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Mrs Chintana Sandilands from the School of Culture, History & Language has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the CAP Dean, Professor Michael Wesley for her many outstanding contribution and excellence in teaching Thai language and culture.
Affectionately known as Ajarn (teacher) Chintana, she is the Convenor of the Thai program and has pioneered the Southeast Asian Frontiers (SEAF) course, the longest-running overseas study tour at the College of Asia and the Pacific (CAP). The SEAF celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, dedicating its success to Ajarn Chintana for her passion and deep in-country connections.
The four week intensive interdisciplinary SEAF course which involves a combination of lectures, language training, fieldwork and research, provides students with the opportunity to develop valuable assets of holistic understanding, intercultural fluency and analytical competence. Ajarn Chintana applies a unique teaching approach that simultaneously builds and integrates knowledge of language, culture, history and social issues. She promotes constructive attitudes towards diversity by examining the roots of cultural difference.
Reflecting on their learning journey, her students had much praise for their teacher. “We learned Thai in Ajarn Chintana’s classroom not by rote memorisation from a textbook, but by using it to communicate, discuss and debate important ideas,” said one.
“There are a few teachers who inspire the affection and respect as does Ajarn Chintana. For the almost 25 years I’ve known, and been taught by, her, Ajarn has worked tirelessly for each and every one of her students, regardless of enrolment status. Once a student of Ajarn Chintana, always a student of Ajarn Chintana,”said another.
For Ajarn Chintana, who has been with ANU for 16 years, the most important part of the course is the human element. “Students today receive all kinds of news and information very rapidly. I wanted to create a course that would take students out of the classroom and allow them to see the world for themselves and to give them the freedom to ask their own questions,” she said.