PMMS students watch Thai dance demonstration

Through a partnership between the Thailand Ministry of Education and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, a teacher and five students from Thailand visited Patrick Marsh Middle School May 1 to learn about U.S. culture and share aspects of Thai culture, including regional dress and dance performances.

For a third year, Sandra Kowalczyk, Reading Specialist and Go Global Club advisor is serving as the volunteer coordinator of the Thailand Wisconsin International Sunrise Program, overseeing the school visit for the Thai students and teacher who are in Sun Prairie from April 23 to May 10.

While learning about Wisconsin and its people and educational system, the Thai guests are teaching Patrick Marsh Middle School students about Thai culture and language.

Students learned how Thais greet each other with a graceful bow called a wai. Palms and fingers are pressed flat together, fingers pointing up; the higher they are held, the greater the respect, with thumb tips touching between the eyebrow most respectful wai.

The cultural presentations featured regional dress and dance performances. The dancers then invited audience members to learn the dances. After learning about Thai schools, PMMS students modelled styles of Thai school uniforms.

Thai students and teacher are living with local host families and participating in the daily routines of the family. Thomas and Caryn Meverdan and their sixth grade son, Spenser, are hosting Mahasamoot Ngowmanee (Kram) from Lopburi Province in the central region of Thailand.

Robert Loesch and Jennie Deuster-Loesch and their sixth grade daughter, Maggie, are hosting Chanhatai Laopirodjaree (Yayha) from Chiang Rai, the northernmost province of Thailand, and Karnnat Chimthanu (Pong) from Chumphon, a southern Thai province on the Kra Isthmus of the Malay Peninsula. Deuster-Loesch took the Thai group on a nature hike and arranged a guided tour of Statz Dairy Farm.

Andrew and Dannelle Gay, and their sixth grade daughter, Sarah, are hosting Yanalhip Hengudomsab (Mint) from Chonburi a province set on the country’s eastern Gulf of Thailand coast and Marada DJ Arrington (Jeda) from Nakhon Si Thammarat, one of the southern provinces on the western shore of the Gulf of Thailand. Mrs. Gay arranged a guided tour for the Thai group of NBC-15 in Madison.

Mrs. Lanlalit Buakaew, a sixth grade teacher in Surat Thani, a province in southern Thailand, set on the Gulf of Thailand, is being hosted by Randy Enders, Patrick Marsh Middle School Associate Principal and his wife, Erica Fessler-Enders, a seventh grade teacher at Prairie View Middle School.

In addition to individual family outings, the Thai group also participated in community service learning projects along with Patrick Marsh students. They will visit Madison for sightseeing, a UW-Madison campus tour, and a visit to Olbrich Gardens and the Thai Pavilion.

“Hosting a Thai teacher and students at Patrick Marsh has been a wonderful opportunity for students and staff to learn more about Thai culture,” Kowalczyk said. “I am confident that connections made as a result of the Thailand Wisconsin International Sunrise Program will continue for years to come.”See the Wisconsin DPI website for additional information on the Thailand Wisconsin International Sunrise Program at

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