Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Robert Leupold, February 23, 1993

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:03 - Peace Corps service in Indonesia and Thailand

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Partial Transcript: And it's the uh, seventeenth of, um, of March. Um, Bob you were telling me you were in Indonesia for a year and a half and in Thailand for half a year.

Segment Synopsis: Robert Leupold is introduced. He discusses going between Indonesia and Thailand during his time in the Peace Corps. He explains that he was moved due to the political unrest in Indonesia due to the upheaval of the Communist Party.

Keywords: Bangkok, Thailand; Basketball; Coaching; Communist Party; East Java; Indonesian politics; Physical education; Sports; Swimming; University

Subjects: Careers; China; College campuses; Culture; Evacuation; Families; Indonesia; Peace Corps (U.S.); Thailand; Volunteers

00:01:58 - Political unrest and violence in Indonesia

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Partial Transcript: Was there any, uh--did you witness any violence while you were there?

Segment Synopsis: Leupold discusses some of the violence and demonstrations he saw and experienced in his time in Indonesia. He specifically tells a story of when he was trying to show a film to some students on swimming technique, but changed the film at the last minute, which angered many people who held anti-American sentiments. A demonstration and riot occurred, and he was forced to show the swimming technique film without sound.

Keywords: American influence; Communist Party; Demonstrations; Ethnic conflict; Military conflict; Olympics; Propaganda; Rafer Johnson; Russian influence; Surabaya, Indonesia; Swimming technique; United States Information Service; Violence

Subjects: College campuses; Conflict management; Culture; Evacuation; International negotiation and development; Language and culture; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Indonesia; Volunteers; World politics

00:10:15 - Air raids while in Indonesia

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Partial Transcript: I told you about the air raids. We had an air raid.

Segment Synopsis: Leupold discusses some of the air raids he experienced while in Indonesia. He recounts a specific experience where some people took the fire alarm warning to be an all clear after shrapnel had started fires, and police had gone around smashing lights to stop them from turning lights on. He also recounts a Marine shooting at the family home during the conflict.

Keywords: Air raids; Anti-aircraft guns; Chinese people; Ethnic issues; Family; Javanese people; Marines; Police; Shrapnel; Violence

Subjects: Acculturation; China; Conflict management; Emotions; Families; International negotiation and development; Occupations; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Indonesia; Volunteers; World politics

00:12:55 - Host family in Indonesia

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about the family you lived with.

Segment Synopsis: Leupold discusses the ethnic makeup of the family that he stayed with in Indonesia. He talks about their motivations for taking on a Peace Corps volunteer, and how he communicated with the family, including language barriers.

Keywords: Dutch colonial services; Income; Indonesian family; Indonesian islands; Indonesian language; Language acquisition; Maluku Islands; Surabaya; Track and field; Travel

Subjects: Communication and culture; Culture; Families; Finance; Intercultural communication; Language and languages; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Indonesia; Volunteers

00:19:00 - Influential track stars in Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: Uh, tell me about, um, maybe some of the most interesting--person, you met while you were either in Indonesia or Thailand.

Segment Synopsis: Robert Leupold talks about some of the influential track stars from the Olympics that he worked with while in the Corps, including Charles Jenkins Sr. and Emil Zátopek. He specifically talks about his relationship with Zátopek and how he influenced Zátopek to fight communism in Czechoslovakia. He talks about Zátopek's experiences in Czechoslovakia.

Keywords: Charles Jenkins Sr.; Cold War; Communist Party; Czechoslovakia; Distance running; Emil Zátopek; Olympics; Peace Corps training; The Prague Spring; Track and field; Vietnam War

Subjects: Acculturation; Communication and culture; Evacuation; Families; Friendship; Indonesia; International negotiation and development; Language and culture; Oppression; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Indonesia; Volunteers; World politics

00:26:26 - Experience of violence in Thailand

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Partial Transcript: I had a sim--you know, you were saying that--I had a similar experience in Thailand.

Segment Synopsis: Leupold recounts an experience he had on a bus in Bangkok. He talks about being confronted by a man on the bus who called him an imperialist and a colonist for being an American, and when he told the man to "shut up," a riot nearly occurred. He explains that he was thrown off the bus, possibly for his own protection.

Keywords: American troops; Bangkok, Thailand; Colonialism; Imperialism; Language barrier; Military bases; Thailand; Vietnam War; Violence

Subjects: Communication and culture; Culture shock; Emotions; Intercultural communication; Oppression; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Thailand; Social norms; Volunteers; Xenophobia

00:29:53 - Influential Peace Corps volunteers

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about the most interesting, uh, the most interesting Peace Corps volunteer you ran into.

Segment Synopsis: Leupold talks about the most interesting volunteer he met, a man who connected very well with the locals. He talks about a specific moment when he chased a frog around the bazaar and caught it, to the delight of the locals. He explains that the man was very sociable and got along very well with all of the locals.

Keywords: Bali, Indonesia; Balinese artwork; Hotels; Indonesia; Indonesian language; Joy; Local Indonesians; Translator

Subjects: Communication and culture; Emotions; Friendship; Intercultural communication; Language and languages; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Indonesia; Volunteers

00:35:47 - Relationships with Indonesian people

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Partial Transcript: Of the Indonesians, the, the, the people that I liked the--uh, I liked the family I lived with, of course.

Segment Synopsis: Leupold discusses his relationship with the son of the family he stayed with. He talks about some of the things the son helped him do, including getting a starting pistol for swim meets registered, usually acting as his translator.

Keywords: Family; Indonesian culture; Son; Starting pistol; Support; Swim meets; Translator

Subjects: College students--Social conditions; Families; Friendship; Interpersonal communication and culture; Language and languages; Volunteers

00:38:14 - Experiences training sports teams

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Partial Transcript: And a lot of times when I was with--working with the Javanese swimmers, I was put into totally chaotic situations.

Segment Synopsis: Leupold talks about his experience with training some of the Indonesian sports teams. He talks about the struggles he faced with Ramadan and being unable to train them due to weakness. He also talks about how the Chinese teams usually beat the Indonesian teams.

Keywords: Basketball; Catholic people; China; Chinese Catholic church; Coaching; Muslim people; Ramadan; Sports; Swimming; Track and field training; Training

Subjects: Careers; College students--Social conditions; Culture; Interpersonal relations and culture; Language and culture; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Indonesia; School management and organization; Student activities; Volunteers

00:42:42 - Cultural differences around body hair

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Partial Transcript: Well, anything else that, uh--you've, you've told me some very, very interesting things.

Segment Synopsis: Leupold recounts a time when he was traveling with a Dutch boat captain and the track and field team, when they were extremely fascinated with his body hair. They watched him as he showered to try to get a better look. The interviewer corroborates the story, talking about his time in Mexico when the locals also were interested in his body hair.

Keywords: Age; Beards; Boats; Body hair; Communal showers; Indigenous people; Language; Linguistics; Track and field; Travel

Subjects: College students--Attitudes; Communication and culture; Intercultural communication; Manners and customs; Peace Corps (U.S.); Volunteers

00:48:59 - Specifics of Indonesian language

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Partial Transcript: They always had a very difficult time determining my status.

Segment Synopsis: Leupold discusses the intricacies of many Indonesian languages and their formal and informal dialects. He talks about how he lost touch with the Indonesian family he stayed with, and fears that they may be dead. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Communist Party; Coup; Dialect; Family; Formal language; Indonesian family; Informal language; Language; Linguistics; Status; Surabaya

Subjects: Communication and culture; Emotions; Evacuation; Families; Indonesia; Language and culture; Peace Corps (U.S.)