Fifty-five new students were welcomed to Pattaya when the newly named Pattaya Redemptorist Technological College for People with Disabilities opened after the summer holidays.
Fifty-five students who arrived from all over the Kingdom. They came from the troubled provinces in the south, and from Chiang Rai in the north. Others arrived from Bangkok, and from town and villages running along the border with Myanmar, while others are from the opposite side of the country, bordering Laos and Cambodia.
But no matter where they came from, they are all in Pattaya for the same thing, to learn.
First day of a new term is always nervous day for the new students at what used to be named the Redemptorist Vocational School for people with Disabilities, or Mahatai to the locals.
They were welcomed by the teaching faculty and the current students, and yet they did not smile much. They wheeled their chairs with their eyes down towards the ground. They walked on crutches, head bowed towards the ground, all of them lacking confidence and self-esteem.
After being welcomed by Father Michael Picharn Jaiseri, Director of the College, the students were presented with their new uniforms, and helped into them by their new teacher before having white string tied to their wrists to wish them the best of luck.
For the next two years they will study hard, it will not be easy. But the college will not only teach the students their chosen subject, it will teach them their rights as a citizen of Thailand and it will teach them how to live in society as a person with a disability. After two years they will have the education, the knowledge, skills and the confidence to join the workforce as equals. They will have self-esteem and self respect and will hold their head up high.
How many readers were told that your school days ‘are the best days of your life’? The next two years will not only be the best two of their young lives, but it will change these new students and their attitude so much that they will be almost unrecognizable.
But no matter how nervous they looked on their first day of the new term, they will be just as nervous when they find out that the annual sports competition will be taking place in July, and every single student is expected to participate in at least one event. No excuses.