Peace Corps
Thai 27
1969
 
 
 
/
UPDATE MARCH 2011

42 years ago we Arrived In Pepeekeo, HI. and today......


Steve Tripp

(Steve, who lives and teaches in Japan, was in Philippines when the big earthquake struck. He returned home about 10 days later)
He writes:
We arrived about 9 am yesterday. The China Air flight which was scheduled for 4:30 pm was delayed until 4:30 am the next day.
They put us up in a nice hotel but we had to get up at 2 am to get back to the airport.
China Air did not want to leave its plane in Japan overnight, a stewardess told us privately.
We took a taxi to the Radisson hotel, where our car was parked, and charged it to the hotel, which had canceled our (and other's) reservation.
We were warned that buying gasoline (actually diesel in our case) would be difficult. We had half a tank (enough probably) but luckily, right at the entrance to the highway there was a station open and we rudely pushed into the line of cars and filled up.
We had contradictory information about the roads, but we went north along the coast road before turning inland. The coast road at Oarai is high above the ocean and showed no sign of damage although the last section was blocked and we had to take a detour. The only apparent damage was of two sorts: 1. About half the houses in Japan date to the post-war period when Japan was very poor and houses were built to very low standards. Many of these older houses had blue tarps held down with sandbags on the roofs. Apparently the shaking had opened leaks in the seams. 2. Bridges are built on stronger foundations than roads, so in many places the roadbed had sunk a few inches and no longer lined up with the bridges, so the roads were bumpy.
We had lunch at MacDonald's and then got on an east-west expressway that took us to the Tohoku Expressway going north. North of Ichinomiya the road is closed to all but "necessary" traffic so we exited and headed west towards Nikko and then north to Aizu on route 121.
Along the way we saw a big supermarket so we stopped and bought groceries. All the gas stations along the way were closed. It took us about seven hours due to four stops for food, shopping, and getting road information.
Our apartment was a compete surprise. Nothing had fallen except one a picture and a mirror. The mirror wasn't broken. The digital clocks still showed the correct time and the gas heater was running. The electricity had never gone off even once!
My office at the university was not too bad; about 30 books and some papers were on the floor. An old computer monitor had fallen and the protective glass was slightly cracked. All my machines had been turned off and all started up with no problem. Just before writing this the earthquake warning system went off (The system detects ground waves and gives 5 to 10 seconds warning. It apparently was a false alarm, but it scared the shit out of me!.

You can listen to this interview he gave on Ricochet


Susie Becker Cooper
From January to March, I was in Tajikistan as a Long Term Election Observer, posted in the SW near the borders with Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. It was a challenging experience, with many reminders of the Soviet period, extremely cold weather, a little trekking, and a lot of travel over very difficult roads. On the way home, I spent a week in enchanting Istanbul. Last summer, I was deployed to Florida with Homeland Security to do community relations work in connection with the DeepWater Horizon oil spill. I made two short trips to the Appalachians/Blue Ridge in North Carolina, one in spring and one in fall. It was great to get back into the mountains, which are beautiful, but lack the rugged magnificence of the Sierra Nevada. In November, I did another election observation mission in Azerbaijan, where I stayed in a “caravan-sarai” (restored overnight stopping place for caravans & camels). My rural polling stations were in the foothills of the Caucasus. Azerbaijan gave women the vote before the US did, before becoming part of the U.S.S.R. Back in Atlanta, I have been busy with volunteer activities – serving on the board of a refugee resettlement nonprofit, volunteering at a food pantry and freeze shelter, organizing a team to fundraise and join the Atlanta Hunger Walk. I’m somewhat involved with Atlanta Area RPCVs. I continue to do Jazzercise 5- 6 days/week. This helps with my age-denial, and is necessary to keep up with grandson Sebastian (8). Best Christmas gift was snow in Atlanta! Looking forward to our reunion, and to more elections & FEMA work this year.

Kevin Wheeler
Sakorn and I continue to live in California, but we are considering at least part-time living in Thailand. I am busy as always with three businesses, one in Australia, that keep me on the road a lot. I get around the world several times a year and love to travel. It never seems to get old for me and every time I go to a city or country, new or old, I find something new or exciting. I have also had the fortune to make many friends around the world so rarely have to stay in a hotel. That makes it extra nice. I speak at conferences, write articles and blogs. My primary blog is at www.byteeoh.com.
I still love photography and if I ever retire that will be a primary hobby for me. Some of my pictures are at www. kwheeler.com.
I started a think tank (The Future of Talent Institute) about five years ago and we are partnering with Singapore and Australian equivalents to research emerging employment and work trends globally.
Sakorn and I along with Ernie, Dim and many others here in Northern California are active in the FORDEC charity mentioned elsewhere here and it nice to be in an area where so many of our Peace Corp friends live and work. We raise a little money and spend a little time in Thailand helping poor, urban and rural children get the basic food and supplies they need to grow and learn. It is amazing how many really, really poor children there are and how little support they get.
I was recently in England and went up to Oxford just to meet a Thai dissident, Giles Ji Ungpakorn. His father was rector of Thammasat University and governor of the Bank of Thailand. His politics are a bit unusual for someone from such a well-known family, although they come perhaps from his mother who is English. He has been a strong advocate for the Red Shirts and is very opposed to the current “dictatorship” in Thailand. He is also opposed to the Lese Majeste laws that few countries other than Thailand have. He writes a rather interesting blog, partly in Thai and partly in English, at http://redthaisocialist.com/english-article.html. I highly recommend you read his views as they are not what you get in the newspapers. We had a very interesting morning together and I learned a great deal of the “behind the scenes” stuff that I am reluctant to write about for fear I will be banned from Thailand. Sakorn and I are planning to be at the reunion in Washington and I look forward to catching up with everyone once again.

Mike Billington
Over the last few months I have spent a good deal of time working with friends in Cambodia and Thailand to stop the lunatics in London and Bangkok who think a lovely little war in Southeast Asia would help their project to disrupt China's growing involvement in infrastructure development projects across the region - ironically, many of them being projects the US would have helped build many years ago if we had followed FDR's plans. ASEAN jumping in on the Thai-Cambodia border may be enough to rein in the Thais - but the war party is still in control and the Chamlong fanatics have high level royal backing.
Otherwise, I encourage you all to read the Angelides report (the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission report at www.fcic.gov ) which completely confirms the analysis of the crimes of Greenspan, Paulson, Bernanke, Geithner, Bush and Obama which we at LaRouchePAC have been publishing for years and years. It looks like the population is finally fed up, as Wisconsin spreads rapidly across the country. Maybe there will be more going on in Washington this July than the usual drivel - a good time to visit!

Paul Hobelman

I retired from teaching on June 30, 2010, and had mitral valve surgery on November 12. I am trying to recover from the surgery. I can walk a couple of miles and ride my bike about 5 miles, but I have a ways to go to get back to where I was before.
The Kansas Weatherization Program spent 4 days taking out my 85-year-old gravity flow furnace and putting in a new forced air furnace with 92% efficiency. Then they spent a couple of days insulating my house. I expect my utility bills to go down significantly next winter. With very cold weather, my gas bills have been nearly $90 a month this winter. The new refrigerator given me by the government has lowered my electricity bill from $15 a month to $10, a significant savings there.
I am keeping busy keeping up my house. I have no plans to go anywhere for a while.


Mona Melanson

I've been meaning to write that I have moved to Dallas. It all happened rather suddenly. My new job has been keeping me very busy and on the go so much that this is my first free moment to write. I am multi-tasking while listening to the Academy Awards. On December 20 I was offered a very different type of HR job and told to get my self to Dallas, Texas to start work on January 3. It was a crazy, crazy couple of weeks, packing, lining up a mover, getting rid of stuff, dealing with the worst rain storms San Diego has had in 40 years, and driving to Dallas via Las Vegas for a belated one night of a late Christmas with my sisters and their families. A blizzard hit northern Arizona causing a day detour for me to turn south to Phoenix and head to El Paso, Pecos, Midland and finally Dallas.

My new job is with an Indian technology outsourcing company called HCL America, a U.S. division of a company called HCL Technology headquartered in a New Delhi suburb. I heard the CEO and Vice Chair of HCLT, Vineet Nayar present this summer at my professional association's (SHRM's) annual conference held in San Diego. Vineet got a standing ovation and I was very impresed with his new book published by Harvard Business School Press called, Employees First, Customers Second that he spoke about at the conference. Then in mid-November, I was quite surprised when they found me on LinkedIn and contacted me about the job. Yes, social networking does work. At present I am still in a furnished studio in temporary housing here in Dallas, hoping to close on an apartment tomorrow located in Plano. It will be near where I work in Frisco, a north Dallas suburb. Since joining HCLA, I've been to Tampa twice, once for 11 days and got back from a trip to Durham (4 days) and St. Louis (barely 24 hours) late Thrusday night. I'lll continue to travel a lot in this job so who knows, I may even to see one or more of you again. Although I doubt I'll ever be doing as much travel as Kevin does and probably not much international travel. In Durham I was able to have dinner one night with a friend who had moved to nearby Cary from San Diego about six years ago. I don't get much advance notice about where I will be going so planning anthing in advance will be a challenge. So far, I like the Dallas and Fort Worth area a lot and am looking forward to exploring more when my schedule permits. Anyone who has any suggestions about Dallas please just let me know.
Oh! I have a new email address: monammelanson@gmail.com with two "m"s in the middle. Cox cable doesn't exist here so I am going with Google, it goes global so it's a safer long term bet. I hope to make it to the big 50th in July. and look forward ot seeing all/many of you again.


Dan Curry
(Thai 25)

I am still working on CHUCK at Warner Bros, but am writing a feature set in Malaysia and developing other projects with my son, Devin, an accomplished filmmaker. You can see my personal fine arts at dancurrygallery.com If anyone would care to watch it, there is a documentary about my work on STAR TREK at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hU7x3gCBtIQ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sv8A_ICVvHI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rphf7yY5JZ0


Vance Hyndman
I am overwhelmed trying to pass the CPA exam which is one of the most challenging experiences of my life: can't say really it is the toughest job I will ever love, but I am enjoying learning a new profession which is giving me lots of insights into how the world works and maybe giving me a career into my old age. I am loving hearing about the experiences of others of our group. My hidden agenda is to compare notes with you guys to see how to navigate our futures. Hopefully many of us will get together this summer in Washington.
I have just visited with Kevin Delany for good time recollections of our respective times in Thailand. He doesn't seem to age. I so admire his foresight on Obama who remains a great American hero in my view. I feel lucky to be alive for what is going on in the U.S. (even the tea party has inspired me to read the Federalist Papers with new insight), what is going on in Egypt, what is going on in China. Sadly Thailand is not one of the glory spots ! at the moment.

Bonita Estes
I'm still working parttime at my Homeowners Association office and selling Avon. BUT I did adopt a puppie last September so my life has changed drastically. They take so much care but at least she "forces" me to exercise -- I walk her twice a day. Won't be going in July but I sure hope we'll get some type of gathering together in Washington for the big September brouhaha!

Joyce Wagner
Nothing wild or exciting but it brings me great pleasure - I volunteer 4 days a week with my service dog, Tareth, from Canine Companions for Independence. We visit the local hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, an assisted living complex, a few very elderly shut-ins and the local school. At the local school we do dog safety lessons with pre-schoolers, listen to first graders read and work in language arts and physical therapy with special needs students.

Sharon Conger

I'm still selling Real Estate. It's been a lot of difficult transactions the last two years, but I have loyal and lovely clients whom I am glad to assist. Otherwise, I took my family on safari to Kenya and Tanzania this last summer and to Australia the year before. Life is generally good in Oregon. I'm looking forward to retiring and having more time to travel. Hi to everyone. It was nice to visit with Kevin when he was in town.


Lloyd Miller
Nothing new with me except that I am going to become a grampa for the first time and my second son is getting married. How great is that? I want to attend the reunion in Washington. I will no more as the time gets closer. Sounds like fun. Would love to see my old room mate Khun Wan (Vance Hyndman). Hope all is well with everyone.

Kevin Delany
our most recent news is that about a month ago I activated a domain site that had been dormant for some three years. It reads: reelectbarackin2012.com Iinvite one and all to visit the web site and I apologize in advance to any of a different political persusion. I have been trying to write a blog for it each week. It is a very new experience but I think I'm beginningto get the hang of it. I believe the site has an archive by now with the posted blogs. Otherwise everything is very much go for the gathering planned for July 2-4 in Washington and for a bash at our house on July 2. Joan and I are excited about it and look forward to seeing as many of you who are able make it. As we get closer to july I am sure more details will be forthcoming.

Wynn Egginton
I've retired as of January 1 and am greatly enjoying the freedom to be more creative than my job allowed. I am now taking voice and piano lessons and singing with two choral groups. In addition, our 8 grandchildren keep us busy, especially as they live far from each other and from us. I will join Ana and her two girls in Louisville in April to see Jan and his family who live there (Jan and Ana were both born in Bangkok). Everett and I will be visiting Lyn and his family in Bratislava, Slovakia in May. Everett had a 6-week Fulbright lecture/teaching appointment in Medellin, Colombia, this past fall, and I was fortunate enough to be able to join him for 4 weeks. We loved it there. I worked for one of the 6 universities he was consulting with and made some wonderful friends while improving my Spanish. Everett and I hope to join in the fun in Washington in July.

Renee Trent
On February 11, 2011, I retired from AED, the Academy for Educational Development, after 29 years at the organization! In April, Webb and I will travel to China and Tibet for three weeks to visit friends and see the sights. The best part of retirement is that I don't have to ask for time off and worry about who will cover my job responsibilities. I'll worry about the financial implications of retirement later! I'm looking forward to seeing fellow Thai 27-ers in July!

Barbara Drexler
I'm writing this from Chiang Mai where Bob is spending Spring Term with some Coe College students, and I'm here for 8 weeks. The last reunion was very fun, and it will be nice to see you all again.

Nancy Strakey
I have made a few short RV trips, and now this month in Florida (not a bad year to be out of the snowed-in North!). I'll be making my way back to Michigan by mid March -- the majority of the snow (or at least the kind that stays around for weeks!) should be gone by then.

Charles Berry
Nothing new over here. (Hawaii)



Gaynor
Turner

 

I have not been up to much of anything. Petty much the same thing, no trips lately since my trip to China in September 2010 and to California for Christmas in Dec. 2010 and no plans for any major travel. Been working on a few projects around my house and of course square and round dancing.

Hugh
Leong

It seems that a retired life goes so much faster than when I was working for a living.
We had a great cool season this year and are hoping that the hot season is not as bad as last year (40 C for 6 straight weeks – that’s 104 F).
Our tortoises are doing well. We have about 20 babies now and hope to find a good place to release some back into the wild.
Pikun, the builder in the family, is planning a second cabin. We are going to be renting our cabins out so if anyone is interested in a longer stay here in Chiang Mai come take a look.
I have 2 books coming out next month (silkwormbooks.com). The third book in my Professional English for Thailand is now ready (Hospital) and so is my book Going to America – A Survival Guide for Thais Moving to the United States. It has been translated into Thai.
My blog on retiring to Thailand (retire2thailand.wordpress.com) gets about 1,600 hits a month so it looks like lots of people are thinking of retiring here.
We became grandparents for the first time this year with the birth of Natalie.
Lastly, but probably most important, Captain Warren Leong, USMC, and father of Natalie, is being deployed to Afghanistan for 12 months. We’ve all been through this before but now Warren has a wife and child so things are a bit different this time. Please join us in sending good thoughts his way, and to Sonya and Natalie, and to all our men and women in harms-way, and and let's pray that the insanity ends soon.


Barbara Thomas
This is the first winter in the last five or six that I've stayed home. Last winter was six weeks in New Zealand and the winter before 3.5 months in Cambodia. However, since ending four years of clerking Friends Meeting in Annapolis, I have found myself as chair of the Greater Annapolis Interfaith Group (GAIN) and chair of Subud, a spiritual practice I am involved in. GAIN is sponsoring interfaith cafe dialogues and various programs to make links between groups doing good stuff. Subud is trying to raise tons of money to build a center in this area. So the two volunteer groups kept me too busy to go exploring this year. I'm also a representative to the American Friends Service Committee and the Friends Peace Teams. Consequently, I find myself going to conferences and sending lots of emails. But looking to have a little more fun as winter leaves and good weather returns.

Janice Oldroyd

Our big change this past year has been to move my 91-year old mom (with Alzheimer's) from Florida to Colorado. She has done very well with the change, and I am getting used to the extra duties involved with caregiving, even though she is living in a memory care facility. We're relieved to have her close by so we can give her more attention than she was getting in Florida. We spent 17 days in Egypt in September. How lucky we were to have visited when we did! We were blown away with the archeological sites. It's hard to imagine anything as old as some of these sites are - 5th century BC is not unusual. My favorites were Abu Simbal, cruising on Lake Nasser, and several sites in the Valley of the Kings. I can't imagine what the political changes will mean to the Egyptian people, but I am sure that they will be glad when the tourist industry is back up and running. It is such a huge piece of their economy. We are watching, with great interest, our daughter who is currently living in Mozambique. She is there to be close to her Peace Corps boyfriend. He is teaching in a very small community which in many ways seems like our rural assignments in Thailand were 40 years ago. Of course they have Internet which would certainly make it easier to keep up with the outside world. And, of course, the ubiquitous cell phones! We're hoping we can get over there to visit while they are there. We'll see what happens with the price of airline tickets. Both Clark and I continue to plod along at the University of Colorado. Football coaches and presidents come and go, but the Oldroyds hang in there. As with all state employees around the country, the "perks" are few and far between these days. But we enjoy our jobs, so no real complaints.


Ken DeBevois

I'm still in Eugene and the daily routine is the same as it's been since about 1947 or 1948 - up in the morning and out to school.


Dewleen Baker

There is not much change in my life. I am still in San Diego and working at the VA and at UCSD. My primary work is as Research Director of a VA Center of Excellence for Stress and Mental Health. The favorite part of my job is working with the graduate students and junior faculty to help them develop projects. They are enthusiastic, energetic and it is lots of fun. My own primary project is a large prospective study of risk and resilience factors for PTSD for which I travel frequently to gather data. Periodically I also travel to the Bay Area to see my son-in-law and my daughter, who is a graduate student at Berkeley, as well as other relatives in the area. Otherwise, I largely hang out in San Diego, except for periodic vacations . If anyone passes through the city, let me know. I would love to see you.
   



Lou Parisien


Not much new since the last update. I'm still working two days a week for Customs but consider myself retired. My part-time job is my hobby. Barb and I just returned from Tucson, escaping the harsh Minnesota winter. In the fall we visited Hawaii - my first time back since Peace Corps. Barb had never been there. We joined our son and his girlfriend who was born in Honolulu and whose parents now live near Diamond head. We had a great time exploring Oahu and the Big Island. Brought back many memories. We hope to return next winter. In this photo we're standing in the Diamond Head Crater.

Ernie Geefay
The Great Recession accelerated our plans of retiring to Thailand (in the footsteps of Hugh and Pikun) About 6 years ago we bought a plot of land on a golf course community in Hua Hin, Thailand called Palm Hills For 6 years the land has been just been sitting there. So this past December,on one of our trips to Thailand, and Dim and I "started the building process" by interviewing architects. If all goes well we hope to start building around the end of this year and be finished by end of 2012. Since our newly married daughter is in the US, We plan to keep our house in El Dorado Hills, CA in case we decide we want to move back. I'm sure there will be adjustments in transitioning from working full time to....well, not working full time. And living in Thailand after 42 years will be an adjustment. But I look forward to this new " chapter" and the surprises it will bring Meanwhile Dim and I continue to work with Kevin and Sakorn on www.fordecusa.org.
Also I will be turning 65 in August. And Dim and I are really looking forward to getting off of my worthless "private for profit" health insurance plan and joining the 40 million Americans on Medicare. Getting old does have some advantages


Mike Schmicker

“Three more years until I can retire. The company I work for has made it though the Great Recession fairly intact, probably because we design ships for the U.S Navy, and somehow America always has money for the Dept. of Defense.

In my spare time, I continue to write books and film treatments in the paranormal genre (ESP, ghosts, poltergeists, near death experiences, etc). I have one film treatment currently making the rounds in LA; it got through the door at Greyshack Films and is now with the head of the company for a decision. I got close in 2010 with a TV series on the paranormal before it was shot down.

I’ve expanded my social media to support the writing. I’m active on Facebook, LinkedIn, and two writing websites, and RedRoom.com. Two long-ago PCV experiences I had ended up in print in the last 12 months. Meanwhile, I’m linked with 16 of our Thai 27 group via Facebook – most actively with Hugh Leong, Ernie Geefay, Kevin Wheeler, Susanne Cooper and Peter Coombs – and would love to get back in touch with more.

Kevin and Ernie run a foundation called FORDEC Thailand that deserves our support and has a Facebook page you should visit if you get a moment (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fordec-Thailand/142208965834736 ).

I don’t do the insane travel of our Kevin Wheeler, but I do regularly get to DC (business) and the East Coast, where our son Chris is a writer in NYC. Back here in Hawaii, I’m playing host family to a Vietnamese architectural student at the East West Center this year. He was born after the Vietnam War, which makes me feel my age, but we have had some great political discussions. Life is fun and interesting! If anyone from Thai 27 comes through the Islands, give me a call at 808-291-1534 and we’ll have lunch or dinner. Hope to see many of you in DC in July!”


Rachel Baker
I live and work in Oakland, in a beautiful loft that Ernie, Dim, Kevin and Sakorn, when presenting their fundraiser, had a chance to visit....but didn't because we all started getting the first winter chill and cold signs. Peace Corps buddies are always welcome, BTW!! My partner is an actor, former dancer, choreographer, director, and author. He's also teaching acting in SF. My beautiful daughter Nicolle ran her Turkey Trot 10K Thanksgiving Day and we were proud. The boys, 5 year olds now, are doing great--one is a financial planner and the other is an Industrial strength Flirt. My neice Willa is cozy in her Arlington MA farmhouse, carrying us in her soul train and finishing her PhD. I have my headshot out and am accepting extra and character walk ons. I clean spaces, buildings and In my spare time I make/sell jewelry. I have been trying to keep up with the many projects in which we are involved....theatre, jewelry making, art shows, working-for-salary things, writing about/researching local artists, sharing grandchildren joys, cooking new things, and keeping in touch with friends and family. Not as busy or hectic as many of our RPC buddies, maybe, but plenty for me and partner Martin.
Tomorrow I go to SF for Wisconsin rally to protest GOP lead assault on workers rights: “¡Todos Somos Wisconsin!” in front of city hall. My progressive activities have been few and far between---as I struggle with keeping my own self afloat. So I plan to make up for it at the rally. My best to you and yours. Pace e bene. Onward to DC.