Beyond Giving: The NIST Microcredit Bank

Poverty and the cycle it perpetuates through generations represent an age-old problem that many view as a constant in life. A group of students and teachers at NIST don’t believe that a solution is so unfathomable, and they are tackling the issue head-on through the NIST Microcredit Bank (NMB). Created as a student-run service group with the aim of supporting all members of the NIST community, the NMB offers debt relief, business loans and scholarships for the children of the school’s support staff.

Based on the work of Mohammed Yunus, winner of a Nobel Peace Prize for his pioneering work in microfinance, the NMB initially focused on providing small business loans with very little interest to support staff at NIST who sought to open their own businesses. This focus gradually shifted to providing education-based debt relief through scholarships for the children of those staff members, aligning to NIST’s belief in the transformative power of learning, and contemporary research in sustainable economic and social development through education as opposed to simple philanthropy.

Though basic schooling for all children in Thailand is free in principle, extraneous costs even in small public schools put it out of reach of thousands of families, particularly those with multiple children. In the words of the microcredit bank members, “It is unacceptable to be students of an academic institution that permits those who support our education to struggle to afford an education for their own”. They view caring for all members of the NIST community as a fundamental responsibility, one that will ultimately allow families to be enriched through education.

2016 is the fourth year that the NMB has provided scholarships to children of support staff, and also represents the largest number granted thus far: 33 in total. The benefits of these scholarships greatly help to alleviate the burden of the costs associated with schooling in Thailand, enabling families to afford the best education they can provide without the financial sacrifice that usually comes with it.

Driven by the success of their work, the NMB continually seeks to raise funds through various school events and regularly receives donations from NIST staff, the NIST Parent-Teacher Association (NIPTA), parent groups, student-run groups and the student body itself. More importantly, the students recognize that monetary donations ultimately have a limited scope. The group meets weekly to find ways to connect and bring the focus back to the community and their role in its continued growth.

Looking to the future, the microcredit bank is continually looking to improve and identify ways to further engage staff, students and parents. In the meantime they aim to enrich the lives and livelihoods of all members of the NIST community through their unique work, which represents a first among international schools in Thailand. Head of School James MacDonald captured this passion best as he spoke to this year’s scholarship recipients: “Even though you may attend other schools, NIST is also your school, and you are an important part of the community here”.

Mixed Up! Returns to NIST This Friday

Mixed Up! is an annual fundraising concert held at NIST, where students from international schools around the Bangkok area join together for a night of awesome music. Performers of all kinds bust out their best chords to win the battle of the bands, with other members of the community attending to cheer on their friends and family, and to support a meaningful cause.

As with previous years, all proceeds from Mixed Up! go to Love Wildlife Foundation’s Slow Loris program. The Bang Phra waterbird centre serves as a rescue center for captured and confiscated lorises, and all funds raised help to support THB 5,000 worth of monthly costs, including food and medicine for the lorises. Enclosures, a specialized clinic, and other required facilities, in addition to regular maintenance and needs, are also being supported by these proceeds.

Slow lorises have grown to be a large part of Thailand’s exotic pet trade and are exploited in the tourism industry by being captured as photo props. Many of these lorises have had their teeth removed (cut down or pulled out) by traffickers to make them more manageable and a safer “pet” for humans. Yet this causes serious infections and makes it impossible for the lorises to survive if returned to the wild. They are also affected by extensive habitat loss. Though wild populations of slow lorises have declined rapidly as a result of these factors, we can do something about it.

To support the cause, all members of the international school community are invited to attend this wild student initiative. The event is of a lovely evening atmosphere, whereby delicious food stalls and drinks will be sold, to accompany the wonderful music.

Tickets are THB 100 and are sold at the NIST entrance from 7:00 – 7:25 AM every day leading up to the event. Tickets can also be purchased at the door of the event. The concert will be held on Friday, 11 March from 6:00 PM onward with an estimated end time of 8:00 – 9:00 PM. The NIST shuttle service will be available all throughout the day. Please feel free to contact Am Chunnananda (student organizer) at 18amc@nist.ac.th or Matthew Salvatore (adult supervisor) at msalvatore@nist.ac.th for further inquiries.

To stay updated with the final running order (band list) and updates from the crew, check out the Facebook page and Facebook event, as well as their YouTube channel.

Journalist Seyi Rhodes Returns to NIST

SeyiStudents from Years 6-13 will be very lucky to have Seyi Rhodes return to NIST, October 27-30. As during his previous two visits, Seyi will visit a variety of classes, meet service groups and deliver a keynote presentation to year 10 and 11 students in the theatre at 1:00 PM on Tuesday, 28 October. Seyi’s authentic experiences with many global issues makes him a special addition to student learning. (more…)