One of BALAC missions is to increase the number of international students and exchange students. With this mission as its priority and with the vigorous promotion over many years, the number of international students both from the East and the West has been significantly rising. For the past four years BALAC has successfully drawn students from foreign countries and has created an international atmosphere in the Program for our BALAC students with a good number of exchange students enrolling in the Program for one semester or one year and a few full-time students from overseas.BALAC has a tradition of organizing an exchange student gathering to welcome international students, make them feel at home, and introduce them to their buddies. The purpose of the buddy system is to help international students adjust quickly to the new culture and new environment. Moreover, to educate and familiarize international students with Thai culture and Thai ways of life, we annually organize three trips outside of Bangkok: a historical trip to Ayudhaya for them to learn of Thai history, a cultural trip to Samut Sakorn for them to learn of traditional Thai ways of life, and an environmental trip to mangrove forests to help plant mangroves and socialize with villagers.
This year the BALAC Program organized a BALAC exchange student gathering to welcome 41 exchange students from Japan, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, the UK, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore on the evening of Friday, August 19 at the Chamchuree Room, Pathumwan Princess Hotel. Joining this gathering were approximately 60 BALAC students, 12 program instructors and our 3 staff members. The exchange students mingled with the BALAC students in the M level lobby at 6:00 PM before meeting in the packed Chamchuree Room at about 6:30 PM.
Two BALAC students, Lalin Sathirakorn and Nattamon Ruanglapkhajornchai, were chosen as emcees for the evening ceremony. They thanked everyone for attending and then turned the floor over to the BALAC Director, Associate Professor Surapeepan Chatraporn. The Director expressed her delight to see so many exchange students coming to Thailand to join the BALAC program. She advised them to take full advantage of the opportunities while they were at Chulalogkorn University: the opportunities both in classes and the experiences outside of the classes, which were equally important. She assured them that the BALAC instructors and office staff were available to help them should they need advice and assistance. Then she invited each Ajarn present to briefly introduce themselves and greet the exchange students. The Director also asked the foreign Ajarns to deliver their short talk in their native languages, much to the students’ interest and enjoyment.

Next each of the foreign students was asked to give a brief self-introduction while the BALAC students encouraged and cheered them. The emcees announced that each exchange student would have a “buddy” assigned to them. The buddies would provide them with guidance and address any questions or problems they might have while they studied at Chulalongkorn University. After the emcees informed the exchange students that there would be three excursions provided for the exchange students and their BALAC buddies, the exchange students clapped their hands with great joy. The trip would be a wonderful chance for them to get together and spend the whole day with one another. The first excursion was the Ban Khlong Khlon Mangrove Forest in Samut Songkram. The excursion would take place on Sunday, August 28. There would also be two other day excursions which would be announced at a later date. After the meeting BALAC students and international students got to know one another, chitchatted, socialized and had lots of fun during buffet dinner. This was the first opportunity when the international students officially met with BALAC students and their buddies to create friendship. The bonds of  friendship will grow as they study together, socialize and participate in different activities. This first gathering was a big success. It did make international students feel warmly welcomed and each personally experienced the Thai hospitality. All the international students thanked the Program tremendously for organizing this get-together and for the three trips which they very much look forward to.