Tag Archives: Blind Peace Corps Volunteers

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