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MaCully McDonald, 16, a junior at Lodi High School, shows teacher Tuke-Karnteera Ingkhaninan (on monitor) a pot of sticky rice and corn during a cultural exchange class. Ingkhanian uses Skype to teach the class about Southeast Asia. Lodi teacher Mark Kohl does the same for Thai students. 

LODI — Learning about southeast Asia from a teacher in Thailand is making the curriculum come alive for Lodi High School students.

Every morning, the students receive instruction via Skype from Tuke-Karnteera Ingkhaninan, a teacher from the Sa-nguan Ying School in Suphanburi, Thailand. Then early in the evening, Mark Kohl, a Lodi High School teacher, instructs students at the Thailand school about United States history.

"We can see it a lot more clearly instead of reading about it in a textbook," said Lodi senior Becky Thuot, 18.

Senior Savannah Sundt, 17, agreed, noting that is was meaningful when Ingkhaninan talked about a festival she would attend that evening and the Lodi students could hear fireworks going off as part of it.

Junior MaCully McDonald, 16, said the Thai teacher can add her own views to the factual information, which makes the class more in-depth.

Supannachaht Plang-ngoen, director of the English program at the Thai school proposed the idea when he came to Lodi High School as a chaperone with students who were visiting as part of the exchange the two sister schools had been fostering since 2007.

"I get to share my culture," Ingkhaninan said in an interview via Skype. "I'm very honored to be able to do this."

In addition to learning about southeast Asian culture, language and conflicts, the students get some cooking lessons.

Both classes are taught in English as part of a two-year pilot program that Lodi High School principal Vince Breunig would like to continue.

Janel Anderson, who is the Lodi teacher for the southeast Asian studies class, said the sustained exchange relationship, which includes students visiting back and forth, is integral to its success.

Anderson said the exchange also has been a way to learn new teaching styles and as a result, she is now doing online conferences with students.

Kohl visited Thailand and became acquainted with the learning styles there and Ingkhaninan plans to visit Lodi High School in April.

"The relationship with each of the 22 (Thai) students has been as strong as I could expect if they were in my own classroom," Kohl said.

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