Thai Night dawns on DEPDC/GMS
Over the years, generosity and support for DEPDC/GMS has come in all shapes and forms from anywhere in the world. This time, we gladly received news from the Thai Club at Northwestern University in the US, who generously organised a charity event to celebrate Thailand’s rich culture and to donate all its proceeds to further the good causes at DEPDC/GMS.
We thank Ms. Srisarajivakul, Co-President of the Thai Club, for the following report on the successful event. Read on to see how our college friends in the US integrated fundraising with an all-encompassing showcase of the colourful Thai culture!
“Every spring, as the sun sets over Lake Michigan, painting every colour in the rainbow over the Chicago skyline, students adorned in traditional Thai clothing run around Northwestern University’s campus to put the final preparations in place for a festival celebrating Thai culture. For one night every year, the university’s undergraduate student-run organisation Thai Club hosts a philanthropic event called Thai Night to educate and honour Thailand and its rich culture.
“Over the past 6 years since the tsunami devastated Southern Thailand, Thai Club has chosen a non-profit organisation in Thailand each year to donate all monetary proceeds collected from Thai Night. Traditionally, Thai Club prepares a stage production show, such as an hour-long play that retells a Thai folktale or fable in a humorous way and incorporates acts by Thai musicians, dancers, and Muay Thai artists from the greater Chicago community. The show is free for all, but profits are made through the sale of the after-show traditional Thai dinner donated from Thai restaurants all over Chicago. Therefore, not only does Thai Night bring together the local Thai community, but the proceeds made also directly benefit organisations in Thailand working for social change and freedom that we enjoy in the US. In this stage production format, Thai Night usually draws in about 200 students.
“This year, however, we, the executive board of Thai Club, decided to change the format of Thai Night. Pong, one of the club’s co-presidents, is the daughter of Khun Sinee, the Country Representative of ASHOKA in Thailand, a world-renowned non-governmental organisation that helps local communities by supporting local social entrepreneurs and building infrastructures to foster the growth of self-sustainable citizen sectors. When discussing which organisation to benefit this year, Khun Sinee suggested that we look into DEPDC/GMS. When we read over the mission statement, projects and activities on DEPDC/GMS’ website, I believe I can speak on behalf of Thai Club that we were all profoundly moved. With the ever-present threat of human trafficking as well as the prevalence of poverty, lack of education, and lack of resources that the people in Northern Thailand and the Greater Mekong Sub-region face, we knew that we had to try our hardest to help in any way possible.
“Therefore, we changed the format to a festival style. After taking over quite possibly the largest room on Northwestern’s Evanston campus, we divided the room into 4 sections symbolising different regions of Thailand: Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Udon Thani (Isaan), and Phuket. Each section included distinctive features of the actual regions in Thailand. For example, Chiang Mai featured a market which sold decorated fans, umbrellas, and other wares; Udon Thani featured different booths offering “carnival games” seen in many festivals in Isaan. Each section was also equipped with brochures encouraging tourism to Thailand. Additionally, we installed a stage in the front of the room, where members of the club performed traditional dances and music, as well as hosted a light-hearted spicy eating contest for those in attendance. We also enlisted the help of the Thai musicians and Muay Thai artists to perform their own shows. Throughout the event, the emcee would call for monetary donations to be placed in boxes scattered throughout the room and showed a presentation describing the mission and activities of DEPDC/GMS. At the end of the event, we estimated that over 600 students and members of the community were in attendance, and we raised over $800! Not only did we triple the number of students that came to our event, but we also raised more money than we had ever raised in Thai Club’s history!
“After the event, all Thai Club members were visibly exhausted yet extremely pleased that we had raised such a large amount of money for an excellent cause. We all hope that we were able to help DEPDC/GMS through our event, and we wish you the best!”