Interactive Communication in Modern Day Peace Corps Service

Carissa Sutter, 126

A New Phase for Sticky Rice

For Peace Corps Volunteers, the experience of communication has evolved enormously over the past five decades. In the 1960s, volunteers had almost no contact with the outside world during their service. They would send letters around the world to communicate with their families and could wait weeks for a response. Then came email. Then…online messaging.Most present day volunteers in Thailand can email, Facebook message, or talk face-to-face with friends and family using online platforms such as Skype or Line. Many of us do this every day. The obvious benefit is that the communication is now interactive. It has become a conversation.

Sticky Rice, the Peace Corps Thailand magazine, has also evolved in the way that it communicates.  There was a time that Sticky Rice was mailed out by the Peace Corps officials using the Thai postal system.  Then, it was sent out as a simple email with recipes and articles listed one after the other. It became more efficient to publish the newsletter in black and white PDF format using new font styles and double columns. This eventually made way for full color issues with vivid pictures and bright fonts. The Sticky Rice PDF format has been distributed as an attachment in emails and posted as a downloadable link on websites for some years now.

The history of Sticky Rice is important for all Peace Corps Thailand volunteers because it is the legacy that has been left behind for future generations. It is the voice of our experience and the tone of our service set down in print. Each progressive change over the years has communicatedan expression of an era. The current generation ofSticky Rice editors are ready to transform the publication from a PDF attachment into an interactive online magazine.

How does this change the content of Sticky Rice? It does not change the original content at all. Everything that would have been presented in PDF format will now be published on the website. The sections remain unchanged and will be provided, as always, on a quarterly basis. What will change is that we will be able to add new content. This includes links to volunteer blogs and a calendar of upcoming events that are relevant to volunteers still in active service.  We hope to provide a magazine that will unify volunteers and give them a place to go more regularly for information relevant to their lives.

Articles will be accessible to anyone, anywhere and the conversations will stop being one-way. If there is a recipe in the Better Homes and Kanoms section that would do better with a pinch of lime, you can tell us in the comments. If someone posts a travel article and forgets to mention the giant Buddha located in a remote part of the region, a commenter can let us all know.

Sticky Rice as an online magazine means the content will be more accessible, more communal, and more relevant. We will be able to quickly update the information and find out which articles readers are interested in. You will be able to share single articles from the magazine with friends and family even if the article was published last year. Our Sticky Rice online magazine will become a place for all Peace Corps Thailand Volunteers, past and present, to congregate and share experiences.

This may seem like a drastic change, especially for those of you who have been reading Sticky Rice as a magazine or newsletter for many years. It is a drastic change but it is one that will have long term benefits. We will now have the ability to easily find old articles using a simple search engine. No matter where we are in the world, we will have access to those archives. We will also have access to each other. This platform allows everyone to stay connected to Peace Corps Thailand and to communicate with new generations of volunteers. It may also reconnect old friends.

This change will revolutionize the way Sticky Rice shares information. It can be hard to let go of a medium that has served our volunteers so well and for so many years but it is important to keep moving our publication forward. We need to adjust to meet the technological advancements that are now available and we can only hope that you will join us on the new path as we continue the fifty+ year journey sharing the Peace Corps experiences in Thailand.

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