Queen Sirikit To Be Honored With Degree Thailand's beloved monarch noted for devotion to people By Ken Keatley / Office of News and Information Thursday morning's commencement ceremony will be broadcast live--to, of all places, Thailand. A Bangkok television production crew will be covering the appearance of Her Majesty Queen Sirikit of Thailand, a beloved monarch in her homeland and one of the world's leading humanitarians. It is her lifelong devotion to her subjects in the rural farming communities of Thailand that has prompted Johns Hopkins to award Queen Sirikit an honorary degree of doctor of humane letters. "Queen Sirikit's work on behalf of the Thai people has enriched their country and their culture," said Paul Wolfowitz, dean of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. "SAIS is delighted that Johns Hopkins is honoring Queen Sirikit, who has done so much for the Thai people." Since her marriage to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej in 1950, Queen Sirikit has worked tirelessly with her husband in a variety of humanitarian and environmental causes that have saved and improved the lives of impoverished Thai citizens. As president of the Thai Red Cross Society and honorary president of the Council of Social Welfare of Thailand, Queen Sirikit has established and shepherded programs and relief efforts that have sheltered the homeless, fed the hungry and nurtured the ill. Among the benefactors of her work were thousands of Cambodian refugees who fled into Thailand during conflicts in the 1970s. "The conferring of an honorary degree by such a world-renowned institution of higher learning as Johns Hopkins represents a vivid recognition of Her Majesty's monumental and lasting accomplishments," said H.E. Manaspas Xuto, Thailand's ambassador to the United States. "The award is a fitting reflection of her selfless dedication to the betterment of fellow human beings." One of Queen Sirikit's most acclaimed projects is the SUPPORT Foundation's promoting indigenous cottage industries that have allowed impoverished farmers to earn supplemental income. But just as important, the foundation has helped revive traditional forms of artistic expression, preserving a near-extinct aspect of Thai culture. Indeed, while in Baltimore, Queen Sirikit will inaugurate an exhibition of Thai culture at the Walters Art Gallery. The exhibition, titled "Unearthly Elegance: Buddhist Art from the Griswold Collection," is the most comprehensive assortment of Thai art outside Thailand. She has also been lauded for her work in conserving the environment. Queen Sirikit has worked to emphasize the importance of preserving Thai forests, but in tandem with projects that will offer other sources of income for villagers who depend on cutting trees for their livelihood. She has been honored by the World Wildlife Fund and the United National Environment Program for her achievements in wildlife and environmental conservation. Earlier in the week, Queen Sirikit will attend a reception at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., where Thai handicrafts and traditional products of the SUPPORT Foundation will be on display. She has also received the 1995 Lindbergh Award from the Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation. The first female recipient of the award, Queen Sirikit was honored May 16 in New York for, according to the award citation, "her educational and humanitarian efforts, her conservation and programs which are maintaining the Thai heritage and culture." Receiving honorary degrees along with Queen Sirikit are Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski; "Nightline" anchor Ted Koppel; Chung Ju Yung, founder of Hyundai Business Group; and Lucile P. Leone, former assistant surgeon general and the first chief nurse of the U.S. Public Health Service.
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