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Inside Thailand: cultural exchange and community service summer program for high school students

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Inside Thailand combines international travel, cultural exchange, and community service in a distinctive summer program sponsored by the Cate School.

Conceived and directed by Mac Bakewell and Boosaba Nualhing, this uniquely authentic summer opportunity invites American and international high school students to experience traditional Thai culture from an insider's perspective while teaching English in the same village school that Boosaba attended as a girl.

Now in its second decade, Inside Thailand is renowned for this intimate connection to Thai village life. The program dates for 2011 are June 17 to July 17. Applications are due by April 15, and are welcomed from motivated teens in grades 9 through 12 from across America and around the world.


Village houses Teaching English
Planting Rice Girl Scouts


Mac and Boosaba met and were married in Chiangmai. After their daughter was born in 1992, the family moved to Boosaba's home in Pah Leurat, a small farming village in Uttaradit province. During their two years there, Mac taught middle school English while his daughter, Benyapa, acquired Thai as her first language. The Bakewells are now based in Santa Barbara, yet they continue to enjoy several months each year in Thailand.

Inside Thailand was originally inspired by a spirited pen-pal exchange. When American teens wrote of their families, pets, and favorite activities, Mac's students immediately found new interest in English and eagerly replied:

I live with my mother and father and grandmother. We have six chickens, one cat and two buffalo. My favorite food is sticky rice with mango. I like to play volleyball and paddle canoes in the river. I hope you can come to Thailand some day.

The Pah Leurat students warmly welcomed the first Inside Thailand group in 1995, and are now eagerly anticipating their next summer's guests.

Related projects:


1996: Inside Thailand opened the Brian Brazier Computer Lab. That facility rapidly outgrew its original space, and during the summer of 2002 was expanded to the second floor of the village community library.


1998 and 1999: In conjunction with the Global Routes organization and various Rotary Clubs, Inside Thailand built the Pah Leurat Community Library. This multi-purpose structure now provides exceptional educational resources, and also serves as a community social center for the young people in this remote village.


2003: Inside Thailand alumna Rachel Ko launched a scholarship program called Thai Circle, which awards dedicated Pah Leurat students the rare opportunity to finish high school. Rachel is especially pleased that a number of Inside Thailand alums have embraced this concept as a relevant and durable extension of the connections formed with their Thai peers.

2009: The first Thai Circle student graduated from high school and was accepted by three of Thailand's top universities. Nam Whan chose Chiang Mai University where she is now a thriving undergraduate intent on studying law.

There are currently six more middle- and high-school students enrolled in Thai Circle, and all but one of these are sponsored by Inside Thailand alums.

Nam Whan

Long-range goals:

Beyond fostering the many profound benefits of cultural exchange, Inside Thailand aims to encourage and assist the young people of Pah Leurat in developing those perspectives and skills necessary to both honor their traditions and sustain their community throughout these rapidly changing times.

We invite you to explore this website and to contact us for further information.


Inside Thailand
126 La Plata, Santa Barbara, CA 93109
Phone: (805) 963-8073 Fax: (775) 248-7362