Hope-filled futures for ethnic minorities in Chiang Rai, Thailand
11 November 2021
Last week Jesuit Mission held a Webinar about their partnership with Xavier Learning Community (XLC), a Jesuit-run tertiary institution in Chiang Rai, Thailand that is driving education among ethnic minorities there.
The webinar welcomed special guests Fr Augustinus Pitoyo SJ, Vice Director for Institutional Development at XLC and Chalermsri Tahong, one of the first graduates from the 2016 cohort.
“I was given the special task to open a new education apostolic for ethnic minorities, the vulnerable people in the Northern part of Thailand. I felt that this great plan to help the young people is the mission of God,” said Fr Pitoyo.
Run by the Jesuit Education Foundation in Thailand, XLC offers a bachelor’s degree in English with profession-based training, including eco-tourism and hospitality for students from vulnerable ‘Hill Tribes’ that often face stigma, discrimination and above all, a lack of opportunity.
“I am currently the only person in my family to have obtained a bachelor’s degree, not only just in my family, but (I’m) also the only person from my village,” said Chalermsri.
“Recently I got an opportunity to work for an NGO in Chiang Mai and this enables me to support my family, especially my parents who are now at home together. Before they had to work in different places to support me while I was still studying,” she said.
Now with over 100 students from ethnic minorities e.g. Akha, Karen, Hmong, Lanna and more, XLC is packed full of inspiring stories like Chalermsri.
“These graduates completed their studies in only three and a half years from a four year program. Now some of them are English teachers, or are working in hotels. Many have started their own businesses in eco-tourism in their villages and some are providing English tutorials in their houses,” said Fr Pitoyo.
To learn more about Xavier Learning Community, you can watch Jesuit Mission’s webinar at jesuitmission.org.au/xavier-learning-community-webinar.