Carissa Sutter, 126
This year, Peace Corps Thailand Magazine is celebrating more than 50 years of PCV publishing in Thailand. Our little publication has gone through many changes over the past half century, and in honor of our golden anniversary we are sharing some of our committee’s history.
50 years ago, PCV Brad Martin from Group 11 decided to create a “grab-bag of fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and art”; a publication to share with his co-PCVs that focused on their time in Thailand and provided a pre-Netflix escape from stress. This first iteration of our literary voice was dubbed Klong, or canal; traditionally used in Thailand as a means to transport goods and/or communication.
After Klong, there was The Return of the Klong, Pakok2 Magazine, Hey You!, Sticky Rice (nearly renamed The Kwai in 1986, to the horror of PC staff), and Peace Corps Thailand Magazine. There are also rumors of a newsletter which was sent out in 1963 – a nameless mailing which may have offered humorous feature articles and jokes. No RPCV can find evidence of this publication, so we do not claim official creation until 1966.
Klong publication stopped by 1969, and PCVs began publishing again in 1976 when Hey You! was produced simultaneously with the newly formed Advisory Council of Thailand (ACT) / Volunteer Advisory Council (VAC). Howard Statement (Group 51) was the Chairperson of ACT and the editor in chief of Hey You! Instead of a journal, it was a newsletter of announcements, meeting minutes, articles, and Volunteer gossip. There were (surprisingly frequent) wedding announcements, sometimes between Volunteers and their counterparts, classified ads for items and apartment rentals in Bangkok, and even restaurant reviews. The main contributions came from ACT, who had the stated mission of facilitating group participation and Volunteer involvement. Hey You! was typed on stencils and folded for mailing by the advisory council, while the Peace Corps staff printed the addresses on the envelopes and paid for postage.
In 1977 Dewey Weaver (Group 58) changed the name to Sticky Rice to give the publication a title more representative of Thailand. It was published on a Gestetner mimeograph machine on Foolscap 8″ x 12″ paper, which was rolled into a tube and sent through the Thai mail system. There were some familiar publication objectives: allowing Volunteers a space to share information about their cultural experiences, both in their villages and during their travels; educating volunteers on Thai architecture, religion, rituals, food, clothing, language, crafts, myths and music; announcements about internal and external meetings as well as classifieds and opinion articles.
In the mid-1980s there was an effort to change the title of the newsletter to “The Kwai,” but the ajaans shot down the request because of its lingual proximity to a commonly used Thai profanity. At that time the newsletter remained a quarterly, and the publication would continue to be issued in the same manner for another thirty years. By the 1990s the issues were created using a copy machine, and included articles and comics to make fun of Volunteers and staff alike. There are still Sticky Rice “books” from the 90s sitting in storage at the Peace Corps office in Bangkok, but most of our older issues were lost. Someday, we hope to make all the previous Sticky Rice issues available online.
Sometime in the past 15 years, the newsletter became an online PDF which was emailed to Volunteers. For the first time in its history, the publication was in-color and provided vivid pictures of PCVs in the field. This was a big change and totally revolutionized the way information was presented.
But the biggest change was in 2015 when the newsletter transitioned online and became Peace Corps Thailand Magazine. We still carry the nickname Sticky Rice, because having nicknames is a way of life in Thailand. Peace Corps Headquarters has informed our staff that they believe we are the FIRST online magazine produced by a PCV committee – in the world. We have spearheaded a new medium for Third Goal expression as a PCV publication committee, and we are doing our best to set high standards for our peers.
Our publication has documented the experiences of five decades of Volunteers in Thailand, and we look forward to many more generations of PCVs using our outlet to share their voices with the world.
*Thanks to Carolyn Nickels-Cox for providing all of this information to our committee!
**The RPCVs are listed as being from “Group #”, but the traditional way of writing group numbers was “Thai #”. This has been adjusted to prevent confusion of active PCVs.
*** A more detailed history is provided on the internal group Wiki, attached to the PCTM committee page.
 The committee was named Advisory Committee, Thailand at first, but then there was some interchange of the title when a volunteer found a longer-existing Malaysian Peace Corps Advisory Committee that was named Volunteer Advisory Committee. The titles/acronyms became used interchangeably for a while.