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In Memory of Sam: Sithipong ‘Sam’ Kaleyanee

His Involvement in the Life of the WSCF Asia-Pacific
(1984-1988, 2009)

Sithipong ‘Sam’ KaleyaneeSithipong was a very young student when he first came for the WSCF AP Human Resource Development (HRD) Program 1984 in New Dehli, India. Following this program, Sam joined thousand other young people who came to India for the First Asia Youth Assembly (AYA) in New Delhi. Inspired by this experience, Sam returned to Thailand with renewed commitment to rebuild the Student Christian Movement (SCM). He became the representative of SCM Thailand in the WSCF Regional Committee Meeting (RCM) and the WSCF General Assembly in Mexico in 1986. As the coordinator of SCM Thailand, he was part of the host committee for the WSCF and Christian Conference of Asia (CCA) Joint Program in Bangkok in 1985 and again the WSCF AP HRD in 1987. In 1988, he participated in the Evaluation Program for the WSCF HRD in Taiwan. It would be 20 years later that Sam would re-connect with friends from the SCM and WSCF.

In the years Sam became actively involved in WSCF and SCM Thailand, he showed deep commitment to his work as the coordinator of the movement and later on, as the chairperson of SCM Thailand. Yong Ting Jin, former WSCF AP Regional Secretary in the 80’s remembered Sithipong as someone who was ‘fully engaged in building the local SCM” while he encouraged younger students to be exposed to the life of the WSCF community. “He was the one who worked day and night to revive and rebuild TSCM,” Tingjin added. Sam was not much of a talker, as recalled by his contemporaries in the WSCF, he would rather listen quietly to conversations and debates and think deeply in solitude. Perhaps, it was also during this time when he was exposed to the realities of injustices and oppression in Burma that he developed his resolve to take part in the struggle for freedom and democracy in Burma. A passion he held in his heart until his death.

December 5, 2009 was to be our last meeting with Sam. WSCF was organizing a global program on Identity Diversity and Dialogue for international students in Chiangmai, where the issue of Burmese minorities and migrants was to be one of the topic of study. Through the help of Chan Beng Seng, his contemporary in WSCF and SCM senior friend based in Chiangmai, Sam came to the program and showed his films “Living On the Line” and “Burma’s Hidden Killers”. He spoke passionately of his experience as a film-maker and how the SCM has influenced him to take-up the cause of Burma when he was a young SCM student activist in the 80’s. The participants were deeply moved and somewhat speechless by his presentation.

As an ecumenical family, we thank God for Sam’s life and his contribution to the work of WSCF and SCM Thailand. We celebrate the gift of his talents and his life shared generously to the student movement and the global Federation of WSCF. Sam will always be an inspiration for this generation and the generations to come. (by Necta Montes Rocas)