Peace Corps
Thai 27
Barbara (Theobald) Waldschmidt

Barbara and daughter Heidi

Steve and I taught English in Lampang in the secondary schools there for two years. We stayed a third year and moved to Lopburi where I taught at the teachers' college and Steve was at the boys' secondary school. When we finished our Peace Corps service, we traveled home overland. We spent a month in Indonesia and another month in India. We went to Nepal and Ceylon also. We took a bus through the Khyber Pass from Pakistan to Afghanistan. While in Afghanistan, we visited the Wyants who had trained with us for Thailand. After crossing the border from Afghanistan into Iran, I was arrested by the Shah's secret police and held for 36 hours. For some crazy reason never to be explained, they thought I was a terrorist. Luckily, they let us go unharmed We went on to Turkey by train and then flew to England and home!

We settled in Chicago where I went to graduate school at the University of Chicago and Steve embarked on a business career. In 1975, we divorced. Steve later moved to New York .
His death was quite a shock. As a result of his death, I heard from the student who lived with us in Thailand, Saard. He went on to college and worked for the Thai ministry of Education and now does teacher training for Longman's Press. John Keaton who was the northern director in Chaingmai also helped Saard after we moved to Lopburi. Saard was in touch with Steve because Steve was living in Singapore just before he returned to the US and had his fatal heart attack while jogging with a friend in Chicago.

Heidi and Heather at Heidi's Graduation

I have remarried and have two daughters. The youngest, Heather, is a junior at St. Thomas University in St. Paul. My elder daughter, Heidi, is an army nurse stationed in El Paso, Texas. She had accepted an ROTC scholarship before 911. Little did we know how the world would change after that. She'd rather be in the Peace Corps, but I am continually reminding her that she is helping soldiers who deserve our support. She read that Gandhi was a medic so that has helped her.

We moved to Stillwater, Minnesota in the scenic St Croix river valley about ten years ago. My husband wanted to try his hand at running his own business. That didn't turn out the way we anticipated. So he went back to the corporate world and I to teaching.

Heidi and my husband Dave

Including the Peace Corps, I have been teaching high school English for longer than I ever thought possible! I always try to broaden my students' perspective on the world by recounting some of my Peace Corps experiences. For some reason, Asian students seem attracted to me! This year a Hmong student asked me to help him start a diversity club at Woodbury High School where I teach. So far we have about 25 Hmong students as members. They are great kids who are trying to bridge the gap between traditional Hmong culture and our American way of life. Sometimes I have de ja vu, and it's almost like being back in Thailand.

I would love to visit Thailand but haven't done so. Didn't Thomas Wolfe write that "you can't go home again"? I had an opportunity to spend two weeks in China a couple years ago. It was fantastic. I even discovered there are Thais in China, but they don't speak Thai or eat the same food as they do in Thailand!