Friday, March 23, 2007

45th Anniversary Peace Corps Thailand

We're back in Bangkok at the Royal River Hotel, with a 9th floor view of the River. Spent this afternoon at the Erawan Hotel where HRM Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn presided over the opening of the anniversary and the induction of Thai Group 119. Since I was in group 19, this had a special meaning for me too. I got to talk with a number of the new volunteers, with some who are just finishing, and a number of Returned Peace Corps volunteers, including Jim Lehman, the only other person from my group. Jim lives in Bangkok now.

There were formalities - we all had to learn when and how to bow when the Princess came in. But it was, overall, a happy occasion. The Minister of Foreign Affairs spoke about how his life was changed by Peace Corps volunteers in his town. The representative of the new group, Scott, stood up and did his whole speech is exquisite Thai. Doris, who was sitting one person over from me, and was in Thai 2 or 3 and a legend when I arrived because of her excellent Thai, sputtered when he was done, "No one can speak that well in three months." His vowels, his consonants, his tones, were right on and crystal clear. I learned from another volunteer later that he was a linguist and had written his master thesis on how to learn languages. I'm not sure I have it all accurate, but he did an incredible job. And he did it in front of 40 or so former Thai Peace Corps Volunteers, as well as the Ambassador.

Later there was a reception at the Ambassador's Residence.

Joan didn't feel well when it was time to go - headachy and nauseous. I told her she didn't have to go. She didn't. I had her new recorder with me and recorded the event and maybe we'll start our first podcast when we get back. Also some interviews with former PCVs, new ones, current ones, and old PC director and a Thai official who hired PCVs.

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