Cultural and People to People Relations
Thailand and the U.S. have enjoyed cultural and people to people relations for almost two hundred years. Before Thailand and the U.S. established a diplomatic relationship, Americans first learn about Thailand from the appearances of the Siamese Twins, Chang and Eng Bunker.
In the 1830s, American missionaries started to come to Thailand. While they failed in converting a mass number of Thais into Christianity, they brought to the Kingdom their modern know-how in medical sciences, public health and education. Dr. David Abeel was considered one of the first pioneers of medical sciences in Thailand and Dr. Dan Beach Bradley was known for introducing the vaccination for small pox and opening the first printing press in Thailand.
Dr. Dan Beach Bradley MD, an American Missionary Physicians, one of the first pioneer in the field of modern medicine in Siam arrived on July 1835.
Through missionaries and commerce, exchange between Americans and Thais continued through the late 1800s and beyond. In the 1900s, Thais learned more about the U.S. and the concept of the “American Dream”, which made more of them to immigrate to the U.S. This is noticeable by the number of thousands of Thai physicians who came to America since the 1960s to receive training in America. By the 1970s until present, more Thai-Americans are integrated into the American society and have a range of decent life style, especially the second generation. Approximately 8,765 Thai students are being educated in the U.S. as the country remains by far the most popular destination for Thais to study abroad.
There are a number of Americans in Thailand as well. American expatriates and tourists continue to live and travel to Thailand in record numbers. Many of them engage in charity activities and become quite well-known personalities in Thailand. A good example is perhaps that of a catholic priest named Father Joe Maier. Father Joe has contributed to the Thai society for decades by helping poor people in slums in Bangkok and opening schools for orphans and poor kids to study, including those living with HIV/AIDS.
In the 1980s and the 1990s, Thai and Americans alike enjoyed the popular culture of each other. In Thailand, Hollywood movie top the box office charts and American pop music can be heard in Thai radio stations. American fast food chains are also evident in Thailand. In America, Thai cuisine can be enjoyed can found in big cities and small towns across the country for its exotic and spicy taste. Muay Thai or Thai boxing is a martial art sport that is being widely accepted by Americans.