Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Angene H. Wilson, October 27, 2004

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:41 - Early life and education

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Partial Transcript: Peace Corps Oral History Project. October 27, nineteen--2004. Interview with Angene H. Wilson.

Segment Synopsis: Wilson was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. She participated with the newspaper and in choir as a student and worked at settlement houses. She went to the College of Wooster and majored in history. She went to Europe over the summer one year. She received a teaching certificate and got a job teaching Social Studies. She discusses how learned about and applied for the Peace Corps. She was accepted to go to Liberia and training took place in Pittsburgh (Pa.).

Keywords: American history; Settlement houses; Social studies

Subjects: American history & government; Choirs (Music); Cleveland (Ohio); College of Wooster; Education, Higher.; Education.; Europe.; History.; Liberia.; Newspapers.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Liberia.; Pittsburgh (Pa.); Psychology.; Social sciences.; Social settlements; Socioeconomic status; Sociology.; Teachers.; Teaching.; United States--History.; Women in higher education; Women teachers; Women--Education (Higher)

GPS: Cleveland (Ohio)
Map Coordinates: 41.482222, -81.669722
GPS: Pittsburgh (Pa.)
Map Coordinates: 40.439722, -79.976389
GPS: Liberia
Map Coordinates: 6.5, -9.5
00:12:21 - Training and arriving in Liberia

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Partial Transcript: Can you tell me something about your Peace Corps training? What was that like?

Segment Synopsis: Wilson states that the Peace Corps training was very academic and lecture based. They had classes in educational techniques and culture as well as physical training. They were evaluated by psychologists. She mentions they as a group presented a white chicken to the secretary of education in Liberia. She had in-country training at Booker Washington Institute of Liberia. She was assigned to a boarding school in a Gola village. She discusses two cross-cultural experiences: interactions with African Americans and interactions with Liberians.

Keywords: Bopolu (Liberia); Cultural training; Gola people; Gola villages; Gula people; Koya people

Subjects: Africa--Civilization--African American influences; African Americans.; Anthropologists.; Baptists; Boarding-school; Booker Washington Institute of Liberia; Cross cultural communication; Education.; Intercultural communication.; Kakata (Liberia); Liberia.; Monrovia (Liberia); Occupational training.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Liberia.; Physical education and training.; Schools; Teaching.; Training; Women employees; Women teachers

GPS: Liberia
Map Coordinates: 6.5, -9.5
00:22:32 - Peace Corps job, living conditions, and daily life

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Partial Transcript: So more specifically, what was your job?

Segment Synopsis: Wilson taught social studies, specifically world history, Liberian history, general social studies, and discusses how she learned this information to teach it. She discusses how she taught and the methods she used. She describes the building she lived in, which had porches they used for various purposes. They did not have running water, but they did have a refrigerator. She says she adjusted reasonably well because she had her husband to talk to and because the Peace Corps provided more for them in the early days than it did for others later on. She describes a typical day, where the sun rose around 6am and set around 6pm and school went from 7:30-1:30, followed by extracurricular activities. She describes her chores and recreation.

Keywords: History of Liberia; Liberian history; Living conditions

Subjects: Adjustment (Psychology); African history and culture; Baking.; Basketball.; Cooking.; Culture shock; Dance.; Discipline; Discipline of children.; Floods; Friendship.; Hiking.; Hobbies.; Interpersonal relations; Laundry; Leisure.; Liberia.; Libraries.; Lifestyles.; Manners and customs; Monrovia (Liberia); Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Liberia.; Plays.; Radio.; Rain and rainfall; Recreation; School discipline.; Soccer.; Social sciences.; Swimming.; Travel; Volleyball; Walking.; Women employees; Women teachers; World history.

GPS: Liberia
Map Coordinates: 6.5, -9.5
00:41:01 - Travel

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Partial Transcript: Well, uh, go ahead and, uh, tell me about your out, outside Liberia travels.

Segment Synopsis: Wilson describes her travel experiences. She went up country in Liberia to Freetown, Sierra Leone and took a taxi to Conakry, Guinea and met someone at the American embassy. They took the Mumba train to KanKan, Guinea and took a truck to Bamako (Mali) and weren't able to continue to Timbuktu. She tells a story that took place at the border of Guinea and Mali when they were stopped by the authorities, but the Mali ambassador to Liberia vouched for them. At the border with Sierra Leone, they stayed overnight and slept at a customs official's house and she mentions she had a diaphragm for birth control and couldn't explain this to the official. She mentions going to Dakar and Gorée Island and seeing something that had to do with the slave trade. She describes her other big trip, going to Nigeria for a month, traveling around by train, visiting universities and the mosque in Kano. She visited friends in Batibo (Cameroon).

Keywords: Gendarmerie; Great Mosque of Kano; Kano Central Mosque; Timbuktu

Subjects: Abidjan (Côte d'Ivoire); Bamako (Mali); Batibo (Cameroon); Benin.; Black Orpheus; Bookstores; Cameroon.; Conakry (Guinea); Dakar (Senegal); Enugu (Nigeria); Freetown (Sierra Leone); Gorée (Senegal); Guinea.; Ibadan (Nigeria); Islam.; Kankan (Guinea); Kano (Nigeria); Lagos (Nigeria); Liberia.; Local transit; Mali; Mosques; Nigeria; Oshogbo (Nigeria); Passenger trains; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Liberia.; Plays.; Poetry.; Salah.; Sierra Leone.; Tombouctou (Mali); Travel; Trucks; University of Ibadan; University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus

GPS: Sierra Leone
Map Coordinates: 8.48445, -13.23445
GPS: Freetown (Sierra Leone)
Map Coordinates: 8.484444, -13.234444
GPS: Conakry (Guinea)
Map Coordinates: 9.509167, -13.712222
GPS: Guinea
Map Coordinates: 11, -10
GPS: Kankan (Guinea)
Map Coordinates: 10.383333, -9.3
GPS: Bamako (Mali)
Map Coordinates: 12.639167, -8.002778
GPS: Mali
Map Coordinates: 17, -4
GPS: Tombouctou (Mali) [Timbuktu]
Map Coordinates: 16.775833, -3.009444
GPS: Gorée (Senegal)
Map Coordinates: 14.666944, -17.398333
GPS: Dakar (Senegal)
Map Coordinates: 14.692778, -17.446667
GPS: Nigeria
Map Coordinates: 8, 10
GPS: Lagos (Nigeria)
Map Coordinates: 6.455027, 3.384082
GPS: Ibadan (Nigeria)
Map Coordinates: 7.396389, 3.916667
GPS: Oshogbo (Nigeria)
Map Coordinates: 7.766667, 4.566667
GPS: Kano (Nigeria)
Map Coordinates: 12, 8.516667
GPS: Enugu (Nigeria)
Map Coordinates: 6.452778, 7.511111
GPS: Cameroon
Map Coordinates: 6, 12
GPS: Batibo (Cameroon)
Map Coordinates: 5.8375619, 9.8779535
GPS: Benin
Map Coordinates: 6.466667, 2.6
GPS: Abidjan (Côte d'Ivoire)
Map Coordinates: 5.316667, -4.033333
GPS: Liberia
Map Coordinates: 6.5, -9.5
00:51:38 - Food and drink in Liberia / Social interactions and relationships in Liberia

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned earlier, uh, something about boiling, uh, water for your drinking, uh, at your assignment, and, and, uh, about shopping in the capital for things like brownies and cake mixes and so forth, but can you tell me something more about, uh, what you actually ate, what, what your food was, and how you, uh, ate and, uh, drank, what you drank in your travels?

Segment Synopsis: Wilson describes the food she ate. She says there wasn't bottled water so they drank soft drinks. She states that they had rice several times a week and they occasionally had meat. She says she didn't specifically eat Liberian food. She states that she had wonderful host national counterparts. She also discusses her relationships with Americans and Peace Corps people, as well as locals. She discusses how death was not hidden away because life was less certain in Liberia and discusses how locals related to religion.

Keywords: Cassava leaves; Fanta soda; Orange Fanta; Palm butter

Subjects: Chickens.; Coke; Cows.; Cross cultural communication; Dried fish; Dried milk; Education, Higher.; Education.; Food habits.; Friendship.; Intercultural communication.; Interpersonal relations; Liberia.; Lifestyles.; Manners and customs; Meat.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Liberia.; Peanut butter; Religion.; Rice.; Teachers.; Teaching.; Women teachers

GPS: Liberia
Map Coordinates: 6.5, -9.5
01:06:15 - Impact of Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: So what was it like coming home to the U.S.?

Segment Synopsis: Wilson describes her travel in Europe before returning to the U.S. She ended up back in Michigan, creating her own master's degree in African studies. She thinks the impact of Peace Corps was focused on an individual level, on the students she taught. She later returned to Sierra Leone with the Peace Corps. She completed a doctorate in teacher education. Her experience in Liberia influenced her career and education such that she focused on African history and studies, including taking teachers to Africa and hosting African students. She discusses in depth the impact of Peace Corps on her family, as well as her international travel experiences since Peace Corps. She states that she was in Africa when the civil rights movement was happening and saw how the world was viewing the U.S., which impacted how she viewed the U.S.

Keywords: African studies; Birmingham Church Bombing, Birmingham, Ala., 1963; Heart of darkness (Conrad, Joseph); Integration; March on Washington

Subjects: 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing, Birmingham, Ala., 1963; Africa.; Blacks--Relocation; Careers; Choice; Civil rights movement; Cognition and culture.; College teaching.; Conrad, Joseph, 1857-1924. Heart of darkness; Cultural awareness.; Culture shock; Education, Higher.; Education--Study and teaching; Education.; Europe.; Fulbright scholars; History of Africa; International travel; March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963 : Washington, D.C.); Michigan; Sierra Leone.; Teachers.; Teaching.; Travel; Universities and colleges.; University of Kentucky; Women employees; Women in higher education; Women teachers; Women--Education (Higher); Work.

GPS: Michigan
Map Coordinates: 44.3467, -85.4102