The semester's most important lessons for students of Hat Yai's Prince of Songkhla University are happening outside of class.
Students at the Prince of Songkla University come together to prepare food for flood victims at their Hat Yai campus. TAWATCHAI KEMGUMNERD
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Uni offers a warm lesson in survival
When flooding was at its worst in Songkhla’s Hat Yai district earlier this week, tourists were stranded, local people were going hungry and authorities were at a loss as to what to do.
Prince of Songkla University (PSU), located on high ground in an area that never floods, was one of the few places offering warm meals and shelter. At the heart of this relief effort were thousands of the university’s students.
The university had been scheduled to begin a new semester on Monday, but as the water began to rise, and students and lecturers began to comprehend the gravity of the situation, they put their academic priorities aside and instead focused on ways to help those affected by the floods.
The university’s student centre was transformed into a common kitchen complete with a separate corner for halal food.
In a huge undertaking, some 8,000 students, most of whom stay in the university’s dormitories, took turns manning the ad hoc kitchen. About 2,000 at a time helped with the cooking or preparation of food packs to be distributed to flood victims.
Nirat Chookham, the chairman of the university’s student administrative organisation, said the volunteers were driven by a desire to look after the people in their community.
‘‘We weren’t affected by the floods, and the university has taught us that in a situation like this, the well-being of our fellow human beings must come first,’’ Mr Nirat said.
He said the students used all means of communication available to them to get the word out about the situation in Hat Yai. On the first day, they had to use 50,000 baht from the student body’s budget to pay for their relief efforts,
‘‘After we got the word out, we received donations, both money and necessities. On the second day, we were able to produce 6,000 food packs. On the third day, we got up to 10,000 [packs].’’
PSU deputy rector for student development Niwat Kaewpradap said provincial authorities often ask the university to assist when disasters strike.
Mr Niwat said the university could help in three areas: first, it has a hospital; second, it has a volunteer force in the thousands — students who are eager to cook and prepare temporary shelter for victims of disasters; and, third, it can use the campus radio station, FM 88, to communicate important information and coordinate relief efforts.
‘‘The university’s IT system comes in handy when it comes to keeping everybody on the same page,’’ Mr Niwat said. ‘‘The university also has its own plant to produce bottled water. We can produce and distribute drinking water to flood victims quickly.’’
Help from the university does not stop after a disaster subsides. He said teams of medical and nursing students were dispatched to follow up the effort in the community.
The severity of this year’s floods prompted the university to request support for its relief work from the army, navy, municipality office and provincial administration.
The deputy head of the student administrative body, Ladayu Nakornjit, said the response to the call for volunteers was quick and enthusiastic. Students came together within a few hours after the request was made, and the relief centre took shape shortly after.
‘‘There are no divisions among the students, no separations along faculty lines. Everyone is united and insists on taking turns to help until the situation returns to normal,’’ Ms Ladayu said.
survival – the fact or state of continuing to live or exist, especially in difficult conditions การอยู่รอด
stranded – left somewhere with no way of going anywhere else ปล่อยเกาะ ถูกทิ้งไว้
authorities – people who have the power to make decisions or enforce the law เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
at a loss – not knowing what to do or say, especially because you are very surprised or shocked อับจน ตะลึง
meal – the food that you serve or eat at one time มื้ออาหาร
shelter – a place where people are protected from danger or bad weather; a temporary place to stay ที่หลบภัย ที่พักชั่วคราว
relief – help; assistance การช่วยให้พ้นภัย
semester – one of the two periods that a school year is divided into in some countries ภาคการศึกษา
comprehend – to understand เข้าใจ
gravity – the seriousness or importance of something ความสำคัญ,ความจริงจัง
academic – relating to education เชิงวิชาการ
priority – something important that must be done first สี่งที่สำคัญเป็นลำดับแรก
transform – to change from one form into another เปลี่ยนไปสู่อีกสิ่งหนึ่ง
common – done or shared by two or more people ที่ร่วมกัน
separate – kept apart แยก
halal food – food prepared according to the religious laws of Islam
undertaking – something difficult that you do ภาระกิจ
dormitory – a large building in or near a college or university, where students live หอพัก
take turns – (of a number of people) to do the same thing one after the other สลับกัน
man – to be responsible for working at a particular place or operate a particular piece of equipment ประจำที่
ad hoc – done only when needed for a specific purpose, without planning or preparation เกี่ยวกับสิ่งนี้โดยเฉพาะ
distribute – to give something such as food, clothes or money to a group of people แจกจ่าย
volunteer – someone who is not paid for the work that they do อาสาสมัคร
driven – determined to do something; motivated ซึ่งมีแรงบันดาลใจ, ซึ่งกระตุ้น
well-being – the satisfactory state that someone or something should be in, that involves such things as being happy, healthy, and safe, and having enough money ภาวะที่ปราศจากโรคภัยไข้เจ็บ
fellow – used for talking about people who are similar to you or are in the same situation เพื่อนร่วมชะตากรรม
means – methods; ways วิธี, วิธีการ
get the word out – to give out information; to make something known
budget – an amount of money able to be spent on something งบประมาณ
donation – money or goods that you give to an organisation, especially one that helps people เงินหรือสิ่งของบริจาค
necessities – things you must have in order to live, work, or do something สิ่งจำเป็น
rector – the person in charge in some universities, schools, colleges and universities อธิการบดี
strike – to hit with great force ถั่งโถม, พัดกระหน่ำ
eager – wanting very much to do or have something กระตือรือร้น
temporary – done or used for only a limited period of time ชั่วคราว
victim – someone who has been affected by a bad situation, such as an illness or an accident เหยื่อผู้เคราะห์ร้าย
coordinate – to organise the different parts of a job or plan so that the people involved work together effectively ประสานงานกัน
handy – useful สะดวก,ง่าย,ใกล้มือ,มีประโยชน์
keeping everybody on the same page – keeping everyone aware of a situation and what needs to be done
plant – a factory that processes chemicals, produces power, etc. โรงงาน
subside – to become weaker, less violent, or less severe ลดลง
dispatch – to send someone or something somewhere ส่งคนออกไป
severity – seriousness ความรุนแรง
prompt – to cause someone to take action กระตุ้น
enthusiastic – very interested in something or excited about it อย่างสนใจ กระตือรือร้น
division – a disagreement between people, especially between people who belong to the same group การแตกร้าว, การแบ่งแยก
faculty – a group of departments in a college which specialise in a particular subject or group of subjects คณะ
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