By Stephen A Garrett
An American in Thailand paints a shiny photograph of a desirable society during this account of his yr as a Fulbright professor at Chulalongkorn college in Bangkok. Garrett exhibits what the Fulbright program is actually like, together with such details as facing the “web of bureaucratic eccentrics,” discovering housing, and dealing with “live-in” snakes. M. Carlota Baca, Director of educational Liaison on the Council for foreign alternate of students, describes those diary entries as a “graceful mixture of personal memory, shuttle literature, rumination on prior U.S. overseas coverage in Southeast Asia, and really deft portraiture of human types.”
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I finally called CIES this morning to try to find out what was going on. Marguerite Hulbert was suitably apologetic that I had heard nothing yet from Bangkok and expressed surprise that this should be so. She said she would fire off a cable to Thailand requesting a status report. Even this little gesture is evidently not without its complications. CIES used to work through the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in processing Fulbrighters, but the bureau as of April 1 was taken over by the new International Communications Page 9 Agency, which also absorbed the functions of the United States Information Agency.
One of the delights of the Fulbright program, at least in my experience, is that it allows a fair amount of time for personal writing and reflection. Consequently, a majority of the entries in this book were composed very soon after the events that they describe happened. In some instances, when other duties intruded, I made detailed notes and wrote them up when time permitted. I must confess that a certain amount of editing seemed in order when I had a chance to review the manuscript in its entirety.
May 12 I've finally received a communication from Bangkok. It appears that the international mails are no more swift than what we in the States are used to: the letter was mailed April 24. In any case it sets out in further detail the terms of the Fulbright award, including such little tidbits as a grant of one thousand baht (fifty dollars) for studying Thai once I arrive in Bangkok. Tuition over there must be a shade less than Harvard is currently charging. We also get a couple of hundred bucks to help us settle in, that is, buy pots and pans, drapes, and a transformer for our electrical productscurrent in Thailand is 220 rather than 110.
Bangkok journal: a Fulbright year in Thailand by Stephen A Garrett