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A Bangkok Woman of Distinction on International Women’s Day

Image of Rosamund Steuzel

International Women’s Day serves as a fantastic platform to initiate discussions about gender equality and reflect on the global accomplishments of women in politics, science, and economics, as well as those closer to home. It’s an opportunity to share personal stories of overcoming challenges, like the resilience of our grandmothers during World War II or the juggling act our mothers performed while managing work and motherhood. Remarkably, inspirational women, both globally and locally, come in various shapes and sizes and you don’t have to look too far for local heroines.

For anyone residing in or moving to Bangkok, the name Bangkok Patana School is undoubtedly familiar but did you know the inspiring story of it’s founder Rosamund Stuetzel? What better occasion than International Women’s Day to delve into the narrative of one of Bangkok’s own Women of Distinction.

Back in 1957, finding a good British international school in Bangkok presented a formidable challenge. For those capable and patient enough to homeschool, the task was made easier, but what about families whose expertise didn’t lie in teaching and were posted to Thailand for employment? Many families were faced with the arduous decision of sending their children back to boarding schools in the UK to attain quality education while women dutifully supported their husbands overseas careers.

“If you don’t like something, change it.” Maya Angelou

Rosamund Stuetzel, an alumna of St. Mary’s Calne in England who had made Thailand her home, faced the difficult choice of sending her first two children to study in England. Recognizing the need for better education in Bangkok and unwilling to send her third child down the same path, she took matters into her own hands. She decided to create her own school. In the garden of her own home, she founded the original school, with the vision of keeping families together in Bangkok while providing children an education equivalent to that in the UK in a caring, diverse and supportive environment.

Simply put, she didn’t like the choices before her, so she decided to change them, committing to make it happen.

Collage of a diverse group of women

The original school opened in the bungalow in the back garden of her house in Ploenchit Road, Bangkok, with a humble enrollment of 28 children. Over the years, her vision evolved and has seen the school expand and develop from its original 28 students through three campuses to the the existing site where they now provide an education for over 2,300 students.

Today, the school is located on a vast and world class campus on Soi Lasalle, Bangna, in the south-east corner of Bangkok, and educates over 2,300 students from 65 different nationalities in the British curriculum. In 67 years, the school has grown beyond recognition into a premier British international school, but at its heart remains true to the original family-focused intentions of its founder.

60 years is a long time in education – trends come and go, societal shifts happen, thinking changes – and it is almost inconceivable that Rosamund Stuetzel could have imagined what her school would look like today. What she did, however, was to turn a vision into reality, and that reality of a school has now directly and powerfully influenced the lives of thousands of young people, and, through them, countless more.

What drives me to write today is the immediacy of being reminded that one woman with a vision really can make a difference in the world, for good or for bad. Rosamund Stuetzel is the absolute proof of the former.

If you want to raise a strong girl – you must act like a strong woman, empowering them is key.

International women's day

On this International Women’s Day, March 8th, let’s extend a massive commendation to all the mothers, grandmothers, sisters, fathers, and caregivers worldwide. They deserve a heartfelt acknowledgment for fostering and nurturing the incredible young women who represent the next generation of strength, compassion, and drive. You all rock!

Editors Note: It is with thanks to Chris Sammons Head of School at Bangkok Patana for sharing this inspiring story and striving to administer, honour and continue her vision.

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