Over a hundred NIST parents, teachers and students joined together on Thursday, 8 October 2015 to celebrate the opening of The Mechai Learning Commons, an educational space created to support information technology, online learning, tutoring, exploration, content creation, reading and study. The facility, made possible through the generous funding of Khun Mechai Viravaidya and family, builds upon the more traditional library model. In addition to standard reading materials, it also includes a community café, mini-amphitheatres and reading nooks—all designed to facilitate shared learning.
During the opening ceremony, Head of School James MacDonald recognized not only Khun Mechai’s generous contributions to NIST academically and financially over the years, but also to the growth of NIST’s community during its formative years. Khun Mechai served as the Chairman of the NIST International School Foundation from 1993 to 2002 and 2005 to 2009. A well-known figure in Thailand, he is also celebrated for his advocacy in family planning and rural development, and still serves as the founding chairman of the largest non-profit in Thailand: the Population and Community Development Association.
Khun Mechai’s work includes a strong focus on the need to support disadvantaged communities and children, particularly those in Thailand’s rural regions. His passion for helping others strongly impacted NIST’s own mission and values, leading to the creation of many of the school’s community initiatives. These programmes—student-initiated and driven—include Dreams We Believe In, the NIST Development Bank, FairNIST Coffee Co. and the Maeramit Development Group. Each of these have allowed poor communities to access NIST’s facilities and resources, share and learn from NIST students and staff, and grow through educational and financial support.
Through the vision, inspiration and generosity of the Mechai family, NIST has not only been able to support continued academic and personal excellence for its students, but also extend this mission into the surrounding community, empowering and enriching others.
“Three key words that are taken from our philosophy statement are provoke, extend and enrich. We feel that these words can truly be attributable to Khun Mechai, as when teaching and having conversations with our elementary students, he always provokes inquiry from the students and helps extend their thinking, and eventually our students go on to enrich other people’s lives.”
– Mr. Brett Penny, Head of Elementary.