Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Lesley Dorman
DORMAN: No, I didn't work with crafts in Thailand at all. I was on the Board of the YWCA. I was the second vice president of the International Women's Club. How the Board went was: president and then first vice president, who was a Thai, and then the second vice president, who was usually another national.
Q: And they were Thai Christians?
DORMAN: They were Buddhists. The one thing about the YWCA that a lot of people don't realize — and I didn't until I worked with the Y — is that you don't have to be Christian. There are a lot of Indians in Zambia, for example, and elsewhere, all sorts of different people — Hindus, Brahmins, Sikhs — who belong to the Y.
Q: I know, because I had a great uncle who was in China, went there to teach under the auspices of the YMCA in 1910, but I did think that the Chinese, who worked there, had to be Christians.
DORMAN: No, that is not what I have found. And, in fact, the Thais that I knew in Bangkok were Buddhists, and that's a very interesting religion. I took a course in Buddhism and found it just fascinating. I can understand why people, who don't come from Asia adopt Buddhism.
Q: It's a very happy, ethereal religion.
DORMAN: Yes, very. It's marvelous. My hairdresser here, who did my hair in Bangkok, is a wonderful human being. And in his salon here in Virginia, he has his Buddhas and they have the fruit for the Buddhas which he changes. He has these beautiful apples. Everything is chosen with precision and care. They're a very gentle people. In the world in which we live today, where there is so much strife, that feeling of gentility is marvelous.
Q: Absolutely. Tell me about Cairo before you tell me about the evacuation from there. And what years were you there?
DORMAN: I went into Cairo in November 1953. It was just after King Farouk had gone, and Naguib was in power. He was the transition really, General Naguib. I have a book which was written by him which is very interesting. And then, of course, Gamal Abdel Nasser took over from Naguib.