The ’21–’22 school year begins August 16. Read an update from the Head of School here.
Hello! Education Special Edition 2022 features an interview with RIS Class of 2023 student leaders Sarat Lowe (Matthew) and Manyasiri Chotbunwong (Pear).
The original article appeared in Thai. The following is a loose translation of the magazine version.
In addition to their academic achievements, RIS student leaders Sarat Lowe (Matthew) and Manyasiri Chotbunwong (Pear) have also earned acclaim and recognition for their respective community service projects.
As one of Thailand’s longest-running international schools, Ruamrudee International School (RIS) has long been known for its excellence in education and expansive community, notably accomplished students and alumni who have been recognized over the years, both domestically and globally.
Hello! Education recently spoke with two talented students from RIS—Sarat (Matthew) Lowe and Manyasiri (Pear) Chotbunwong. Matthew, who is Student Council President, and Pear, who is President of the National Honor Society (NHS), are both from the graduating class of 2023 and have been at RIS since they were in Pre-K. Here, they share their RIS experiences and tell us more about their respective humanitarian projects.
“RIS has been like a second home and a ‘safe zone’ for me,” shares Matthew. “I’ve been at RIS since I was only 3 years old, and it’s great growing up in a warm, happy community that has given me great friendships and the confidence to also try new things. For example, I now enjoy playing softball and baseball. I’ve enjoyed being out on the field, practicing, as well as having the opportunity to compete in teams with other international schools, both locally and abroad.”
“RIS is the best school that my parents could’ve chosen for me,” adds Pear. “It not only taught us how to excel academically but also instilled a sense of social responsiblity, encouraging us to be ‘givers’ who ‘give back’ sincerely from the heart.”
“RIS life has taught me how to problem-solve,” says Matthew. “During the pandemic when classes were online, it was a huge challenge to organize activities and figure out how to get the community interested in participating. When stepping into the role of Student Council President, I’ve been able to develop my leadership skills even further. I’ve also gotten to be a co-founder for the Thailand chapter of GoBabyGo!, an organization that empowers disabled children with independent mobility.”
“This year, I have the opportunity to be President of the National Honor Society (NHS), a student organization that originates from the U.S.,” Pear shares. “My role in the NHS is thanks to my founding of HER (HER Period Dignity), a youth-led organization that promotes menstrual hygiene access, and The Union International, an interscholastic student newspaper. To be in this student organization, members must display excellent qualities in community service, scholarship, leadership, and character.”
At RIS, “giving of one’s self to others—within the community and beyond—has long been a fundamental element of character development at RIS.” Both Matthew and Pear are deeply involved in successful student-led projects and organizations that make them exemplars of the school’s commitment to service learning.
“GoBabyGo! is a program that provides modified ride-on cars to young children with disabilities to help them move around more independently,” Matthew explains. “GoBabyGo! originated from the University of Delaware and currently has more than 90 branches around the world. Ours was the first in Thailand, and now, more than five local international schools feature GoBabyGo! chapters. RIS has been a great support, helping us coordinate the delivery of toy cars we developed to the Camillian Home for Children Living With Disabilities.”
As a student passionate about creating assistive technologies, Matthew was encouraged to push his talents further. “One of my RIS teachers suggested I make something that also helps adults with disabilities, so I invented the Boost-Walker,” he shares. “It’s a physical therapy device that combines a safety harness and walker, with progress-tracking technology that enables patients to effectively monitor their progress.”
With the goal of making physical therapy more accessible to the public, Matthew built Boost-Walker devices that were donated to Ratchaburi Hospital, Mae Lao Hospital, and the Srisangwal Pediatric Physical Therapy Center. His innovation performed so well that he was awarded the gold medal and the Best Young Inventor Award at the iCan Innovation and Invention Competition.
Meanwhile, Pear’s own endeavor, HER (HER Period Dignity), was founded to empower women and girls in period poverty through the research and development of high-quality and affordable reusable sanitary products. Pear utilized her student-led publication, The Union International, to advocate for menstrual equity not only at RIS but other international schools in Thailand as well.
Pear, along with her friends, designed and developed period kits with reusable pads, sugarcane-fiber pads, and hygiene supplies, with the goal of delivering them to underrepresented women, among them female prisoners, female refugees, and women in rural areas and slums. The initiative has proved so impactful that Pear is now a recipient of the prestigious Diana Award (an accolade bestowed upon young changemakers for their social action or humanitarian work) and the youngest winner of the Women of the Future Award (Southeast Asia) for Community Spirit & Public Service, among other accolades.
“At RIS, I also had the opportunity to present my ideas to teachers and suggest incorporating more gender studies to the curriculum for both male and female students, so that everyone could learn and understand issues regarding sexuality with more openness and accuracy,” Pear adds. “It is so encouraging that RIS teachers are open-minded and listen to our opinions.”
Pear states that she feels fortunate that her parents enrolled her at RIS since childhood. “I’m grateful that I grew up in an environment where I’m encouraged to be curious, open-minded, and to step outside my comfort zone, which has shaped me into a cultivated individual,” she says, reflecting on her early days at RIS. “I believe we all have two roles—to receive and to give. At RIS, I received a quality education and learned the value of generosity and giving back to others in need. Here, every child can experience the joy of giving. We see value in the passing on of good things to the less fortunate and to society.”
“At a young age, we may not yet have discovered what we want to be, but at RIS, I was exposed to various courses—whether mathematics, biology, physics or English—that gave us students the opportunity to explore different topics and develop different viewpoints,” adds Matthew. “In addition to academics, RIS’ Principles of Phoenix learning outcomes (Head Hands Heart) also contributed to the development of my passions and goals. Head encouraged me to be creative with my ideas; Hands helped me collaborate well with others; and Heart guided my mental growth and wanting to be a positive force in society.”