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Recruiting at Thai University

July 16, 2010

Last week, The SOLD Project visited Mae Fah Luang, a prestigious university in Chiang Rai, for two reasons: to screen the film for the first time ever in Thailand, and to recruit volunteers and mentors for our prevention program, The FREEDOM Project.  The response from students, both from Thailand and around the world, was overwhelming. Watch the video here.

The following is a letter Rachel Sparks-Graeser, our founder, wrote to those involved in the lengthy process of creating the film that thousands have seen:

To all who had a significant role in the making of “The SOLD Project: Thailand,”

One of Nate and I’s goals during our year here in Thailand was to get a mentorship program going between Thai University students and our scholarship kids. The reason being to put role models in our kid’s lives to show them that their dreams are possible and their educational goals are attainable. Many of our student’s parents do not have an education past 6th grade and are surrounded by a community that does not truly understand the importance of education.

Six months into being here, an American English teacher at a fairly prestigious Thai university, Mae Fah Luang, contacted me asking, “What can I do?”  I mentioned to her our goal to create the mentorship program, and she was totally on-board.  She connected us to the Dean of the English Department, a handful of Thai teachers, and ultimately the President of the University.  Through these relationships, we were able to do our first-ever screening of the documentary in Thailand.  We began the day in the lunch room with a booth and flyers, speaking to students and asking them to come to the screening that evening.  At lunch alone, we left with over 200 email addresses of Thai (as well as other international) students interested in learning more about what they could do.

That evening we showed the film to an almost packed out 150-seat auditorium.  I wasn’t at all scared to screen the film in Thailand because of the amazing crew that worked together to make it culturally sensitive and to show our love for Thailand amidst an issue that we want to fight against.  However, I was unsure of what the respond would really be from a room full of Thai people.

Well, I say with a huge smile on my face (and of course with tears in my eyes… I got that from my dad) that the outcome far exceeded any expectation I had.  Besides hearing sniffles and tears throughout (which is something Thai’s RARELY do) the response afterward was a large list of Thai University students really wanting to get actively involved in what SOLD is doing.  Not only do they see the significance of our work here, but they said “Why did it take foreigners coming here and talking with us to get us involved in this.  This is our country.  WE need to be doing something.” I think that statement alone sums it up.

As SOLD moves forward, developing our programs in Thailand, I am constantly reminded of the hard work (blood, sweat, and tears) that went into the making of the documentary.  I wanted to take this time to thank you all again from the bottom of my heart for believing in our work and in this film.  Lives in Thailand are being changed and you all played a significant role in making it happen.

With love and gratitude,

Rachel Sparks-Graeser
Founder, The SOLD Project
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