In late July, 2011, I arrived in NW Thailand to help start a bi-lingual, Montessori-based preschool for 3-5 year olds. The student body will be 30-35% Shan (Burmese) refugee children with the remainder coming from Thai, Western and half-Thai/half-Western households.
Prior to the move my home was in Greenwich Village, NYC, for 7 years and then Woodstock, NY for 24 years. Pai, where the school is located, is sort of the “Woodstock of SE Asia”—surrounded by mountains (Catskills in NY) but with rice paddies instead of apple orchards, lots of artists and musicians, tourist mecca, and a place where current and former “hippies” feel comfortable.
ONE YEAR LATER, July 2012: We launched the school with a pilot program in January and February, 2012. Following “summer” vacation in March and April, the Banyan Center opened officially. Current enrollment is 18, which is near our capacity. Five students are scholarship refugee children and the remainder have parents from Thailand, USA, England, Russia and Japan.
NEARLY TWO YEARS LATER, April 2013: With the school underway, I retired again and started a three-month journey (Feb. 3 to May 2) back to New York. It’s my “bucket list” trip although I don’t plan to “hit the bucket” for many years go come. Wanted to see a number of things while I still had the hip and knee joints and good health to do so: Himalayas, Taj Mahal, Pyramids, Greek islands plus some other wonderful places thrown in. Also of great importance was visiting dear friends in Palestine (Issa Souf & Family) and Italy (Katia Torre & family).