Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Letter from Larry Nahlik

Season's Greetings

Hello Family & Friends,

We're happy and healthy, and hope you are, too. We have come to realize that a big part of our health is the exercise we get. Yao is a regular on her treadmill and bicycle (weather permitting). Larry bikes to stay in shape for skiing, and skis to stay in shape for biking. Marie bikes, runs, plays tennis, and we all do yoga to varying degrees.

Marie is now in her second year at Arizona State. She changed her major this semester from Biology to Biochemistry. Most of you know that Marie's career goal is to become a pediatrician. In addition to school, she has been preparing herself for a career in medicine in several different ways. She's volunteering at a clinic for low-income patients in Phoenix, and made a trip to Honduras at the end of the Spring semester with Global Medical Brigades. That was an eye-opener. Though she had seen poverty in Thailand, she was astonished to see the conditions in Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the Americas. Most of the patients, fortunately, presented only minor illnesses.

Larry had a pretty good year on his bikes, hanging them up in November with over 1,600 miles on the odometer for the year. A big part of that was training with a co-worker for a 100-mile day, which we completed the first Saturday in September. The daily 14-mile round-trip to work adds up, too.

As usual, Thailand was a big part of our life again this year. Yao and Marie (with academic schedules) were there for eight weeks, and Larry joined them for the last four. We had fun in Pai, a resort town in the rural north. We hiked in the forested hills, rode elephants and played with them in a river, and went zip-lining through the treetops. Also made a trip to Phuket to connect with some friends who live there, and got in some beach time on a return visit to Khao Lak, the area that was hit hard by the tsunami in December 2004.

We had a shock our last day in Thailand as we prepared to return to the States: Yao's mother was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, already metastasized. That left Yao wondering whether to come home with us, or to stay and tend to her mom's needs. She decided to get on the plane with us, but returned to Thailand ten days later, after arranging a family medical leave with Madison Schools. Yao was able to spend the last six weeks of her mother's life with her, helping to make her comfortable. She passed away on October 9th at the age of 81. Larry went to the funeral in Yao's home town, Phayao, and, along with sons and grandsons, wore the robes of a Buddhist monk for the burial. Yao and Marie are going again on December 21st to attend the 100-day memorial, which is traditional in Thai-Chinese culture.

We're looking forward to some life-changing events in 2010. Yao plans to (semi-)retire. That is, she's retiring from Madison Schools, but that means she's looking for work in Thailand to occupy herself while Larry works another six months and prepares the house for sale. Marie is planning a spring break trip to the Dominican Republic on another medical mission, and Larry is going to dabble in cyclocross, a form of bike racing on trails and roads. There might be an Alaska cruise in our future, with Larry's brother Jim who fills in as an occasional ship's doctor with Holland America.

Holiday Letter from Parichart & Peter

Happy Holidays!

Our biggest news in 2009 was Harris marrying Seher Erdogan. Seher is originally from Turkey, and has been in the US since attending Yale as an undergrad. She completed her M.Arc. this year, just before the wedding ceremony on May 29. Harris and Seher are both working (luckily!) in New Haven now. Seher's parents are planning a real wedding party in Turkey in August. We are sure looking forward to that and touring Turkey and Greece in the summer. (Although Seher's maiden name is the same as the Turkish Prime Minister's, they are not related.)

Way back last February, Parichart and I had a great trip to Thailand. After a couple of days in Bangkok and visiting with her brothers' families, we flew to Chiang Mai for a visit with her sister. Then we took off on a really fun tour of Northern Thailand: Chiang Rai, Phayao, Nan, Doi Phuka National Park, and Phitsanulok. We had never been to any of these towns before except for a brief stopover in P'lok, and really enjoyed our time in all of these places. Being afraid of global warming, Northern Thailand has more appeal as a possible retirement location for me. I wonder how many of the islands will be left in 50 years, but don’t get me started on that…. If you haven't yet seen all of our pictures from the trip, there are a bunch of albums here: picasaweb.google.com/PeterFordPhotos.

Actually there's no really good reason for us to retire in Thailand. Pari is happy enough in her retirement right here in the beautiful mountains of northeast Tennessee. I continue to do some database programming and web design in my comfortable office downstairs. Right now I've got a beautiful view of snow covered evergreens. And with the trails and lake right out the door, I'm generally content to stay right here on the mountain. (But I do like traveling once in a while.)

Maybe there's a trip to Thailand in our future in about another year. Hope to see some of you in country during our next visit! Bill (Preston), we should try to meet in Thailand instead of New Jersey!

Best Wishes for 2010!

Peter & Parichart

Thursday, June 4, 2009

32 years!

2009. It's been 32 years since we came together in 1977 for our Peace Corps training. Still a lot of fine memories, and good to share them with old friends. Since the old web site is soon going to disappear, here's a new one to keep our connections alive.

Some of what you've written lately:

My daughter's graduation from high school is today in Chiang Mai (Friday 22 May) and my son (25) has finished his Masters 2 years ago and is working in Sydney. My daughter will be going to the U of Hawaii to study Marine Biology. Following retirement from the Asian Development Bank a few years ago, I got bored and started working for the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center in Bangkok heading their Public Health in Emergencies team.

I want to pass this along: just this morning I finished reading a novel that is an absolutely outstanding literary achievement (it's going to appeal to an AG volunteer who may not recognize echoes of classics, too). It is "Go With Me" by Castle Freeman Jr., published by Harpers. Down to the smallest detail (e.g. paper, type face, etc.) it is a miracle.

Bill Preston
Jason has decided on University of Pittsburgh. It's a bit far away, but I think it's a good choice. We visited there in April and liked the city and university area. It's a fairly big school, but seems manageable, has some very nice architecture. And Pittsburgh is a nice, smaller city that seems very pleasant, relaxed, easy to get around.

I learned as we prepared for the reunion in 2002 that Bob Anderson had died before that. That hit me hard, as he was one of the youngsters, like me. We had shared a room during training in Maha Sarakham. We went to Singapore together in 1978, and I ran into him when he was in grad school in Missouri in the 80s. I regret not keeping in touch, and the PC official who told me about his death had no details.

I’m still plugging away in Bangkok as a corporate language trainer in the Oil and Gas industry, currently working for the exploration and production division of PTT. We’re, of course, called PTTEP. I have more or less stayed in EFL since my volunteer days, primarily in Thailand—Thammasat University, the Stock Exchange of Thailand, Unocal (now Chevron), and now PTTEP. I also did two, 2-year EFL gigs in Indonesia and Saudi Arabia. But, Thailand is still home base. Will probably retire here when I get around to it.

I’m still quite single, and am no doubt too stuck in my ways to get out of this rut, but I am most grateful that I have remained relatively healthy, happy, and financially secure for so long. –Count your blessings...

Peter & Parichart
If you would like to see pictures from our son Harris' recent wedding: picasaweb.google.com/PeterFordPhotos/Wedding#

In Tribute to Pat

Sad news, but I appreciate your passing it along. I had just recently come across the attached photo from your wedding, and Neal and I (in the context of the photo) were discussing Pat on the phone a couple of weeks ago. Time marches on and we need to enjoy every day.

I’ll have to admit though, I'm still kind of just processing the news about Pat.

He and I spent a lot of time together in those formative days, especially because we were often roommates in the luxury hotels we so frequently occupied during our training days. I particularly remember the hotbox fleabag in Mahasarakham. With room walls actually too hot to touch for very long. And this was evening. Pat and I shared a room quite close to the local movie theater, which of course, kept blaring away its obnoxious promo music well into the night. Absolutely miserable. And we had to do our practice teaching the next day!

Thanks for letting me know about Pat. I didn't really get to know him that well until after Peace Corps, when he and I worked for about three months for Joint Voluntary Agency (based in Bangkok) doing refugee resettlement work. We spent about 6 weeks in Nongkhai working in a Lao refugee camp with about six other American staff (none from PC, as I recall). We worked with Lao translators to interview refugees to see if they could be resettled in the US. I actually remained in touch with a couple of the Lao I worked with there after they were sent to the US, and visited one family in Virginia back around 1981. I've lost touch since. Then Pat and I worked for another 5 or 6 weeks in Phanat Nikhom, this time with Cambodians. That was kind of depressing because it was just after the camp opened (it was in a very primitive state) and not long after the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia, allowing refugees to flee the Khmer Rouge. Needless to day, the refugees were in pretty bad shape. Again we interviewed refugees, but it was sad to learn how many had lost family members to the Khmer Rouge or who simply didn't know where members were. I hadn't really heard much about the Khmer Rouge at that time, so this was a real first-hand history lesson. I remember too that Pat and I had to go to Malaysia in order to get work permits after we were terminated from Peace Corps. We had to wait a few days in Malaysia for the permits, so we were able to visit the Cameron Highlands for a day or two, which was very lovely. Anyway, Pat was a pretty quiet guy, so I probably wouldn't have gotten to know him except for this post-PC work we did. I can't even remember where his PC site was--I think he worked at a teachers college, but not sure. I'm sorry to hear this news, especially as he and I are the same age (he was about two months older than me).
~Bill Preston

How splendid to hear from you and to think of you both, but what sad circumstances, I am very sorry to learn of Pat's death--he was in language class with Peter and me. I liked Pat--always smiling, ready to laugh, a good guy.

Below is the text of the obituary:

Clarence Pickens "Pat" Satterwhite Jr., 60, died Saturday, July 19, 2008, at his home in Pinehurst.

A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 26, at the Village Chapel, Pinehurst, with Dr. Larry Ellis officiating.

A viewing will be held 30 minutes prior to the service. The family will receive friends after the service in the chapel hall.

Mr. Satterwhite was born April 1, 1948, a son of the late Clarence and Lucille Boulware Satterwhite. He served in the U.S. Navy. He taught school in Saudi Arabia for many years prior to moving to the Sandhills in 2003. He taught English as a Second Language in Moore County Schools.

He is survived by his wife, Phea; and three children, Sean, Brenna and Emlyn.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Donor Services, P.O. Box 4072, Pittsfield, MA 01202.