayakohm School Community Visit 

As part of the TU 100 Civic Education course, the professor incorporated community visits for the students to understand nearby communities. The more visits made, the better the students are equipped with experience and first-hand knowledge of what the community nearby is facing. This is to understand the culture of living, the people, the economy, and the community challenges. It is also an excellent chance for students to collaborate and work together towards a common goal and learn that we are also a part of the more extensive community.

I visited another community near our school, Thammasat Khlongluand Withayakohm School, just a few minutes from our university.

What did we do there?

As soon as we entered the school, we had to present ourselves as normal people, as friendly visitors, not to make the students there scared of us. Our main objective was to engage the community by promoting the 17 Sustainable Development Goals to school, its importance, and why we need everyone’s participation. We got a chance to divide ourselves into different groups and ask the students about their knowledge of SDGs while promoting them and raising awareness about them. This is a great way to instill this knowledge, as kids should be aware of these issues since middle school.

It’s not only just about community visits.

Community visits are just community visits if there are no actions or next steps after it. These two great field trips have opened doors for some of the students, including me, to develop future projects to collaborate with the community. As such, my group and I went back to Courageous Kitchen and devised a project implementation that could teach the kids at Courageous Kitchen how to reuse plastic bottles into something valuable and worthy. Apart from the power of food, we aim to teach them to create chains and other decorations items from plastic bottles and earn money from it.

Furthermore, another group returned to the school we visited and created a joint project with the kids by implementing SDG goals through trash collecting and separating trash into the appropriate bins. These are small-scale projects, but it shows that every community visit has its own purpose and that we use actions more than words.

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