After graduating with Cornell’s civil engineering class of 1971 and a five-week stint as a taxi driver in New York City, Jim Jouppi (Thailand 1971-73) shipped out for a Peace Corps adventure in Thailand. After completing his two-year tour, he was ready to go back home when, after meeting a flirtatious Thai jownatee, he decided to take a home leave and return for one more year. Upon his return to Thailand, he found himself immersed in a very personal dilemma while trying to escape the confluence of Thai government, Peace Corps, and counterinsurgency politics in the Communist sensitive province where he was stationed.
Jouppi was later employed in America as an engineer-in-training, carpenter apprentice, refugee worker, and postal worker, spent three years in the Army as a medic, and earned a master’s degree in tropical public health civil engineering in England.
His first sustained attempt at memoir writing was critiqued by the late Dr. John Shade of the Pearl S. Buck Foundation in 1979 as “a statement of the times which has to be presented as other than the truth because too many people are not ready for the truth.” His self-published Peace Corps survival manual — The Original Unauthorized Upcountrywithoutapaddle Peace Corps Survival Manual published under the pseudonym Larry Thistle — was later critiqued by Buckminster Fuller protégée James (Jay) Baldwin as “part of your basic homework if you are considering the Peace Corps or any other government-sponsored assistance program.”
Prior to writing this latest version of his memoir, he learned as much as possible from people with different perspectives in an effort to understand the larger mosaic. He concludes with a plan for a post-pandemic Peace Corps with enhanced pre-training; independent, so far as is possible, from American Intelligence, a Peace Corps which can build on its sixty-year history and continue to be a viable vocational option for Americans into the future.
Nakhon Phanom: The Domino That Did Not Fall (and my Thai hometown)
By James l. Jouppi (Thailand 1971–73)
Liberty Hill Publishing
$9.99 (Kindle); $30.99 (Paperback); $41.00 (Hardback)