Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Jules Delambre, October 20, 2004

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Growing up / Preparation for Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: Side one of interview of Jules Delambre, Peace Corps Oral History Project, October 20, 2004, interviewed by Jack Wilson.

Segment Synopsis: Delambre briefly describes his childhood and education in Texas and Louisiana, including getting a degree in mathematics and later anthropology at Louisiana State University. He enrolled in graduate school for one year before entering the Peace Corps. During undergrad, he spent a couple summers as a laborer on a construction crew for his mother. He also worked one summer as a lab technician. He became interested in international travel when his father spent two years in Venezuela. He read Edgar Rice Burroughs and became interested in Africa as a result. Because he wanted to go into anthropology and needed to understand a different culture, he applied for the Peace Corps and got accepted to go to Cameroon. He spent around two months living in Barnard College in Manhattan, taking classes on teaching, language, culture, and Cameroon. He was slotted to teach mathematics.

Keywords: Family; Fathers; Jobs; Louisiana State University; Mothers; Training

Subjects: Africa.; Anthropology.; Barnard College; Building.; Burroughs, Edgar Rice, 1875-1950; Cameroon.; College students.; Education--Study and teaching; Louisiana.; Mathematics.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.). Cameroon; Tarzan (Fictitious character); Texas.; Undergraduate; Venezuela.

GPS: Louisiana State University
Map Coordinates: 30.4145, -91.17826
GPS: Cameroon
Map Coordinates: 6, 12
GPS: Barnard College
Map Coordinates: 40.8096, -73.9635
GPS: Venezuela
Map Coordinates: 7, -65
GPS: Texas
Map Coordinates: 31, -100
GPS: Louisiana
Map Coordinates: 31, -92
00:12:54 - Living conditions in Cameroon

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Partial Transcript: Uh, I was real pleased with the Pidgin English, uh, however, and I thought I was--I learned it pretty well.

Segment Synopsis: Delambre states that he was competent in Pidgin English but not in French. Cameroon is a bilingual republic. During the summer of 1965, Cameroon was in the process of integrating English and French territories. Pidgin was the lingua franca; English and French were only spoken among the educated. When he arrived to Cameroon, he spent a week of orientation in Buea and then went to Western Cameroon to Bamenda. He describes the physical landscape and weather of the area as well as the facilities and buildings there. He was posted at a Catholic teacher training college, which had a Catholic church. Delambre describes his living facilities, including the construction of the building, the showers, and the toilets, and discusses the food, which included rice and fufu, as well as the transportation available.

Keywords: Fufu; Living conditions; Living standards; Showering; Showers; Squat latrines; Squat toilets; Squatting latrines; Squatting toilets

Subjects: Bamenda (Cameroon); Buea (Cameroon); Cameroon.; Catholic Church.; Communication and culture.; Cost and standard of living.; Cultural pluralism.; Dormitories; Food consumption.; French language.; Intercultural communication.; Language and culture.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.). Cameroon; Pidgin English--Cameroon.; Pidgin English.; Religion.; Toilets; Weather.

GPS: Cameroon
Map Coordinates: 6, 12
GPS: Buea (Cameroon)
Map Coordinates: 4.166667, 9.233333
GPS: Bamenda (Cameroon)
Map Coordinates: 5.933333, 10.166667
00:27:54 - Working in Cameroon

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Partial Transcript: So do tell me something about your job, uh, in terms of, uh, what you did, uh, resources available to you as a teacher, and so forth.

Segment Synopsis: Delambre describes his job as a teacher, working around 20 hours a week. He introduced algebra to his students, as well as teaching some history and other classes. He mentions that Cameroon was phasing out teachers who only had an elementary school education. He thinks everyone had a copy of the book. He started developing the card catalog for the library. He spent time socializing with other teachers. The language of instruction in the school was English, but sometimes he had to use Pidgin English to convey concepts. Breakfast could involve fried plantains. A typical meal could include rice, a little meat, gravy, a local vegetable, and avocados as dessert. On a typical day, they would have breakfast and then classes in the morning. Afterwards, they might go to one of the markets. He describes one time when a jeep had an accident. He also describes how he felt safer in Cameroon than in the U.S.

Keywords: Automobile accidents; Car accidents; Social activities; Socializing

Subjects: Algebra--Textbooks.; Algebra.; Basic education; Cameroon; Card catalogs.; Communication and culture.; Cultural pluralism.; Education--Study and teaching.; Education.; Educators; Food consumption.; Food--History.; Food.; General education; History teachers; History.; Intercultural communication in education; Intercultural communication.; Language and culture.; Learning and scholarship.; Learning.; Markets.; Mathematics teachers; Mathematics.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.). Cameroon; Pidgin English.; Schools; Teaching.; Traffic accidents.

GPS: Cameroon
Map Coordinates: 6, 12
00:45:25 - Recreation in Cameroon

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Partial Transcript: Can you tell me something about what you did for sort of recreation?

Segment Synopsis: Delambre states that he spent most of his time with Cameroonians. When he socialized with the staff, they went to the local town that had two off-license bars. He proceeds to describe these bars and the beer in more detail, stating that most of the people in the bars tended to be men, and he mentions the custom of breaking kola nuts. He describes a couple of the people he met. He discusses the Fulani custom of women getting married off at puberty until they get pregnant, at which time they return to their mother's compound. He also describes the practice of reading the future in kola nut skin, including one specific instance in which he read the kola nut for someone else. He describes corresponding with a woman who was getting her master's degree in French and who later came to Cameroon to visit him.

Keywords: Friends; Hanging out; Socializing

Subjects: Alcohol.; Bars (Drinking establishments); Beer.; Cameroon; Couples.; Dates (Social engagements); Dating (Social customs); Divination.; Fortune-telling.; Friends; Friendship.; Fulani; Hobbies.; Interpersonal relations; Kola nuts; Leisure.; Lifestyles.; Manners and customs; Marriage.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.). Cameroon; Pregnancy.; Recreation.

GPS: Cameroon
Map Coordinates: 6, 12
01:03:40 - Disconnect between Peace Corps volunteers and staff / Returning to the U.S.

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Partial Transcript: Uh, interesting enough, um, I'm thinking back on that, uh, um, internet thing I was reading last night about peace and security again.

Segment Synopsis: Delambre discusses the disconnect between Peace Corps volunteers and staff. He states that the volunteers tend to be integrated in their communities but that staff are not integrated at the local level. He mentions a specific issue that occurred when he was in the Peace Corps; the old director left the new director two recommendations: to allow volunteers to buy motorcycles and to look at the living allowance. The new director reduced the living allowance, despite political events happening in the country. He discusses his return journey after finishing his stay in Cameroon and how he had more trouble readjusting to the U.S. than he had adjusting to Cameroon. He returned to his master's degree program and met his wife.

Keywords: Cost of living; Cost-of-living; Living allowances; Peace Corps staff; Peace Corps volunteers

Subjects: Cameroon; Cost and standard of living; Cost-of-living adjustments; Culture shock.; Discretionary income; Motorcycles; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.). Cameroon; Politics and government; Politics, Practical; Prices.; Purchasing power; Travel.; Vehicles.; Wages.

GPS: Cameroon
Map Coordinates: 6, 12
01:17:57 - Impact of Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: And uh, it--of course I, I can easily say that, uh, my experience in the Peace Corps, uh, reemphasized my interest in other cultures.

Segment Synopsis: Delambre discusses how the Peace Corps emphasized his interest in other cultures and showed him how people think differently in different cultures. He says his studies in anthropology also reinforced this impact. He used part of his readjustment allowance to go to Mexico with a professor at Christmas. He also discusses his impact on his students in Cameroon, including their introduction to an American. He describes someone else in the Peace Corps who had darker skin than him but was still considered a white European by the Cameroonians. He describes a woman who went to Cameroon and became a widow, still with kids, and had a lot of difficulties. He says Peace Corps solidified his interest in the international world as well as his status as bicultural, stating he could still speak Pidgin English at the time of the interview. He describes his activities after returning to the U.S. and how he stayed connected to people who returned from the Peace Corps. He also describes how the Peace Corps impacted his family.

Keywords: Friends of Cameroon; Returned Peace Corps volunteers

Subjects: Anthropology.; Cognition and culture.; Communication and culture.; Cross-cultural studies.; Cultural pluralism.; Eastern Kentucky University; Education.; Intercultural communication.; Language and culture.; Mexico.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.). Cameroon; Pidgin English--Cameroon.; Pidgin English.; Race.; United Nations Association; University of Kentucky

GPS: Cameroon
Map Coordinates: 6, 12
GPS: Mexico
Map Coordinates: 23, -102
01:31:18 - Life after Peace Corps / General impact of Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: Um, I think you've, uh, talked a little bit about the impact of Peace Corps on, on your, uh, career. Uh, what about other international experiences that you've had since then?

Segment Synopsis: Delambre went to the African summit in Washington, D.C. with some staff from Kentucky State University. The United Nations Association had an international dinner at Kentucky State University. When his son was in day school, there was another student whose parents were from Bangladesh and he encouraged his son to become friends. He also helped the parents when needed. He has been interested in getting to know international students and international people who are working for the state. He feels it is important for the U.S. to help the developing world improve their circumstances, working from the local, grassroots level up. He doesn't think you should try and force people into new innovations. He discusses the impact of Peace Corps in general, saying that it would benefit the U.S. by providing meaningful cross-cultural experiences and that more people should have cross-cultural experiences. He finishes with some more comments on Cameroon, especially its good education system and some of its politics.

Keywords: "Third World Countries"; Cross cultural experiences; Cross-cultural experiences; Foreign aid; International employees; International students

Subjects: Bangladesh; Cameroon; Cognition and culture.; Communication and culture.; Cross-cultural studies.; Cultural pluralism.; Developing countries.; Economic assistance.; Education.; Foreign workers.; Intercultural communication.; Iraq.; Kentucky State University; Language and culture.; Literacy.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.). Cameroon; Politics and government; Politics, Practical; Students, Foreign.; Third world; United Nations Association

GPS: Cameroon
Map Coordinates: 6, 12
GPS: Bangladesh
Map Coordinates: 24, 90
GPS: Kentucky State University
Map Coordinates: 38.2, -84.858333
GPS: Iraq
Map Coordinates: 33, 44