National Geographic : 1987 Jun
On Assignment HE RETURN TO LAOS, now a Communist state, was an anxious homecoming for free-lance photographer Seny Norasingh (above), who left his native land for the United States in 1971. Fearing the worst, he was surprised to find the buildings of his home town, Vientiane, virtually un changed ("It was like being in the twilight zone") and his countrymen full of typical high spirits ("No one ever stopped the Lao from having fun"). His colleague, GEOGRAPHIC assistant editor Peter T. White, was likewise traveling familiar ground. A veteran who has covered Southeast Asia for the GEOGRAPHIC sometimes under fire-since 1961, White (below, left) cred its Seny with gaining access to people and events "we never could have seen otherwise." Of White, Norasingh says, "I've never seen anyone work harder in the field. He works every waking moment. He's relentless. He put questions to Communist officials that made my hair stand on end. Peter is also very brave. He eats things I wouldn't even touch." If there were a White's Law of fieldwork, how would it go? "Listen to everyone, go ev erywhere, do everything," he counsels. "Even when things go wrong, everything that happens is grist for the mill."