Yada Chuaychamnak - Thailand

Winter 2015 Study of the U.S. Institute on Religious Pluralism in the United States / Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative

"(My SUSI experience) totally changed my personal life and mindset. I am more open-minded for religion pluralism and I am interested more in studying about religions. Interfaith dialogue is another thing I can use for my work. Being patient, open-minded, reasonable and more are important keywords I have learned from the program, and that I am now using in the real world."

Back home in Thailand, Yada's daily life—living in an area that is mixed Thai Buddhist and Malay Muslim—gives her regular opportunity to engage the interreligious and intercultural dialogue skills she learned from the DI.

She herself was raised Buddhist (though she currently espouses no particular religious tradition), and recently worked as a fixer for a foreign journalist and a film maker who are interested in daily life and interaction between Muslim and Buddhist communities in Southern Border provinces, a conflict area in Thailand. She was responsible for arranging individual interviews and focus groups, as well as providing English interpretation.

Since SUSI, Yada has also worked as a research assistant for a project focused on developing a broadcasting model to counter violent extremism in Thailand. For that work she conducted focus groups with Muslim communities in all regions of Thailand, and collected information from surveys, bringing her deeply into conversations with Muslims she'd never imagined having before.

Yada is currently working with an organization which supports disadvantaged women in Bangkok.