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The desire to learn never dies.
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Thanked 15 Times in 13 Posts

    The desire to learn never dies.


    Bangkok Post

    Saeng, a 73-year-old grandmother, is back at school, which she left as a child after just one month

    Story and photos by SAROT MEKSOPHAWANNAKUL

    'She's so old, but still studies. Why?"

    Villagers typically ask Saeng Sa-ngawong that question, when they see her walking with children to Wat Dong Pa Miang school in Muang district.

    Mrs Saeng, who has gone back to school, is one of their classmates.

    They also ask how Mrs Saeng, from tambon Huay Sak, will get a job when she leaves school. She is 73.

    She ignores their comments, as she is determined to learn how to read and write. "I just want to follow my life-long dream," she said.

    Mrs Saeng knows she stands out. While the children carry brightly-coloured school bags, she takes a light brown basket, in which she has arranged text books on one side and a lunch box and desserts on the other.

    She also takes to school a popular balm, and heart and high-blood pressure medications.

    Her "school uniform" is also different: a loose shirt and grandma sarong.

    On June 19, she joined a traditional ritual to pay respect to teachers, who are several years younger than her own children. A senior Prathom 6 (sixth grade) student gave her a bunch of flowers, candles, and joss sticks during the ritual.

    Mrs Saeng is studying in Prathom 2, after enrolling last November. She was warmly welcomed by her teachers and classmates.

    "I don't care what the neighbours say. I want to read and write Thai. I even dream of understanding Pali," she said, when asked about what people thought of her decision to take up classes.

    Pali is an Indian dialect used in Buddhist scriptures and prayers.

    Her educational journey began after the death of her husband. Mrs Saeng said she did not want to stay at home alone. Her children were married and lived elsewhere.

    When she was eight years old, she had to withdraw from school after just one month. Her parents did not have enough money to buy her a student uniform.

    Sixty-five years later, now a grandmother, she has returned to school again. She says that being able to read and write will make her more independent.

    She can look after herself better when she makes contact with state agencies.

    Mrs Saeng gets up early like other students. She joins a line of children as they march together to school. After morning prayers, she enters class, and takes the textbooks out of her basket.

    Her eyes still work well, so that is no problem. She needs only one thing extra in class - a bigger chair than the children, so she can sit comfortably while studying.

    "Grandma always gives us desserts," said eight-year-old Natapong Manowan, who sits besides Mrs Saeng and has become her personal tutor.

    She learns only Thai. While the children study other subjects, Mrs Saeng practises reading and writing.

    "Grandma also joins school activities, including cleaning the classroom," said teacher Wiparat Chumanong.

    Her presence has had a positive influence on the children.

    The sight of an old woman sweeping the floor has impressed the younger ones. Those who would be normally reluctant to pick up a broom now offer to help Mrs Saeng clean, said Mrs Wiparat.

    "When I am old, I don't know whether I would be brave enough to go back to school," said Wranya Rachakom, mother of one Mrs Saeng's classmates.

    Mrs Saeng does not have second thoughts. In the pursuit of her dream, she just does what she has to do.

    To the children, Mrs Saeng is a model of hard work, determination and good behaviour. She has taught them that people are never too old to learn, even in the prime of their lives.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Berlin / GERMANY
    Thanked 714 Times in 438 Posts

    Re: The desire to learn never dies.

    Here are the Photos to the Story
    Attached Images Attached Images      
    My interesting blog about Thailand at Thailand Blog ---> click here

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