“I have received many awards, but this the one that means the most to me because it is named after a great man with a great history,” said Dr. Thaskin Shinawatra, prime minister of Thailand, upon receiving the Sam Houston Humanitarian Award on Wednesday.University President James Gaertner said The Sam Houston Humanitarian Award is given to those that exemplify the traits that General Sam Houston once did. Those traits include, “responsible and distinguished leadership and service, notable contributions to humanity, record of civic and cultural involvement, pursuit of educational and scholarly quests and empowerment of others toward equality for humankind.” Shinawatra said he has done his best to contribute to society ever since he was a child.”Thank you for being such a caring and visionary leader for the Thai people,” said Dr. Rolando V. del Carmen, professor of criminal justice at SHSU. “As we Texans would say, “You done us proud.”The Sam Houston Humanitarian Award has been awarded to two other Texans, George Bush and James A. Baker. Shinawatra said although he no longer lives in Texas, he considers himself a Texan in mind and spirit. He said he is the first Asian to win this award, but also the third Texan.Shinawatra explained some of the current problems in Thailand and what the government is doing to bring remedy to its economical problems. Shinawatra said two societies exist in Thailand, those that are educated and wealthy and those that exist below the poverty level. “I am distraught because of the large population that lives below the poverty line, and the problem is that the poor in Thailand lack opportunity,” he said. Shinawatra said the solution to poverty in Thailand is to begin working on a solid foundation for the country and building from the bottom upward. “A building cannot be built from the top; construction must begin from the base.” He said the solution is to begin at the grass roots level, focusing on the farming industry and land assets. He said the Thai government is also lending aid to neighboring countries in the ways of finance and knowledge of how to decrease drug trafficking in the areas. In a press conference following the ceremony, Shinawatra remarked on how his time in Texas was pleasant, even though he was poor at the time. He said he offered to throw newspapers for extra money, but his wife would not allow him to work. She got a job at a local Burger King to help with finances, and the couple lived in a small housing facility for married couples. He said there were no walls in the house, only partitions, so his wife had to sleep with the lights on while Shinawatra would study late into the night.Shinawatra said he became fascinated with computers, and became proficient in FORTRAN, a programming language that was popular at the time.Shinawatra said Texas is a friendly place, and it is very internationally oriented. He said he felt very comfortable the entire time he was in the United States. He said the only unpleasant memory he has is paying his credit card bill. Frank Krystyniak, head of public relations for SHSU, encouraged American students to become involved in the lives of the international students that come to Sam Houston State. “Treat everyone with the same respect that you would want to be treated with if you were in a foreign country,” said Krystyniak.