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December 31, 2003

Through sheer grit and determination

From: The Nation, Thailand, Thailand - Dec 31, 2003

From school guard to school teacher-to-be, 36-year-old Wiroj Keawkrai, an undergraduate in sign language is an inspiration for any deaf person that education can really make a difference.

"Before, everything seemed dull, but since I began studying for a degree my life has changed; the world seems so wide with possibilities and I can make my own future now. My relatives are very proud of me. I'm the first deaf bachelor degree holder in the family," Wiroj said with a broad smile.

Given an opportunity by a project called World Deaf Leadership Programme (WDL), which picks potential leaders from Thailand to study for a certificate in Teaching Thai Sign Language for a year and a half, Wiroj took a chance and then decide to go on for a degree in Deaf Studies.

He will graduate in April next year and plans to teach at Sothsuksa School for the Deaf in Nakhon Sri Thammarat where he used to work as a guard.

"I want to be a teacher because I want to help deaf students further their studies and make their own futures," he said.

Wiroj's story is already an inspiration for many of the school's younger students, said teacher Nipha Keawprakong, adding that he was accepted as a disabled person who was able to further his education and chose to help other disadvantaged people become the equal of able-bodied members of society.


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