Congratulations to Dr Virachai Techavichit, founder and chairman of the International School of the Regents, on receiving the Order of the Estonian Red Cross from Arnold Rüütel, president of Estonia. The state decoration was awarded to Dr Techavijit for his help in relief work after last year's tsunami in southern Thailand during which three Estonians and nine Finns with Estonian residency lost their lives. As the honorary consul for Estonia in Thailand, Dr Virachai helped to spread information and relocate Estonians from the disaster area. The award-presentation ceremony took place during a recent conference of honorary Estonian consuls in Tallinn, the Estonian capital, an event which is held every two years. According to Dr Virachai, the main feature of the meeting is a formal address by Estonia's president. It was after the conclusion of this speech that Dr Virachai was conferred with his decoration.
During the conference, the honorary consuls also got the opportunity to meet Estonia's prime minister, Andrus Ansip. President Rüütel and Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet organised a reception in honour of the diplomats.
In order to attend the event, Dr Virachai had to miss the annual Round Square conference in Melbourne. (Round Square is an international association of ........
........ schools which follow the philosophy of Dr Kurt Hahn, particularly his belief that ``young people should be prepared for life by having them face it directly and experience it in ways that demand courage, generosity, imagination, principle and resolution''.) In a letter to the chairman of the Round Square, Dr Virachai apologised for his forthcoming absence and went on to explain the reasons for the honour bestowed on him by the Republic of Estonia.
``There were approximately 250 Estonians known to be in Thailand on December 26. On December 28, 34 were identified to be in the three provinces that were hit hard. By the end of the week, three Estonian citizens were confirmed missing. Their bodies were found in the months that followed ; the dental work and DNA confirmed their identity and the bodies were sent home. My staff in Phuket (Khun Pramote), my PA in Bangkok (Khun Joy) and Monika Staneva at the Estonian Ministry were the true winners of this prestigious Estonian Red Cross. I was somehow pleased that I was at the place where I could do what we have taught our children, ie, to serve those who are suffering.''