Q: Do you live near where you were born? Have you traveled much?
A: I grew up in the Seattle area, went to university in the Seattle area… pretty boring. But after graduation I applied to join the Peace Corps. They decided to send me to South Yemen (this was before South and North united). But, a couple of weeks before I was scheduled to ship out, I got a call telling me that our visas hadn’t been approved. Should they look for another assignment? Yes! I’d already sold my car, quit my job!
So a few weeks later I was sent to Thailand. After three months of intensive language and culture training, I was sent to a small village in Pichit province, Kampaengdin (“Dirtwall”). My duties were twofold: to teach English at the junior high school there, and to work with local farmers in some way. Well, I enjoyed the teaching, and did my best to see that the village farmers connected with agricultural officials, and even gave them information about raising fish in their rice paddies.
Normally Peace Corps assignments are for two years, but I applied for, and was granted, a third year, so I could work with various local schools on their English curricula. Then, as I was preparing to go home, I was told of a job offer at a university in the northeastern city of Khon Kaen. I went up there to see if it looked interested, and was immediately offered the job.
I loved it, but after a year came back to the U.S. I’d felt something of an imposter, since I only had a B.A. Back in Seattle I got my Master’s in teaching ESL, and then heard that Khon Kaen University wanted me to come back, so I did. Six years later, the Thai economy crashed, so I returned to the U.S.
While living in Thailand I did a little traveling – Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Japan, Taiwan, and Nepal.
Tim McDaniel’s story “Koehl’s Quality Impressions” was
published on Friday, 27 April 2018.
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