HomeSchools & YouthTeam Thailand Is Still Going Strong at SMHS

Team Thailand Is Still Going Strong at SMHS

Club Helps Young People On Border of Thailand and Burma

The phrase “Think Globally, Act Locally” is being put into direct action by more than 50 students at San Marino High School who are a part of Team Thailand, a school-authorized club which supports young people in the village of Mae Sot, Thailand.

A pretty ambitious project, but one close to the hearts of many San Marinans.

The group is in its third year of existence and bears a fascinating legacy. It all began with the energies of Sofia Tam, a 2013 graduate of San Marino High School who passed away on Aug. 17, 2013, just two months after receiving her diploma from SMHS after a courageous two-year battle against brain cancer. While a 5th grader at Carver Elementary School, Sofia’s teacher, Erin Terzieff, paid a visit to an orphanage in Burma that had been created by Sofia’s grandfather. Terzieff visited the orphanage as a last-minute invitee and remains impacted by what she saw during her journey in 2007.

“I was devastated,” Terzieff said recently at Team Thailand’s introductory meeting. “Seeing the way these kids live, I came back feeling a responsibility.”

Mae Sot is home to a substantial population of Burmese migrants and refugees. Young people in both Burma and surrounding areas are frequently sold into slavery and taken into the world of sex trafficking.

After her visit, Terzieff started All You Need Is Love, a charity that supports the Good Morning School, a facility for Burmese migrant children living in Mae Sot.

Since its inception in 2007, the Good Morning School has grown from 40 students in pre-kindergarten through 3rd grade to 300 students in pre-kindergarten through 8th grade. The school now includes a high school matriculation program, a 7th and 8th grade summer prep program, early education and arts, music and sports programs.

From its humble beginnings, Good Morning School is now accredited by the Burmese Ministry of Education and was recognized in 2014 as a standout migrant school by the Thai Ministry of Education.

All with the assistance of local students.

Team Thailand was founded at San Marino High School in 2014 by Sofia’s sister, Emma Tam, who was then a junior.

“I wanted to share a great cause that was so important and special to me with my schoolmates and spread awareness for Burmese migrants while keeping Sofia’s legacy alive,” said Emma from Notre Dame University, where she is a freshman. “We sold Thai pants and friendship bracelets that students at the Good Morning School had made. We also fundraised by selling food at Club Day. Eventually, it all went back to the kids at the Good Morning School.”

John Carter, a junior at SMHS, was among those who participated in the founding of the club and is now president. John, his brother Robert and sister, Grace, and their parents, Michele and Tom, have visited the Good Morning School on multiple occasions.

“The school is a safe haven for the young people,” John said. “Just by the mere fact that they wear uniforms. It lets those with bad intentions know that the kids are cared for and are watched over. It keeps them safe from those who would involve them in sex trafficking and slavery.”

Visiting the school has left a lasting impression on the new president.

“The students there are so mature,” John said. “You look at a 3rd grader from there and one from here and there is a huge difference. The young people there are so happy. Their attitude is so different. The kids also work very hard.”

The statistical fortunes of those growing up in Mae Sot are quite opposite to those of their counterparts in San Marino. In Mae Sot, only 1 in 100 children advance past 5th grade; 1 in 5,000 make it to college and 60 percent of young people never make it to school at all.

“The light is the Good Morning School,” said Terzieff. “It helps them get a leg up.”

John Carter hopes to “raise money and awareness of the issue” and said he hopes to be part of a delegation that returns to the Good Morning School.

More information is available at, and John Carter and Team Thailand can be reached at San Marino High School.


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