A New Jesuit College Takes Root in Thailand
The Society of Jesus supports a global network of some 200 higher education institutions that traces its origins back to the sixteenth century. The Xavier Learning Community (XLC) in Thailand is its newest member.
The XLC, which opened its doors last fall, provides postsecondary education to young Thais in Chiang Rai Province, especially ethnic minorities in northern Thailand and neighboring countries.
Earlier this month Georgetown’s vice president for global engagement, Dr. Thomas Banchoff, visited the XLC for discussions with Agustinus Pitoyo, S.J., the Jesuit Superior in Thailand, on areas for future collaboration. During the visit, Banchoff also participated in the dedication of a new, three-story dormitory building.
“As a partner in the 450-year-old Jesuit higher education tradition, Georgetown is eager to support the development of the XLC in its education and outreach mission,” said Banchoff.
An initial incoming class of 38 students is expected to grow to more than 150 over the next several years, when the XLC will achieve full college status. The curriculum is centered on English language development, with topical concentrations in hospitality and business management, two drivers of the Chiang Rai region’s future economic development. Humanities courses and engagement with the community are part of a program of Jesuit formation.
Fr. Thomas Michel, S.J., who served for three years as a faculty member and chaplain at Georgetown’s campus in Doha, Qatar, now lives and teaches at XLC.
“We have made remarkable progress in a short time,” said Michel. “It is exciting to participate in the creation of a new educational institution that will serve young people and advance social progress in this part of the world.”
Before his visit to Chiang Rai, Banchoff held meetings in Bangkok and spoke on “Georgetown and Global Engagement” for an audience of XLC supporters and Georgetown alumni.