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“The capacity to love the young and consider other people’s culture as riches is an essential process of education. Every young person…needs a place of encounter where one is free to be himself, to express his joys, his dreams..”
(Transformative Education in Assumption - International Education Gathering, Manila 2018)
St. John's School-Thabom, Thailand is celebrating its 20th founding anniversary this year, a remarkable milestone for an educational institution that has made a significant impact on the lives of the local people. Nestled in the heart of a small village in the Province of Loei, the school has been a center of transformative education for the poor, promoting mutual respect for both Buddhist and Catholic faith and traditions.
Founded by Ajan Samai of the St. John Foundation of Bangkok, its establishment was inspired by a school in the Philippines, that was set up to serve the poor agricultural communities in the area. In 2002, St. John’s-Thabom was founded, “a millennium act” and has since been jointly administered by the Religious of the Assumption and their lay partners. Ajan Chainarong Monthienvichienchai is currently the license holder of St. John’s, and also serves as its Chairman of the Board.
The past years were not always easy for the school. Many challenges eventually led to a long and arduous discernment process on whether God calls the Assumption to continue its mission in Thabom. During the Asia Pacific Provincial Chapter of 2022, the answer came loud and clear. The mission continues but with an invitation to find new ways to carry on the work of education in St. John’s. It was a call that both the Sisters and the lay embraced together with renewed vigor, profound joy, and deeper commitment.
On its 20th Founding anniversary, new life pulsates! With the help and support of a generous St. John’s- Bangkok alumnus, and with Ajan Chainarong at the helm, exciting activities marked the emerald jubilee of the school. First, was the musical performance of the students playing the different instruments from St. John's- Bangkok and those of the northeast of Thailand. The students performed Pong Lang - musicians and singers and dancers performing synchronically. Then, the Christmas Story was acted out by both Buddhist and Catholic students. Teachers and students outdid each other in dancing and singing. The Sisters sang Christmas carols. Everyone was treated to a Chinese laureate for lunch!
Second, one student and one teacher were chosen by the school community to visit Japan in December, fully sponsored by WJ Machine Vision. It was a fantastic trip and a once-in-a-lifetime experience for both. What a wonderful way to celebrate this jubilee!
Then last January 30, five schools from around the area came together upon the invitation of St. John’s-Thabom for a Quiz Bee that was reminiscent of the famous TV show in Thailand IQ180 hosted by Ajan Chainarong himself! The physical setup of the event was handled by the WJ Machine Vision, a company established by the St. John's-Bangkok alumnus who was just too happy to be Big Brother to St. John's School-Thabom. The friendly academic competition was live-streamed on the school and the WJMS official Facebook pages. Everyone had fun. It was a day like no other in St. John’s.
The story of St. John’s School-Thabom will continue. The mission of transformation through education will grow and flourish! Recently, the school has been receiving more good news - new opportunities, new partnerships, new structures, and facilities. Indeed, the words of its Superior, Sr. Maria Deanna Combong ring true, “The Lord is always with us, blessing us, in more ways than we expect! This is His mission.” In St. John’s-Thabom, God’s grace abounds!