My first year, I was in Nonthaburi, where I
taught at the Girls’ School (MS 2,3,4) + a coed MS 5 class,
and lived with Mona Melanson, who taught at the Boys’ School.
We first lived in a tiny house behind my school - with the cemetery
just behind. The school custodian/guard lived next door and guarded
the place sitting on his steps with a rifle at night – while
packs of wild dogs roamed the area. It was not an auspicious location.
We said to PC, move us or we quit. They did - to the opposite extreme
- a wooden house in traditional Thai design - nagas and all -surrounded
by a lotus pond - in a compound with another house rented by a German
family whom we rarely saw. We had our breakfast served to us and
ate dinner and played scrabble with the family in the evenings.
Due to a lack of support by the school administration, I was moved
the second year to Sri Ayudhaya School downtown in Bangkok, across
from the Florida Hotel. I lived that year with two volunteers from
other groups in a duplex. Besides Mona, during PC, I saw Barb Thomas,
Renee, and the Bangkok gang who used to stay at Ernie’s house.
After Peace Corps, I traveled to Nepal, went trekking with Joyce
Wagner, and remember becoming deathly ill in Pokhara – spending
several days in a sort of infirmary – I think Vance and
several others were there. A Philippines’ RPCV whom
I ‘d met in Bangkok met up with me in Nepal, and we traveled
by motorcycle down the Raj Path, and across northern India to
Agra and Delhi. I went on by myself to Greece, Austria, Germany
and Switzerland, meeting up with him (and the bike) again in Paris,
then going on together to England and Scotland. The romance ended
when we returned to the US.
I went home to California, but soon returned to DC where I’d
gone to college, and taught ESL while living with Renee and Barb
Thomas the next year. Then Renee and I set off in an old station
wagon for a cross-country trek, ending up in Phoenix, where the
car died. We took a greyhound bus back to CA and met up again
with Barb who was then living in Berkeley.
I applied and got into the U. of Hawaii for grad school, but
never got there, having taken a fateful detour to Chico, where
I met my ex-husband, and a group of Thai graduate students. We
got married, and I ended up staying there, where I got my MA in
Pol. Sci. with my thesis, “The Evolution of Thai Student
After Chico, we spent some time living in Southern California,
then returned to the East Bay, where my daughter, Liana-Marie
Elena, was born in 1978. The following year, we moved to New Jersey,
just outside Philadelphia, due to his job. Liana grew up there
in a wonderful 300 yr. old town founded by Quakers.
The bad marriage got worse, and ended up in a bad divorce. The
next several years were difficult as I was a full-time mom who
suddenly became a single full-time working parent.
In the years since Peace Corps, I've been a greenhouse assistant
- (tomatoes and roses), substitute teacher, middle school teacher
in a private school, Jazzercise franchise owner and instructor,
RPCV group leader & NE Regional Rep., National Peace Corps
Association board member, probation child support investigator,
juvenile probation officer, choir member, juvenile court specialist,
proposal editor, volunteer coordinator, Appalachian service project
member, international election supervisor, international election
I've been in the Oval Office with the President (not this one...),
eaten dinner with Kazakhs in a yurt, sat with juvenile offenders
in a jail cell, traveled with locals through tunnels without lights
in mined post-war Bosnia, made bread in a newly opened bakery
in a Serb village in Kosovo, shoveled coal, picked potatoes, negotiated
with mayors and legislators, advised judges, defused a potential
riot at a polling center, (not here) and driven armored vehicles...
among other adventures…
After nearly 14 yrs. with the Superior Court. in NJ, I left in
Since then I have worked as an independent consultant - a little
USAID work - but mostly election-related missions for the Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), with colleagues
from a multitude of countries.
In 1996, I was on team that supervised the first post-war elections
Since then, I've been in Bosnia 7 times, also Albania (traveling
in military vehicles with an Italian police bodyguard at my side
at all times) - Kosovo - where I participated with US Airborne
troops in extraction (urban rescue) exercises, while supervising
the pre-electoral phases in my region. Last year, I worked in
Botswana and South Africa, Kazakhstan and Ukraine - before and
during the "Orange Revolution."
As I suspect is the case with many, both my parents have died.
The hardest was the very painful loss of my dad after his difficult
journey with Parkinson's.
Susie's daughter, Liana, and grandson, Sebastian
On a joyous note - I have discovered the wonders of grandparent-hood
with two-year old Sebastian, and I love it! I am currently in
Atlanta, (primarily because Liana and Sebastian live in GA) volunteering
for CARE, singing in a choir, job searching, writing, and waiting
to discover what the next chapter will be.
I’ve stayed most in touch with Renee. But over the years
I’ve seen Barb Thomas, Mona, Joyce, Kevin & Vance, as
well as running into Barbara Waldschmidt (Theobald) and Grace
I continue to meet wonderful people wherever I am. While life
has thus far not brought me material riches, I am rich in friends
– around the globe. My progressive case of wanderlust –
(probably worse because it was suppressed for so many years, keeps
me interested in going just about anywhere but Iraq.)