The Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand to the United States, His Excellency Dr. Chaiyong Satjipanon, visited the Center for Southeast Asian Studies on August 2nd and made a $10,000 donation to support Thai language studies at UCLA.
International Institute, August 2, 2013 — His Excellency Dr. Chaiyong Satjipanon, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand to the United States, visited the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS) on August 2, 2013, and made a generous donation to UCLA on behalf of the Thai government.
Ambassador Satjipanon first traveled to UCLA in 2012, less than three months after he took up his post. This year he traveled with a delegation of senior Thai diplomats, including the Consuls General of Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York, together with staff from the Royal Thai Embassy in Washington, DC.
Continuing his government’s ongoing support of Thai language teaching at UCLA, His Excellency Dr. Satjipnanon made a gift of $10,000 to the university. In addition, he gifted the UCLA library with a copy of an illustrated children’s book on U.S.-Thai relations, entitled “How the Eagle & the Elephant Became Friends.”
Thai American students at the CSEAS reception; Tom Pudpai at far right. (Photo: Oliver Chien.)
CSEAS hosted an informal reception for Ambassador Satjipanon and the Thai delegation with CSEAS staff and members of Thai Smakom, the Thai student association on campus. Tom Pudpai (co-president), Chawina De-Chawina De-Eknamkul (external vice president), Pisit Mongkolsiriwattana (treasurer), Ron Ruangtragool and Willa Chen were all in attendance.
His Excellency Dr. Satjipanon was officially welcomed by Christopher L. Erikson, Associate Vice Provost, International Studies, and professor and senior associate dean at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management; and CSEAS Director George F. Dutton, associate professor and vice chair of the UCLA Department of Asian Languages and Cultures. Professor Dutton described the Thai language teaching program at UCLA and expressed the program’s thanks to the Royal Thai Government for its continued support. UCLA is the only university in California to teach three levels of the Thai language.
Pudpai (UCLA 2014, electrical engineering) expressed students’ appreciation of the language courses, noting that he could now converse with his parents in basic Thai. “The Thai language program at UCLA helped me become much more fluent in Thai and is one of the biggest highlights of my undergraduate career,” he remarked. “And I’m certain it has [had] a great impact on other enrollees as well.”
Pudpai explained that Thai Smakom welcomes members of all backgrounds —Thai and non-Thai, undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and alumni. Its principal activities include biweekly meetings on Thai culture, volunteering in the local Thai community and an annual Thai culture night. “Our annual . . . production is one of the most important events that the club puts on,” he said. “Students volunteer to showcase many elements of Thai culture, such as Muay Thai, traditional Thai dances and Thai instruments, [which are] incorporated into an overarching drama.”
His Excellency Dr. Satjipanon gave Thai Smakom members several copies of the aforementioned children’s book, which may come in handy during their volunteer tutoring sessions at the Wat Thai Buddhist Temple in North Hollywood. Following the reception, the delegation of Thai diplomats took a tour of the campus.
This article was originally published on August 18, 2013, and updated on August 21, 2103.