Two adept students from Prem Tinsulanonda International School selected to participate in the final TEDxChiangMai

 | Thu 12 Sep 2013 10:27 ICT

CityNews -A conference in 1984 brought together people from the worlds of technology, entertainment and design.  The famous TED Talks grew from this simple beginning and following their release online, have been viewed by many millions around the world.  TED is a non-profit organisation devoted to ideas worth spreading and the annual TED conferences bring together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in eighteen minutes or less).

In Chiang Mai, there is TEDxChiangMai, an independently organised TEDx event operated under license from TED. The event is organised by a group of volunteers who support the Chiang Mai Creative City (CMCC) initiative and the Chiang Mai University Science and Technology Park Office (CMU SteP). Apart from the annual large creativity and idea forum “TEDxChiangMai”, they also organise smaller TEDx events and activities throughout the year. TEDxChiangMai 2013 was the organisation’s most recent large event.


Under the theme of “Smart Societies”, economists, entrepreneurs, researchers, policy makers, technologists, artists, designers and students shared their ideas of what can make our societies smarter.


Students join in


All international and several leading Thai schools in Chiang Mai were invited to select students to participate, and by a process of auditions a panel was able to select just four students – two from Varee International School and two from Prem Tinsulanonda International School – to join the other speakers at the September conference. The original group of six Prem students was narrowed down after a practice round where the adjudicators tackled the difficult task of selecting just two: Grade 12 students Ben Wright and Viritpol (Sun) Sunprugksin.


Both students are accomplished speakers and were able to draw on past experiences at their school and elsewhere.  They are both members of their school Student Council and between them, they have addressed plenary sessions of Chiang Mai’s Model United Nations, conducted morning radio broadcasts on the school public address system, acted as MC for concerts, been student representatives at a Prime Minister’s Education Award seminar and addressed groups of students and parents on the intricacies of the coming ASEAN Economic Community.


Sun’s “talk of his life” was titled “Why Thai people should learn English” and drew on his great enthusiasm for the bilingualism that is such an important part of the ASEAN Economic Community. Already fluent in Thai and English, and with a growing ability in Mandarin, Sun is passionate about the need for his fellow countrymen to become bilingual.  His reasons were well-founded, as being able to speak in English to visitors, customers or business partners will enhance the future of the Kingdom.  To those who argue that translation software is all that they need to be able to communicate, he cited a case of amusing on-line mistranslations that confounded and confused rather than communicated the topic being discussed.  Sun’s speech – delivered partly in Thai and partly in English – was a glowing example of the benefits of bilingualism and of the confidence that opportunities such as TEDx talks give to people from all walks of life.


Ben was not walking much at the event.  During his recent school holidays he was involved in an accident where his leg was broken.  As Lisa, another of the student speakers indicated, the sun always rises no matter how dark the night has been, and something good came out of the accident.  Ben’s premise for his recent TEDx talk was that altruism is the necessary direction for mankind.  His love of psychology led him to consider the helping of others on an individual level, as well as examining the increasingly global groups formed by the use of digital technology, which will help to break down barriers between people, letting us see the commonalities rather than the differences. In a world all too frequently marred by selfishness and greed, people who work together for the common good, people who help others with no desire for reward are, Ben maintained, the way of the future.


The TEDxChiangMai event was held at Le Meridien hotel’s conference centre and almost 500 guests joined the event to hear speakers on a diverse range of topics, illustrating the Technology, Entertainment and Design elements of the event’s name, and certainly included many ideas that were worth spreading.