Peace Corps
Thai 27
1969
 
 
 
Jon Darrah

I got my start in the Peace Corps as Volunteer building rural water systems with the Iban people of Sarawak, Malaysia (1965 to 1968).
Next was a year as a Peace Corps Fellow in Peace Corps headquarters ( 1968).
At the end of my Peace Corps Fellows program I was sent to the Peace Corps Regional Rep in Chiengmai for two years (1968 to 1970). It was while serving in Chiengmai that I got to know several members of Thai 27.
After Chiengmai I was put in charge of Peace Corps recruitment for the Pacific northwest based in Seattle (1968).
Seattle was followed by a stint at the National Urban Coalition in Washington, DC and then a year as the Assistant Dean for International Affairs at Florida International University in Miami (1972). Academe was clearly not for me so I spent the next year or two doing various things including making maple syrup and logging in Vermont.

In the mid 1970s I Volunteered for the Peace Corps again and served as a small business advisor in the Solomon Islands (1975 to 1977). Towards the end of my time in the Solomons I was made the Country Director as a Volunteer, the inmates ran the asylum if you will.
After the Solomons I was made Country Director in Malaysia for two years (1978 to 1980).
Malaysia was followed by three years as Country Director in Thailand (1980 to 1983). It was in Thailand that I met my wife Jirapa na Songkhla.
After this second round in Thailand I left the Peace Corps and went to work for the International Catholic Migration Commission in Bataan in the Philippines. Truth be told I was really working for Ann Morgan since the money for the project came from her part of the State Department. There were around 7000 Indo Chinese refugees who were to be resettled in the US. Our project was to get these refugees ready for the experience, sort of a non stop Peace Corps training program.
After three years in the Philippines (1984 to 1987) I was rehired by the Peace Corps to be the Country Director in Nepal.
After three years in Nepal (1988 to 1991) the Peace Corps sent me to be the Country Director in the Philippines.
After only one year in the Philippines (1992) I was sent to be the Country Director for Peace Corps Russia based in Moscow. After two years in Moscow (1992 to 1994) the Peace Corps sent me to Warsaw, Poland to be the Country Director (1994 to 1997). During my third year in Poland I was also the Country Director in the Czech Republic (1997).

My wife and I have two children. Daughter Jenny graduated from Rollins College here in Winter Park, Florida about a year ago and is returning to school to get a Master's degree in mental health counseling. Son Jack is a sophomore at Boston University.

Jirapa and I will have been married for 25 years come this Christmas Day. I don't know where the time has gone but it has been a fulfilling ride.

In November 2005 Jirapa and I began another adventure with the Peace Corps when I became the Peace Corps Country Director for China. About 100 Volunteers teach English at the teacher training and university level in Gansu, Sichuan, Guizhou and Chongqing provinces in southwest China. The office is located in Chengdu in Sichuan on the campus of Sichuan University. This is the only Peace Corps country that I have ever run in which the Volunteers actually complained about too much rather than too little work!
in April 2008 I completed my tour in China and was transferred to Cambodia to take up the reins of Peace Corps Cambodia from none other than Van Nelson. My wife have now been in Cambodia for over a year and are thoroughly enjoying ourselves. It is great to be back in Southeast Asia with it marvelous culture and cuisine.