History of Isan Survivor

In 1980, in the small Isan village of Phonphisai, Nong Khai, a premature infant named Jack was born. No one thought he would survive, but this is his story.

The 80s were not an easy time for the Isan area - poverty could be seen everywhere. The area had no electricity, dirt roads, and poor medical care. Jack’s mother, who was pregnant with her first child, spent long hours working in the rice fields each day. In farming towns like Phonphisai, doctors were scarce and most people, including pregnant women, suffered from malnutrition. One day as she worked in the fields she started going into labor, 2 months premature. Distraught, she feared for the life of her baby... The baby, Jack, weighed less than 1 kg. The pitiable baby looked very small, thin, and unhealthy. As his parents cried, the rest of the family and neighbors prepared for a funeral, expecting the baby to be dead soon. The midwife thought it would be less than 2 days. A month went by and the baby lived. His mother still cried, worrying over the health of her tiny child and whether he would have any disabilities. What type of future would he have?


Jack did survive, though always a little smaller and thinner than the other kids. Growing up, it was not easy living in the Isan area. The family struggled through some difficult years of hardship and poverty. However, Jack also enjoyed happy memories growing up within this landscape of rice fields and rivers. While other kids stayed at home playing with purchased toys, Jack spent his time learning about nature and gaining a deep appreciation for the outdoors. Older persons in the village happily shared their knowledge of nature and survival with him, which had been passed down from previous generations. Though he was an outdoors person, Jack was also a good student. After secondary school he went on to study at FGCC - First Global Community College, where he met and learned English from overseas volunteers who taught at the college. Like many people his age, after school he went to Bangkok to work. After just one year of the bustling, materialistic chaos of Bangkok he couldn’t wait to return to his peaceful home town full of natural beauty. Back home, he decided to use the knowledge he gained from college to help the people of his village.


Jack joined a international volunteer organization as a volunteer coordinator and project manager. In his village he hosted volunteers from all over the world. Together they worked on projects to help teach kids in the local area. During their stay Jack shared his Isan culture and customs with the volunteers. Inspired from the enjoyment experienced by the volunteers Jack decided to start Isan Survivor Organization in 2005. As a survivor himself, he created a fun program filled with the traditional activities used for survival and recreation in the Isan region.

Jack happily shares his home, his culture and his experience with those who want to get a authentic and true experience of Isan and Thailand.