Two Thai teens attending Central Lakes College in Brainerd will present the Feb. 3 Cultural Thursday program in Chalberg Theatre on the Brainerd campus.
Nutthanit Towan, 18, and Pinchat Chatpaitoon, 17, will give an overview of life in Thailand, which is known for its fun-loving people, numerous Buddhist temples, and colorful traditions.
"We will show a day in the life of a person in Thailand," said Towan, who is in her final semester at CLC and headed to the University of Minnesota-Duluth to study business management next fall.
"We will describe things that make life in Thailand special, such as dress, dance, and differences from one area to another," said Chatpaitoon, who is an "A" student with one year remaining at CLC before she also moved on to a university.
The two are "like sisters," in their description of compatible personalities. They have been best friends since they were in fifth grade in a Catholic school in Udon Thani, a city of 2 million. They were exchange students in the United States before coming to the area in a collegiate setting. They live with the Paul and Marie Odenthal family in Pillager.
Thailand, population 62 million, shares borders with Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Laos and Cambodia. The country's east coast borders the Gulf of Thailand and the west coast abuts the Andaman Sea.
One-fifth of Thailand is covered by monsoon forest or rainforest, and the country has an incredible array of fruit trees, bamboo and tropical hardwoods.
Thailand is particularly rich in bird life, with more than 1,000 recorded resident and migrating species -- approximately 10 percent of the world's bird species.
Thai cuisine is pungent and spicy, seasoned with heaps of garlic and chilies and a characteristic mix of lime juice, lemon grass and fresh coriander.
Fish sauce or shrimp paste are mainstays of Thai dishes, and of course rice is eaten with most meals.
Classical Thai music has similarities to Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Indonesian music. The traditional Thai orchestra is composed of woodwind, string and percussion instruments.
There are several forms of classical dance in Thailand. Most are intimately connected to drama, particularly the epic journey tale of Prince Rama's search for his beloved Princess Sita, who has been abducted by the evil demon Ravana.
"We won't just talk about the good things," said Towan. "We must tell about how hard it is to get a good job, even after you have been a student and become qualified. Graduates have a hard time finding work."
They won't hold back discussing public dissatisfaction with the country's president, whom they say has ownership in many industries connected with controlling economic power. In Thailand, the presidential election is every four years with no limit on terms in office.
But they will also convey the trust and loyalty Thai people have for their king in this royal realm, which is governed by a constitutional monarchy.
The Dec. 25 tsunami resulting from an oceanic earthquake has devastated the southwestern coast of Thailand along the Indian Ocean, ruining some popular tourist destinations. But there is much more to see and appreciate, if traveler's wish to explore the culture.
"We have festivals that are special," said Chatpaitoon. One of the biggest is the mid-April new year called "Songkran." Other festivals celebrate vegetarianism as practiced by not only devout Chinese Buddhists but a growing number of ordinary citizens. The Vegetarian Festival lasts nine days in Phuket and Trang.
An elephant round-up in Surin each November captivates those unaccustomed to seeing pachyderms playing soccer.
The country has historical parks and cities that sustain the traditions of ancestors, such as Nakhon Pathon, the oldest city with the tallest Buddhist monument in the world.
Then there is bustling Bangkok, the capital city, with international attractions and diversions that include a variety of fine dining establishments featuring seafood, spicy meat dishes, and regional fruits.
Cultural Thursdays are held noon to 12:50 p.m. the first Thursday of each month, and are free and open to the public. The program is sponsored by the Resource Center for Cultures and Languages of the Americas and coordinated by Jan Kurtz (855-8183).
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