by Amber Dueck
THAILAND-In 2015, I moved to Chiang Rai, Thailand, to serve at Chiang Rai International Christian School (CRICS) as a grade 5 teacher, not realizing that I would still be here seven years later.
Approximately 20 years ago, several missionary families in Chiang Rai wanted to find a way to educate their children. Eventually some Thai families wanted to join, but the government would only allow this if it was an official school. Thus began an incredible journey. In 2015, CRICS was officially recognized by ASCI as an accredited school. Today we have 180 students from kindergarten to grade 12 from 20 countries with the express purpose of “serving the servant.”
Northern Thailand is in a strategic position in Asia as many nearby countries are closed. As a result, many mission organizations are based there. I have repeatedly heard families express thankfulness for CRICS; they would not be able to stay on the mission field if not for our school. CRICS allows children to have a quality, international, Christian education, and participate in extracurricular activities (theatre, sports, art and more)—all while allowing families to stay together. CRICS provides family and community to our students and families.
We are also blessed to have students who come from Buddhist backgrounds. We are very upfront that we are a Christian school, but these Thai parents want their children to have a good education and learn English. In North America, we often take English for granted; here, that is not the case. If a child knows English, there are so many more opportunities available to them as they get older. Our Thai students are the future of Chiang Rai, and we are training them in Christian virtues and how to think with a biblical worldview mindset. I can’t wait to see how this is going to change Thailand.
Wherever you are in the world, children want to be loved and needed. They struggle with feeling lonely and inadequate. They struggle with friendships and they need Jesus.
Growing up in a Christian home does not make children automatically Christian. They need adults to come alongside them and help them through life. Nothing is more rewarding than getting to watch children grow in their relationships with God and friends.
Recently, some of my students got together to pick matching outfits. They ended up using their own money to purchase a matching outfit for an incoming new student whom they had never met.
I have been blessed every year to be able to have deep conversations with my students about who God is, why he came to earth and died, why he made us the way we are, and how we should treat the people around us. It is our responsibility to help children grow in their understanding of who Christ is; it should not just fall on the parents. It takes a village to raise a child and I am privileged to be part of that village!
Amber Dueck (Morweena EMC) has been teaching at Chiang Rai International Christian School in Thailand since 2015. She recently began serving as elementary vice principal in addition to teaching grade 5.