A Teacher’s Letters from the Thai-Burma Border

Thomas Rhoden has published a book of letters called Burmese Refugees: Letters from the Thai-Burma Border.

The American teacher spent a year in refugee camps in the Mae Sot area in one of ten camps dotted along the border. Thomas decided to give his students an assignment one afternoon but he was not prepared for what came back.

The result is a collection of stories that captures the lives of the refugees living on that border, where some 150,000 Burmese asylum seekers are waiting for a new home. Thomas says refugees there are closely monitoring news about Australia’s government’s refugee policies.

Presenter: Adelaine Ng

Speaker: Thomas Rhoden, editor of Burmese Refugees: Letters from the Thai-Burma Border.

*Original talk can be found on Radio Australia; photo credit via Virgina W. Mason, Maruesrite B. Hunsiker, and Maggie Smith at National Geographic Magazine. Unless otherwise stated, all posts on this website are under Creative Commons license. 

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Thailand Inspires Alumnus to Write Books

Story by Andy Arb from The Journal of Webster University on T. F. Rhoden’s first literary venture in The Village.

When the University of Maryland University College decided to close its international campus in Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany in 2001, Thomas Rhoden had to find a new school to attend. Rhoden liked the international campus location options of Webster University, and settled at the Thailand campus. This is where he got his inspiration for his four books, including his novel, “The Village.”

“What I wanted to do with the book was capture what life was really like in the village in modern day Southeast Asia,” Rhoden said.

Rhoden, also known as T.F. Rhoden, his pen name, is originally from Dallas. After graduating from Webster University-Thailand in 2003, he moved to China before moving before moving back to Thailand when he joined the Peace Corps. Rhoden left Thailand again, but returned after he went to Arizona to earn his MBA.

Rhoden spent seven years off and on living in Thailan, so he knew the state of small communities in Southeast Asia, and wanted to clear up any misconceptions people might have.

“A lot of what you might read from… [click here to continue to read full text]

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*Originally published in The Journal of Webster University by Andy Arb; photo credits for this re-post via by Tom at Isan Life. Unless otherwise stated, all posts on this website are under Creative Commons licence. 

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Behind the Barbwire

Adventure in Thai-Burma Refugee Camp Inspire Book.

I heard the good news only days before our class graduation: There was an opportunity for me to return to Southeast Asia and work with refugee populations along the Thai-Burma border. This was in spring 2009; when the financial recession was at its nastiest and consequently not the best time to be a newly minted MBA looking for work.

I recall there being more than a few lackadaisical Thunderbirds at the graduation reception party that evening. That night I had felt myself lucky to have had found a gig that synced perfectly with my experiences before Thunderbird.

Living in a remote refugee camp does not normally register on an MBA’s list of optimal places to work after graduation. If not for a slightly bizarre desire on my own part to keep chasing one adventure after the next, I too might have found myself fi led away into a more traditional post-MBA existence.

Surprisingly, I found our MBA tool chest of skills to be extremely useful when I arrived in the refugee camp. After learning about the… [click here to continue to read full text]

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*Originally published on page 70 of Thunderbird Magazine by T. F. Rhoden (Spring 2011); photo credit for image in this re-post goes to Khin Maung Kyaw. Unless otherwise stated, all posts on this website are under Creative Commons licence. 

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