By Thanachart Chuengyaempin
Hong Kong educational investor Howard Liang, 64, together with his wife Luanna Liang, 62, and two daughters – Chloe, 30, and Charmian, 27 – recounted that he and nineteen members of his family were in Phuket when the tsunami struck on December 26, 2004.
“Our two boats were crushed to pieces and we were separated,” he said. “Luckily waves carried me to an island, where local people helped evacuate me and other survivors to a high area where the tsunami waves could not reach.”
Charmian, who was twelve years old at that time, said after her boat was hit by the waves, she first thought it was funny, but she was dragged by water consiously and find herself on the same island.
“That memory is quite blurred to me because I was so young then, but I remember that local people suggested I head for high ground, from which my entire family were evacuated,” she explained.
The family and other survivors were sent for rehabilitation to a Takua Pa hospital and school the next day. At the school, the shoeless family met a man and his daughter, who took off their slippers and handed them to the family.
“He then disappeared and came back with more shoes for us,” Luanna said.
Takua Pa School was a place where Chloe was allowed to use one of two computers to contact her friend in Hong Kong. She came back six months later and donated computers to the school to show her appreciation.
The generosity inspired Howard to think that “numchai” should be taught in Verso international school, which he plans to open in August 2020.
The school is presently under construction on 168 rai in Thana City village near Suvarnabhumi Airport.
“My school will be like a big apple if you see it from a plane,” he said. “It will have kindergarten to high school. However, in the first year of operation, the highest educational level will be grade eight.”
He said the target group of his school are those who live in nearby areas of Bangkok, Samut Prakarn, and Eastern Economic Corridor provinces. Tuition fees will range from Bt600,000 to Bt960,000 per year, depending on the students’ educational level.
“There are numerous wonderful international schools in Bangkok and my school is not going to compete with them,” said Howard. “We are giving parents a choice by providing courses that inspire students to think outside the box, with flexible classroom teaching.”