Royal Central’s Deputy Editor, Brittani Barger, travelled to Thailand with Princess Tessy of Luxembourg at the beginning of July to see the work she does with her NGO, Professors Without Borders (PROWIBO) and empowering women across the globe.
Read part one below:
After a 15 hour flight to South Korea and another 5-hour flight to Thailand, I arrived late on Sunday, 30 June to Bangkok from Tennessee in the United States. I finally got to the hotel close to midnight with plans to meet Princess Tessy the next morning for breakfast.
The next morning I met Tessy for breakfast in the hotel. She immediately hugged me, and she gave me a gift she’d brought from the UK. We sat for breakfast alongside another speaker, Lorna Johnson, and Sipim Sornbanlang, the Asia Representative and Programs Coordinator for PROWIBO, at the Professors Without Borders conference set for the following day.
It was a packed day ahead, so after breakfast, we got into the car to travel to Srinakharinwirot University (SWU) for the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the university and Professors Without Borders in the HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Research and Continuing Education Building.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by students and entered a small room to the side to meet the Vice President of SWU’s Academic Affairs, Pansiri Phansuwan before entering the conference room for the signing.
Tessy signed the memorandum on behalf of PROWIBO and the President of SWU, Somchai Santiwattanakul signed on behalf of the university.
You’ll notice many are wearing yellow in the photos, which in Thailand shows respect to the King, Rama X, and is a way to honour him. On the other hand, purple honours the Queen, Suthida, and some were wearing this colour, as well. The Thai people have been asked to wear yellow for four months (April to July) to celebrate His Majesty’s May coronation.
Tessy was presented with the traditional Thai flower garland “Phuang malai” which is usually given to members of the Thai Royal Family. She was also gifted a beautiful china tea set cup and plate from SWU, as well as artwork from a university in Taiwan.
After the signing, the President treated us to a traditional Thai lunch before we returned to SWU for Tessy to give a guest lecture regarding communication on the opening day of the summer school (taught by Rachel Warnick) focusing on the UN’s SDGs.
So many students wanted to attend the lectures that the rooms had to be switched so that there was enough room for all the students to attend – a great problem to have!
During her lecture, Tessy told the students, “I cannot tell you how thankful I am for all of you, your teachers, the Vice President, and your President and how you have received me. Thank you for that.
“Today I’m going to talk to you a bit about communication as goes with the course ‘Contemporary Communication’ and I will share with you a little bit about how I communicate through my different engagements with different people.”
She focused on two types of communication: verbal and writing. She also stressed that listening is just as critical, if not more so than speaking. Tessy also mentioned how important it is to give each person you are talking to your full attention – by looking interested, keeping eye contact, etc. She even made a joke by acting out in a desk how it can seem to teachers and speakers when someone is slumped down in their seat, which gave everyone a good laugh.
The Princess also took questions from the students ranging from the importance of communication and advice on how to effectively communicate with others.
After her lecture, group photos were taken, and so many of the students wanted selfies and to speak with Tessy. What stood out to me was how Tessy would not leave until everyone waiting for her had been spoken to, and she knew how to bring the shy ones out of their shells. You could see how much the students admired her and how much she enjoyed meeting and spending time with them.
Tessy also was very well versed on Thai culture; she knew a few words to greet people, the appropriate way to greet Thais (with your hands placed together and a bow), and wore yellow to show respect to the Thai monarch. This showed her passion and interest in not only helping these students learn more but also showing respect to their way of life. She said she does this to “show appreciation” to the country she is visiting.
We returned to our hotel before Tessy had a private meeting, and then we reunited later for a chat and workout before dinner to celebrate Rachel’s birthday. It was a jampacked day, but so enjoyable for all those involved.
Stay tuned for details on day two of the Thailand adventure!