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IR Office: Interview with Rotsuprit Saengthong on receiving a USA Fulbright scholarship

Patcharin Jongjai     2022/04/01 ,     ( 459 views)  

Q: First of all, congratulations!  Can you tell us about your scholarship and to which University you plan on attending and why?

I am a grantee of the 2022 Fulbright Thai Graduate Scholarship Program. Not only does Fulbright give me financial support, but it also gives me an opportunity to build networks with scholars in other fields across the world. I have not made a decision on a university yet because I am waiting for all the admission decisions to be released. I have applied to many universities. The number one university which I hope to attend is the University of Connecticut because its Linguistics Program is superb. The work of the faculty members aligns with my interests. There are also multiple learning resources that Uconn’s Linguistics has to offer, such as labs, reading groups, and research programs.  

Q: Could you please explain what you plan to research while there?

I plan to investigate the syntax and semantics of Thai, Lao, Kuy, and Khmer, employing experimental and computational methodologies to see how the human mind processes language. I am interested in many constructs of these languages, one of which is “control”. I plan to investigate the construct of “control”, shedding some light on the computational system embedded in our mind that is part of our ability to produce and understand language. 


Q: What are the strengths of UBU, improvements you might suggest, and insights you gleaned from your years of study at UBU?

Strength: UBU is home to scholars with a wide range of expertise. 

Improvements: I think UBU should improve its curriculum and learning facilities. The university should promote interdisciplinary skills in students. There are several ways to do this, one of which is allowing students to choose a minor based on their interests. For example, students in a language major could then minor in computer science or the law. When I studied there, only courses in Humanities in which I am not interested were offered to me as a minor. 

In terms of learning facilities, UBU should extend the opening hours of the main library and provide more study places for student study. While I was here, the library closed at 6 PM. Although it was open until midnight during the exam period, I don’t think students studied hard except during the exam weeks. Students, especially those who live with a roommate, need a quiet space to study at night during the semester. Besides, we have many things to do during the semester, such as doing assignments and conducting group projects. Unfortunately, we do not have a proper space to do our work. A number of students have to rely on space at the cafeteria where they are distracted by mosquitoes and other insects, and the seating is not comfortable. I heard that students have tried to address these issues several times, but UBU didn’t seem to take serious action on them.  

Insights: I have learned so many things from the English and Communication program (EC). One of the most important ones that I would like to highlight here is civic engagement. Since one of my goals in life is to make my society a better one, I think being able to use knowledge and skills to do something for society makes my education more meaningful. This mindset of mine is influenced by my lecturers, who produce academic works and take part in pushing society forward. For instance, some of them have been working with the locals to help them defend their rights, and some founded a club as a platform for students to use their writing skills as a tool to raise the voices of the people surrounding them. I believe that everyone wants to live in a healthy society and that everyone can be part of bringing a positive change to our society. This line of thought has a considerable influence on my current work. Now, I am a project organizer of the Isan Youth Coalition for Civil Rights, a civic education program aimed at enhancing Isan youths’ skills and knowledge, which they may not obtain from the classroom. 


Q: Do you have any advice you would like to share with fellow students, in particular, in learning English?

First things first, ask yourself why you are learning English. If it is not because you have to complete the compulsory course required by the university curriculum, chances are you can be a successful language learner. In other words, you should not learn the language if forced but should do so willingly. By doing so, you will enjoy learning the language, I believe. Learning a foreign language, say, English is a lifelong process. So, my key advice in learning English is “don’t be lazy”. Learn, use, and practice it as often as possible. Of course, there are many ways to improve your English, and I think whatever you do, it should be in English. For example, you may listen to English podcasts, watch English movies, read English newspapers, and so on. This is one of the ways in which you can expose yourself to the environment of English. Besides, there are tons of learning resources out there on the internet these days. I don’t think you need to study abroad or live in an English-speaking country in order to master English. Again, Don’t be lazy!