Do not be misled by the title of this blog; tempting though it is to write about the American presidential election, this short reflection is instead about an independent school in Thailand, which I have known about for many years but which I visited for the first time just this morning. Bangkok Patana School was founded in 1957 by Rosamund Stuetzel – an Old Girl of St Mary’s Calne, UK – who made her home in Thailand after meeting her future husband on her travels in the region, and who decided that she did not want to send her third child back to the UK, in the footsteps of her siblings, to access a quality education. Rather – so Rosamund decided – she would create a quality education here in Thailand, and so, quite simply, she set her mind to it and made it happen.
The original school opened in the bungalow in the back garden of her house in Ploenchit Road, Bangkok, and the roll consisted of a mere 28 children. Today, the school is located on a vast and interesting campus on Soi Lasalle, Bangna, in the south-east corner of Bangkok, and educates over 2,200 students from 65 different nationalities in the British curriculum. In 60 years, the school has grown beyond recognition into a premier British international school, but its heart remains true – time spent observing students quickly reveals a warmth and supportiveness which speaks to the original family-focused intentions of the founder, all those years ago.
60 years is a long time in education – trends come and go, societal shifts happen, thinking changes – and it is almost inconceivable that Rosamund Stuetzel could have imagined what her school would look like today. What she did, however, was to turn a vision into reality, and that reality of a school has now directly and powerfully influenced the lives of thousands upon thousands of young people, and, through them, hundreds of thousands more. There are many more excellent schools in Bangkok, and I have more that I shall write on the subject; what drives me to write today is the immediacy of being reminded that one person really can make a difference in the world, for good or for bad. Rosamund Stuetzel is the absolute proof of the former.
And maybe, now that I think about it, this might just be a blog about the American presidential election after all.