adventures in Thailand

About Paula

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).


11 thoughts on “About Paula

  1. You can be sure I’ll read every word you write. It’s a great way to share your experiences.

  2. I am on the last day of a 10 day vacation in Italy, my favorite country in the world. On 25 July I leave for Thailand, arriving on Tuesday 26 July. There I will be helping to open a school for Burmese refugee children and others.

  3. I do enjoy reading your posts, Paula. That was a terribly long journey but you are there now! I like that you find folks to dine with so easily. The prices there are incredible but I suppose the salaries and earnings are commenserate. Betsy Tuel

    • Betsy, you asked about the area. Well, Chiang Mai is Thailand’s 2nd biggest city, about 425 miles north of Bangkok. So not rural. Not many skyscrapers. I’m in the Old City so nothing tall at all. It’ll be rural in Pai–a valley surrounded my low mountains and filled with rice paddies.

  4. Hi Paula
    It is great to read of your experiences. Sounds like another dimension and yet, somewhat the same. UCMS has had two meetings so far this fall. We have a new member, Sue Rafkind, and the return of Linda Delgado-Baker but we miss you. You have missed Ulster Co’s earthquake and hurricane! The latter has caused a lot of damage west of us. Tom and I hope all your experiences are positive. Keep those ants and mosquitos under control! Our best and love to youl Cece

  5. Hi Paula,

    My name is Lara and I just happened to stubble across your blog. We (my fiance and I) just moved to Phuket in August when I took a position as a teacher at the Montessori School here. It’s so fun to read about another Montessori school teacher’s experiences in Thailand! Please check out our blog: I look forward to reading more!

  6. Paula, I’ve just sent you a Christmas letter to your personal address. Please let me know if you cannot retrieve it and I’ll re-send by another route of your choosing. We treasure your insights on Thailand and feel proud to know someone with such a love for her fellow man. Brenda and Ed/Pete Hayes, Corning Elderhostel.

    • thx, brenda. received your newsy letter. thx so much! took me a while to figure out that Pete is also Ed!!! glad you’re enjoying the blog. you’ve inspired me to write a new post today. it’s been much too long. seem to go in spurts.

      so glad to hear you did a elderhostel in corning again. i worked at that one in April—it’s great. maybe you could go with a grandkid or two this summer for an intergenerational program. they’re great.

      hope to be on the cape in april–hope we can connect in person then. hugs-paula

  7. Interesting to read of your adventures…..Take care…Gayle

  8. Well hey there Paula! So nice to meet you today. Your blog looks most interesting.

    btw, I checked out that other apartment complex on my way “home” and… Suffice it was pretty bad. No matter, plenty of other options here.

    In any case, when I return from Mongolia in September, I hope to see you in Pai.

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