RESONANCE FROM INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS OF MAHACHULALONGKORNRAJAVIDYALAYA UNIVERSITY “COUNTERMEASURES FOR COVID-19”
Currently, there are 400-500 Thai and international students living in both old and new buildings of the dormitory in Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University, Wang Noi, Ayutthaya.
At the end of last month, a Russian student came back from India and had a running nose causing panic to the student himself and friends.
Especially his roommate who is a Malaysian is worried that a Russian friend will become infected, therefore informs the dormitory warden.
The university administrators had to put the Russian student in quarantine at the university hospital building for 14 days, with care in accordance with the standard of the Ministry of Public Health by a fever test staff and food delivery. He was not allowed to come out to meet anyone. Finally, after 14 days he had tested negative from COVID-19.
The writer traveled to find this information from Phramaha Rachan Cittapalo, Assistant Rector for Student Affairs who supervises the dormitory and the well-being of international students. He said that the university now takes care of international students with strength and rigidity. There is a screening process before going up to the building, providing hand sanitizer, sanitary masks, temperature measurement, and frequently spraying disinfectants by the university building staff.
Phramaha Rachan Cittapalo, Assistant Rector for Student Affairs added that previously, we allowed students to stay 3-4 students per room. But now, a maximum of 2 students are allowed. Fortunately, this is during the semester break, there are a lot of students returning to their home countries of origin, so there are available vacant rooms for arranging in this way. No outsiders should enter the dormitory. But for students, if going out, they must first ask for permission. And leaving the building, everyone must wear a sanitary mask. Now, approximately 400 students are left in the university dormitory, who cannot return to their home countries during this summer break.
“There are the number of international students’ relatives bring and offer dry food, vegetables, cooking appliances, rice for students to cook by themselves, especially the Myanmar students’ relatives in Thailand. In this situation, we allow as appropriate.. but some Buddhist monk students in the morning went for alms. When returning, we have screened and supervised in accordance with the standards of the Ministry of Public Health in all respects. For students who do not go out for alms, we have a central kitchen to take care of both breakfast and lunch”, added he.
After speaking with Phramaha Rachan Cittapalo, the writer went to observe the new international student dormitory and met an international student, Mr.Paramoi Mon, a Mon student from Myanmar currently studying 1st year of the Faculty of Humanities. We sat down to discuss the dormitory and international student administration measures that currently have a strict screening and prevention system.
Is it safe to live in an international student dormitory here?
I feel very safe to be in a university dormitory. There is a dormitory supervision committee to set the rules for students such as wearing a sanitary mask, washing hands with a sanitizer or sanitary gel, keeping a social distancing. Dormitory does not allow outsiders to come inside. There are staff checking fever or measuring temperature at the entrance of the university and dormitory. There is only a double-room in the dormitory at present.
How does Mahachula take care of student’s studying and eating system now?
We take the final exam online for the semester 2 and the final exam has been completed since 26 March 2020. For students studying summer and graduate programs, they continue to study using the online Zoom application.
Buddhist Monk students have to have lunch in their alms-bowls or utensils, and they need to wear a mask and check the temperature when they enter the cafeteria (dining hall) for lunch. If any students do not wear masks, they are not allowed to enter the dining hall for lunch.
How do students feel when encountering such rules?
All students feel comfortable, staying in the dormitory because everyone believes it is safe. If everyone does not go out and be here, it is very sure that they will not be infected with COVID-19. Therefore, we feel willing and proud to be here. Although sometimes it is quite boring to stay here all the time, but in this situation everyone can understand.
What would you like to say to relatives in Mon State, Myanmar?
In Mon State our staff are also actively working to fight and prevent the outbreak of Coronavirus or COVID-19. And now the border between Thailand and Myanmar will have been closed up to the 15th day of this month. Anyone who crosses into Myanmar will be force-quarantined for 14 days like Thailand. I would like to encourage the Mon people and staff to be able to stop this virus shortly. We, Mon people, must accept to obey the rules when we return home according to the government of Myanmar.
What would you like to say to Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University regarding international student care?
Thank you to the university administrators for trying to control the spread of Coronavirus or COVID-19 and for allowing international students to stay in the dormitory during the spread of this disease with a good and great care.
At the dining hall, there are many students joining to have lunch each day. From inquiring students and staff, it is known that Prof. Dr. Phrarajpariyatikavi, Rector will come down to have lunch with lecturers, staff and students every day in order to create morale and encouragement for them.
From talking to an international Cambodian student, Ven. Piseth Bo, currently studying 1st year of the Faculty of Buddhism, he said that at present an international dormitory is strictly taken care resulting in feeling safe. The food is also well managed by the university.
“I was the only Cambodian monk that has stayed in Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University’s dormitory because all my friends have returned to the Kingdom of Cambodia. I am alone in the room now. It is quite safe without any worries about virus to be infected from anyone.
In the dormitory, there are staff spraying disinfectants many times. The bedroom has been re-organized and maintained. There is only a double-room in which between the beds, there will be a barrier bed. When leaving the room, I must always wear a mask. When I arrive at the dining hall, I go through a sterilizing tunnel. The university provides hand washing gel and temperature measurement. I must dine in my own alms-bowl and sit at least 1 meter apart from others.
My parents call me almost every day because of concern. But I confirm that the university is looking after students very well. After this 30 April, I was informed by the Cambodian Embassy that it would open a border crossing. If it is true, I would go back and visit my parents in Cambodia..”
Finally, the writer has talked to Bhikkhuni Punyavatti who is a Malaysian student, studying a Doctorate degree at IBSC, Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University, Wang Noi, Ayutthaya. She also said like other students by thanking and expressing gratitude to the university administrators who take good care of international students.