In 1966 I was the only foreign student in Park Hill High School, Parkville, a small town in the Greater Kansas City Area. School life was fun and I was well received by my American friends. I was blended well in school activities with my broken English and a yellow skin colour nobody noticed. I was in the school play (Tea House and the August Moon) and a member of the National Honour Society. Local Rotary and Kiwanis clubs invited me to speak about my country, Thailand. No one made fun of my inadequate English. My paintings won the local award from the Hallmarks Cards Company and a national award from the Scholastic Magazine. My one year at Park Hill High was full of friendship and international understanding. I never experienced a sense of racial discrimination from anyone anywhere.
My American family loved me like their own.
After graduation I returned to my country with lasting memory of the America and the people I love. I still maintain contacts with some old friends.
Ten years later, with a fellowship grant from Harvard University, I returned for a graduate study at the University of Pennsylvania where I received a Ph.D. in 1981. My love for America increased many folds.
My heart is broken learning from CNN this morning that a group of white kids in a US school let out their hatred against foreigners and immigrants.
In Philadelphia the University of Pennsylvania announced that “black freshman students were added to a racist GroupMe account that appears to be based in Oklahoma. The account itself is totally repugnant: it contains violent, racist and thoroughly disgusting images and messages. This is simply deplorable.”*
It is very sad to see this happened today. For this I hold Donald Trump’s campaign rhetorics responsible. It is something I never thought could ever happen in my 1966 America. I was taught in Park Hill High that America is ‘land of the free and home of the brave’. It is the melting pot of world immigrants since the arrival of the Mayflower.
My America was really great 50 years ago. The new era of Trump’s America shows troubling signs pointing towards direction unknown.
My son is in a college in Boston. He is uncertain, too.
Bangkok / 12 November 2016