My memories of Pepeekeo are fairly dim but one thing that sticks
out in my mind are those early morning Thai classes. I have often
told people how we had our first class in the morning before breakfast.
Hard to believe. Having taught ESL for years, I realize how much
energy our Thais teachers expended on us, especially at 6:30 in
the morning. The “classroom” I remember the most was
the one on the porch – with the rain blowing in and us drilling
away. I often have wished that I could have learned Thai in later
years after the audio-lingual heyday. I would have enjoyed doing
more with reading and writing than we did in training. In the past
year I have been trying to learn to read and write with the help
of weekly lessons from a Thai PhD student at the University of Colorado
where I work, but my 58 year old brain isn’t so swift when
it comes to memorizing Thai letters. It was fun, however, when we
visited Thailand last summer to give it a try. (Jan Dunn)
FIRST DAYS IN THAILAND
The first week or so incountry still stick in my mind. I remember
how they packed those of us who were headed to teacher’s colleges
off to Ayudthaya to spend the time until we left for our colleges.
The women were so afraid we would make cultural faux pas that we
were afraid to do anything! Didn’t make for a very fun week.
When we did leave Bangkok for our sites, I was all alone. I had
the name of my town (Nakorn Srithammarat) written in Thai and English
on a piece of paper. I knew that I was to get off the train at Tung
Song Junction and someone from the college would meet me. I had
no name or directions if I was left stranded. That’s exactly
what happened. After the overnight train trip, I got off at Tung
Song in the morning and stood on the tracks waiting. And waiting.
Finally a man I had met on the train asked me if I wanted a ride
to Nakorn. Well sure, why not? He deposited me at the girls’
high school. Since there were no phones, someone from the high school
took me to the college. “Oh”, the principal said when
I was dropped off at his office, “We were expecting you tomorrow.”
LIFE IN THAILAND
It was 2 or more months before I saw the first farang in my town.
I was literally in the jungle far, far from civilization. A road
went in while I was there, gravel, but a road nonetheless. When
I visited last summer with my family, I discovered that the gravel
road has blossomed into a four-lane highway with shopping centers
and traffic lights. It’s hard to imagine what it would be
like to teach there now with the air conditioned classro89oms, phones
and computers on every desk, and the ubiquitous cell phones in everyone’s
pocket. We got tired of inconsistent electricity, water that ran
only at 2 AM and no way to contact anyone in town except to take
a rot song taaw to town and walk up to their door and knock. But,
looking back on it, that was the charm. I truly loved life in the
south although trips to Bangkok were very appreciated.
I didn’t get too many visitors from Thai 27 at my college.
It was pretty far off the beaten path. Dick Williams came once and
Lloyd Miller came once and Maureen visited several times. Gay Turner
was in Nakorn after the first year. Whenever I had a visitor is
was cause for much excitement for students and teachers alike.
I got to know Thai 30 when I spent my first summer project as one
of their trainers. That was when I first met the man who would become
my husband, Clark Oldroyd. He has a great story about the night
they arrived in Bangkok, a hot and muggy night it was, and Peace
Corps piled them on a bus for a two-hour ride to Bang Saen. Dianne
Goode was a member of this group and she and I had been college
roommates. So, we chatted all the way to Bang Saen while everyone
was desperately trying to sleep. That was his first introduction
to the woman he would later marry.
I have very fond memories of my three years in Thailand. I now am
an academic advisor for CU students in the International Affairs
program. I get the opportunity to talk to many students about Peace
Corps. I always tell them it was the defining experience of my life.
It was there I fell in love with my husband-to-be, developed my
love of teaching, and broadened my horizons in so many ways. I will
always be grateful to the Thais who became my friends and taught
me so much about a culture that is so different from my own. My
world has been so much richer because of those three years.
I hope the reunion is just great for those of you who can make it.
Please don’t hesitate to call if you are in the Denver/Boulder
area. We have bedrooms and would love to see you all. Hopefully
the next time a reunion is planned, I’ll be able to hop on