Clare and Haley were 2014 Princeton in Asia fellows in southern Thailand, where they taught English in Bangsak and Phang Nga Town, respectively. Bangsak was the hardest hit community by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and R35, the local PiA partner school, supports over 700 K-12 students, many of whom are orphans from the tsunami. Most students at R35 have never been in the ocean, cannot swim, and fear the water due to the devastation from the tsunami. Earthraging aims to exchange this fear of the ocean for a community desire to learn to swim and protect the local environment.
Through partnership with Wicked Diving, a local dive shop, Clare and Haley will return to Bangsak to continue Earthraging with English, which teaches students water-safe skills and about their backyard marine environment. Fellow PiA teacher Brady Valashinas and Wicked Diving Community Outreach Director Christa Fontaine were integral to the original pilot program that occurred in February 2015. Many of the photos seen on the site were taken by the talented Teacher Brady.
As Carriebright fellows, Clare and Haley will return to Bangsak to ensure the program’s long-term sustainability. They aspire to teach every student at R35 water safe skills and R35 is eager for them to return to make the program a permanent part of the school curriculum through the ESL department. Ultimately, Earthraging will also improve students’ English, give them the opportunity to become dive certified through sponsorship, and increase their access to employment in their backyard marine environment and tourism industry.
About the Carrie Gordon Fellowship: Princeton in Asia established the Carrie Gordon Fellowship (also known as the Carriebright) as a tribute to Carrie Gordon, PiA’s late Executive Director from 1994 to 2003. The Fellowship provides up to $10,000 in funding to a Princeton in Asia fellow or recent alumna/-us to work in Asia beyond the end of her/his fellowship. Criteria for selection include the project’s impact, feasibility, and sustainability as well as the applicants’ qualifications. In addition to implementing her/his project, the Carriebright Fellow is expected to keep the PiA office updated on project developments, to make a final presentation to the Princeton in Asia Board of Trustees at the end of the fellowship, and to assist in supporting and promoting the Fellowship and the program.