It is common for Thai students to have nicknames such as Porn, Pee and Poo but in the country of New Zealand there are agencies that advices these international students to adapt new nicknames that are more culturally accepted.
In Thai culture, it is common for children to have nicknames which are devised by their parents or relatives since their birth.
According to the agency Smart NZ Education Centre, which aids Thai international students into studying abroad, six in every ten Thais are asked to change their nicknames while applying in the agency.
According to ENZ, they are not recommending or mandating agents based in Thailand to impose to these Thai students that they should change their birth nicknames.
According to one of the agents in the centre, Chonnanit Na Songkhla, there are nicknames that have unpleasant pronunciation such as chit, poo and pee. Some of these nicknames are known to warrant harassment from the local students if nothing is done sooner.
Chonnanit said that Thailand ranks as sixth when it comes to the largest market where international students are sent to New Zealand. Thais view the country as a safer alternative to studying abroad compared to other countries including UK and USA.
Vichaya Nilrungratana, a 22 year old male student, has a local nickname Peach in Thailand but he was advised by the agency to make it Pete instead when he came to New Zealand back in 2014.
He is a former Thai student enrolled at CCEL Christchurch. He shared that his mother referred to him as Peach his mother’s nickname is Apple while his sister is called Pear.
He shared his surprise when he was asked to change his nickname because he really thought that his would not be misunderstood just like any other English nicknames.
According to Smart Education, the form that students fill in for studying abroad now includes the advice to change their nickname.
On a statement made by Songvut Manoonpoong, Thai Society president in New Zealand, nicknames are often given based on the birth date of an individual or it was bestowed for good luck.
If you are planning to teach in Thailand then it will come as no surprise to encounter nicknames that are far from the norm in Western countries.