SEARCA alumni join forces to craft regional collaborative projects
Dr. Chongrak Wachinrat, Dean of the Faculty of Forestry and incoming Acting President of the University (center) welcomes the RSFA for its 2-day meeting at Kasetsart University, Bangkok Thailand
BANGKOK, Thailand – Representatives of the nine SEARCA alumni association country chapters converged at Kasetsart University to push for more collaborative projects for the Regional SEARCA Fellows Association (RSFA). KU’s Faculty of Forestry played host to the said event held on 1-2 February 2016, which was conducted by RSFA in collaboration with the Thai SEARCA Fellows Association (TSFA). Dr. Cecil N. Gascon and Dr. Monton Jamroenpruksa, Presidents of RSFA and TSFA, respectively, led the 2-day meeting.
Faculty of Forestry Dean and incoming Acting President of KU, Prof. Dr. Chongrak Wachinrat opened the said meeting. “I have known SEARCA even when I was a graduate student and I know that SEARCA can serve as a model for ASEAN Economic Community collaborative work,” affirmed Dr. Chongrak.
After the 2-day event, the group was able to identify three collaborative projects that they intend to pursue on climate change and food security, as it relates to smallholders in their respective countries. Aside from this, the group was likewise able to map out the regional conferences and knowledge sharing events that each country association will spearhead in the coming years.
Toward the end of the meeting, the group was able to draft revisions in the RSFA constitution and by-laws to make it more relevant and updated. For instance, the group propose to rename the association to the Regional SEARCA Alumni Association, which shall comprise only of nationals from SEAMEO member countries who were able to complete their graduate studies through the SEARCA Scholarship Program. The proposed revisions which are now being routed to all RSFA members are expected to take effect upon ratification of the Constitution in November 2016.
As the meeting drew to a close, SEARCA’s former Deputy Director, Dr. Anake Topark-Ngarm who is currently based in Khon Kaen, Thailand, paid the group a visit. In his message, he expressed his delight to have met people from SEARCA after he left the Philippines almost 23 years ago, and even glad to know that the SEARCA scholars that he interviewed back then are now accomplished professionals holding leadership positions in their institutions.
The Regional SEARCA Fellows Association was organized in 1983 through a series of in-country planning workshops. As of December 2015, there are now around 1,262 SEARCA graduate alumni all over the region.