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Located near the Golden Triangle, Xavier Learning Community empowers young people from ethnic minorities through tertiary education
Chiang Rai, located near the Golden Triangle in Northern Thailand, is one of the most underdeveloped regions in the country. With only two major universities in the northern part of Thailand, there is a serious shortage of tertiary education available. For the people from marginalised ethnic minorities, made up of many different tribes known as the ‘Hill Tribes’, the situation is much worse. They often don’t have the necessary documentation to be accepted into schools and universities. Even if they did, their remote location and financial situation prohibit them from receiving any quality education. Jesuits in Thailand saw the urgent need to establish an educational institution for the young people from these marginalised groups, and created their first educational project of Jesuit Foundation for Education in Thailand.   With support from our Jesuit Mission friends, Xavier Learning Community (XLC) is in its third year of operation. The institution offers a Bachelor degree in English with profession-based training, including eco-tourism and hospitality. It has also formed partnerships with other academic institutions such as Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University (STOU), a local university that offers online programs, and Sanata Dharma University (SDU), a Jesuit university in Indonesia. Furthermore, as a Jesuit institution, XLC is committed to forming graduates who are ethical and others-centric. The students' professional skills are bolstered by their capacity for critical thinking and the desire to find meaning in life.

Students of Xavier Learning Community on an outreach program

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“Xavier Learning Community has brought together students, volunteers, and professionals for the overall purpose of holistic formation for the young men and women. Our students would not be able to afford higher education otherwise, or at least would bring their families into significant debts”.
– Fr Pichet Saengthien SJ, Director of Xavier Learning Community
XLC in its third year has 79 students residing and studying. All 79 students are from hill tribes - predominantly of Karen and Akha tribes. Through the education and formation they gain from XLC, upon graduation, students will be armed with life skills and academic knowledge that will empower them to be in control of their futures. This empowerment will lead to better employment opportunities, and community development that will uplift not only their own lives, but those of their whole community.

Toon's Story

Toon is from the Akka tribe, and is one of the 79 students at Xavier Learning Community who now has a chance to gain tertiary education thanks to generous support from people like you. Up until she met Fr Pichet Saengthien SJ, Director of XLC, she never dreamt of studying beyond high school. With the limited education she received in high school, she planned to enter the workforce to support her parents and two younger brothers. Toon’s parents are both farmers and their income was not enough for them to send their children to higher education. In fact, they were relying on their eldest child, Toon, to start working as soon as possible to support the family. This bleak financial situation of her family did not allow Toon to dream of having a career. This changed when she was introduced to the opportunity of studying at XLC. With the help of Fr Pichet, Director of XLC, she was able to convince her parents to allow her to continue her studies. Now in her second year of studies at XLC, she is excelling in English and other subjects.
“I believe I have become a much better person. I used to be apathetic, immature, and timid. After more than two years at XLC, however, I have become more responsible, confident, and sensitive to the needs of others. I have come to value being a person for others and excellence because of this community”
– Toon Recently, Toon had the opportunity to represent XLC at the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities in Asia Pacific Service Learning Program. This exposed her to different cultures and broadened her knowledge of global issues. Toon now has a dream. She wants to finish her degree and to pursue a career in the hospitality and tourism industry, to take part in positive promotion of her country and her tribe to the rest of the world.

Toon speaking at the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities in Asia Pacific Service Learning Program