With its tropical gardens and community spirit, this is a special place
By Colin Hastings
Kids learn first about nature and the environment in Bang Saray’s inspirational project
A stunning environmentally-friendly school constructed mainly of bamboo is nearing completion in beautiful hilly woodlands near the fishing village of Bang Saray, some 20 kilometers south of Pattaya.
The school, the first of its kind in the region, is the highlight and major feature of an inspirational project known as the Baan Sunsaray Community Space, which will also offer local residents all kinds of recreational facilities and amenities like a bakery, grocery store, library and gym as well an area for regular farmers market and other events.
In addition to the bamboo school, this remarkable project features a spacious partially-covered area known as the Eco Dome, which brings to mind famous cultured gardens of Europe and Scandinavia with its glorious collection of rare and beautiful tropical plants and flowers. An adjoining area has been set aside to grow vegetables for use in a quaint café-cumworking space located within the project grounds.
Although not yet officially open, school has been operating in nearby premises one day a week for several months, with a small group of young children enjoying all kinds of arts and crafts in this idyllic setting.
“It’s so wonderful to see the children running in the gardens and amongst the trees, right back to nature,” said one parent who recently invested in property in Bang Saray. The project’s philosophy is indisputably philanthropic:
“We want the local children to take part in an active learning environment, and a work-based learning system in order to prepare them to better compete in a fast changing work environment later on,” explained Khun Nawara Pichaiphaet, founder of Baan Sunsaray Community Space.
“We want to create an altruistic social enterprise and serve the needs of both the children and the residents. The children will learn life lessons along with the English language through experiences rather than through textbooks.
“They will be able to sell their own freshly picked vegetables in our grocery store and develop their service skills in thisco-working space. A workshop will be given by the children to teach the residents how to weave, make Thai snacks, and go bird watching.
“In return, the adults, with their specialised skill sets, can teach the kids about the service industry and how to manage shops through work-based learning.”
On Saturdays, outside experts will join the project to teach subjects like video editing, song making, bird watching, story writing, and board game-making.
“There is no better way of teaching local children the English language rather than using it in a playful manner. The international children who also take part in these activities will also benefit by gaining new experiences. Other than this, we will focus on creating an active living environment for the local residents.
“We will produce and sell food that would not necessarily be locally available; from organic vegetables grown by ourselves, to good quality steak. Other activities will include: workshops, chef visits, painting classes, documentary showings, yoga, and muay thai classes as well as Thai tutoring to ease communication with Thai staff.
“Every Sunday, we intend to provide Sunday brunches and a farmers’ market in a relaxing atmosphere. The Sunsaray kids will help out in these activities.”
Sunsaray is a Social Enterprise Company which will be operated in the same way as a commercial company except that the shareholders will not receive any dividend or other benefits, while the company will create its own income and will rely on donations to cover its expenses. Overall, the objective of the company is to benefit the local community.