Pupils from a North Yorkshire church primary school are to make a round trip of nearly 12000 miles this February half-term when they visit pupils at their link-school in Thailand.
Eleven lucky students, aged 9 to 11 years old, at Goldsborough and Sicklinghall CE Primary together with staff, will visit their link school in Bangkok in Thailand as part of a cultural exchange set up between the schools.
The children will have the rare chance to take part in a traditional Khon performance at the Thai National Theatre in Bangkok, visit the centre for Thai Culture to find out more about life in rural Thailand and take part in lessons and after school activities at the link school, Satit Prasarnmit.
Last May, ten pupils from Satit Prasarnmit made their first trip to North Yorkshire as part of a new cultural exchange set up by a local family with links to both schools.
“We jumped at this opportunity, as you can imagine”, says head teacher Matt Shillito. “We anticipated that the cultural experience for our pupils would be unrivalled.
“Following the visit of ten visiting pupils, we were invited to return. The primary reasons behind our development of this link are to develop children's cultural awareness, compare ways of life, faith traditions (the majority of children at the school are Buddhist) and to broaden children's experience of global living.”
Dating back many centuries, Khon is a highly-skilled and meticulous traditional Thai mask dance, first performed behind the walls of the royal palace. It can only be performed by highly trained performers and Satit Prasarnmit is the only school in Thailand licensed by the King to run a Khon festival.
“We were invited to contribute as the dates of our visit coincided with the annual event at the Thai National Theatre in Bangkok. We plan on contributing a performance poetry piece which focuses on British traditions” said Mr Shillito.
The children taking part in the cultural exchange say they are excited about the visit.
Kai, a pupil at Goldsborough, said, “I'm most looking forward to learning the culture, seeing the sights and trying new foods and tastes.” Arthur said, “ I'm most looking forward to seeing Thai Temples, the local wildlife and meeting up with my friends again”, while Ethan said “I'm really looking forward to seeing amazing sculptures, trying out new things and making new friends.”