Thai students and old salts share the longboat experience.

Thai students and old salts share the longboat experience.

Thai students connect with classical boating society

Students and old salts share longboat experience

Thai students currently being hosted in Sooke had  an opportunity last month to experience a different part of Sooke’s history and culture. They were guests of the Sooke Classical Boating Society for a longboat  adventure on the Sooke Basin.

Coming from Bangkok, a rapidly growing city of over nine million people, the young people are finding Sooke a significant cultural and social change. The seven students and their teacher, Mrs. Nongporn Jarutawai, are here for another seven weeks, being hosted by local families and attending high school classes.

The morning spent rowing on the Sooke Basin extended that  experience  greatly.  The students and their supervisors, including District Vice Principal Laura Schwertfeger, were very enthusiastic in spite of the rain and cold wind. They were fascinated by the many boats and varied equipment at Sooke Marine Industries, seeing it all as a very different world from theirs.

On the water they were taken with the natural beauty of the mist-shrouded hills surrounding the basin, and especially thrilled by the antics of several seals that persisted in following the T’Sou-Ke for the duration of our outing.

The Thai students are young and small in stature, but they proved  large in spirit. They took very well to the challenge of the heavy, unwieldy oars, and the instructions required to use them effectively.  By the time we returned to harbor all 10 oars were working in sync and the longboat was moving right along.

Our enthusiastic crew, led by Garth Gilligan as Coxswain, consisted of Penny Kristiansen, Marlene Bauer, Sheila Nicholson and Ruth Ann Todoroff, all members of the SCBS.  They enjoyed working with the students and over the course of the trip bonded nicely with these friendly youngsters. Once we arrived at the dock they received a rousing cheer for their efforts.

Even though they are big city kids, they assured us that they are enjoying the Sooke experience and were thrilled by the chance to see the area from a longboat perspective.

This was also an early opportunity for the newly formed Sooke Classical Boating Society to work with the larger community to make the longboats available to support local endeavours such as the Sooke International  Student  Program. Hopefully there will be many more such opportunities.

Contributed by Garth Gilligan

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