Secondary school hosts MY World national launch in Thailand

Feb 21, 2013

UNDP Thailand : Students at Saint John Mary International School in Saraburi vote on MY World with their smartphones.

SARABURI, THAILAND - Ash, Angela, Jean and Ruchika, students at Saint John Mary International School in Saraburi got a lot more than they asked for when they called the United Nations in Thailand.

Jean Donahue, an English teacher at the school convinced the girls to make the call. That call turned into an opportunity to have an in-depth conversation with the United Nations about the MDGs.

Students at Saint John Mary International School in Saraburi have been working on projects on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) since January.

“We thought it would be better for us to come to them rather than just giving them a few quick answers over the phone,” said Mark S. Cogan, UNDP Thailand Communications and Media Officer.

The two-hour question and answer session gave the United Nations a chance to reach out directly to students about MY World, the United Nations Global Survey. (

The United Nations and over 180 organizations from around the world are encouraging the citizens everywhere to vote for the issues that would make the most difference to their lives and participate in shaping the future global development agenda. The results of the survey will be analyzed by the UN and its partners and presented to global leaders.

“MY World is about reaching out to people—asking them about what is important to them and their families. Young people like the students at Saint John Mary International School have voices that need to be heard,” said Luc Stevens, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Thailand.

More than 150 secondary students attended the assembly, and over 100 MY World votes were cast that afternoon.

“How do you get students excited about the Millennium Development Goals? Tell them to turn on their smart phones. Our students loved using their phones to vote on MY World,” said Donahue.

Even her least motivated students were enthusiastic. Students more than a week later are still talking about their MY World experience--and they are turning their experience into real-world action.

In conjunction with their studies on the MDGs, students in Chris Duke’s 12th grade classes will start funding micro-loans to people developing countries to finance small businesses.

“We talked about why banking systems are important for development and watched a video about micro-finance institutions. Both of my classes are going home and decide who they want to loan money to,” Duke said.

Mr. Duke will front the $25 USD for each class, but some students who said they wanted to go home tonight and possibly make some loans of their own.

“After we make the loans, we will be able to get updates on their progress and possibly trade emails.”

To see more than 100 photos from the MY World launch at Saint John Mary International School, visit the new United Nations in Thailand Facebook page.

Reactions from students at Saint John Mary International School:

“My world used to be centered on what was happening to me, my friends, my family. Sure, I watched the news and knew about the problems that were going on around me, but the news doesn't put much emphasis on problems like the ones in the MDGs. They've always been at the back of my mind. You know it's there, but you don't pay much attention to it. When I started researching for my MDG project, I realized that actually these problems are huge, and there are many people around the globe suffering from these issues. The UN coming to our school has opened even more doors and has given me more ideas and information that will enable me to make a contribution to solving world issues.”

- Angela, Grade 12

“It was amazing academic experiences to have two United Nations officials visit our school. Our minds were opened and we were made aware of the global crises that many people are facing worldwide. Mr. Stevens and Mr. Cogan told us that every small action makes a difference. Reaching the MDGs in 2015 may seem unachievable but if every person would or could try, then we as a nation might achieve it. If we can't, then we'll have to keep trying.”

- Jean, Grade 12

“Mr. Cogan told everyone (at the assembly) to take out their smart phones and open them to the MY World web site and vote. All the students voted enthusiastically. This activity was a good brainstorm to all the students because it involved everyone's participation and I'm sure everyone learned something from it.”

- Ash, Grade 12

“Just two guys on the stage. It felt like the whole United Nations was there. That was a great honor when they came to our school and gave us knowledge and answered our questions. It is a great project that the UN wants to cure our world. I thank them with all my heart.

- Max, Grade 12

“Having the United Nations officials at our school was a great learning experience. We were made aware of many global issues and how we can make a difference by contributing to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. It may seem that 2015 is too close and reaching these goals is impossible but some of these “impossible” goals have now been met. This is a very big deal. If all of us cooperate, then even after the deadline date has passed, we can continue making this world a better place.”

- Ruchika, Grade 12

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