While a lot of Pattani residents are trying to resettle outside the violence prone province, Prangsai Lanthaisong from Chonburi province is determined to make Pattani her new home for the next four years.
Prangsai yesterday received a warm welcome at Prince of Songkla University, Pattani Campus, where she was starting her first year as a student at the faculty of political science.
"I wanted to study international relations and I was afraid when deciding to come here. My mother opposed my decision but my father encouraged me. He told me that any place can be dangerous not only the three southernmost provinces," said Prangsai, a talented student from Chonburi Sookmak School. Prangsai yesterday received a warm welcome at the campus. The newcomer said she was impressed with her new friends from different cultures and wanted to learn more about them.
She said she would not leave Pattani before her graduation.
The university is happy that there were more students interested in studying at Pattani than it had expected. Despite increasing news about violence in the past few years, the number of students the campus enrolled had not declined. This year, 2,200 new students registered to study in seven faculties, said Asst Prof Sompong Thongpong, vice rector of Prince of Songkla University`s Pattani Campus.
Thanwa Charoensiri said he would make the Pattani Campus his new home from now and for another four years. When deciding to study political science at Pattani Campus, Thanwa was opposed by his parents and friends in his home province.
"Finally, they respected my decision. But they still wanted me to go home because news reports made them worried about my safety," said Thanwa, who came from Chumphon province.
Thanwa stood firm on his decision to spend four years in Pattani where he also wanted to develop his understanding of cultural diversity.
His home province shared the coastal border with Burma and he had learned about national differences and languages from migrant workers, Thanwa said.
"But here [in Pattani] it is different from Chumphon. There`s not only differences of languages and nationalities, but also differences of cultures, religions and their own iden-tities," the newcomer said.
Thanwa was impressed by his new friends in Pattani.
"They use a local-Malay language to communicate among themselves and they do Thai translation for me," said Thanwa.
Alisa Hasamoh, a lecturer at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, said the more students from other regions were interested in studying at Pattani, the more her Muslim students got a better understanding of different cultures.
"It`s difficult for Muslim students to get a chance to go outside their villages and universities. So they don`t have the chance to see cultural diversity. Friends who come from other provinces can help them to learn more about other cultures," she said.
Prince of Songkla Univer-sity, Pattani Campus. was called University of Southern Thailand when it was established in 1966 at Tambon Rusamilae in Pattani`s Maung district.
At present, it has 6,244 Muslim students, 2,542 Buddhist students, 47 Catholic students and 115 students of other religions.
Source: www.nationmultimedia.com (11 Juni 2007)