Chakris Srisuwan attended SIDE from K to Year 10 in the 2000s as an overseas student. They returned to Western Australia for senior secondary schooling at a metropolitan senior high school.
What did you do after finishing school?
It's an understatement to claim that my formative years began with SIDE as I had been with the school since kindergarten. My family lived on an isolated island in southern Thailand and my mother was my home tutor. I flew the coop and returned to Boorloo (Perth) upon finishing my studies with SIDE. I later was accepted into the University of Western Australia for a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Indonesian Studies, the latter providing me with the opportunity to receive two New Colombo grants that allowed me to live in Java, Indonesia. First, I interned at a creative studio in Jakarta, where I designed illustrations for a World Wildlife Fund campaign; and then I completed a field research project in Jogjakarta, which investigated cerita rakyat (folklore) and how it establishes and maintains our relationship with the natural environment around us.
What are you doing now?
At the moment I'm completing my Honours in Philosophy at the University of Western Australia. Having grown up in a thoroughly Buddhist area, I decided to write my dissertation on the epistemic injustices of arahantship in Theravada Buddhism. While I was completing my dissertation, I was invited to participate as a camp counsellor for Eurekamp Oz! The camps were holistically designed to encourage children's natural curiosity, introduce them to the process of philosophy, and provide them with critical thinking skills that can last for the rest of their lives.
Aside from these academic pursuits, I co-organised a pilot project called Love Bite, a stunning pride disco which was sponsored by Drug Aware and the Shire of Kalamunda. My co-organiser and I essentially wanted to create a safe and intimate space for young people who identify with the LGBTQIA+ community and don't have access to events held at licensed venues. Despite the gradual pressure of putting together our first large scale event, the project was a definite success, and we envision that this has inspired our local community to encourage the creation of more inclusive events.
I have also just started another creative project with my previous housemate called Electrique Boogaloo where we are incorporating jazz improvisation and electronic hardware to produce dance tracks that can be performed live on stage. Don't forget the name - come join us for a boogie at a local venue near you!
How did SIDE prepare you for life after school?
I feel the most important aspect of SIDE that prepared me for life was in teaching me not to separate the process of education from my everyday life. I do not believe that academic life and our immersion with the world are mutually exclusive. In fact, these domains of engagement should inform one another. I am so grateful for the fact that being schooled by SIDE has encouraged me to never lose sight of a child-like state of wonder: this characteristic will forever be a part of me and has thoroughly influenced all my achievements thus far. My experience with SIDE taught me not only how to be self-disciplined in an ever-changing environment, but that I can choose what is valuable to me and that I should never be afraid of going my own way.