Vinai R.

As Interviewed by Maddy Pollack, on March 22, 2015

Vinai R.: In His Own Words

My father, he came from China when he was about 20 year old. He came from China to Thailand because at that time there was famine- not enough to eat. My mother was born in Thailand, in the town named Sriracha. You heard about Sriracha? It the sauce; they the city that originate the famous sauce.

I went to school in Thailand. Finished high school in Thailand- the best school in Bangkok! Went to college in Chiang Mai- that another city in the north of Thailand. And I went to medical school over there. After I finish medical school, I came to the United State. And after training over here, first we went to Connecticut, for one year, for internship. And then, I came to Michigan for the resident in OB GYN, and I finish my resident over there, after full year. [Medical residency is required training is required to practice as a physician in the US] Then, after Michigan we came to Missouri, for practice in medicine, and I work there until I retire.

] [I am a Medical doctor - OB GYN. Obstetric and gynecology. It take care of pregnant women, take care of the decease of women.

[In Thailand] they have what they call constitutional monarchy. Not absolute monarchy. So, they have parliament, prime minister, and the king. The king supposed to be under the constitution, and the king not supposed to have anything to do with politic or running the country.

Right now, the government in Thailand is a dictator, so it no good. It not democracy. They make the coup d'état. You know what coup d'état is? They get rid of the government. When I say they, it the soldier. The soldier took over. They the one who have gun and tank. So they run the country now. This is a new guy [leader], but it not a good government.

When I was 27, I came here for further education because, at that time, in order to specialize in medicine, you have to go out of Thailand. So, I choose to come here, to learn how to be OB GYN, and then after I finish, I do not want to go back to Thailand, so I stay here.

[My parents] okay with I coming here, but they not okay with I stay here. They don't like it. Have to get the passport, get the visa, and that a different kind of visa, to get to the United State. The one who came as a tourist, that the easiest one to get. They come here, they can stay one month, six month, and then go back. I came here as a student visa. So I can stay here as long as I still learning. And then you have the visa we call immigrant visa. People who intend to stay here, they apply for immigrant visa. This is the most difficult one to get.

I came here to learn and...I was excited to have opportunity to come here. And it not easy to come. I have to take the examination in order to be able to come to learn here. And the examination was quite difficult. About a little bit more than half people pass the exam.
I came here by myself, and then I get my wife to come later.

I don't think people treat you different as immigrant. They may treat you different by the look, because I am Asian, but most people are fine, they are nice. And I, for all that I live here, since 1968, didn't have bad experience. Only couple time, which is, you know, with 300 million people, there gonna be some ignorant people. So most American people, they are nice, good people.

Language, it's quite difficult. At first, difficult about food (laughs). Thai language, it not the same like English. Thai language don't have accent, and then, Thai language don't have tense. I mean, no past tense, no future tense. Quite difficult to adapt at first.

Even if they look different, they speak different, most people are good people. They have the same emotion, they love their family, most people like to eat (laughs). So that similar. They're human.

...I live here more than I live in Thailand, and I came here when I was 27, and now I'm 73, so I live here, in my life, more than I live in Thailand. I go back once a year. You mean, go back to live there? I think I gonna have difficulty living there.

I think number one is get used to the custom and culture here, which is a little bit difficult at first. The custom difference is the Thai people respect the elder more, I think they stay in one place more than American. I think American people, when you get to know them, they become your real good friend and Thai people think about family more.

I never have people ask me about if I'm American or Thai. They just say, "Where you come from?" Usually they ask where you come from, I say I come from Missouri. And they will say, "Originally?" and then I tell them I came from Thailand.

I think the difference small, because the friend that I have, you know, the real good friend that I have here, even they born here, they American, they me.