VIRGINIA – The year was 1967 and it is August, near the beginning of our senior year at Roosevelt High School in Virginia. As seniors we wondered who our foreign exchange student would be and where she or he would be from.
It wasn’t long before we found out that classmate Dave Pearsall’s family was hosting Winai Goyadoolya from Thailand, which seemed like a world away from Minnesota both in distance and in culture. All we knew about Thailand was that it was a pretty country just west of Vietnam, which put it in the thick of the Vietnam conflict. Thailand, our ally, was the third largest provider of ground forces to South Vietnam, following the United States and South Korea.
We all waited in anticipation of his arrival. In mid-August, Winai arrived in Virginia. We can remember Winai as being a bit shy. His English was just okay. However, it didn’t take him long to become part of life in Virginia and friends with his classmates. We fondly remember his contagious smile and his funny laugh. He liked to “kid around” with his classmates, which really helped him establish many friendships.
Life at the Pearsall house was always busy with Dave’s dad being mayor of Virginia and the many class activities and sports events in which they participated. Winai fit right in and our class of 1968 loved having him spend the year with us.
Dave and Winai kept in contact after his return to Thailand. In 1980, Dave had a chance to spend a few days with Winai in Bangkok. Over the years, communication with him lessened. With the advent of Facebook, they became reacquainted and are now real brothers again.
The VHS Class of 1968 will celebrate their 50th class reunion Aug. 17 – 18. To the delight of all classmates, Winai and his son Krit will be joining us. The class has established a GoFundMe account to help him defer travel costs. If you would like to help Winai, please donate at www.gofundme.com/bring-winai-the-50th-class-reunion. Winai will visit Dave in Arizona before coming to Virginia. Winai and son Krit are excited and looking forward to seeing old classmates again and his beloved Virginia. Winai’s life after high school
Winai, now retired, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education from Srinakharinwirot University in Bangkok, Thailand, and a master’s degree in education administration from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. His career included 12 years as a primary school teacher, 24 years as an education administrator, and 14 years as vice director of Phang-nga primary education.
Winai and his wife Junya, also an educator, have two sons, Kritdipuk and Sirutt, a daughter, Preudtinart, and two grandchildren. Winai has an interest in agriculture: para-rubber, palm oil and tropical fruits plantation.
Camilla Hudy lives in Aurora, MN, and David Pearsall lives in Peoria, AZ. Both are 1968 graduates of Roosevelt High School in Virginia, MN.