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1971: James I. Jouppi served in Thailand in Nakorn Panome beginning in 1971
Returned Peace Corps Volunteer James I. Jouppi can be contacted at jjjjjimaiservdnet
Country of Service: Thailand
Training Group: Group 38
Cities you served in: Nakorn Panome
Arrival Year: 1971
Departure Year: 1973
Work Description: Civil Engineer
Bring us up to date on your life after the peace corps:
have held 50+jobs, joined the Army as a medic, got a masters in England, presently work for the post office
Any thoughts you have now looking back on peace corps days?:
Lots of thoughts. I was very isolated
when I needed people willing and able
to talk about what was going on. All my friends had left by that time. There was a confluence of American Intellingence and Peace Corps which seemed to affect only me adversely because of my situation, my relationships, the PC Thailand administration of that time, where I was stationed, even the Christian influences from my home leave. And yet it was all covert. I wrote extensively about it in America, and in '78 sent my work to JOhn Shade, then Executive Director of the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, who urged Bob Shanks of Comco Productions to turn it into a movie. I had great hopes that a movie would come out which would some way tell the truth which had been suppressed, maybe even about the Vietnam War in general, but the movie Volunteers (85)which eventually came out seemed formatted to avoid any connection to truth. The credits indicate as much (I saw the movie again today) even though the characters were placed in Thailand as civil engineers in a program dominated by American intelligence. Of course I see all the connections not knowing if they were coincidental of not. Bob Shanks was unresponsive. And after all these years it still seems that everyone who was at all exposed to what I saw did so in a deniable way. Reality was scewed not so much because of the foreign culture but because of how America was meddling with that culture both overtly and covertly. As I said, I've done a lot of research. I learned things just last year which, had I known them at the time, would have allowed me to understand what I was dealing with. I guess we were, by intention, naive, and perhaps that allowed us to influence others who were naive in ways we weren't. How that applies to the Peace Corps world today I'm not sure. Curiously three people on your RPCV list were involved in my journey, and one was my major adversary. I finally located him in '94, and based on that experience I doubt he'll ever really talk. It doesn't matter so much now anymore anyway. I guess I like to think our battle brought to light issues within the Thai culture (if not the American culture) which led to new policies and the end of the Thai insurgency. But for we, us, it was much more personal, and government policy, whichever way it went, was the sideshow. Obviously it was a bigger deal to me than the others, but that was because of the circumstances. I don't think I'm by nature egocentric or paranoid; nor do I hold to conspiracy theories, but I guess a large part of my life was spent dealing with a reality either trivialized, invisible, or denied by other Americans. I wound up sort of between the cultures, unable to embrace either one. My last trip back I met a GI who told me all the stories he heard about Thailand were adventure stories or disaster stories. I had to laugh at that. Incidently, this is for your eyes only (so long as I'm talking about covert). Best wishes.
Anyone you are looking for or would like to hear from?:
Anyone from group 38, particularly
Scott Andrea, John McKiernan, Mike Louise
Any message for returned volunteers?:
Finally married a village girl from Korat. She's doing well putting up with me.........so far at least.
Originally posted: December 10, 2002
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