Peace Corps
Thai 27

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 people. 

Twice, former students came from all over Thailand to luncheons that were arranged. 

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 volunteer.
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
PH.D from Michigan State and is head of the department of
pharmaceutical Chemistry at Mahidol University

2006 2 students
(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 in public.

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
to watch.

My isolated, rural village is now an isolated industrial village.  Was very impressed with the new school and hospital.  Grass roots economic development appears positive.

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.