Global Campus Chiang Mai Thailand (GCC) began as a gathering of adults with disabilities who shared common needs, challenges, hopes and dreams. The Demonstration Campus of Global Campuses Foundation formally started in July 2002. GCC is led entirely by people with disabilities. They serve as administrators, faculty, students, and field outreach staff. Now in its eighth academic year, the educational programs, field work and community outreach has significantly evolved. The success of the program has reached beyond Thailand’s northern provincial borders.
The initial courses organized by GCC centered on day-to-day skills and workforce training such as sewing, electronics, computer skills, and more. As campus participants grew in self awareness, the curriculum theme evolved to disability pride and celebration of ability, confidence, and stewardship skills. Campus members soon carried this principle into the greater Chiang Mai area. Actively engaging in community service, they began to assess and address issues of access, and other human rights vital to the disability community.
“I have learned that when you take you grow selfish. When you give, you expand.”
Neung, Global Campus San Sai
Over the years, campus members gained experience from their campus development and professional growth opportunities. They facilitated classes, workshops, seminars, radio programs, and educational field work for adults with disabilities. In time, they began to design and offer disability equality training seminars for non-disabled persons, closing the gap between these two populations.
In 2006, GCF formalized a partnership with Chiang Mai University (CMU). Located outside of Bangkok, CMU (known locally as Mor Chor) is Thailand’s renowned institute for higher education in the Northern provinces. CMU formed the partnership with GCF because of the impressive success of Global Campus Chiang Mai. The intention of this partnership with CMU is to augment their traditional curriculum and facilitate shared educational activities directed by adults with disability. They also present disability and advocacy issues to future teachers and government officials.
“When I work with this campus, I realize they think they don’t work with persons with disabilities-just human beings.”
Au, Global Campus San Sai
Since 2002, two more satellite campuses have developed in rural northern Thailand: Global Campus Sansai and Global Campus Nan. Combining GCC’s educational system with an emphasis of sensitivity to cultural traditions and village life, GCC helps transform isolated and dependent persons into confident and assertive leaders. These persons in turn reach out to support others.
Today, through direct programs and field work, campus participants provide educational outreach to hundreds of adults with disabilities in their rural villages. GCC now reaches more than 1,000 adults per year.
“Before I had an empty life, now my life has value and meaning.”
Pim, Global Campus Chiang Mai
Global Campus Chiang Mai is changing attitudes and practices by accomplishing great things, year after year. It has steadily become nationally known as an innovative leader in disability issues serving as a model for Thai government agencies and disability organizations.
Participants have advanced in their personal development and professional growth to a place where they serve as leaders on local, provincial, and national committees. They are often referred to as “the new generation” in disability advocacy. They also readily promote their right to contribute in Thai society.
“As a Global Campus administrator, I am inspired by seeing how people change. I see the power of transformation through education.”
Ka, Regional Director Southeast Asia
The Global Campuses in Northern Thailand have their own Thai language blog. Learn more about GCF in Thailand by visiting the Global Campuses Thailand Blog
Currently, the spread of Global Campuses in northern Thailand is like a wildfire. The interest and eagerness to get started on campus development is truly exciting as more and more adults with disabilities express their needs, dreams, and challenges. For example, in the rural, mountainous province of Nan, which borders Laos; small agrarian based villages are starting their own Global Campuses. Because travel to another village is challenging, villagers who experience disability focus on the uniqueness of their needs and dreams within their village population. As they design their campus activities, they also provide information to other regional villages so that they too can establish their own Global Campus. It is hoped that in the future these rural campus participants will have an opportunity to come together to exchange information, develop new social networks and share teaching and learning strategies.
A Global Campus in Cambodia is in its initial stage of development. The GCF Regional Director: Southeast Asia will be traveling from Global Campus Chiang Mai to Cambodia to help facilitate initial campus development activities. Likewise the Director of the new Cambodian campus will travel to Chiang Mai for GCF professional development seminars.
Visit the Thai Campuses Thai Language Pages