It has been 9 consecutive years since ‘The Tour of Hope’ – a group of like-minded cycling enthusiasts with the compassionate heart from different continents, including America, Europe, and Asia – started passing on their thoughtfulness to Thailand’s most vulnerable children at remote schools.
In 2019, The Tour of Hope, led by Dr Hans Bock, a founding member, and Mr Jurgen Lampe, the president, along with other 26 cyclists, brought an access to quality education to children in the form of the library restoration for Bantalingsoong School, Uthai Thani province under the administration of World Vision Foundation of Thailand (WVFT). The cycling trip included the handover of 100 bicycles to children living in WVFT’s Phumen and Ban Rai Projects, Uthai Thani province. The support would benefit pupils in school commute and daily life alike. Mr Roong Suriyakan, Bantalingsoong School Director, along with teachers and pupils, and Mr Athinon Pungsanthia, Operation Manager (Central & South), Ms Wilaiwan Jorknew, Area Programme Manager (AP11), World Vision Foundation of Thailand, joined the handover ceremony and gave a warm welcome to the philanthropic cyclists.
‘Many thanks to The Tour of Hope and WVFT for supporting our school and giving pupils quality education. At the time when we planned to transform an old, worn-out multi-purpose room into a proper library, we were brainstorming how to best utilise this library and make it possible for as many as 150 pupils, from kindergarten to lower-secondary school, to take advantage of this facility. WVFT staff and I discussed this and finally came up with the idea to put up a ‘multiple intelligences’ library’, Mr Roong Suriyakan, Bantalingsoong School Director, shared the idea on the set up of the library to best benefit pupils.
Director Roong elaborated on the theory of ‘multiple intelligences’ that it was formulated by Dr Howard Gardner in 1983 to explain children’s intellectual development and learning process. ‘Intelligences’ refer to abilities to identify and solve problems and to contribute to society. Each child is not necessarily equipped with only one trait of intelligences that allow him or her to be good at just a particular thing. On contrary, every child comes with a range of intelligences that lead them to develop many outstanding abilities. That is why different children have their unique ways of learning. What teachers and parents should do is to value these differences, explore their children’s preferences or orientations, and conduct activities that best foster them to reach their full potential.
To discover children’s abilities and support them to excel their intelligence traits, the reading materials in the new library are selected and categorised into 8 groups, according to the theory of multiple intelligences, that are 1) verbal-linguistic: suitable for children with good listening, speaking, reading, and writing abilities; 2) visual-spatial: for building capacity of perceiving dimensions, distance, and area; 3) logical-mathematical: for children who are good at reasoning and numbers; 4) bodily-kinesthetic: for children who are good at physical activities such as sports; 5) musical-rhythmic and harmonic: for children with abilities to sing, play, listen, and have sensitivity to rhythm; 6) naturalistic: for children with potential to become scientists or agriculturists as they are interested in plants, animals, environment, and nature; 7) intrapersonal: for children with mindfulness of their feelings, thought, and emotions, leading to appropriate self-expression and awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses; and 8) interpersonal: for children who have high empathy, good observation, and ability to give moral support to others. The reading that is arranged based on the theory of multiple intelligences will guide children to the discovery of their potential careers in the future.
To provide children with various channels to research further on the topics of their interest and to facilitate instructional processes, the renovated library consists of multi-media equipment and computer sets with the internet connection for teachers and pupils to take advantage of.
At the first sight of their new library, the pupils went ‘Wow’ in harmony. ‘It is so cool! I’m so happy that our school has a new library. I come to read here every day on my lunch break. My favourite book is “Bananas in Pyjamas”. They always have the same ideas. I love it a lot’, Mook and Jip, two girls from the 5th grade talked about their new library.
The happiness that The Tour of Hope has fulfilled for the children is not only kept indoor. In front of the building, Jiradet was flaunting his cycling dexterity. ‘My house is on a hill. I needed to pay 250 baht monthly for my ride to school. But since I received the bike, I have been riding it to school every day. But when that season comes when lots of sugar cane trucks are passing by, my parents and teachers will temporarily ban me from riding the bike because it is dangerous’, Jiradet said with a grinning squinting face. He bragged on: ‘I deposit the fare I was supposed to pay monthly with my parents. When I wanted to buy notebooks, textbooks, or more school supplies, I’d withdraw the money from my parents. They told me that I’m rich now because I have a lot of savings’.
Dr Hans Bock, the founder of The Tour of Hope revealed his feeling after having witnessed how happy and hopeful the children seemed upon the receipt of the new library and bicycles that will enhance their schooling: ‘This is a big day for us. It is our pleasure to come to places like these to enjoy cycling on the roads we haven’t driven before. We’ve seen very nice scenery and we enjoy food. As we develop a passion for cycling, we, in particular, enjoy leaving some bicycles behind. We know that children will make good use of them. This year, we also support library renovation. We have also decided to give it in memory of one of our founding members, Siegfried Hahn, who unfortunately passed away a year ago at the age of 65. We’ll keep in mind how our support benefits the children on every road The Tour of Hope goes’.