My wife and I arrived in Thailand in January 1964, the first farang teachers to be appointed to the brand new Chiang Mai University. Classes did not begin until May, so we spent the first three months designing the syllabus and writing teaching materials. When we reached Chiang Mai in April, only three buildings were finished: an administrative office, a dormitory and a classroom block.

From Doi Suthep



Here is the official photograph from 1964/5 of the complete staff and student body.

The Royal Opening took place much later in the year and was a thrilling occasion. The King and Queen came with other members of the Royal Family and were greeted enthusiastically; one got a real sense on that day that we were all trying to turn Chiang Mai University into “the best university in Thailand”.

The students assemble.

Monks chant while we wait.

The Queen and Princess arrive.

The ceremony begins.

Our appointment was only for two years, so we were unable to see our first students graduate. However, I returned to Bangkok ten years later as an English Language Officer of the British Council, running training courses for teachers, and we then met one or two of our students who had qualified as teachers. I left the British Council in 1986 and joined the staff of Bristol University, and then in 1992 set up a specialised MA course at Stirling University in the use of computers to teach language. At both these places it was a special pleasure to have some students from Thailand with whom to practise our remaining words of Thai, to share memories of places and to enjoy Thai food.

John Higgins, Mae Rim, March 2023.