Friday, January 18: Today, we attend lectures by the Faculty of Political Science at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.
According to the university’s website, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand’s first institution of higher learning, officially came into being in March, 1917. The groundwork and preparation for it, however, took place more than a century ago. The worldwide economic, social and political changes in the late nineteenth century contributed to Siam’s decision to adapt herself in order to avoid being colonized by the Western powers (“Siam” became “Thailand” in the year 1939). Thus King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) had a royal policy to strengthen and improve government so that the country could successfully resist the tide of colonialism. One of the major parts of the policy, which would later prove to be deep-rooted and highly effective, was to improve the Siamese educational system so as to produce capable personnel to work in both the public and private sectors. As a result, a school was founded in 1871 at the Royal Pages Barrack within the Grand Palace compound.
When it was first founded, the university had 380 students taking classes in four faculties which were in 2 campuses. From 1934 to 1958, the university emphasized improvement of undergraduate education; thus more faculties were established. In 1961 the university set up the Graduate School to be responsible for graduate level education. From 1962 on, the university started to focus on graduate education and began to set up research centers and institutes. (Chulalongkorn University: Chula History)
In the evening, after our day of lectures, we go on the Grand Chaophraya Cruise, where we have our final group dinner. We enjoy a great buffet, traditional music and dancing as we conclude our study abroad trip in Singapore and Thailand.
We pass by Wat Arun, also known as the Temple of Dawn, all lit up along the Chao Phraya River.
Tomorrow everyone else will depart for home, but I booked my ticket to give me two more days to explore Bangkok on my own. I look forward to venturing out alone and escaping the group dynamics.