Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Donald Nims, June 17, 1993

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Peace Corps application process and placement in Fiji

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Partial Transcript: --Nims and it's, uh, June 17, 1993.

Segment Synopsis: Nims talks about the application and Peace Corps test after he graduated college. He talks about finding out he would be placed in Fiji. He talks about his decision to apply, the process he went through, and his selection invitation. He talks about his training in Molokai and his placement on the second largest island.

Keywords: Application process; Bush; College; Communications; Fiji; Fiji Islands; Fijian; Future plans; Hawaii; Language; Molokai; Peace Corps; Peace Corps test; Teacher; Teaching English; Test; Training

Subjects: Language and languages.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Fiji; Volunteer workers in education

00:05:56 - Immersion in different cultures and teaching in Fiji

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Partial Transcript: What was curious to me was that there was another Peace Corps volunteer who was in a nearby island--I mean nearby village the first year and he was a black guy.

Segment Synopsis: Nims talks about his relationship with another Peace Corps volunteer on the islands who was African American. He talks about being one of the only Peace Corps volunteers in the bush. He talks about teaching his students in predominantly English for a variety of subjects. He talks about going back home and working for Job Corps, which is a predominantly black company. He talks about being immersed in different cultures and eventually moving onto ministry, mental health, and teaching.

Keywords: Acculturation; African American; America; Culture; Education; English; Fiji; Fijian; Friends; Goals; Immersion; Job; Language; Mental health; Ministry; Occupation; Peace Corps; Race; Relationship building; School; Teaching

Subjects: Language and languages.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Fiji; Volunteer workers in education

00:10:01 - Living situation and diet

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Partial Transcript: Tell--tell me about the--the kind of house you lived in.

Segment Synopsis: Nims talks about his living situation in Fiji with a blended housing style. He talks about the climate on the island, including the hot and wet seasons. He talks about the Fijian diet and the effort that went into harvesting crops such as tapioca. He talks about the honor associated with being a guest and receiving the head of the fish. He talks about different traditions associated with meat such as cow, boars, and chicken.

Keywords: Boars; Chicken; Climate; Cooking; Cow; Cuisine; Curry; Diet; Education; Favorite food; Fiji; Food; Heat; House; Living situation; Meats; Peace Corps; School; Seafood; Staple foods; Thatching; Traditions; Tropical; Vegetables; Weather; Western housing

Subjects: Culture.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Fiji; Voluntarism.

00:17:06 - History of colonization and current race relations in Fiji

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Partial Transcript: See, um, as I said earlier, when the English first colonized Fiji it seemed like a perfect place to raise sugarcane and rice.

Segment Synopsis: Nims talks about the history of Indian indentured slaves during the colonization of Fiji and how they have been treated by the government. He talks about the recent political conflicts in Fiji over race and the position of head of state. He talks about the egalitarian nature of the community and his wages. He talks about the religious differences between Fijian and Indian individuals and the mutual respect in his community.

Keywords: Colonization; Colony; Communication; Community; Culture; Customs; Discrimination; Diversity; Dress; Enslavement; Ethnicity; Fijian; Friendship; Indentured servants; Indian; Land rights; Language; Laws; Nationality; Political conflict; Politics; Prejudice; Race; Radio; Religion; Rice; Slavery; Slaves; Staple crops; Sugar cane; Wages

Subjects: Culture.; Interpersonal relations and culture; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Fiji

00:22:58 - Traditions and beliefs

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Partial Transcript: Te--tell me about, uh, anything, say, unusual that might've happened to you.

Segment Synopsis: Nims talks about different traditions in Fijian culture, such as walking on hot coals. He talks about an engineer who came back to the island who was asked to walk on the coals and how he prepared for walking on coals. He talks about juggling aspects of culture such as spirits and identifying as Christian. He talks about the different spirits and beliefs of different villages, such as one village who were protected from sharks by a spirit.

Keywords: Beliefs; Christian; Conflict; Creation; Culture; Devil; Devotion; Festivals; Fiji; God; Peace Corps; Religion; Spirits; Tradition; Village

Subjects: Communication and culture.; Culture.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Fiji

00:27:55 - Developing a library / Root-based ceremonial drink

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Partial Transcript: What did I do that was unique?

Segment Synopsis: Nims talks about developing a library for his school and receiving books from people in the United States. He talks about the different style of teaching in Fiji versus the United States. He talks about a non-addictive ceremonial drink related to cocaine, as well as the taste and serving of this drink. He talks about a gathering of men in the community to tell stories that also included the drink. He talks about the history of this root-based drink and American doctors' study of its medicinal properties. He talks about the drinking contest between himself and the chief of the village.

Keywords: Agriculture; Beverages; Ceremonial; Ceremonies; Chief; Community; Contest; Development; Drink; Drinks; Education; English; Fiji; Friendship; Historical; Language; Legacy; Library; Peace Corps; Plants; Relationship building; Social; Stories; Storytelling; Teaching; Teaching styles; Traditions

Subjects: Language and languages.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Fiji; Volunteer workers in education

00:37:28 - Illnesses / Wild animals

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Partial Transcript: Um, did, uh, did, did you ever have--ever get into a dangerous situation?

Segment Synopsis: Nims talks about having severe sinus issues that required him to stay in the next village with the other Peace Corps volunteer. He talks about getting crabs from sleeping on different mats. He talks about the different wild animals and insects in Fiji such as rats, mosquitoes, and bats. He talks about how the mongooses, brought by Indian indentured slaves, killed off the native poisonous snakes. He talks about being worried while riding a small boat in the ocean but never seeing any sharks.

Keywords: Allergies; Bats; Crab louse; Crabs; Danger; Diet; Doctor; Fiji; Fruit bats; Health; Indigenous species; Insects; Introduced species; Lice; Medicine; Mosquitos; Peace Corps; Rats; Shark; Sharks; Wild animals

Subjects: Culture.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Fiji; Volunteers

00:42:33 - Major world events during his service

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Partial Transcript: How'd the kids--how'd the kids--school kids take to you?

Segment Synopsis: Nims talks about the young students that he worked with and the other Peace Corps worker that he knew on the island. He talks about being visited by the Peace Corps Director on a yacht. He talks about receiving a book locker and some magazines that he got from his mailman. He talks about some of the major events that happened while he was in Fiji, such as the 1969 moon landing and the Vietnam War. He talks about the minimal impact that these events had on the community in Fiji and their image of America.

Keywords: 1969; Aerospace; Arm Forces Radio; Books; Children; Communication; Director; Education; Fiji; Gift; Kids; Locker; Magazines; Mail; Major events; Missing out; Moon landing; Peace Corps; Present; Privilege; Rocket; Stories; Storytelling; Vietnam; Vietnam War; Volunteers

Subjects: Culture.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Fiji; Volunteer workers in education

00:48:01 - Contacts and connections after service

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Partial Transcript: Who did they want to ask you about?

Segment Synopsis: Nims talks about the different aspects of America that the community asked him about. He talks about the different projects and jobs of the Fiji 1 and Fiji 2 projects. He talks about the Fiji Peace Corps reunion and his contact with other volunteers after the service. He talks about joining the Peace Corps Volunteer organizations and the blue directory that had other Peace Corps volunteers' information in it.

Keywords: Connections; Contacts; Draft; Education; Family; Fiji; John F. Kennedy; Medical; Peace Corps; Peace Corps volunteers; President Kennedy; Programs; Projects; Reunion; The draft; Vietnam War; Volunteers

Subjects: Communication and culture.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Fiji

00:53:30 - Impact of Peace Corps service on his life

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Partial Transcript: I, I really--I don't know my two years was remarkable in the fact that it wasn't remarkable.

Segment Synopsis: Nims talks about being a part of the community and his attempt at staying uncontroversial. He talks about cannibalism in Fiji and the use of storytelling in school. He talks about dreaming in Fijian and how meaningful and life-changing his experience in Fiji was. He talks about having never met anyone else from Fiji in the United States and wanting to speak the language with someone else again. He talks about the masculinity of the Fijians and how they wore skirts with suits and traditional garments. He talks about the culture shock from leaving and coming back to the United States.

Keywords: Cannibalism; Connections; Contacts; Education; English; Experience; Fiji; Fijian; Gender; Immersion; Language; Masculinity; News media; Peace Corps; Reflection; School; Tradition; Training; Translator; United States; Volunteer

Subjects: Culture shock; Culture.; Language and languages.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Fiji