Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Kay Roberts, December 9, 2004

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
Transcript
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Index
Search this Index
X
00:00:09 - Roberts' background / Preparing for Peace Corps

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Tape one, side one, Peace Corps Oral History Project interview with Kay Roberts, December 9th, 2004, interviewer Jack Wilson.

Segment Synopsis: Roberts briefly discusses her experience growing up in Steelville, Missouri and her experiences in college at the University of Missouri. She says her inspiration for traveling came from her great aunt, who was a traveler. She studied Spanish in high school. She traveled to Guatemala after her sophomore year in high school. She got a bachelor's degree in Latin American Studies and spent a semester in Colombia and then went on to get a master's degree in Community Development with a focus on International Development. She planned on using her first year of her Peace Corps experience as her practical training program for her master's. She had been thinking about applying for Peace Corps throughout college. She had to take a medical exam and have a background check. She wanted to go to a Spanish speaking country because of her Spanish language background and got accepted to go to Ecuador.

Keywords: International development; Latin American studies

Subjects: Central America.; Colombia; Community development.; Ecuador; Education, Higher.; Guatemala.; Latin America.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ecuador.; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Latin America.; South America.; Spanish language.; Spanish-speaking countries; Steelville (Mo.); Travel.; University of Missouri; Women in higher education.; Women--Education (Higher)

GPS: Colombia
Map Coordinates: 4, -72
GPS: Ecuador
Map Coordinates: -2, -77.5
GPS: Guatemala
Map Coordinates: 15.5, -90.25
GPS: Steelville (Mo.)
Map Coordinates: 37.968611, -91.355278
GPS: University of Missouri
Map Coordinates: 38.9453, -92.3288
00:12:52 - Training for Peace Corps

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Uh, well, tell me, tell me something about the Costa Rican training, preparation for you to go.

Segment Synopsis: Roberts' job was to be Rural Youth Extension, organizing and working with 4-H groups, because she had a background in 4-H. She discusses how Costa Rica was relatively developed by Latin American standards and a lot of people who trained in Costa Rica were not prepared when they got to Ecuador. She was glad she already spoke Spanish because she didn't have to do the language training but she did have assignments to talk to native speakers. The technical training was primarily agricultural. The cross-cultural training out of the classroom was more helpful than the academic training. She was in Ecuador for two years and describes her first experiences there, including her living conditions.

Keywords: 4-H Clubs; 4H Clubs; Agricultural education; Living conditions; Rural Youth Extension; Spanish

Subjects: 4-H clubs; Agriculture.; Central America.; Costa Rica; Ecuador; Latin America.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ecuador.; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Latin America.; South America.; Spanish language.; Travel.

GPS: Costa Rica
Map Coordinates: 10, -84
GPS: Ecuador
Map Coordinates: -2, -77.5
00:24:19 - Working for the Peace Corps in Ecuador

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Uh, and what was your Peace Corps job when you--

Segment Synopsis: Roberts discusses her work for the Peace Corps. Her job was to organize 4-H clubs doing agriculture projects. They had already started a pineapple project; she helped them make family gardens and other projects. She also worked at a health clinic, taught some nutrition courses for the community, and taught English. She also helped them with keeping records for the 4-H clubs. She describes a typical day, which started at 6AM milking cows, and discusses the meals and other activities. The most difficult part of her adjustment was being scrutinized by the locals and having no privacy. She states that she was best prepared for dealing with the language; the hardest part was how to fill up the time and whether she actually made a difference. She discusses one volunteer who lived alone in an isolated area and developed so many health problems that the Peace Corps determined her situation was a bad idea for other women volunteers.

Keywords: 4-H clubs; 4H clubs; English as a second language (ESL); Nutrition classes; Nutrition courses; Spanish; Teaching English; Vaccination clinics

Subjects: 4-H clubs; Agriculture.; Ambulatory medical care; Backyard gardens.; Banana; Clinics; Corn; Ecuador; English language--Study and teaching--Foreign speakers.; Gardens.; Latin America.; Nutrition.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ecuador.; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Latin America.; Pineapple; Plantain banana; Rural health clinics; South America.; Spanish language.; Spanish-speaking countries; Travel.; Vaccination.; Vaccines.; Women--Employment.

GPS: Ecuador
Map Coordinates: -2, -77.5
00:36:23 - Recreation in Ecuador / Discussion of 4-H specifics

Play segment

Partial Transcript: And what did you do for recreation?

Segment Synopsis: Roberts discusses what she did in her free time. They played a local variant of volleyball as well as watched soccer matches. She read a lot, especially during the hottest part of the day. She and the other volunteer played backgammon. She wrote letters and once a week she went into the town to pick up mail, hang out with other volunteers, eat ice cream, and get her hometown paper and Newsweek magazine. Sometimes there would be dances and she also did a little bit of traveling. She had an Ecuadorian counterpart in the Ministry of Agriculture who was similar to an extension agent who helped organize the 4-H clubs. The people in the 4-H clubs were older than 4-H members in the U.S. and girls were represented by a male family member. She doesn't think her gender really affected her ability to do her job.

Keywords: 4-H clubs; 4H clubs; Dances; Friends; Hanging out; Socializing

Subjects: 4-H clubs; Backgammon; Community centers.; Dance parties; Dance.; Ecuador; Friendship.; Hobbies.; Interpersonal relations; Latin America.; Leisure.; Letter writing.; Mail; Outdoor recreation.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ecuador.; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Latin America.; Reading.; Recreation.; Soccer.; South America.; Spanish language.; Spanish-speaking countries; Sports.; Travel.; Volleyball; Women--Employment.

GPS: Ecuador
Map Coordinates: -2, -77.5
00:46:30 - Discussion of other Americans in Ecuador / Thoughts about Peace Corps in Ecuador

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Um, I would like to, to ask you about interactions with, uh, other Americans, including Peace Corps volunteers and so forth but I think we'll turn the tape over first.

Segment Synopsis: Roberts lived with another volunteer and states that in the part of Ecuador she was in there were a decent number of volunteers. When she went into Santo Domingo to get mail, she would run into at least one volunteer. She would share frustrations and successes with other volunteers. Once a year, they had work-based seminars where everyone who was working in 4-H would gather for training. She says there were older American men who had retired to live there, as well as Mormon missionaries. She identifies the vaccination clinics as an example of success, further stating that the agriculture projects were not highly successful due to the weather problems. She also states feeling sad about some of the health problems in Ecuador, such as a women who had several babies die of tetanus, as well as feeling sad about the contrast between living standards in the U.S. and living standards in Ecuador.

Keywords: 4-H clubs; 4H clubs; Americans abroad; Living standards; Mail

Subjects: 4-H clubs; Americans; Americans--Foreign countries.; Cost and standard of living.; Ecuador; Latin America.; Mormon missionaries; Mormons; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ecuador.; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Latin America.; Santo Domingo de los Colorados (Ecuador); South America.; Spanish language.; Spanish-speaking countries; Tetanus; Travel.; Vaccination.; Vaccines.

GPS: Ecuador
Map Coordinates: -2, -77.5
GPS: Santo Domingo de los Colorados (Ecuador)
Map Coordinates: -0.254167, -79.171944
00:55:47 - Impact of Peace Corps

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Um, that was what I was about to ask you. What was it like, uh, coming home?

Segment Synopsis: Roberts returned to the U.S. to complete her master's degree using the Peace Corps experience. She discusses the impact of the Peace Corps on others and on herself. She thinks they had a more realistic impression of Americans. Peace Corps helped steer her career towards Latin America. She now continues to check news and social issues in Ecuador and stays in contact with some people from the Peace Corps. She started working for Kentucky-Ecuador Partners when she returned and still works there. She has become aware of her privileges in the U.S. and continues to talk about Ecuador with other people, both as a part of her job and on her own. She describes her parents' time in Ecuador and contrasts the Peace Corps with earlier generations' traveling for war. She thinks Peace Corps is the best foreign aid tool the U.S. has.

Keywords: Ethnic stereotypes; Foreign aid; Kentucky Ecuador Partners; Kentucky-Ecuador Partners

Subjects: Cost and standard of living.; Economic assistance.; Ecuador; Latin America.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ecuador.; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Latin America.; South America.; Spanish language.; Spanish-speaking countries; Stereotypes (Social psychology); Travel.; War.

GPS: Ecuador
Map Coordinates: -2, -77.5