For 15 years the Henry Luce Foundation has been awarding scholarships for work-study in Asia, but not until now has a recipient come from Time Inc., which Luce cofounded and which is the parent company of Time Inc. Magazines. Starting in August, writer-reporter Nicholas Dawidoff will take a one-year leave of absence from SI to live in Bangkok, where he will be a visiting professor of communication arts at Chulalongkorn University. With three pieces by Dawidoff in this issue—a review of the play Cobb, a profile of baseball cap entrepreneur William Arlt and a POINT AFTER championing Shoeless Joe Jackson for the Hall of Fame—it seemed a fitting time to wish him bon voyage.
This is an article from the June 12, 1989 issue
Dawidoff's quest for a Luce grant began last fall. He went through five rounds of interviews, the last of which was a two-day, six-interview session that the finalists attended in New York City in February. The 18 scholarship winners come from all walks of life. The only requirements are that they be under 30 (Dawidoff is 26) and that they do not have extensive knowledge of Asian affairs but are eager to acquire it. "Certainly, as a writer, Nicky seemed to us to be exactly the kind of person we're looking for," says Robert Armstrong, the vice-president and executive director of the foundation. "Professional experience is important, as well as dedication to a field. And another thing that is very important is adaptability."
Dawidoff's students will have to do some adapting as well. As their instructor in American culture, Dawidoff will no doubt introduce them to the nuances of both Fenway Park and Louis Armstrong's West End Blues. "Two of the things I like best are American creations—baseball and jazz—and I look forward to helping people understand and appreciate both," says Dawidoff. In his 3½ years at SI, he has written extensively about baseball and has reported on three World Series. A former infielder at Harvard, he'll bring his glove to Thailand. He'll take along his saxophone, too.
Besides teaching, learning and trying to get this year's Series on shortwave, Dawidoff hopes to find time in Bangkok to write occasionally for SI and finish a picaresque novel about a New York cabdriver. "Willa Cather finished a novel about the Nebraska prairies—My Antonia—while sitting in a house in Jaffrey, New Hampshire," says Dawidoff. "If you want to write, it's best to have as many varied experiences as possible. The more things you see, the more your imagination is enriched."