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Life of Pe: An adventure with no looking back

©UNESCO

©UNESCO

24.01.2013

Mild music band’s Bordin Jarernrat, also known popularly as “Pe”, is a pop-rap singer from Chiang Mai, Thailand who has come a long way from his roots. He owes his success to a sense of individualism and his courage to do things outside the box.

Pe began his music career in high school. Balancing work and study weren’t the only hurdles he faced, but his journey was made even more challenging by the pressure from his family and the conventional notions of what it means to be “normal.”  He had to show determinism and commitment to reach his ultimate goal, and his efforts were rewarded when he successfully established a music band called “Mild” after graduating from Chiang Mai University in the Faculty of Humanities.

UNESCO Bangkok is presenting this interview to inspire young people by showing them that they can achieve both their academic and personal dreams. As part of the ‘Youth Empowerment through Mobile Learning’ project, UNESCO has interviewed Thai celebrities and influential persons including singers, actors, athletes and business persons about what motivates them, their life goals and how they planned their career in order to encourage and reach out to non-formal education students who may have taken alternative paths but to show them that their future may be just as bright. 

What is your goal in life?

“[Getting a degree for my parents] was my first goal in life and my second goal was for my parents to be happy with my decision.”

“What I wanted most is for my family to have a better life. I left Chiang Mai, my home town, and the [Thai way of] life of being a salary man working in the office. That was the path I pulled myself out of and I chose to live outside of the box. Even before I graduated, I decided that I would become a musician, singer, and songwriter.

“I finished my bachelor’s degree for the happiness of my parents. At the time, my main concern was that I would do anything to get the degree and to have a certificate decorated on a wall in the house for my mom to see it. It was my first goal in life and my second goal was for my parents to be happy with my decision. I wanted them to understand that doing what I love could make me successful although they didn’t quite want to see me pulling myself off of the common path.

“Without the full support of my family, I have had to push myself even harder on my chosen path. I don’t wish for fame but for my family to live more comfortably and to be confident in my decision without doubts.”  

How do you know what you are good at?

“I tried everything. It started because I wanted attention. I wanted attention at school so I picked up sports. They told me I was tall enough so I tried basketball. I practiced until I was selected for tryouts to be on the school’s basketball team. In my free time I played music. It was cool because there were only five of us but everyone in the room gave us attention. When I had to choose between the two, I chose music. I found that I could do it better than basketball and others thought so too. This gave me encouragement to continue so I studied while practicing music starting from then.”

Studying and being a musician began from knowing yourself.

“Life is not like a TV series. It’s not just like following the norm of what makes you successful.  Some people start off being a salary man and stay that way, but for some they don’t have to work long to be a manager or CEO. There is no fixed measurement. So why risk it when I have something that other people don’t have.

“You have to stop blaming and using society or people as an excuse to stop you from becoming better.”

“Some people try so hard at singing, speaking English, writing songs and never are good at it, but I can. So I used this to my advantage and I used these skills more often until my world became different. Some start their first jobs in restaurants, but for me, I became a musician in pubs starting in Matthayom 5 (Grade 11) and I’ve continued until now. Since my first year in the university, I stopped asking my parents for money. They only supported my tuition. It made me feel confident that, ‘Hey, I can do it’.”

How could you manage your time being a student and musician?

“Matthayom 4-6 (Grades 10-12) was entrance exam preparation time. I started playing music in Matthayom 5. So, how did I do it? I woke up at 7:30am and went to school and then finished at 3:30. I told my mom that I would go to tutoring classes, which I did. The tutoring classes went from 5:30 to 8:00pm, but I only attended from 5:30 till 6:00pm. After that, I would go practice music. I had some clothes from home to change into at school and then got ready to play music at the pub at 9:00pm. I played for two rounds. The first one was from 9:00-10:00pm and then from 10:30-11:30pm. I arrived home at midnight, showered and had dinner. And I would study from 1:30-3:00am and then slept until I woke up at 7:30am.     

“In my sophomore year, my first album was released and at the time I had to struggle to manage my time. I didn’t have enough money but I had to travel from Chiang Mai to Bangkok and then from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. I had to take a bus on Friday evening to Bangkok and came back Sunday night for classes on Monday and I did this for two and a half years.”

“You don’t remember how many times you have fallen but do remember to get up every time when you fall and you will live and it will be better."

What is the motivation that has driven you this far?

“I have already chosen my path. No one forced me to follow this path. There was an easier path that my parents chose for me. But I’ve chosen this rocky road that takes me faster to the finish line. I knew that I would get hurt along the way but because I’ve chosen it and I’ve taken responsibility for the consequences.

“I want to play music even though I don’t have [my parent’s] full support. They although disapproved, they didn’t ask me to quit music and stressed that I should not put off studying. And since I’ve chosen it, there is no reason to turn back. If I turn back, it would be like repeating on my own footsteps.”

Please share something for the non-formal education student to help inspire them.

“The first thing is not to look down on yourself and to stop thinking that you are bad or you are not good enough or that you are just like this because these words will stop you from improving. You have to stop blaming and using society or people as an excuse to stop you from becoming better. You have time, you have opportunities, and you have your body and brain. You have to find the thing that you can do the best that no other person can. People can’t be good at everything or be stupid at everything. There has to be something for us and go find yourself.

“Another important thing, like my father says, “You don’t remember how many times you have fallen but do remember to get up every time when you fall and you will live and it will be better.”

By UNESCO Bangkok

UNESCO’s Youth Empowerment through Mobile Learning Project in collaboration with the Ministry of Education aims at supporting youth especially non-formal education students to obtain life skills, find their own potentials and continuously develop their capacities for lifelong learning.

The project as a learning programme consists of three approaches: (1) daily mobile learning via SMS with empowerment and necessary life skills contents, (2) meet and greet with coaches, mentors and successful people for empowerment, and (3) monthly meetings in community learning centres to discuss topics based on the given information on SMS messages and in seminars.

After UNESCO organized the Youth Empowerment Workshop in Chiang Rai in May 2011, in September 2012, UNESCO in collaboration with ONIE and TK Park successfully organized the first Youth Empowerment event in Bangkok where more than 75 non formal education students participated in the meet and greet with Actress ‘Min’ Pichaya Wattanamontri and Doctor and Actor ‘Kong’ Soravich Suboon. UNESCO also interviewed famous Thai actors and actresses such as ‘Yaya’ Urassaya Sperbund, ‘Pe’ Arak Amornsupasiri and ‘Opal’ Panisara Phimpru for UNESCO website and Youth Empowerment Facebook to share their experiences, to encourage and empower youths to believe in themselves, and to give tips for life and the importance of education.

For further information on the project, contact Sowirin Chuanprapun (s.chuanprapun@unesco.org) Tel: 66 2 391 0577.