Attack of the clones: Mark II

Parit Wacharasindhu is following his uncle's education, but remains open-minded about his career

Parit Wacharasindhu's dashing good looks might seem familiar. One might even think the bloke is another pea from the same pod as former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

The uncanny resemblance of the 20-year-old to the veteran politician shouldn't come as a surprise, as Parit is Abhisit's nephew. However, we are not here to discuss the young man's bloodline, but rather his own achievements.

Most prominently, Parit, who goes by his nickname Itim (Thai for ice cream), became the first Thai to receive the prestigious King's Scholarship to study at Eton College in England. The scholarships are given in honour of King Henry VI, who founded the institution. Before that, he was educated at Satit Chula and Shrewsbury International School.

He is currently at St John's college, completing his second year of the University of Oxford's Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) course, which his uncle also studied. He was also recently elected as the first Southeast Asian president of the Oxford Union.

Parit said the course has given him numerous opportunities and allowed him to be open-minded about his future career.

So for this unassuming young man, life has been good, or so it seems. However, he initially faced difficult times settling into British culture, especially since as a 7th grader his English was not on par with the locals. But as time went by, he discovered that studying abroad from a very young age can provide invaluable life lessons. Without having his parents around, self-discipline and time management became essential.

He said his secret formula to being good in both his studies and outside activities was organisation. On time management, he said: "Buckle down when you work and you will have plenty of time to have fun."

As long as he has his study schedule sorted out well in advance, he always manages to have plenty of time to indulge in his favourite pastime, which happens to be playing football. His favourite team is Liverpool, and he is sticking with them despite their less-than-impressive run of form in recent times.

Despite his numerous activities, there are still many things he would like to accomplish at Oxford. His involvement with the Oxford Union is something he wants to put his mind and soul into at the moment, and he is hopeful this will open opportunities to do other things during his time at the university.

As a Thai student in England, he enjoys educating his friends about the culture back home. Teaching his friends a few Thai words and suggesting they eat at "authentic" Thai restaurants are little ways to promote his homeland.

Furthermore, he was part of the Oxford Thai Society committee last year, where he was responsible for the annual Thai Night event that features food and performances, which he hopes educated students about the culture.

"I don't think there is a single friend of mine at Oxford or Eton who does not know I'm from Thailand," said Parit. "I always educate my foreign friends about our culture. My friends are always asking questions about Thailand, and are curious to know whether it matches their perception of the country. I am most proud of our country's rich history. Thailand has never been colonised by a Western power, and this has certainly enabled our culture to be more prominent globally. Thai culture is also unique. The fact that people at Oxford have not ever tasted Malaysian or Vietnamese food but they are all familiar with Thai food makes me proud.

"In that sense, Thai culture has an identity of its own that dazzles people around the world. Moreover, I have never heard bad things said about Thai students at Oxford from my foreign friends. This builds up the image of Thais as a friendly and happy-go-lucky group of people."

He also has advice for Thai students who are interested in studying in the United Kingdom.

"Education in the UK is not just about academics _ there are a lot of extracurricular activities for you to choose from, which depends on your interests. They could include everything from sports, drama, music or working on the university newspaper.

"I think what we should do is make the most of those opportunities, and grab them as much as possible, because you may not have the chance to experience them back in Thailand."

Although Parit has studied in England for almost seven years, he plans to return to Thailand after graduating to pursue his career.

"Thailand is where my heart belongs, and it is difficult for me to imagine being anywhere else besides home," he said.

About the author

columnist
Writer: Montira Rungjirajittranon
Position: Life Reporter