In October 2006 Joyce Wagner returned from her first trip back to Thailand since she left the Peace Corps.
Here are her impressions of the trip
Joyce Wagner with some of her students from 1970
|"My trip back (to Thailand) was at the urging, for several years, of a former student who
wanted me to come visit. All the reunion talk made me realize, I wanted to
return to Thailand to visit former students.
I was overwhelmed and humbled, once again, by the graciousness of the Thai
Twice, former students came from all over Thailand to luncheons that
They came with faded, but well preserved, black and white
photographs of us all in our youth.
They came with stories and remembrances
that I had long since forgotten.
What I have found, over the years, students
don't remember as important the things that I remember as important.
Former students took me on sightseeing trips that I had not been on when I was a
No one asked 'by ni ka' or 'sanook me ka' - seemed strange.
Far more use of the left hand than 35 years ago.
(1970) Nongluck Ruangwises (looking at camera) received her
from Michigan State and is head of the department of
pharmaceutical Chemistry at Mahidol University
(2006) Nongluk and Adtaporn
The floods in October WERE bad and everyone said the rain was as usual. Several
articles in the Bangkok Post of environmental issues in the north.
Very little gold was worn around necks. Many people referred to the economic
difficulties of the 70's in terms of family members having to move to distant
parts of the country to find jobs.
Even my close friend talked of the military coup ONLY in the closed confines of
their home. I asked what would happen when the king died. From the response
methinks that there is intrigue in the royal family that will NOT be mentioned
My feeling is that the take-over of towns by foreigners will test the limits of
Thai graciousness. Also, I have some very mixed feelings about the advantages
of medical tourism - the impact on care for Thai nationals will be interesting
My isolated, rural village is now an isolated industrial village. Was very
impressed with the new school and hospital. Grass roots economic development
As I sat around the luncheon table and learned what these former students and
their children were doing, I was VERY impressed because I was sent to a poor
(both economically and academic achievement) school. If these represented
students in a poor achieving school, Wow ! - 3 college professors, a col. in
the army, many teachers in high schools and teacher training schools, English
teachers to Thai International cabin attendants, nurses, gemologist, ect.
Sons and daughters were in or had just graduated from medical and dental
schools. Many had traveled a lot and 2 had earned Ph.D's from US universities.
A very remarkable list of achievements from a rural outpost.