An Interview with Helen


Helen has been at Bangkok Patana since 2005 and has always had a love of the great outdoors and a passion for the environment. The Secondary Assistant Principal has lead a number of challenging student expeditions including a Duke of Edinburgh’s International Gold Award trek to Everest Base Camp in 2014. In her spare time, Helen is an avid diver and has led frequent dive clean-up missions for the school, inspiring students to do their bit for the planet.

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Helen Thew, and I’m the Assistant Principal for Student Welfare at Patana. I’ve been at Patana for the last 12 years, and before that I taught in Holland, Italy and the UK. As a child growing up in Wales, I did the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, and I have always loved being out in nature.

Why do you think this expedition is so important?

I am both a biology teacher and a diver, and I have been lucky enough to travel widely. I have become very conscious that on my trips, I’m seeing nature – and being inspired by it – but future generations are unlikely to be able to see what I have if we continue on our current destructive path. So I want to help raise awareness of a unique ecosystem in Antarctica that I hope and intend we will be able to preserve for future generations.

You are representing Bangkok Patana’s staff for this experience. How do you think you will do that?

I feel very honoured to have been given this opportunity. I was part of the audience which was very inspired by Robert Swan’s recent talk about walking to both Poles. I came to the realisation that everyone can make a difference to the preservation of the environment, and I want to be able to share my experiences of Antarctica with school to help us make a positive difference as a community.

What three things are you looking forward to most in this experience?

Seeing the sheer vastness of the ice, and appreciating the power of nature.
Meeting other like-minded people on the trip – from all over the world – and sharing ideas and inspiration with them.

What do you expect the three main challenges to be?

Crossing Drake’s Passage, because the seas are notoriously rough.
Keeping the momentum going after we get back, to help make this a long-lasting project and not just a short-term adventure.

What are you planning on doing to prepare for the expedition?

Reading as much about Antarctica as possible, to become knowledgeable about both the environment and the political issues facing the continent.
Before the expedition, Rebecca and I will be busy with fundraising events and getting ourselves and our kit ready for our expedition.
Watch out for a new flag on International Day!
What do you expect to happen when you come back from the expedition?

I hope to be able to put into words to the Patana community the inspiration and feelings I got standing on Antarctica.
I hope to be able to share our experience as widely as possible so that it can inspire other people to make a positive difference to the environment.

How do you think this experience might change you?

I think this will make me appreciate nature all the more, and remind me not to take things for granted.
I think it will make me appreciate the people in my life all the more, and appreciate all I do have.
I think it will also make me realise how small we humans are in the vastness of nature, and wonder how come we are having such a huge impact on the planet.

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