Chapter 11
Foreign Students

After four children we were living in an empty nest about six blocks from the California State University at Long Beach. As a member of Dr. Steve Horn’s President’s Associates, we became involved with the International Students Association and attended some of their events. We finally realized our vacant bedroom could help students needing housing assistance and as a result, we had two foreign students followed by an American and later his sister.
Our first was Vania Sotti from Sau Palo, Brazil. Charming and intelligent she tutored high math in addition to her studies and spoke three languages. On my 50th birthday, she recruited other foreign students and prepared a dinner of foreign dishes for our guests. Here she is doing the dishes afterwards.
When she graduated, we interviewed Sombat, a Thai student who spoke a little broken English but was easy to understand. He said he would move in shortly. We came home one day to find a message that read, “Hi Mom, Dad, I move in tomorrow. Okay me call you Mom, Dad?” This is a photo I just received 32 years later.
Because he was obviously non-Caucasian, about 5”-4” with a small Fu Manchu mustache and weighed about 120 pounds. I told my staff not to worry if a person who fit this description came to the office and asked for his "Dad". He lived with us for almost two years working two jobs.
In 1977 when we visited Sombat and Sugonya he was teaching at the Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. Sugonya’s sister, who owned a newspaper in Ching Mai, had visited us in Long Beach and had published articles of her visit and later of our visit to Thailand which we had saved.
Since I had never been able to read them I contacted fellow Rotarian Susan Asato at Mira Costa Community College and ask her if she could locate a Thai student who could translate some news articles in a Thai newspaper. That resulted in meeting a delightful Thai student named Wanna Curtis. We are now friends.
Two days later Wanna called to say that she had called the University and spoken to him and that he would e-mail me. Here is his message: (English is his second language, one of several.)
From: Dr. Sombat Karnjanakit
Sent: Friday, June 12, 2009 9:50 PM
Dear Dad Ollie Speraw:
Hello! Hello! from Thailand!! I am exciting to hear from you Dad. A couple day ago Mrs. Wanna called me and gave me good news about you. After last time to see you in Bangkok in 1977, I was teaching for 6 years and joined the international of Goodwill Program "The Ship for Southeast Asian Youth and Japan." As a leader of 35 Thai National Youths we joined 6 national Youths of South East Asian and Japan Sponsored by ASEAN and Japanese Government for two months Trip.
Suganya and I have been married since 1980 and have one daughter, Jan Suthasinee Karnjanakit, she was born in Houston in 1986 so she hold American and Thai citizen. She just graduated her B.ED. degree with 1st Honor Roll at Chulalongkorn University. She is continuing her Master degree at Chula U. and we plan to send her to pursue her Ph.D. in California and will visit you soon.
In 1978 to 1986, I came to U.S.A. to further study for my Doctoral program. At first, I earned the Education Specialist Degree at Missouri State University and my Ph.D. Program in Administration and Supervision in P.E. and Sport at University of Houston with Teaching Fellowship.
Dad, when I returned to Chulalongkorn University in 1987 I was promoted to Sports Science and P.E. and the only one in Thailand. That is why I am so busy now days.
I am one of the founders of the new College of Sport Science at Chulalongkorn University, Vice President of the Asian Society for Physical Education and Sport, President of Sport Psychology Society of Thailand, Vice-President of Sport Management Association of Thailand and so on.
I have organized educational tours for Thai educators and administrators to USA, European countries, and Asian countries many times in about 25 countries.
I would like to share more with you who gave me opportunity to stay in the Speraw family with warm heart. I will write more tomorrow.

Click photos to see larger versions.

© 2011 Oliver W. Speraw