Born in Bangkok to university professors of interior design, Jittapim “Nan” Yamprai seemed destined for a career in academia. After earning degrees in business English, ethnomusicology, music history, and library science, she taught at Mahidol University in Thailand – where she developed a doctoral program for the school’s college of music – and at the University of Northern Colorado here in Greeley. Nan accepted a full-time position with UNC in 2015, and today she’s responsible for developing new courses and teaching in three departments: the School of Music, Asian Studies, and Anthropology.
While Nan’s scholarly attention has been focused primarily on the meeting of East and West in music history – like, say, “Franco-Siamese Music Diplomacy in the Seventeenth Century” – her current work is happening a little closer to home. She calls it “The Soundscape of Greeley,” part of an ongoing interest in integrating research into actions that promote, support, develop, and ensure the wellness of the entire community.
It began when she got involved with the Greeley Multicultural Festival. “I saw it,” she says, “as a chance to help people learn the cultures of those who surround them.” But when she searched for information on musicians and dancers who live in the area, there was nothing to be found. So she started gathering data and putting it into a research plan to create a free database for musicians, dancers, and singers, as well as information about their cultures.
Through the project, Nan sees the opportunity to help her students learn from the people around them: Native Americans, Karenni, Burmese, and others. And, once complete, the “Soundscape of Greeley” will be shared with the city, library, museum, and university – anyone who’s interested in opportunities to learn and appreciate the beauty of differences.
And that beauty, she says, is on full display in her adopted home town. For Nan, Greeley is “a welcoming place for all regardless of status; a place where kindness and friendliness are everywhere around us; a place where arts and cultural activities unite diverse people around a collaborative, learning community.”