by Yutthakrit Chalermthai (YES 2008-09, Thailand, hosted with AFS-USA in Oakley, MI)
On September 11, YES alumni and staff from the U.S. Embassy Bangkok joined hands with deaf students from Don Bosco Technical College to cook up some American-style club sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies. This 9/11 service event, hosted by EDeaf (Education for the Deaf) and YES alumni, was an opportunity for sharing culture and community. Aside from cooking up some tasty dishes, the Embassy staff were able to learn about deaf culture in Thailand, basic sign language, and the lifestyles of people with disabilities (PWDs) in Thailand.
EDeaf (Education for the Deaf) is an ongoing YES alumni project that works with the deaf community and schools for the deaf in Thailand to provide extra-curricular workshops in subjects that many deaf students don’t have the opportunity to experience, such as photography, cooking, and dance. EDeaf is completely run by volunteers and also works with the public and private sectors to advocate for more inclusive policies and build more awareness and recognition of all disabled communities in Thailand.
To honor the victims and commemorate the anniversary of the 9/11 events, the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok dedicates a week to community service and outreach. The EDeaf team is honored to be part of this wonderful initiative and looks forward to further collaboration in the future.
In keeping with the YES program goals, the event fostered cultural understanding, as well as facilitated meaningful connections between able-bodied people and people with disabilities (PWDs). The activities also forged connections that went beyond linguistic and cultural barriers for all participants and staff members.
The YES program was created in the aftermath of 9/11 to promote understanding between Americans and high-school students from countries with significant Muslim populations. Years after returning home, exchange alumni are still active citizens in the communities and drivers of social change in their home countries.
We would like to thank the U.S. Embassy Bangkok for your initiative and support, and Don Bosco Technical College for your continued support and active participation in EDeaf activities.