By Lisa Radtke Bliss, Associate Clinical Professor, Co-Director of HeLP Legal Services Clinic,
Georgia State University College of Law, USA
I was fortunate to arrive at BABSEACLE Chiang Mai just as the Thai legal interns were finishing and the summer legal interns beginning, so I had the opportunity to get to know several of them at a time when the office was full of activity.
It was exhilarating to make so many new friends at once. Although travel halfway around the world to a new country can be disorienting, I felt welcomed as they kindly introduced me to local food and customs. I was immediately integrated into the daily work of BABSEACLE with interns and Fellows as part of my orientation. I am impressed with the mentoring of interns and fellows that I observed. Their time with BABSEACLE is preparing them to be the teachers and leaders of the future. There is a spirit of cooperation, collab-oration, and mutual support that helps everyone achieve their best. I also had the opportunity to co-teach a class with Doug Colbert to interns and fellows. We enjoyed seeing them show the skills they have learned and make presentations to us in English. Thai Fellow Tak is supporting my work here, and we help one another improve our Thai and English skills.
Moving to Mae Fah Luang
After orientation in Chiang Mai, I relocated to Chiang Rai with Tak to work with the law faculty at Mae Fah Luang University (MFLU). MFLU is located in the mountains outside of Chiang Rai and the campus is beautiful, with lovely views all around.
Before my arrival, I worked hard with Tak and the interns to practice my Thai. I was proud to be able to introduce myself to the Dean and faculty members here using my new skills. Fortunately, everyone here speaks English, so when I quickly reached the end of my useful vocabulary, we chatted in English. All of the classes at MFLU are taught in English, except the law classes. However, I am assisting Ajarns (professors) in developing the first law class to be taught exclusively in English. The course is designed to help law students learn lawyering skills, learn about social justice and improve their English skills. We are enjoying collaborating on the creation of something new; with the benefit of resources from BABSEACLE, we have some lessons to draw from already. I am also assisting the faculty in the development of new clinical education opportunities, including establishing off-site clinics in surrounding communities.
I know my time here will go by quickly, and that I will take home many lessons about teaching and learning from my time here.