Peace Corps
Thai 27
1969
 
 
 
/
UPDATE APRIL 2008

Barbara Waldschmidt

 

I seem to be adjusting well to single living. I
I visited my eldest daughter in Fairbanks, Alaska for 10 days this summer after her sister's wedding.  I found the "culture" there very interesting.  I'm still a sucker for native peoples! I
recently spent 4 days in New York visiting a friend from graduate school. 
For Christmas, I'm going to Chicago to see my sister who was recently diagnosed with MS. 
In April, I'm going to Cancun with three other teachers from the school where I teach.  Summer will find me in Macchu Picchu, a place I've long wanted to see. 

I'm still working as testing coordinator and student achievement specialist at a high school in Woodbury, MN.  I hope to do this for two more years and then retire. 
There are two other former Peace Corps volunteers teaching at my suburban Minnesota high school.  Can you believe it?  Both are of our era too! 
I'd love to attend the reunion in Hawaii if I can swing it!

Hugh Leong

Hugh Leong and Pikun are rescuing and raising endangered turtles in their Yard in Chiang Mai.
Hugh also started A website for people interested in retiring in Thailand
In March Steve Tripp dropped by for a visit
Hugh writes:" "After being away for 35 years Steve Tripp returned to Chiang Mai with his wife Kazuko and stayed with the Leongs between visits to Luang Prabang and
Vientiane where he was a IVS (International Voluntary Services)volunteer in the 70s).  It was a great visit and we had fun reliving old times and visiting old places.  We stopped by the university where Steve served and he just happened to bump into an old student, now a teacher getting ready to retire.  She called up some old classmates and they were able to have a small reunion.  Steve and Kazuko then left for the Philippines where he sails with
friends and hangs out during breaks from his position at Aizu University in Japan."

For those of you who have forgotten, April is the hot season in Thailand. Hugh says "it was over 100 for about ten days in a row but yesterday (April 23) the weather broke, got a little rain, and today is very pleasant. 
There is a rice crisis around the world but here in Thailand there doesn't seem to be a problem.  The prime minister says that no one here will panic or hoard so things should be fine.  The price has gone up a bit but not as much as in the States.  Hope it stays that way."


Steve Tripp

On his trip back to Thailand Steve writes:
"Before going to Chiangmai we went to Ko Chang (near Trat) were we swam and
dined along with half the population of Germany. Bangkok Air flies to a
pretty little *private* airport in Trat and then you take a van to Ko Chang.
Ko Chang is a little overdeveloped by my standards but it was still
pleasant. We rented a motorbike and drove around the island pretending we
were 23 years old and insured.

Chiangmai surprised me. It was nicely developed and not over-developed and
over-crowded and ugly, as I feared. I can see why Hugh went back. It's a
little far from the ocean for me, though. My former students seemed to be
unhappy about modernization, but they all have prospered, driving cars and
living in big houses with TVs, microwaves, and aircons.

Laos was great also. Luang Prabang in February is cool (not hot) and there
are zillions of little open restaurants serving the many fashionable
tourists. We especially liked the woodworking shop where Mick Jagger buys
his ebony and rosewood salad bowls. I had visited LP once before in about
1974 when there was nothing but quiet streets and pretty temples. Now it is
booming but in a controlled way (thanks to a communist government and
sympathetic foreigners). There is now a road to Kunming and the Chinese
influence is bound to increase, for better or worse. Surprisingly, there
were Chinese and Vietnamese tourists in LP, and not the rich ones you see in
Japan, but sort of ordinary-looking people, since they can fly in cheaply.
We took a boat up the river to a Buddhist cave (not worth seeing), but the
ride was very pleasant and you get to see what remote areas of Laos look
like without getting your hands dirty (I'm not 23 years old any more).

Visiting Vientiane was also fun. It is not as fashionable as LP, but but it
has its charms. The old apartment building I lived in has become the
Tai-Pan Hotel (pretty good value, if you are looking for a place). The
school I taught in has hardly changed. There is a beer garden on the sand
bar in the river where you can watch the sun set while sipping a cold one.
The communist government has loosened up, allowing restaurants and hotels to
flourish, but you can tell by the way people drive (slowly) that they
don't want to get mixed up with the police. Everything is illegal for
foreigners, including owning vehicles and marrying Lao citizens.
Prostitution is severely punished supposedly, but I saw a couple girls who
had apparently negotiated an exemption.

Laos would be a nice place to retire, leaving aside medical facilities, but
it's not possible (easily) at his stage. And they don't have an ocean (like
Californ-I-A)."


Wynn Egginton

We (Husband Everett and I)both continue to work at New Mexico State University—he is Dean of International Students and I am Associate Vice President for Research (don’t ask how I got to this position with a PhD in Rhetoric).  I am still hoping to write fiction one day (I’m enjoying Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer, which takes me back to my undergraduate creative writing program and early attempts at short stories.

In October, Everett and I traveled to Hong Kong and Laos with our son, Lyn and his wife.  They are both in the Foreign Service, posted in Guangzhou.  I loved Laos.  It was like being in Thailand 35 years ago (it really has been that long, hasn’t it?).  On the second day, I realized that almost everyone spoke Thai, so I started using what Thai I could remember (“beeah, song cuat) and soon words and phrases just came rushing into my mind and out my mouth.  It was exhilarating beyond my expectations.  I would love to go back.  We spent several long hours in the Bangkok airport, which I find curiously inhospitable except for the Jim Thompson store—do you find it a bit industrial?  I didn’t do nearly as well with Chinese when we visited Shanghai, but sign language seemed to work well.  We kept trying to patronize little shops that didn’t look as though they were frequented by tourists.  In one tea shop, the owner didn’t understand the tea I was looking for so he called someone on his cell phone who could speak English, and voila, in 5 minutes I was sampling the teas of my dreams.

Come February we will have 6 grandchildren—4 girls and 2 boys.  They are all so much fun.  The oldest has taken up violin, the youngest is showing signs of becoming a tree climber.  Altogether, we just can’t find enough time to be with them so retirement is looking more and more appealing.


Mike Billington
Mike writes: My wife Gail and I spent a month in Asia on Oct/Nov 2007, mostly for political meetings and lectures in Malaysia and the Philippines, but we took a side trip to Thailand when our plans for a visit to Myanmar were sidelined by developments there.
We also met with some old friends, Pakdee and Sophie Tanapura, who have formed and direct the Bangkok Metropolitan Opera. It's mostly young people who are studying voice with Sophie. They have already performed the Marriage of Figaro and the Freischutz.
And, we managed to spend a few days in Phuket, snorkeling in the most beautiful seas in the world - something I never managed to do when we lived there.

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson would like to thank all of you who sent emails to school officials regarding the future of Norris Hall on the Virgina Tech campus where Dave is a professor. Dave Johnson writes: "The Peace Center proposal has
passed.
  Thank you so much.  It's a good holiday present, yes? "

 


Robert Stroshine
Bob writes:"Diana and I met with LLoyd Miller and Claudia, his significant other, in November for dinner, as planned.
CLaudia is a very charming lady, and was patient as Lloyd and I kicked around several old time stories.
Diana and I are in the process of building our retirement home in Genesee, Wisconsin. This is a small burg located west of Milwaukee, about halfway to Madison. Meanwhille we are renting an apartment, which is getting smaller by the day.
We also have a vacation home up north where we spent New Year's.

My youngest of two daughters is a prosecuting attorney in Denver, whom we visited in December. She is now pregnant, which means I'll finally have a grandchild, expected around mid-June.

My eldest daughter is on the faculty here at Marquette U., and is up for tenure this year after five years at the school.
 
So, we're managing to keep a few balls in the air as the new year gets underway."
 


Mike Schmicker

Mike writes: "I recently got a surprise invitation to join the San Franciso-based, online Red Room Writers Group (which includes some best-selling authors like horror-fantasy writer Clive Barker, humorist Roy Blount Jr., poet Maya Angelou  and politician Barack Obama -- I'm definitely in the junior ranks!) and now have an author page up there at http://www.redroom.com/author/michael-l-schmicker. It describes all the books I've written, and I've also posted on it a Peace Corps video they might enjoy. The Red Room community has several other former Peace Corps Volunteers, including RPCV Malaysia (65-67) Terrence Clarke. I will also be having a short piece published in a Peace Corps anthology being put together by a Peace Corps group called "Peace Corps at 50" (www.peacecorpsat50.org ) It's entitled "I'd Love to Turn You On," and describes my unexpected drug trip during my service in Thailand.


Boris Baczynskyj


Susie Becker Cooper

Susie Becker Cooper is heading to Macedonia for a month to work on their upcoming election as one of 2 Americans in a group of 20 "Long Term"  internationals who will be observing the pre-polling electoral processes, and making all the logistical preparations for the short-term international election observers."

Dan Curry

Dan Curry (Thai 25) is currently working as Visual Effects Supervisor on the CBS series Moonlight (Fridays, 9pm). He is the department head and second unit director handling all the technically complex scenes.   Dan will be going to Germany next week (May 2008) as a guest of the govenment to deliver a lecture on visual effects.

Ken DeBevoise
Ken Writes: "Mary and I spent spring break in Morocco checking out four community development projects started by a former student who is in the Peace Corps and three other PCVs in her group there. The foundation I work with, Synchronicity, will fund them. I've been lucky to interact with PCVs in Paraguay, El Salvador, and Morocco recently. Don't let anyone tell you that they were better in our day. Not true - not even close. I'm really impressed with the current crowd."

Jon Darrah
Jon Darrah, who has been country director for the Peace Corps in China writes: "Just quick note to let you know that I have completed my tour in China and have been transferred to Cambodia where I am taking over from none other than Van Nelson (Thailand 28) as Country Director. Hope all is well.

Steve Krichels

Steve Krichels writes: "I am still plugging away in Maine, teaching emotionally disabled children in the Bucksport,ME school system and living on a chunk of land I bought in 1971. Finishing, let alone maintaining, a house I built, occupies much of my spare time. But I also find time to hike, cross-country ski and kayak
My (3) children are doing well- Jenny, 26, editing a magazine in Austin, TX about to move to NYC with significant other lawyer, Lily, 21, track athelete with another year to go at Oberlin, and son, Tommy, almost 12, into soccer, baseball, video games finishing up 6th grade."

Steve says he has photos of Hawaii and Thailand and promises to share them.


Ernie Geefay

Ernie and Dim just returned from two weeks in Australia. They went there to help Kevin Wheeler film this year's Australian Talent Conference in Sydney.  They spent the first week working and the last week traveling around the Melbourne area with Kevin and his wife , Sakorn, and Kevin's Australian business partner.
The next big event: Their daughter's wedding in June



Fran Gelsone
Fran reports: "Still working - too many hours.  Finished electronics certification.  Studying chemistry.  Daughter married in China this October, continuing family tradition of overseas marriages."
NOTE
Note: Several months ago about 12 of you have indicated you would be interested in having a reunion in Hawaii this year. I might not be able to attend and was wondering if any of you would be interested in helping organizing it. Mike Schmicker said he could assist with some of the arrangements but we would need someone to take charge. Please let me know if you would be interested in helping to orgainize the troops. Ernie