“Student Voices” is a personal space and platform available to Virginia International University Students wherein individuals are invited to share their goals, intentions, and thoughts with the others. We sit down with VIU Students and allow them to share experiences, life stories, and their ideas with their peers. “Student Voices” will serve as one of the top personal spaces for students while studying at VIU. This interview was conducted by VIU Student, Ariunaa Dashtsogt.
Our first guest is Ananya Singhaputra, a student from the beautiful Asian country of Thailand. This is Ananya’s first semester studying at VIU, in the Master of Information Systems (MIS) program. Ananya has resided in the United States since April 2011. When I sat down to speak with Ananya, we discussed how she came to the States as well as how she manages day-to-day life in America. We also discussed VIU’s Thai student population and how they have been affected by material and emotional distress due to the lasting Thai floods. Ananya is one of 25 Thai students studying at Virginia International University.
VIU: What was your goal in coming to the United States? How have you adjusted to the change in relocating?
AS: I wanted to gain life experience, improve my language barrier, and challenge myself. I am happy that I chose to come to the US. I felt that a new environment, weather, and different culture would be good for me. It is completely amazing to live in the USA, especially in Fairfax, Virginia – it has proven to be a very safe and tranquil community.
VIU: How did you hear about VIU? How has your experience been while studying at VIU?
AS: I chose VIU for a variety of reasons: first of all, VIU is located in a safe and calm community. Secondly, VIU’s tuition and fees are very reasonable, many times less expensive than other Universities. Third, some of my friends were studying over here-this is why I sought out information about VIU via the internet. When I first arrived here at VIU, I took the English Placement Test and was placed in the Advanced level of the English Second Language (ESL) program. Right now I am studying in the MIS program. To me, the things that stand out about VIU is that they are a non-profit organization devoted to providing high-quality education with affordable prices and the best value programs in an environment where all students feel comfortable.
VIU: Could you explain the differences of studying at VIU. What do you feel here while studying?
AS: It’s cool, you know, I am very satisfied with my school, professors, and classmates. I am a very grateful for everyone who belongs to VIU, as they help one another, try to understand each other, and support students in all kind of situation. It’s awesome. There is a one thing I want to say to people: If I were to study in some of the larger Universities in the USA, I would not gain as much in the way of individualized attention. In contrast, studying at VIU, I am a part of a community of diverse employees, international and domestic students, and high quality of curriculums of the United States. If I face any problem, I know that I can seek help from any teacher, employee, or student of VIU.
VIU: How often do you gather to hang out with other Thai students?
AS: [smiled] VIU’s Thai students have been meeting almost every week. We help each other, hang out on special holidays and like to go shopping. If there was Thai student who wanted to study at VIU, we have always taught them how to study better, use the local transit systems, and how to utilize the bookstore, grocery stores, get driver licenses, and even the best ways to find housing. Thai students enjoy helping one another. My friends went to Niagara Falls, the Ocean, parks, and the Potomac River for fun. Most recently we went with some of VIU’s Korean and Japanese students to Georgetown’s Halloween Festival. We have also visited DC’s monuments and museums, which are so lovely and incredible.
VIU: How often are you able to be in contact with your family?
AS: There are no words to say how much I miss my family, friends, and my sweet home. I understand how great, and how special this is for my family and home country, and for the human being as well. Today was the Thai students’ first meeting in VIU. These kinds of events make me reflect on my country with warm feelings. We have had a good time. The Career Center has given us recommendations about how to improve our English, how to approach the Academic programs, and how to find job after graduation.
VIU: I have heard that, unfortunately, Thailand has been in a tough situation due to unbearable floods, could you tell me anything about this?
AS: In the past three months, the flooding in Thailand has been extremely horrible, the worst in 50 years. A large dam was damaged and a lot of water has spread throughout nearly the entire country. Now the main roads in Bangkok are under the water, and so instead of the car people are using boats to get around. In Thailand, people are still lacking of food, drinking water, and have been powerless. Because of this flood in Thailand, the industries are out of work, and they cannot provide food and water. My country’s economy seems OK right now, but after the flood it will influence our economic situation, obviously. Thailand is a very famous tourist destination in the world, but we have already lost income from travel this season. People cannot travel at this time-they may even stop airplane service very soon. Water is everywhere, it’s terrible.
VIU: What did you say to your family, when you heard of the flood on Thai news? Certainly you have had difficult time?
AS: I was truly worried in this case. I just said to my family, “Take care!” My younger sister, brother, and my parents are living over there. Many of my relatives have evacuated to my house. When the flood waters reach my city, we do not have any idea what will happen. Some cities cannot connect to one another because of the flood.
VIU: What would you like to say to the people reading this interview?
AS: Please help us! People in Thailand have faced a huge problem. It is a big deal. It’s hard to live, much less to do anything. Thousands of houses are underwater. The Universities, high schools, and some factories are already closed. In Bangkok everything is underwater. I did not see this as an ongoing situation, but now it is the worst time in my country. Many countries now are helping Thailand, including the USA. We must to say them, ‘thank you.’ Also, good-hearted people are donating food and water to the Thai people. Indeed, now our country needs just money. If there are any who wish to give, any amount, to help my country’s situation, please would you contact with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (703) 628-4034. We will appreciate your help and support.
Thanks for your time, Ananya. You have been a wonderful subject. All the best to you and to your fellow Thai citizens!