“It’s a mouthful,” Tatiana (Tanya) Kunwongse says. “Get ready for it.”
Tatiana is about to describe her job in Bangkok, Thailand. It’s a job that has taught her the difference between a sea bass and a red snapper. “People have been using the same name in Thai for both fish, and also getting the spelling wrong (because Thai is not standardized like in English). It’s so nerdy, but it is interesting to me.”
She has learned about the snake plant. “It’s a succulent. It’s hardy and very popular. In Thai, it is known as Dragon’s Tongue and in Chinese, it is known as Mother-in-law’s Tongue.”
And Tatiana has learned that urine can make a good nitrogen-rich fertilizer for the garden.
There aren’t many jobs like hers.
“We’ve been commissioned by the Ministry of Education to produce a multi-media bilingual textbook for vocational school students,” Tatiana explains. “It’s a new concept. It’s really fascinating, and the best part about it is that I get to combine what I love about journalism and what I love about teaching every day.”
After graduating from King’s School of Journalism, Tatiana decided that a job in journalism wasn’t going to happen, and not exactly what she wanted anyway. “You don’t have to go into journalism just because you have the degree,” she says. She moved back to Thailand and got a job teaching English. A friend recruited her to Wisdom Wide, the company developing the textbook app.
“I write, edit, and manage the content… Studying journalism gave me the confidence and skills of researching and writing. Journalism teaches you perseverance.”
Tatiana says the app will help Thai vocational students, who study everything from fisheries to textiles and design, learn what they need to broaden their opportunities beyond Thailand.. She interviewed instructors at vocational schools and asked a basic question of each: “What do students have to know in English?” Once she figured that out, she says she was able to, “Write dialogues and record them so they can hear the language in real time. I do some of the voicing and I hire voice actors.” The students can then use the app to record themselves, making sure they get the pronunciation right.
Tatiana likes the work, but she knows that changing careers throughout her life will be her normal. She wants her work to make a difference.
“I have been given such privilege, going to King’s and getting my degree, and then coming back home to Thailand. It has shown me that there are a lot of improvements that Thai society needs. Long term change will have to be made through education and community service.”
Tatiana’s plan is to help a vulnerable segment of Thai society – women. She says, “I am putting together a woman’s self-defense workshop.” She wants to eventually work for an NGO that’s dedicated to sex education throughout the society.
While still working on the app for vocational students, Tatiana is developing new skills to help her reach her next goal. She is studying French and working to perfect her Thai. “If I have three languages,” she says, “I will be unstoppable.”
Posted: Jan. 2018