Silas (right) and his brother in traditional Akha (the ethnic tribe of their father) apparel.

This summer, we are following Calvin students, the Class of 2016 and a number of Calvin alums as they continue their journeys around the corner and across the globe. Following his first year at Calvin, Silas Kukaewkasem returned to Thailand this summer to work at an organization called Envisage. Envisage researches and maps information to present to policymakers and investors, in the hopes of bringing social change to unstable countries. One major social issue that Envisage researches is human trafficking. Kukaewkasem was able to help research and translate some information related to human trafficking that will hopefully bring about more awareness of the issue. 

  • Name: Silas Kukaewkasem
  • Class: 2019
  • Hometown: Chiang Rai, Thailand
  • Major(s): Nursing
  • Next step: Sophomore year at Calvin

What’s one thing that’s surprised you so far at Calvin?

One thing that surprised me at Calvin was how many of the professors incorporated faith into their lessons. It was a blessing to understand everything I learned from a faith perspective, but also refreshing to see many of the same professors help us see the lesson from other points of view as well.   

What’s one thing you would want to tell someone starting his or her journey at Calvin?      

Being in a new place with new people can sometimes be very threatening, but I would encourage freshmen to get to know their floor. Your floor provides a community with whom you can eat dinner, make intramural teams, and attend events with. The friendships you create on your floor will probably determine who you live with the rest of your college career. Hopefully these friendships will last a lifetime.

What has surprised you so far about your experience in Thailand?

I spent the first 17 years of my life in Thailand, forming a specific attitude towards the place I consider home. Returning home this summer, after a year at college, I realized how much my worldview had changed. The things I learned at Calvin provided me with a fresh perspective and understanding on a world I thought I knew so well. For example, the contrast between individualistic western culture and communal eastern culture that I learned about in sociology, became very apparent upon my return to Thailand.

What are you most passionate about and how did you discover that passion?

I am passionate about people. I grew up watching my parents dedicate their lives to helping others and saw the difference the simplest of gestures can make. My parent’s ministry took in children from broken homes and I had the privilege of growing up in a great home. So I felt it my duty to give these kids an opportunity to feel the love I grew up receiving. This passion to share the love deep within me is one of the reasons I hope to be a nurse.

What is your favorite space on campus, and why?          

One of my favorite spots on campus is a bench on the bottom of the steps in front of the Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex. After working out, I sometimes sit there with a special friend and it is a great place just to enjoy the peace and calm of the campus. Sitting on that bench always reminded me of the blessings all around me.

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