Category Archives: Audio

Services Asked for, Given, and Received

For this next installment in the PCCA blog, I have decided to try something a little different.  For the last several months, I have worked on expanding the kinds of interpretation that can be done with the collections, including editing reel-to-reel tapes into digital podcasts and putting both visual and auditory media into exhibits.

In the AU Library Archives, we have a three-case exhibit space where small exhibits can be displayed.  If you follow the blog and live near DC, I encourage you to stop by and see in person how these items come together to tell slice-of-life stories about the PCV experience.  But, since many of our lovely readers do not live in the DMV area and since exhibits rotate, the exhibits are now going digital, starting with the current exhibit, Services Asked for, Given, and Received.

This exhibit explores the disconnect that sometimes occurred between what a PCV thought they would do and what they were asked to do, and the disconnect between what a partner government or community wanted from their volunteers and what they received.  This tension shows up in several of the collections, but featured here are pieces from the Geer Wilcox, Gail Wadsworth, Debby Prigal, and Ann Holmquist collections.

I hope you enjoy this little exhibit, and we would love to hear from you and your experiences.  So, what about you?  As a PCV, have you ever experienced this kind of disconnect?  Or in any other line of work?  Let us know in the comments!

Paul Jurmo in the Gambia

Country of Service: the Gambia
Service Type: Education (Adult Literacy)
Dates in Service: 1976-1979
Keywords: Education, Community Development, Literacy

Accession Date: October 5, 2018
Access: No Restrictions
Collection Size: 2.75 linear feet and a USB containing Photos, Slides, and Audio

Document Types

  • Reports
  • Publications
  • Memoir

Gail Wadsworth in Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania

Country of Service: Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania
Service Type: Secondary Education, Librarian
Dates in Service: 1970-1972, 1973-1976, 1980-1982
Keywords: Education, Libraries

Accession Date: March 9, 2018
Access: No restrictions.
Collection Size: 4.0 linear feet

Document Types

Uganda
Photographs
Correspondence
Sound
Official Paperwork
Training Materials
Assignment
Articles
Travel brochures, maps, postcards

Kenya
Photographs
Correspondence
Official Paperwork
Assignment
Travel brochures, postcards

Tanzania
Photographs
Correspondence
Official Paperwork
Assignment
Travel postcards

Records We Collect; Records That Tell Stories

Throughout the blog, you have probably noticed the various records we use to tell the stories of Peace Corps Volunteers. This post highlights some of the more common types of records that volunteers donate and record their experiences with.

The most common type of record that PCVs donate that tell their story is letters. Volunteers send correspondence back and forth with their family and friends for two years in which they express their accomplishments, frustrations, and describe their everyday life. A letter like the one below, air mail, was a familiar sight for families as it was the fastest and most common way volunteers sent letters.

Joyce Emery Johnston served in the Philippines in Education from 1965-1967.

Similar to correspondence is volunteers’ journals or diaries. These are where volunteers write more in depth about their daily activities and daily thoughts. Diaries are used to preserve memories, and some volunteers even start keeping diaries in the language of their host country as seen below.

David Day served in Kenya and India in Agriculture from 1965-1967.

David Day served in Kenya and India in Agriculture from 1965-1967.

A way that volunteers formally share their experiences is through memoirs. Alan Crew compiled his memoir as a gift to his son upon his graduation from college. In it he details his life in Nigeria and includes pictures of where he worked.

Alan Crew served in Nigeria in Education from 1965-1966.

Along with writing, volunteers also take many photos during their service to show their friends and families where they work and live. While most volunteers take regular digital photos, many early volunteers also used slides.

Patricia Kay served in Kenya in Education from 1966-1968.

Patricia Kay served in Kenya in Education from 1966-1968.

Volunteers also send home postcards when they travel or want to share more photos of their host country.

Tina Singleton served in Benin in Health Education from 1992-1996.

Along with these records, some volunteers also take videos of their service experience. The video below was taken by Brian Adler who served in Suriname with his wife Cindy from 2002-2004. In this clip he gives a tour of where he and Cindy lived, and the video goes on to show a village party, soccer game, and conversations with the villagers.

Bryan and Cynthia Adler in Marchall Kreek 

For volunteers who either could not write home or found this method easier, they recorded audio tapes. This audio clip is from Richard Holmquist to his fiance Ann. In the full recording, he discusses his work as a professor at UMBC, how he met Ann, and what he did in Nigeria from 1966-1968. In this clip he discusses a need in Nigeria for lifeguards.                                           (play button is on the far left).

 

Along with these personal records, Peace Corps Volunteers also donate some of their official Peace Corps paperwork. These include certificates of training and service completion, letters of service acceptance, and volunteer ID cards like Debby Prigal’s below.

Debby Prigal served in Ghana in Education from 1981-1983.

The Peace Corps Community Archives holds many other different types of records such as architectural drawings, posters, newspapers, training materials, correspondence from the Peace Corps and various governments, and much more. But the handful of records highlighted here are the main forms of learning about what a Peace Corps Volunteer experienced while abroad.

 

Listen to Letters: The Experience of a Blind PCV

While Peace Corps Volunteers are abroad, they send many letters home to their family and friends. They receive and send letters, packages, and postcards, and sometimes audiotapes.

Geer Wilcox served in the Dominican Republic from 1963-1965 and taught Blind Education. For two years, at the National School for the Blind, he taught boys how to walk with canes, carpentry, and worked on several other projects. To correspond with his family, Geer and his parents would record their letters because he himself is blind.

The following is a handful of recordings that Geer sent his parents to narrate his time in the Peace Corps.

(In total, it takes about 20 minutes to listen to the recordings and the play button is on the far left of the media bars.) A transcript of  the recordings can be found here: Geer’s Transcript.

 

Geer trained in Seattle, and arrived in Santo Domingo in October of 1963. He lived and worked at the National School for the Blind, which he describes here.

(In the first clip, Geer describes how long the school has been open and how many students have graduated, and in the second he describes the space problems and layout of the school.)

 

A few months into Geer’s service, President Kennedy was assassinated. These are his reactions.

(Geer admits that he will miss President Kennedy, and he does not know how anyone else will do as good a job as he did.)

 

Geer had two main teaching responsibilities while at the school. Cane travel, which he considered important but frustrating.

(Geer talks about how capable his students are, but then he also discusses his frustrations with how difficult some of his students find it to learn cane travel.)

 

And carpentry, which he believes his students could turn into a marketable skill.

(Geer very much looks forward to teaching carpentry, but the school lacks tools and he lacks carpentry skills, however in the second clip he mentions that they get a commission to make crutches.)

 

Beyond the school, the blind community in the city in general was just as important to Geer. In fact, he learned a lot from UN involvement in institutions around the country  and he even helped a local group begin a campaign for a rehabilitation center.

(In the first clip, Geer talks about suggestions that the UN makes, and in the second he discusses supporting the beginnings of a society that will create a rehabilitation center.)

 

He also gained the school a bit of notoriety by attending a dinner with the Rotary Club where he talked about rehabilitation and Geer even appeared on TV demonstrating cane travel.

(Geer discusses the Rotary Club dinner in the first clip, and describes his TV appearance in the second.)

 

Six months into his service, Geer had already accomplished so much. He had become strongly aware of how blind people were handled by the community and the effect this would have on his students. But he was still preparing them for graduation and helping them find their place in the world.

(The first clip details interactions Geer had with the community and how they treated him as a blind person, and the second is about graduation for his students.)

 

While this is simply a snippet of Geer’s life and work in the Dominican Republic, it still shows the impact he had on the community and his students.

(In this clip a student speaks to Geer’s parents and expresses his appreciation for everything Geer has taught him.)

Geer Wilcox in the Dominican Republic

Country of Service: Dominican Republic
Service Type: Blind Education
Dates in Service: 1963-1965
Keywords: Santo Domingo, National School for the Blind, Escuela Nacional de Ciegos, Friends of the Dominican Republic Archive

Accession Date: November 16, 2016
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 1.5 linear feet

Document Types

  • Audiotapes (3″ reel to reel) of letters home
  • Digital Copies of Audiotapes

Kim Herman in the Dominican Republic

Country of Service: Dominican Republic
Service Type: Community Development
Dates in Service: 1967-1969
Keywords: San Rafael del Yuma, Cano Prieto School, Los Naranjos, Blandino, Friends of the Dominican Republic Archive

Accession Date: November 8, 2016
Access: No commercial uses (i.e. only uses specified on permission form allowed)
Collection Size: 1.0 linear feet

Document Types

  • Photographs
  • Correspondence
  • Publications
  • Reports
  • Training Materials
  • Official Paperwork (ID cards, passport, etc.)
  • Sound (3″ reel to reel)
  • Travel Documents

Guatemala Group 11 Oral History Interviews

Country of Service: Guatemala
Dates in Service: 1968-1970
Keywords: Oral History, Interviews, Training, Community Development, Language

Accession Date: September 27, 2016
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 0.25 linear feet

Document Types

  • Digital Audio of Oral History Interviews with:
    • Milt Berg
    • Louis Weinstock
    • Kendall Collins
    • Jack Miller
    • Paul Kugler
    • Peter Shack
    • David Milholland
    • Douglas Noble
    • Bud Ourom
    • Nicolee (Miller) McMahon
    • Bill Brock

Ann Hofer Holmquist and Richard Holmquist in Nigeria

Ann Hofer Holmquist
Richard Holmquist

Country of Service: Nigeria
Place of Service: Zaria
Dates in Service: 1966-1968
Keywords: Nigeria, Education, Audiotapes

Accession Date: June 18, 2015
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 7 items

Document Types

  • Audiotapes (open reel 2-3”)
  • Audiotape Excerpts (9mp3s)

From AU’s Collections: Friends of Nigeria

The Friends of Nigeria Archive is another resource for learning about Peace Corps in Africa.   Founded in 1996, the organization seeks to educate the public about Nigeria and promote continual service to the Nigerian people.  As the national network for Nigeria Peace Corps alumni, Friends of Nigeria includes returned volunteers and staff, as well as members of other organizations who served in the country.

In 2010, Friends of Nigeria–an affiliate group of the National Peace Corps Association–established their Archive at American University.  Friends of Nigeria Archive includes organizational records consisting of by-laws, annual reports, newsletters, financial records, and membership directories.  However, the archive also includes  many collections donated by members of group.  Items of interest include audio recordings, memoirs, photographs, and correspondence.

Several of the collections included in the Peace Corps Community Archives are from the Friends of Nigeria Archive.  Be sure to browse the Catalog for specific collections with materials from volunteers’ training and service in Nigeria.

Sources:
“Welcome Friends of Nigeria,” http://www.friendsofnigeria.org/
“Special Collections,” AU Library, (2014)    http://www.american.edu/library/archives/collections.cfm
Sarah Kana, “Friends of Nigeria Supports WE CARE Solar,” National Peace Corps Association (2014) http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/2012/05/friends-of-nigeria-supports-we-care-solar/