I arrive at Ramby’s School to find founder and director Sahrah Boeck lying on the grass outside with her face covered in gold leaf. She looks up at me and jovially apologises. “It’s a new beauty treatment that I’m testing, so I can perhaps teach it if anyone wants to learn it!”
Sahrah hails from Germany but has spent most of her life here in Thailand. Her parents moved to Chiang Rai to work in agriculture when she was just 13 years old. After a short stint at an international school, Sahrah’s parents relocated her to a Thai government school so she could learn Thai, in which she is fluent.
As a self-proclaimed “doer,” Sahrah’s dynamic energy fits well with her unique dream career: to be a hobby guide, someone who can take someone’s idleness and turn it into…well, anything! Hoola-hooping? Done. Teaching Thai in German? No problem. Vocal drawing? Sure. Gold leaf beauty products? Why not? Sahrah is quite literally up for anything and if there’s something she can’t do, she will find someone who can. In short, her dream career has become a reality.
Ramby’s is an innovative addition to Chiang Mai, one that has brought a refreshing new kind of borderless learning to Thais and expats alike. Self-labelled as a Cultural Creativity Centre, its founder Sahrah has taken a step away from formal education and created instead a lively activity space for people of all ages, combining world-class professionalism with Thai mellowness for a truly one-of-a-kind learning environment.
Sahrah’s language and teaching skills blend well with her partner Glytt Jahsang or Ngorh’s music skills. In addition to acting as vice president of Ramby’s School, Ngorh also plays keyboard for a popular band at Warm Up Caf?.
The duo encourage learning through mixed media such as music, art, languages and dance. The main idea is to fill people’s free time with something that is not only educational but fun and interesting too. Through partnerships with local artists and musicians, they offer almost limitless opportunities, from art and beauty programmes to dance and poi workshops to academic opportunities.
“We are also keen on offering the chance for Thai people to learn the language of their partner. Be it English, French, German, or whatever, we can set that up for you,” says Sahrah, standing now, with her gold leaf-plastered face. “We don’t teach formally; there are no exams and we don’t offer TEFL, but because of that I think we are more approachable – let’s just learn without the formalities.”
The school offers most courses in either Thai, English or German. However, it can also cater to Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Burmese speakers, with even more on request. Indeed, Ramby’s is flexible enough that pretty much anything is available on request. “Guaranteed, anything you want to do, we can find a way,” Sahrah says merrily. “We want people that have talents and also those who are still searching for their talents to be happy, doing whatever they love, at least in their little free time.”
Ramby’s also has classroom space to rent and proactively encourages new people to bring something to the table, using the space to conduct any kind of workshop they want. With cheap rent, and a really homey atmosphere, it’s a place to remember if ever the time comes. You’ll pay around 300 baht an hour for workshops with any amount of people, and classroom space is available at a bargain 100 baht an hour. Now they are also introducing a few more permanant workshops such as Reiki every saturday for only 200 baht. Now they are also introducing more workshops such as reiki every Saturday.
I asked what kind of things have people used Ramby’s for and Sahrah recalled a French man who came and studied gold leaf art for two months. “He got so good that he sold his study pieces here in Thailand and then went back to France and started selling new works full time,” she said, beaming with pride.
At Ramby’s, the philosophy is simple: “Be more, do more.” And with the whimsical Sahrah at the helm, you can have fun while you’re at it!
Kaew Nawarat Soi 2/2 (between Varee Kindergarten and 137 Pillars House)