About the Author: Maggie Appel-Schumacher is a soon-to-be graduate of the GW International Education Program and currently working within the Education Policy and Reform Unit at UNESCO Bangkok.
First Impressions: The City
Thus far, from this GW UNESCO Fellowship experience in Bangkok, Thailand can be described as a very exciting, extravagant blur. With one swipe of the yellow “Rabbit BTS Card” the sky train arrives once every 3 minutes, taking a variety of different people unto their next adventures. There are lights, street signs, food stalls and motorcycle taxis galore. Bangkok is a city that doesn’t sleep- it‘s a city with a vibrant culture in every Silom and Soi. The commute takes roughly 35 minutes door to door from my apartment to the office. It’s rush hour at 8 a.m., leaving no seating room but plenty of opportunity to observe the every day life in Bangkok. Every morning begins with a sunrise through the city haze and food stalls are completely ready for business as early as 7 a.m. The Sukhumvit Road is thriving in the early morning hours, with many people ordering bubble tea, fruit and jumping unto motorcycle taxis to take them to their next destination.
First Impressions: The Office
The UNESCO office is nestled on the 9th floor of the International Science Center on Education while the main UNESCO office is under going renovations. The office is set up in an open cubicle style, with colleagues assigned their individual workspace on an open floor. There is a steady buzz in the office. The office is decorated with UNESCO signage, booklets, posters and personal photographs and quotes, making the environment engaging and friendly. There is a big open meeting space on what has been called “the stage” that is used for meetings and discussions regarding projects and their ongoing development. In the first week, I was gifted a publication titled “Asia-Pacific Regional Education for All Report.” UNESCO Bangkok engaged in a collaborative effort to publish this regional monitoring report on Asia’s progress on some of the EFA Goals. It is an incredible experience to meet the people who have contributed directly to the publication of major UNESCO works. The office is comprised of the masterminds behind the review of EFA strategies, analyses and compilation of dynamic reports that are sent by the Ministries of Education in the region for UNESCO Bangkok’s comments and preparation of a regional synthesis. What an amazing opportunity- everyone in this office is sharp, passionate, and willing to dedicate countless hours to helping the region’s education efforts through policy recommendations and educational publications.
First Impressions: The Assignments
Within the Education Policy and Reform Unit, my first assignments are to write a literature review about teacher management and teacher effectiveness in the region. The assignment allows me the chance to review many documents related to teacher workshops conducted by UNESCO Bangkok and UNESCO International Institute for Education Planning (IIEP) and external studies. Furthermore, I am assisting with the compilation of country research studies related to the policy and implementation of transversal competencies (also known as 21st Century Skills) in classrooms across the Asia-Pacific. This assignment is quite neat, as it allows me to review findings from research on transversal skills and contribute to a synthesis report that will be published at the end of this year. UNESCO Bangkok is knee-deep in a variety of critical issues related to K-12 education, policy, lifelong learning, TVET, and much more. Stay Tuned for more updates!
This Fellowship also allows for some travel 🙂
Here are some Elephants at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai!