Foreign Students and Boomerang Benefits

The Opinion page article ``Foreign Students: US Surplus With Asia,'' Nov. 19, brought back fond memories.

About 38 years ago the foreign students department of the University of Washington asked us to invite six lonesome students from Thailand to our home. They were living in separate American homes, so they missed their own language and food.

For several years they didn't miss a weekend at our home, where they cooked Thai food and chatted away in their own language. They often brought their friends and Thai visitors to our home for big parties.

The Thai ambassador at that time remarked that ours was the only American home he had ever been invited to visit where he could sit down to a dinner. All he had visited were cocktail parties in Washington, D.C.

Once we woke up in the morning with 25 Thai students from Oregon State College sleeping on our floor. Last Christmas, a family visited from Thailand and there were 50 Thai friends together for dinner.

Those who live here we see often and those who returned to Thailand we keep in touch with.

Each student has been successful: one a doctor; one the head of forestry; and one the head of the police.

They have enriched our lives. Thelma Allison Bellevue, Wash.

The author presents a formidable case for foreign student presence in the United States.

However, he leaves some unanswered questions. Of the $6 billion spent in the US, how much of this is US grants, scholarships, or fellowships and how much is actually brought over from abroad? And how many of these students return permanently to their country of origin? O. B. Samler, Orleans, Mass.

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published, and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to ``Readers Write,'' and can be sent by Internet E-mail (200 word maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115

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