Northern Lights Dance for International Student

February 17, 2023
Student Sees Northern Lights

Tanin Suyamud’s Canadian education adventure has been full of new experiences and fresh learning, but an unexpected night sky in mid-February brought him a memory he will never forget.

A first-year student in Selkirk College’s Resort & Hotel Management Program based out of Nelson’s Tenth Street Campus, the 22-year-old who arrived to the Kootenays from Thailand in August had a foundational Canadian winter experience in the early morning hours of Valentine’s Day.  

“It was a clear-sky night and when that happens it’s a normal routine for me, I love to go outside and take photos of the Milky Way,” says Suyamud, who goes by the name Nin. “As I was pointing to find the right spot to take a photo, I turned right and saw this green in my camera. I thought something was wrong with my camera and when I looked with my eyes, it was dancing in the sky. It was the northern lights!”

The northern lights—or aura borealis—are not unique to Canada, but the amateur photographer had the phenomena on his bucket list. The avid stargazer monitors the possibility of northern lights happening in the Nelson area. But when he walked out of student housing on the Tenth Street Campus just before midnight, capturing a dazzling green night sky was not on his mind.

“I knew what it was, but I didn’t expect it,” he says. “I felt… alive! It was a great experience.”

Raised in the northern Lampang province of Thailand, Suyamud traveled to North America in the summer of 2021 to work in the hospitality sector near Glacier National Park in Montana. Though he comes from a beautiful part of the world himself, Suyamud was struck by the wide open spaces and majestic peaks.

“When I lived in Montana, I learned to love the nature and the mountains around me,” says Suyamud. “When I went back to Thailand, I wanted to return to North America. Then I found Selkirk College online, it was the right opportunity for me to learn how to ski, take photos, live in the mountains and experience the outdoor world.”

Now midway through the first year of the two-year program, Suyamud is embracing all that comes with life in his new home. When not in class or doing homework, he works at Whitewater Ski Resort making burgers and fries for guests. Just as important, he has learned to ski and is soaking in the local in the culture.

After he graduated from high school in Thailand, Suyamud attended university for a year. Not finding what he wanted in that post-secondary pathway, he decided to head overseas for a new direction. With a goal of gaining permanent residency in Canada, he is off to the right start at Selkirk College.

“It’s the best education I have ever had,” he says. “When I was in university with 150 people in the lecture halls, I was afraid to raise my hand and didn’t want to interrupt the teacher when I didn’t understand. At Selkirk College, I can raise my hand because you feel much closer to the teachers and then you gain more understanding.”

He chose the hospitality program because he loves talking to people and ensuring visitors have a good time on their vacations. He plans on working in the hospitality industry but has ultimate goals of becoming either a National Geographic photographer or a park ranger.

“It has been a great adventure,” Suyamud says. “I am very happy with my life here at Selkirk College and being a student, it’s more than I imagined.”

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.