Having a diploma hanging up on one’s wall is no longer the only symbol of success in this modern day and age. There is no fixed formula for being successful; What matters is that we need to possess an undying thirst for knowledge, learn endlessly, and have the motivation to adjust to the opportunities that life presents us, so that we may be ready whenever the time comes for us to grow.
This train of thought can be perfectly represented through the “Learn to Earn” mindset, coined and pushed forward by the SCG Foundation. The mindset supports lifelong learning in both hard skills, which are technical skills used in career paths, and soft skills, which teach us how to live life. When these two areas are combined, we will become more equipped to survive and thrive in a modern, ever-changing world.
Thammarat “Earth” Moonsarn, a 22-year-old young community developer with the SCG Foundation, is a prime example of the “Learn to Earn” mindset. After completing his education at a high school level, he chose a different path from his peers, who mostly went to pursue education at a higher level. Earth realized throughout his studies that he was not the best learner, and decided to find his own way to learn and earn for the future of his life and career. When the opportunity came, he ventured into the art of ancient blacksmithing, a profession long associated with Mueang Phia, in the Ban Phai district of Khon Kaen, Thailand. And under the tutelage of renowned blacksmith Mr. Jamlong Soonthong—well known for practicing ancient techniques handed down to him from previous generations in the Phia sub-district of Khon Kaen—Earth was set on his way to a sustainable career path. He has since been motivated and driven to establish a place for himself in this field, and can now be considered part of the last generation of bladesmiths in the country. To date, he is the only inheritor of Mueang Phia’s secrets of high-quality blacksmithing.
Earth was born into a family of community developers, which gave him the opportunity to learn about being a leader and developing his hometown from his early years. His parents were both heads of the Network of Enterprises for Agricultural Tourism in the Kaeng Lawa Wetlands, of the Banhi-Bansuan Learning Space. At present, the space has grown to become an educational area for learning about Northeastern community practices, as well as agroecological and cultural tourism. Earth chose this destination to start the operation of his forge.
He shared praise for his teacher, stating that Mr. Jamlong was the only blacksmith of his kind remaining. Earth admitted that he started out simply wanting to learn skills for the sake of his livelihood, under the mindset that boys and men needed at least some degree of knowledge in this field. Originally having no intention of passing on the craft to future generations, he only had the concern of finding out how to support himself financially, given that he chose not to further his education. Once he started practicing the art of ancient blacksmithing, however, he became adamant on continuing the tradition, and developing his products to go beyond the borders of just knives. Earth firmly believes that blacksmithing skills can be used in a variety of areas, and this has resulted in his vast collection of metalwork, bridging the gap between sentimental and functional value as he furthers his career. At present, he is able to generate an income of around 20,000 baht per month, and his influence has helped create more opportunities for the locals as well, especially those who produce handles for knives and other agricultural equipment. The indirect income generated for his local economy has also spanned to those who produce the coals for use in his forge, as well as those who can provide food for people who travel to learn the art of blacksmithing from him.
Currently, Earth earns enough from his blacksmithing profession to support himself and his family. His arsenal of products includes knives, garden hoes, rakes, shovels, spoons, and other agricultural and fishing equipment. Aside from handcrafting these functional items, he also adamantly finds opportunities to preserve his craft, and tries to pass on the skills of his profession to other local community members. Realizing that blacksmithing can create more income opportunities for others as well, he could turn into a blacksmithing master in Mueang Phia in the not-too-distant future.
Ms. Suvimol Chivaluk, Director and Manager of the SCG Foundation, shared words of praise for Earth and his chosen career path. “The current economic landscape and inequality gap in society have resulted in limited opportunities for higher education for young children and members of the youth. There is also a large portion of these individuals who, even after finishing their education, are unable to find jobs. This is why a heavy reliance on the traditional education system might not always be necessary. Success in education, rather, is choosing to further one’s knowledge and skills in something that can turn into a career path, which can later support oneself and their family. Accumulating skills to survive and thrive in the current state of things starts with a love and appreciation for a craft, and dedicating time and effort to learning it, as well as turning it into a livelihood. The SCG Foundation has continuously supported several members of the youth community with opportunities to proudly achieve their dreams. One great example is the story of Earth, one of our very own young community developer. We are extremely elated about his success, and are proud to have been part of it, in terms of supporting him towards thriving in his career path. Learning to thrive in life is as important as being educated within the system; This is why Earth’s story serves as an inspiratory case study for the younger generation, as he has successfully led by example.”
The “Learn to Earn” mindset is a concept that the SCG Foundation diligently communicates to the public on a large scale, to increase awareness of opportunities for members of the youth, parents, teachers, and leaders in all sectors, so that they may help further developments in the field of education. The goal of these efforts is to foster the mindset of “learning to survive and thrive” for the younger generation of Thais, by supporting them through scholarships under the “Learn to Earn” project since 2022. The project aims to provide youth members with the chance to be educated, graduate, and receive employment, quickly and swiftly. At present, the foundation has awarded 2,059 scholarships, valued collectively at more than 48 million baht. 80% of students under the program are currently employed, and are able to generate value for themselves, their family, and society. To stay posted on news and updates from the SCG Foundation, visit www.scgfoundation.org and the “LEARNtoEARN” Facebook page.
#LEARNtoEARN #GenWillSurvive #SCGFoundation
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