Category Archives: Nigeria

Experiencing a New Culture through Food

In the collection of Alan Crew, who served in Nigeria from 1965-1966, is a copy of “The West African Gourmet” by Bill and Bee Welmers in which they advised, “As any shrink can tell you, the sine qua non of relating to a strange diet is flexibility, sensitivity, happy anticipation.” Peace Corps Volunteers had to adjust to various diets and delicacies during their time abroad. PCVs learned and adapted many local recipes and resources to fit their American taste-buds.

Holly Reed served in Senegal from 1979-1982. Like all PCVs, she could sometimes find familiar foods, but she also had to adjust to new ones.

The Welmers compiled a list of tips and tricks for anyone visiting or staying in Western Africa. Their humorous anecdotes shed light on the differences in food selection and preparation. From mangoes to mushrooms, the Welmers detail all types of food available for consumption. For example, there are three different types of Guavas, each tasting like strawberry, peach, or pear. They also offer tips and tricks to keeping and storing food. Upon finding ants in one’s food, the Welmers advise, “Putting the food, dish and all, on a warm stove will give the ants a hotfoot; but don’t overheat or you’ll have fried ants.”

Many PCVs would taste authentic meals prepared by the locals they worked alongside. Picture by Holly Reed.

Peace Corps Volunteers newsletters could include native recipes for PCVs to try. Alanna Randall served in Belize from 2001-2003 and received the Toucan Times, the Peace Corps Belize newsletter, during her service. The Toucan Times contained everything from crosswords to articles. Jill Hepp, a fellow PCV, created four recipes to share in the Toucan Times‘ Winter 2001 edition. Hepp’s recipes range from “The-You-May-Nevah-Go-Back-To-Salsa-Casera-Salsa” to “Fresh Ginger Muffins.” All of her recipes feature local ingredients. The recipe for Polenta includes adjustments to turn it into a pizza.

PCVs could also learn new ways to prep and serve food. Pictured here, local women use mortars and pestles to grind ingredients. Picture by Holly Reed.

Even after PCVs finish their service, the food they consumed leaves a lasting impression. BarbaraLee Toneatti Purcell served in Nigeria from 1962-1964 and included a recipe for Groundnut Stew in her memoir. She made adjustments to the list of ingredients to replicate the methods her local cook used.  Both immediately after serving and many years later, PCVs can look back at the meals they ate and remember the different tastes of culture they experienced.


For more information, please visit the Peace Corps Community Archive website. To use the collections or make a donation, please contact the AU Archives at archives [at]

Traveling Light: What to Bring on a Peace Corps Trip

Packing for a trip is overwhelming work. For Peace Corps Volunteers, packing for a two year service trip is even more difficult. PCVs were often traveling to remote locations in far off countries. They had to consider climate, type of work, and culture when they selected what to bring with them. The Peace Corps not only sent detailed lists of what to pack ahead of each PCVs’ trip, they also provided kits of their own to ensure each Volunteer had what they required.


Pictured here, Meghan Keith-Hynes is ready and packed for her trip to Haiti, where she volunteered in Agroforestry in 1986.


Steve and Janet Kann served in the Eastern Caribbean in Practical Education Development in 1980-1982. On their packing list, they are instructed to bring as much washable and cotton clothing as possible due to the warm and humid weather they would encounter. They were also not expected to bring a lot of formal clothing.  The list includes a number of items which might be hard to find on the islands they traveled to.


Tom Hebert served in Nigeria from 1962-1964 as a teacher and as the Tour Manager for University of Ibadan’s Shakespeare Traveling Theatre. Hebert received this list of items of household items that the Peace Corps would provide him. In addition to kitchen supplies and bed linen, it includes a clock, flashlight, and lock.

PCVs had a limited number of possessions during their service, many of which they brought with them from the start. These lists helped narrow down the essentials for PCVs to pack.


For more information, please visit the Peace Corps Community Archive website. To use the collections or make a donation, please contact the AU Archives at archives [at]

Timing their Training: Scheduling Peace Corps Volunteers’ Training

Before leaving for a foreign country, Peace Corps Volunteers in the 1960s were required to complete intensive training to help prepare them for their experiences abroad. This training occurred at universities all over the United States. They learned a variety of tasks ranging from agriculture and livestock care to language studies. Each PCVs’ training varied by where they attended training, their service type, and other factors.

Peace Corps Volunteers all received informational packets on their training, much like this one from Karen Keefer who trained at Columbia University for her service in education in Nigeria.

Peace Corps Volunteers all received informational packets on their training, much like this one from Karen Keefer who trained at Columbia University for her service in education in Nigeria.


One of the earlier PCVs is Thomas Hebert, who trained at University of California, Los Angeles in June of 1962. Hebert served in Nigeria from 1962 to 1964 educating youth and managing the University of Ibadan’s Shakespeare Traveling Theatre program. Hebert spent a total of 419 hours training for his service in Africa. The bulk of his training program was an orientation on Africa and Nigeria, totaling 92 hours, where he learned how to effectively communicate and understand the culture he would be serving in. Interestingly enough, Hebert also had a total of 81 hours of training in American Civilization and Institutions, which would “[enable] the volunteers to see political events more perceptively, to view the interchange of political interests more realistically, and to articulate democratic values more convincingly,” according to the training informational packet.

Hebert also spent 60 hours learning educational practices for Nigeria, in order to understand how to effectively reach his students abroad. He also had 55 hours of training in the languages of Hausa, Ibo, and Yoruba, the three major indigenous languages of Nigeria. In addition to his practical training, Hebert also spent 43 hours on health training and 56 hours in physical education. The Peace Corps emphasized the importance of each PCV’s health during their service. Lastly, he also spent 32 hours on “Special Features,” which ranged from lectures to documentaries.

Winifred Boge attended training at University of California, Davis from February to May 1965. The program totaled 720 hours of work over a 12-week period, resulting in an average of 60 hours per week. Boge served on the Health Nutrition Project in India, but her training also covered a variety of topics to assist with her transition into life in a different country.


As part of her training at UC Davis, Winifred Boge learned agricultural techniques.

As part of her training at UC Davis, Winifred Boge learned agricultural techniques.


For Boge, the most time was spent on language training, with a total of 300 hours on learning Telugu. Next, she focused on technical studies on health and nutrition, for a total of 200 hours. Following this, she also learned area studies and world affairs for 105 hours in order to understand the history and culture of her place of service. Also required for training was physical education as well as health and hygiene to ensure the health of every PCV.

One of the more interesting areas of study is the topic of Communism for 15 hours total. While each area of study in the information packet includes a description and list of teachers, Communism lacks this information. Even though the Red Scare of the 1950s had passed, the Peace Corps probably wanted to prepare their PCVs for different types of government in the world.


Many Volunteers enjoyed their training because it gave them a chance to get to know fellow PCVs. Pictured here by Boge, PCVs interact during their training at UC Davis.

Many Volunteers enjoyed their training because it gave them a chance to get to know fellow PCVs. Pictured here by Boge, PCVs interact during their training at UC Davis.


Peggy Gleeson Wyllie trained at Brooklyn College from 1963-1964 for her time as a nurse in Colombia. She spent most of her time–a total of 360 hours–in intensive language studies in Spanish. Not surprisingly, the second highest element of training at 106 hours was technical studies, along with 30 hours of health education. Technical studies included techniques in Nursing as well as the prevention and treatment of diseases found in Colombia. Wyllie also spent 72 hours learning the history and culture of Colombia, as well as 60 hours studying American studies, world affairs, and Communism. Like Boge, Wyllie learned “critical appraisal of the developing concepts and organizational challenges of the Communist world.” Lastly, she attended classes in physical training for 72 hours and a general “Peace Corps Orientation” for 20 hours.


After completion of their training, many PCVs received a certificate like this one. Steve Bossi completed his training in conducting Science Workshops in India from University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

After completion of their training, many PCVs received a certificate like this one. Steve Bossi completed his training in conducting Science Workshops in India from University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.


Each training session, no matter how different in terms of location of training, location of service, or service type, served to best prepare each PCV for the challenges and successes they experienced during their service. Training takes into account the culture and society each PCV is entering in order to provide guidance for the most effective approaches to help both the Volunteer and community alike.  

Karen Keefer in Nigeria

Country of Service: Nigeria
Place of Service: Offa, Nigeria
Service Type: Education
Dates in Service: 1966-1968
Keywords: Education

Accession Date: August 25, 2016
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 1.5 linear feet

Document Types

  • Governmental Publications
  • Language Training Materials
  • Peace Corps Training Materials
  • Teacher Training Materials
  • Textbooks
  • Tourist Publications

Related Items in Other Repositories

Finding Aid

  1. Peace Corps Training Materials 
    1. Language workbooks 
  2. Peace Corps Training Materials 
    1. Language booklets 
  3. Peace Corps Training Materials 
    1. Language workbook 
  4. Textbooks for Teachers 
    1. Education guide and language booklets 
  5. Teacher Training Materials 
    1. Geography and physical health study guides 
  6. Textbooks for Teachers 
    1. African stories in English 
  7. Textbooks for Teachers 
    1. More story books 
  8. Publications  
    1. Nigerian, 1966-1967, Yearbooks 
    2. Guide to prayers 
  9. Publications 
    1. Booklets about Nigeria 

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)

Finding Aid

  1. 7 rolls of audio tape

Ripples of Influence

This morning, CNN posted a fascinating article about business life in Lagos, one of the fastest growing cities in the world. To better understand business culture in Lagos, CNN asked Lagos business workers to tweet responses to the question, “You know you’re running a business in Lagos when….” Some of the responses included Nigerians telling CNN the importance of electric generators, proper business meeting etiquette, and an ability for creativity and flexibility.

52 years, ago Peace Corps Volunteer Duane Hudson arrived in Nigeria to assist youth in science education. He educated young Nigerians as they prepared for their futures. Many of his students wrote to Hudson, telling him about their hobbies, their favorite subjects, and what they wanted to be when they grew up. Many wanted to give back to Nigeria with the hope of becoming doctors and lawyers. In one letter, responding to why he liked math, a student wrote, “It is this subject I like in school Since I have wished to become an engineer by profession, and this math is one of its main branches, I liked it much. It also helps the doctors, scientists, technologists, and lawyers in their studies. You can earn your living by teaching math. You can study mathematics for a Ph.D.”

From the time of Hudson’s service to today’s article on Lagos business culture, Nigeria has experienced much economic, cultural, and developmental change. Although difficult to quantify the results of Peace Corps service, the qualitative influence of volunteers such as Hudson on developing communities and individuals makes the Peace Corps an evergreen opportunity for fostering positive change throughout the world.



“The Comrade Corps”

During a speech at San Francisco’s Cow Palace on November 2, 1960, soon to be President Kennedy spoke of the need for Americans to take action to ensure friendly relations abroad. He told the audience, “Out of Moscow and Peiping and Czechoslovakia and Eastern Germany are hundreds of men and women, scientists, physicists, teachers, engineers, doctors, nurses, studying in those institutes, prepared to spend their lives abroad in the service of world communism… being prepared to live their lives in Africa as missionaries for world communism.” Kennedy therefore proposed, that the U.S. create “a peace corps of talented young men and women, willing and able to serve their country in this fashion for 3 years as an alternative or as a supplement to peacetime selective service.” Even before the election, Kennedy had already a foundation for what would become the Peace Corps.

While serving in Africa, several Peace Corps volunteers worked alongside what one American termed “the Comrade Corps.” This organization consisted of teachers and volunteers the Soviet Union sent to developing countries, the same men and women Kennedy spoke of in his speech at the Cow Palace.

In 1965, Ray Silverstein, a Peace Corps volunteer, wrote to the Tilley Lamp, a Nigerian Peace Corps Volunteer newsletter, chronicling his encounter with these Russian volunteers. He told readers, “One has to seek them out. Once this is done, many of them will open up, eager to socialize and talk English with someone “who can correct” them…One girl that I met acknowledged the West’s superiority in twist music and rock n’roll, and mentioned that the Charleston is the rage in Russia now.”

Elizabeth Cobb Hoffman discusses Russian volunteers and PCV relations in Ghana in her 1998 work All You Need is Love: The Peace Corps and the Spirit of the 1960s, “The volunteers’ attempts to be friendly towards the Russian youth would…prove the intention of the United States to wage the Cold War peacefully…The Peace Corps teachers, who shared accommodations with volunteers from other countries, reported that the Russians returned their sociability (Hoffman, 162).”

Despite Cold War tensions, Russian and American youth workers shared cultural experiences and perspectives with each other during their respective service across the world.

Science and Math Education in the Peace Corps

“The teaching of mathematics and science is one of the most needed contributions Peace Corps Volunteers can make to the developing nations. The future of these nations hinges directly on their ability to speed technological and industrial development.”

– “Math and Science Teachers in the Peace Corps” pamphlet, circa 1967


“Science and Mathematics Teachers For Nigerian Secondary Schools” Training Manual, Duane Hudson, American University Peace Corps Community Archive.

Since the mid-1960s, the Peace Corps has sent volunteers across the globe to assist in developing educational initiatives in other countries. Two collections in our archive highlight the work done in the field of science education. Stephen Bossi served in India from 1966-1968 and Duane Hudson served in Nigeria from 1963 to 1965.

In preparation for their teaching experiences abroad, Peace Corps Trainees go through a rigorous training process. Peace Corps volunteer Duane Hudson’s training materials contain a daily schedule that has future Peace Corps volunteers take classes all day interrupted only by small breaks for meals and coffee. When teaching math during their service, Peace Corps volunteers must take into consideration cultural and societal differences in how different countries teach and conceptualize math. In 1960s Nigeria, for example, students used a “raised dot,” instead of a decimal point in the center between the two digits. Also, instead of the a “billion,” Nigerians referred to the number as a “thousand million.”


“Mathematics Teaching in Nigeria Secondary Schools and Teacher Training Colleges: Terms and Symbols,” Duane Hudson, American University Peace Corps Community Archive. Compare example of raised dot vs. decimal point in middle of list.











Although there are differences between cultures, there are also many universal aspects of how math and science are taught. Steve Bossi served in India and his handbook recommends teachers facilitate science fairs, staple among many American classrooms. Peace Corps volunteers were instructed how to make rudimentary microscopes for their students to use, an item many American school children are familiar with today. Such cross-cultural education through Peace Corps service is especially useful today in an increasingly global community.


“Science Teachers’ Handbook: Improvised Apparatus,” Stephen Bossi, American University Peace Corps Community Archive.


“Science Teachers’ Handbook: Compound Microscope,” Stephen Bossi, Peace Corps Community Archive.

Duane H. Hudson in Nigeria

Duane H. Hudson

Country of Service: Nigeria
Place of Service: Apapa
Service Type: Science Education
Dates in Service: 1963-1965
Keywords: Nigeria, Apapa, Science Education, United Christian Secondary Commercial School, Tilley Lamp

Accession Date: September 23, 2014
Access: No restrictions
Collection Size: 0.25 linear feet

Document Types

  • Correspondence
  • Reports
  • Publications
  • Newsletters

Finding Aid

  1. Community projects for garbage disposal (Oct + Dec, 196(?)), and home for handicapped children (Aug-Sept, 1964) 
    1. Project notes 
  2. Farewell poem upon occasion of Bill Saltonstall’s departure from Nigeria, by Sally Cyton (Nov, 1965) 
  3. Teaching in Nigeria training materials and Peace Corps Volunteer directories (1963, 1965) 
  4. Peace Corps in Nigeria news items and letter of protest (1964-1965) 
  5. The Tilley Lamp, Peace Corps Nigeria newsletter (1964-1965) 
  6. Nigeria travel and cultural materials 
  7. Correspondence from Nigerians, (1964-1968, 1970, undated) 

All The World’s a Stage: A Nigerian Shakespeare Festival

Tom Hebert served in the Peace Corps from 1962-1964. During his service in Nigeria, he served as a business manager for the University of Ibadan’s School of Drama. In this role, he also worked as the “advance man” for the University of Ibadan’s “Theater on Wheels” cross country tour. His duties including tour logistics, promotion, and coordinating with local civic organizations.  In 1964, in commemoration of William Shakespeare’s 400th birthday, the tour group organized a traveling Shakespeare festival. Actors performed selected scenes from plays such as Richard II, Hamlet, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Many West Africans read Shakespeare in school and in many cases throughout the tour, actors performed in front of full capacity audiences. In the city of Calabar, not even a rainstorm shortly after the start of Julius Caesar prevented the audience from enjoying the show. Shown below is a poster advertising the March 6-7, 1964 Shakespeare festival in Ibadan, Nigeria. Tom Hebert donated this item to the Peace Corps Community Archive this past summer. Many of the details in this post are taken from Hebert’s reminiscences of his Peace Corps service.

Ibadan Shakespeare Festival, March 6-7, 1964. American University Peace Corps Community Archive

Ibadan Shakespeare Festival, March 6-7, 1964. American University Peace Corps Community Archive