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					     PETER BJORK’S EXCHANGE PROGRAMME: By Rikke Bjerge Johansen




     Helping Thai Students
                                                                                                                                      “They are surprised to discover        universities in Sweden get prepared
                                                                                                                                  that Sweden and the Scandinavian           students,” says Peter, who personally
                                                                                                                                  countries in general are in top in all     escorts the Thais to their universities
                                                                                                                                  the measures regarding economy,            in August every year.                           The biggest problem
                                                                                                                                  wealth fare, study system, education
                                                                                                                                  level. The same goes for creativity,                                                      for them is the silence.
                                                                                                                                                                             Silence is the worst
     Succeed in Sweden                                                                                                            business, fashion, music export. They
                                                                                                                                  didn’t know that before, they only
                                                                                                                                  thought it was the US and UK”.
                                                                                                                                      Apart from all the practical
                                                                                                                                                                             However, even though how well
                                                                                                                                                                             prepared the Thais are, there will
                                                                                                                                                                             always be situations that know one
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              But within the first
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            month they learn how
                                                                                                                                                                             can prepare them for.
                                                                                                                                  knowledge Peter also explains a main
                                                                                                                                                                                 “The biggest problem for them              to speak out and make
     Kottbullar, snö and                                                                                                          factor for why his programme is
                                                                                                                                  working out so well.
                                                                                                                                                                             is the silence. In Bangkok there are
                                                                                                                                                                             always so many people around them.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   friends.
     Ikea. When young Thai                                                                                                            “We use former students who can
                                                                                                                                                                             But in a Swedish town, especially
     students go abroad to                                                                                                        help them like a mentor. But most
                                                                                                                                                                             during winter time, it can seem very
                                                                                                                                  importantly, the Thais get a network
     Sweden to study they                                                                                                                                                    quite when they get home from
                                                                                                                                  with other students before travelling
                                                                                                                                                                             school. But within the first month
                                                                                                                                  away. They make friends with each
     have to get ready for a                                                                                                      other before they go to the new
                                                                                                                                                                             they learn how to speak out and make
                                                                                                                                                                             friends. They are doing very well,” he
     big cultural difference.                                                                                                     country,” Peter explains.
                                                                                                                                                                             says.
                                                                                                                                      His students come from all the big
     And thanks to the Swede                                                                                                      universities in Thailand where there is
                                                                                                                                                                                 Actually, most of the Thais love
                                                                                                                                                                             studying in Sweden and about 30 per
     Peter Bjork they are fully                                                                                                   an exchange agreement with Sweden.
                                                                                                                                                                             cent say that they will like to continue
                                                                                                                                  They students pay 35.000 baht for
     prepared. He has a study                                                                                                     being enrolled in the preparation
                                                                                                                                                                             studying in their new home country
                                                                                                                                                                             for a second master or a Ph.D.
     preparation programme                                                                                                        course that takes one semester on
                                                                                                                                                                                 “In the beginning I was surprised
                                                                                                                                  the RMUTK University in Sathorn in
     that teaches the Thais                                                                                                                                                  to see how well they adjusted. It is so
                                                                                                                                  Bangkok.
                                                                                                                                                                             rewarding having this job. The young           The preparation programme’s 3
     about Sweden before                                                                                                              “We don’t actually make a profit,
                                                                                                                                                                             people are so positive about Sweden.           steps:
                                                                                                                                  but we cover fee for teachers, class
                                                                                                                                                                             They come to us for preparation and            1. Academic studies in English.
     take off. The successes                                                                                                      room and the practical preparation.
                                                                                                                                                                             the result is so good. Some now work              The Thais have to pass many
                                                                                                                                  You can say it is a win-win situation
     rate speaks for itself.                                                                                                      for everybody. The families pay a lot
                                                                                                                                                                             with Scandinavian companies, 15 of                tests, they must improve their
                                                                                                                                                                             our students have been working on                 English and the lectures are in
                                                                                                                                  to send their child abroad to study
     By Rikke Bjerge Johansen                                                                                                                                                the SE embassy. For sure it helps their           a Scandinavian way, more free
                                                                                                                                  and it is a waste of money if the
                                                                                                                                                                             future with a Swedish master,” Peter              and independent.
                                               SWEA gave out a stipend 2008, a flight ticket from Bangkok to Stockholm            child quits half way through. Now,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Swedish and Scandinavian
                                                                                                                                                                             Bjork says proudly.
                                                                                                                                  everybody is happy. The students
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               culture and language. Try to
                                                                                                                                  don’t let their family down and the
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               give them a good in-depth of




     T
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               it so they don’t get shocked
              here is always a risk that       success rate close to 100 percent          became a consultant.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               when they arrive. They will
              students give up half way        and that makes me very proud,” Peter           “At the universities I witnessed
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               learn about the study system,
              through their studies.           Bjork says.                                Thai students going to study abroad
                                                                                                                                                                                The Swedish priest Lennart Hamark is           culture, language, food,
              Especially if the students are       He gives an example why it is          in Europe. I also saw the need for
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               geography, history.
     from a foreign country on the other       important for his students to prepare      them to be well prepared. That’s why                                              teaching the Thais at the preparation course.   3. Practical preparation. Everything
     part of the world and have to cope        before studying abroad.                    I together with my business partner
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               regarding admission process,
     with a major cultural shock as well           “There is a big risk that Asian        Dr. Toni Ivergard started developing
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               what programme they should
     as the study itself. But when Thai        students will drop out during the study    a programme in order to help them
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               choose, the application, ticket,
     students are arriving to their new        if they are not prepared. It can be        succeed with their masters.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               visa, food, clothing, how to deal
     country they know what to expect.         culture differences, the study process         The way he developed it was
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               with a snow storm, how to get
     And the result is obvious. Almost         is very different, the food is strange.    by talking to former students
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               around in Sweden and other
     every one of the students who have        As an example one University in            combined with his own Swedish/Thai
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               basic and practical things.
     prepared themselves makes it through      Thailand had a failure of 70 percent       knowledge. He also cooperates with
     the one or two years of study in the      of their students before they started      the Swedish embassy, church, and
     cold, Scandinavian country called         preparing them. Now, almost all of         other institutes.
     Sweden.                                   them come back with a degree,” he
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Peter’s students are going to
         Peter Bjork is the man behind the     explains.
     study preparation programme for Thai
                                                                                          Win-win situation                                                                                                                 different universities in Sweden:
                                                                                          The preparation programme which                                                                                                   Mälardalen inVästerås, Karlstad,
     exchange students who are going
     to Sweden to take their master. His
                                               Need for preparation                       takes one semester, consists of three                                                                                             Kalmar and Malmö.
                                               51-years old Peter Bjork is originally     parts:
     programme RMUTK has now been
                                               from Karlstad, one of the cities where     1. Academic studies in English                                                                                                    The exchange students come
     running for five years and he is very
                                               the Thais are sent to university. He       2. Swedish and Scandinavian culture                                                                                               from different universities in BKK
     happy with the result so far.
                                               is educated in change management           and language                                                                                                                      - Chulalongkorn, Thammasat,
         “About 200 Thai students have
                                               and came to Bangkok 10 years ago           3. Practical preparation                                                                                                          Assumption and others, but they
     taken our preparation programme
                                               to help the Thai companies after the                                                                                                                                         register for the programme in
     before going to Sweden for a master
                                               Asian crisis. Then he got involved            The Thai students always get                                                                                                   RMUTK in Sathorn, Bangkok.
     degree. You can say that we have
                                               with universities, started lecturing and   surprised about certain things.
     www.swecham.com
36

				
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