WILSON: This Angene Wilson, I am recording an interview with Terry
Anderson on February the 7th, 2005 for the Peace Corps Oral History
Project. What is your full name?
ANDERSON: Terry Paul Anderson
WILSON: Where and when were you born?
ANDERSON: I was born September 9th, 1941 in Twist, Washington.
WILSON: Can you tell us something about your family and something about
your growing up?
ANDERSON: Well, I grew up on a farm, a ranch in the Kittitas Valley. My
father was in the game department and we moved around a fair bit before
the fourth grade because he was in distant, different districts--
WILSON: So this is eastern Washington?
ANDERSON: It's central Washington.
WILSON: Central Washington, okay
ANDERSON: Central Washington, yeah
ANDERSON: So they decided, my parents decided to settle down in one
place for us to go to school for a period of time so I was in Kittitas
Valley in, in a small town called Kittitas and our ranch was just on
the out skirts of town and I was there from the fourth grade through
high school and my father transferred in my junior year to another
town on the western side of Washington and I, I stayed in Kittitas and
roomed and boarded with friends so I could finish my senior year at the
place I had been basically all my student life so--
WILSON: And then, where did you go to college?
ANDERSON: I went to college at Washington State University for one
year. My father had been transferred to Colfax, Washington which is
00:02:00near Pullman, Washington where Washington State and they decided to
send my brother and I to college because they didn't think we would
start on our own so they paid for it and we commuted. I had a car and
my brother and I commuted and then, dad got transferred again in our
second semester to a place called College Place which is near Walla
Walla, Washington but so we couldn't commute obviously so they paid
for that too and after that, I, I wanted to pay my own way at college
so I stayed out a year and worked and then, transferred to Central
Washington State College which is in Ellensburg, Washington which is
in the same valley that I grew up in so I finished there with a degree
WILSON: And in, in, in teaching what?
ANDERSON: Well, it was Biology--
ANDERSON: Was my major and I had a Chemistry minor--
WILSON: And then, when did you go into Peace Corps?
ANDERSON: A year after I graduated. I stayed for one more year at
Central to take some more Biology courses. It was my post-graduate
courses because I thought I might want to go to graduate school so I
wanted, I wanted to fill in behind my education classes to get more
Biology courses--So I did that and then, I decided to go into the Peace
WILSON: Why did you decide to go into the Peace Corps?
ANDERSON: I was, it was altruism. I was, I was taken by John Kennedy
and his Peace Corps idealism and that's why I did it. It sounded like
a good thing to do so I did it.
WILSON: Did you know any Peace Corps volunteers or was it--?
ANDERSON: Yes, yes.
ANDERSON: I had a cousin, Judy, who was in the Philippines and that
helped because I thought well, if she can do it, I can do it, you know?
WILSON: Okay and this is what year?
ANDERSON: That was in 1965.
WILSON: What was the process of joining?
ANDERSON: Well, what I remember is the filling out an application and
then, sending that in and then, waiting, getting some material to
say that my background would be checked--and actually, I knew it was
because some friends joked about these people coming and talking to
them about me and what they said and then, it was, it was an acceptance
for training in Atlanta, Georgia.
WILSON: And did you ask for a particular country or--?
ANDERSON: Well, that was interesting. I, I had definitely not wanted
00:05:00to go to South America because some Peace Corps volunteers had just, at
that time, had been killed in Colombia--
WILSON: Mm hmm, right.
ANDERSON: And I thought well, I said South East Asia because I had
some friends who were agricultural missionaries in Thailand. I
thought well, I might be able to visit them if I got over there but
as it turned out, all the science teachers and all the geologists who
volunteered were bundled for Ghana so we all ended up going to Ghana.
WILSON: Did you know where Ghana was?
ANDERSON: Yeah, I had been, you know, a stamp collector as a kid and I
had all these great stamps from all over world and I liked geography so
I knew where Ghana was.
WILSON: And a little bit about it or not much?
ANDERSON: Oh, not a whole lot about it--
ANDERSON: No, of course, we learned a lot in, in training--
WILSON: In training.
ANDERSON: And that kind of thing.
WILSON: Where did you train?
ANDERSON: In Atlanta, Georgia at Morehouse University which is part of
a complex of black colleges in Atlanta which was probably done because
of trying to get us right into a black experience in America which
is definitely was because we had some white cab drivers who wouldn't,
who wouldn't take us to that section of town. We had to wait to get a
black cab driver when we were running around.
WILSON: So you had a cross-cultural experience as far as training?
ANDERSON: We had a cross-cultural experience, saw Mohammad Ali too--
WILSON: Oh really?
ANDERSON: In the famous restaurant he hung out in, in that area.
WILSON: What did they do as part of training? What did they teach you?
ANDERSON: Well, we had, we had resource people. One professor from
South Africa who had written books on Pan Africanism and he was, he
kind of gave us the historical context of, of Africa and colonialism
00:07:00and Horace Bond who was Julian Bond's father--
ANDERSON: Who was a historian at the university, one of the universities
spoke to us about black culture in the United States and that kind of
thing and Julian Bond was in SNCC at the time which was Student Non-
Violent Coordinator Committee--
ANDERSON: And he talked to us also--
ANDERSON: So we had, we had a real good cultural diversity and there
was, we did physical training and the guy who physically trained us was
an Olympic track coach so we had--and then, we had Ghanaians who taught
us a basic language of Ghana which is Twi so that's basically what it
was. It was six weeks of training.
WILSON: Any training for teaching science?
ANDERSON: Oh yeah, that's the other thing. We taught in the summer
schools in the basically high schools in Atlanta. I remember my
00:08:00teacher trainer was a professor at Emory University, a Biologist. I
remember that guy from Emory--So it was--
WILSON: And you had already done student teaching to some extent?
ANDERSON: Yeah, I, I had student taught because that's what my degree
WILSON: Right, your degree was in so you had had some experience?
WILSON: What was it like to arrive in Ghana in 1965?
ANDERSON: To arrive in Ghana in '65?
WILSON: Yeah, yeah, right--
WILSON: This is what, you were trained in the summer, was that right
ANDERSON: We were trained in the summer so that we could get there
before the beginning of the school year--
WILSON: Yeah, were you?
ANDERSON: Yeah, which, which began in the fall. Ghana at that time was
ruled by Kwame Nkrumah. It was a one party state. We had learned about
Nkrumah and his role in Pan Africanism and Ghana was the first country
00:09:00to get independence from Great Britain, African country so it was an
exciting place to be and then, there was a coup six months afterwards
and Nkrumah was tossed out. He'd been overseas, I think in Russia, and
then, things really started changing and got even more exciting--
WILSON: Yeah, you were there at quite a--
ANDERSON: Yeah, quite a turning point in the history of Ghana, that's
for sure and it was really an education because Nkrumah had been fairly
repressive and a lot of times, he would even plant people in churches
to hear what the, what the preachers were sermonizing about and I had
00:10:00actually before the coup, I had one Ghanaian primary school teacher
just approach me on the street one day and ask if he could talk to
me and I said yes and he said the reason I'm doing this he says is I
can't talk to a fellow Ghanaian about the things I don't like about my
country because I'll get reported and I might be put in prison so he
spent about a half an hour just getting things off his chest to me as
we walked down this street.
WILSON: Had you been told before you left in training what, how to deal
with being in another country where things would be different where it
might not be, there might not be the freedom of speech that there is
in, in this country?
ANDERSON: No, we didn't. We were told about the political climate.
ANDERSON: We were told, you know, to be careful.
ANDERSON: In fact, one interesting, there were certain books that were
00:11:00banned in Ghana. One was Animal House. And the Peace Corps gave us a,
a locker full of paper back books--
WILSON: Animal House or Animal Farm?
ANDERSON: I'm sorry, Animal Farm--
ANDERSON: Right, Animal House is a different thing--
WILSON: That's right
ANDERSON: Animal Farm and so I decided to set it up as a library and
I would have the kids check out the books--And I remember this one, I
think he was, the, the school classes are called forms and there's five
forms in equivalent of a high school so this third former had checked
out Animal Farm and he returned it to me because he said some seniors
had told him that he couldn't read it because it was banned in Ghana
and so he returned it. It was really a bit after the coup, I was able
to get that book back in circulation--
WILSON: Did you?
ANDERSON: Because there were still political jokes about Animal Farm
in Ghana because there were a lot of things that happened in Ghanaian
00:12:00society that were very similar to Animal Farm.
WILSON: Let's, although this, this isn't in the questions, let's
continue to talk about that a little bit because I think that's
interesting to, to be in a country when there's a coup and, and
politics change and have that experience too. What, how did, how did
things change after that six months?
WILSON: Then, then people could talk to you freely or--?
WILSON: What about the economy?
ANDERSON: Yeah, yeah, there, the economy, this coup happened just
about the time Nkrumah started a new austerity budget and basically,
00:13:00professionals and people who were independent business people were
going to be taxed heavily. Yeah, I do know that during that time there
were a lot of Lebanese business people in Ghana. They were kind of the
infrastructure of the small shops, things like that. And there was a
rumor that, that the government was going to take over those shops and
kick those people out. It had happened in East Africa with Indians in
Uganda I think--
ANDERSON: So that didn't happen. We had Russian teachers in our school
before the coup and, and the Russians, plus the Chinese that we helping
construct some infrastructure and things like that in Ghana, left after
00:14:00the coup and in fact, the government wanted them to go and part of the
reason was for their own safety because Chinese were beaten up in the,
in the major cities during that coup and in fact, some Japanese people
who were there were mistaken for Chinese and beaten up also so it was a
real kind of a testy time.
WILSON: But there was never any question about whether the Peace Corps
was going to stay?
ANDERSON: No, although when we were, when we were there, there was,
there was a couple rumors in the paper that, that Nkrumah was going to
kick us out but then, after the coup, we stayed and in fact, if you,
during that coup time, if you were recognized as an American, you were
safe as you were in a small town in America but you might be asked if
you were American because if you said no, I'm Russian, then, you'd be
Or you might be in trouble like that because I got challenged a couple
times walking down the street. Where are you from? You know? And I
would say America and they would say oh, good, you know, as if I said
something different, I might have been physically in trouble but there,
it was actually a fairly peaceful coup. There were some killings and
things that went on in military barracks and the Presidential guard--
ANDERSON: And that kind of thing--
ANDERSON: But things got back to normal very quickly, you know, military
council was set up and their first goal was to have elections in a
WILSON: Yeah, well, I think it's kind of remarkable that the Peace Corps
stayed, has stayed in Ghana for a whole--
WILSON: The whole time.
ANDERSON: Yeah because they were the, the first Peace Corps group--
ANDERSON: Ever formed that went to Ghana.
WILSON: Right, right.
WILSON: Right and well, given the history of other coups--
WILSON: Later and, and various things--
ANDERSON: That's right.
WILSON: And, and now, of course, if there's any trouble in a country,
Peace Corps gets evacuated very quickly and so--
WILSON: It's interesting to think about how that worked out.
ANDERSON: We were told, I guess, not to travel during, during that coup
time but of course, Peace Corps volunteers did. They wanted to see
what was going on and, you know, they snuck into Accra and saw the
Kwame Nkrumah statue torn down and things like that--
WILSON: And it's now, in it's, in its destroyed state now standing back
ANDERSON: Yeah, I guess so.
WILSON: Near the museum which is interesting--
WILSON: Where were you in the country?
ANDERSON: I was in Cape Coast which is a south of the capital city of
Accra on coast. It's a basically a large fishing village but with
00:17:00a downtown court area where there were like Kingsway Supermarket and
things like that but the, the and it was known as a center of high
schools too. There were, they were separated. There were boys'
schools and girls' schools. It wasn't coeducational--
WILSON: And you were teaching at?
ANDERSON: I was teaching at boys' school.
ANDERSON: Mfantisipim, means a thousand Fantes and this is a Fante
area. And it's funny I remember that Peace Corps asked me if I wanted
to go to a high pressure school or a low pressure school meaning a
school that was not in a large town but was more in a smaller town
and I thought well, I said low pressure and I ended up at Mfantisipim
00:18:00which is the oldest boy school in West Africa so it's like the highest
pressure school that there is.
WILSON: And it's a very good high school.
ANDERSON: It is!
WILSON: It's got a very high reputation.
WILSON: Was University of Cape Coast there then?
ANDERSON: Yes, the University of Cape Coast was there and they were just
starting their teacher training program and our mission was the fill in
that gap where there weren't Ghanaian teachers yet trained--
ANDERSON: At the high school level--
ANDERSON: Until that group of students that would graduate could fill in
behind us and that's eventually what happened and Peace Corps wasn't,
isn't really teaching in the classroom and they started doing some
teacher training type of work but as far as teachers in the classroom,
that only lasted for a certain period of time.
WILSON: And what about what teaching was like? I mean, you'd done some
00:19:00teaching in the U.S. How, how does it differ?
ANDERSON: Yeah, I'd done some teaching in the U.S. but the teaching in,
in Ghana was a wonderful experience. Mainly because you didn't, you
didn't have to spend that much time in discipline although there were
some cut ups and kids you had to pay attention to but education was
really important in Ghanaian society and we were in a boarding school
where the education was free but tuition, not tuition but books and
boarding had to be purchased or paid for and usually that meant that
several family members would pool their money to get one family member
in school and support them so that student had a lot of pressure to
finish school and so they studied all the time and in fact, I was like
00:20:00a house master in the dormitories and we'd go around to make sure that
their, the lights were out at the right time and that but these kids
would have flashlights and try to study under their blankets at night--
WILSON: And were they from, were they mostly Fante or were they from
ANDERSON: No, they were from all over the country--
WILSON: Country because it was a boarding school--
ANDERSON: Yeah, yeah because there were also--
WILSON: So there were all the ethnic groups?
ANDERSON: Yeah, there was also the Cocoa Board of Ghana had scholarships
for students in school so they could, they, they would give these
scholarships to students from all over Ghana so that you would get a
mix at, at the school.
WILSON: What did you actually teach?
ANDERSON: I taught Biology and Chemistry. I taught that at, through the
first five forms and then, I taught sixth form Biology which is like
an extra two years after high school. Tests are given and if you score
high on those tests, you can go to sixth form and then, after those two
00:21:00years of sixth form where you concentrate on three subjects, you go to
university for three years so it was like first year university course
and I taught Biology.
WILSON: So it sounds like you had a lot of preparation--
ANDERSON: Yeah, I did--
WILSON: If you're teaching all the forms.
ANDERSON: The first, what was, what was good about the experience, I
was in the Peace Corps for two years but then, I was in Ghana for an
additional two years under a program called Teachers for West Africa
which was philanthropic organization set up by Hershey's Chocolate
Company because they bought their cocoa from Ghana and Nigeria so
through Hershey College which administered the program, they supported
teachers for several years in Nigeria and in Ghana so I stayed for two
more years under that program--
WILSON: In the same school?
ANDERSON: In the same school and essentially signed a contract with the
00:22:00Ministry of Education as an expatriate and doubled my salary from about
a hundred dollars a month to two hundred like that and lived on economy
locally. It was, it was good for my teaching experience because I was
able take one group of students from fourth form through fifth form
through two years of sixth form--
WILSON: Oh, wow and had a--
ANDERSON: And had, had a great relationship with those students--
ANDERSON: So that was just wonderful. They had, they knew that they
that they could, that I would teach stuff that they were supposed to
learn because they passed their courses and gone on to sixth form so
that was a lot of fun. It was a lot of work--
WILSON: And how many students went on then to university from those?
ANDERSON: Oh, from that group? That's hard to tell because I left and
ANDERSON: You know, didn't know what their, what they did in the future
after their sixth form exams.
WILSON: You didn't have contact with any students from that trip?
ANDERSON: Not of the students, no.
WILSON: Not of students, no.
ANDERSON: Ah huh, ah huh.
WILSON: Where did you live the first two years?
ANDERSON: The first two years, the, the school provided the bungalows
for teachers who were called masters and I roomed with a, with a teacher
from Britain and he had a Jeep so that was good. I had transport--
WILSON: Wow, you're lucky.
ANDERSON: So we'd take off and go places--
ANDERSON: Like that. That was, that was good.
WILSON: And what was, what was the, what was a typical day like in terms
of your living conditions and teaching and so forth if you start in
ANDERSON: Oh, well, you know, with, yeah, we had--I had a steward that
00:24:00we paid wages to who did our cooking and house cleaning. He was an Igbo
from Nigeria and that was the condition that I moved into because he
was already working for this British teacher who had been there for two
or three years. So basically, I would get up in the morning. Usually,
in the evenings, I'd do my class preps and then, in the mornings, we
all had an assembly before classes so we had a morning assembly where
prayers were said and the headmaster, he's like the principal of the
school, would give a speech, talk about what was going on during the
day. If there were any sporting events, that kind of thing and then,
we'd go to our classrooms and teach and a break for lunch. I think at
00:25:00that time, no, I think I had, I had lunch at home in the bungalow but
later on, I took, I took lunch. After my Peace Corps experience had
finished, I took lunch at the school. There was a Masters' table set
up there. We essentially got basically what the students were eating--
WILSON: So you were eating fufu and banku.
ANDERSON: Yeah, kenkey and, and fufu, stews and things like that,
WILSON: And you liked the Ghanaian food? You adapted to the Ghanaian
ANDERSON: Oh yeah.
ANDERSON: Yeah, I liked it very much and eating at the table, we were
also supposed to be kind of disciplinarians there because what was
really neat about that experience is everybody it seems like in Ghana
can drum and those kids would use those forks and spoons--
ANDERSON: And start drumming on the table and get this rhythm going
before the food was served, you know?
ANDERSON: So we had to get up and walk around and tell them not to do
that, you know and you could hear this chorus behind you start as you
WILSON: As soon as you come by--
WILSON: Was there anything that was difficult about adjusting to living
ANDERSON: I would say the, probably the first, the first thing was the,
the lack of friends and companions. You had to build new ones and
that took a while. Now, luckily, I was in a city that had several
schools and there were two or three, maybe five other Peace Corps
volunteers who were teaching in other schools around there so we could
get together and we did a lot and that really helped that but being
00:27:00away from home and that thing took an adjustment. You really had to
be self reliant once you got to realize that, then you started getting
interested in the culture and, and people and you didn't just stay in
your bungalow and that. You started exploring and it worked out. It
worked out fine.
WILSON: What did you do for recreation? You said your house mate had a
Jeep; that's nice to get around. Did you go north?
WILSON: Did you travel?
ANDERSON: During the school year, I was pretty busy because teachers
were also asked to be patrons of various societies, student societies
so I was like the, the patron of the Volunteers Works Camp Association
00:28:00which was an association set up from all the different schools there
who would go out on weekends, stay in or, or sometimes, it might
have been during a short vacation between two quarters at school or
something like that and do social projects in, in villages--
WILSON: Oh nice!
ANDERSON: Where we would build bath houses and things like that--
WILSON: Did you do some of that? You went along?
ANDERSON: Oh yeah--
ANDERSON: Because see, I was like the patron--
ANDERSON: So there had to be an adult and a teacher because the students
really liked this because if you're in a boys' school and you're in the
girls' school, you have very little opportunity to get together--
WILSON: Oh yeah.
ANDERSON: But the work camp was co-ed--
WILSON: Ah ha!
ANDERSON: Like that so there was a lot of flirting and things with the
ANDERSON: And, and basically, how, how it was set up, it was set up
through the social, I forget the name of the social agency in Ghana
00:29:00that did this, it was like a rural development organization and
villagers would pool their money to buy enough cement to put up a block
house that would be a wash house and it'd be separated for men and
women and then, we would come along and provide the labor and make the
bricks. The social service agency would provide the machine to make
the bricks and get a, get a brick layer and we would make the bricks
and then, haul them to the people who were constructing the thing and
then, we got fed by the village and slept in maybe a, a school building
or, or in houses that people lived in that were provided to us so that
was, that was, that was fun. That was a good experience and then, I
was, I was the swimming coach also. This was just something that I,
00:30:00I dreamed up because a lot of Ghanaians really don't know how to swim
and it's real easy to teach somebody how to swim in the ocean and there
was a good beach outside of town that we could get the school lorry and
just go up there and then, I'd, you know, teach kids how to float and
things like that so I was like a, like that and then, we had I think
it was called the Junior Investigators Club too which was basically
something set up for field trips and things so we would like go to, go
to the Akosombo Dam and see the hydroelectric generating part of that
whole structure or go to Accra for some museum visits and things like
that so and then, I got involved, this was back, we tried to teach
Ghanaians how to play basketball and that was a lot of fun because
00:31:00they'd usually try to kick it first, you know but so we had, we had a
basketball team that, that I formed with a couple other guys from other
schools and we would go and play. I think we had, we played each other
and then, we had one team that we took to play another team outside of
town one time and then, one other sports thing, although we decided,
actually, it was the kids that wanted to do it. There was, there was
organized sports at school. In fact, the cricket team, they had won
the national championship a couple of times. There were cricket cages,
batting cages around and stuff and of course, they had a good soccer
team, that, but the little boys, small boys didn't have enough height
and weren't old enough to get on these varsity teams so they wanted to
00:32:00form a soccer team and we called it the Small Boys League and I had a
mark on my, on my doorsill of my classroom that was set at five foot
three. And, and you had to be five foot three or under to be on the
small boys team like that--
WILSON: Oh, that's neat.
ANDERSON: And it was, I still remember some of those kids who were like
five foot four come in and try to shrink under that mark, but that was
fun because it gave them really something that they really wanted to
do and so we formed a league around town and we played kids from the
other schools that were small boys. So that was a lot of fun, yeah so
usually, in the evenings, there were, there were movies in town and I'd
go to these movies and a lot of them were spaghetti westerns and Indian
movies. Yeah and then, there was, there were night clubs and things
and I would go there and I'd dance, drink some beer, and that was about
00:33:00it during the school year. My first year particularly, I spent a lot
of time doing lesson plans--
WILSON: Right, because you're teaching a lot of different classes.
ANDERSON: Yeah, yeah and you teach on what's called a syllabus so there's
certain subjects you have to teach because they're on a final test.
WILSON: Okay, so you were pretty busy doing lesson plans.
ANDERSON: Yeah, particularly the first year. After, you know, after I'd
gotten all that written out and knew what I was doing, then, the, the
second year and the third and the fourth were a lot easier in teaching
but you know, I, I would have four or five different classes that I'd
have to prepare for. You know, Chemistry, Biology at different levels
so you taught each of these at different levels--
WILSON: And did you have any labs there? I mean, how, how did you do lab
work? I think about Chemistry and Biology, right, what about labs?
ANDERSON: Well, I was lucky in that sense because Mfantsipim is such a
well known school. Schools get support from what are called Old Boys
Associations and these are like the alumni of the high school--
ANDERSON: And there aren't that many colleges in Ghana but the High
School Alumni Associations really do a lot to support the schools. In
fact, at the sixth form level, we had an air conditioned laboratory
building that were both had lecture halls and laboratory facilities and
so I could usually find most of the things that we needed to do--
WILSON: Oh that's good.
ANDERSON: Experiments and things like that particularly in Chemistry.
Of course, in Biology, we did, we had to do dissections in sixth form
and things like that but we had the tools for it so--
WILSON: And what about in terms of Biology? Were you able to do things
that were related particularly or specially to Ghana and then, were you
doing, I don't know, flora and fauna and that kind of stuff?
ANDERSON: Yeah, yeah, yeah
WILSON: Well, was it curriculum?
ANDERSON: The curriculum was, was--
WILSON: Not or was it British or was it, it had been Africanized?
ANDERSON: The curriculum was based on British teaching system but we
used Ghanaian examples off different animal phyla and things like that
so it was geared to that and I had, I had fortunately brought my, my
text books, college text books with me and I actually got to, got to
see a, some of the, some of the animals that were in the back of that
text book that I never thought I'd be able to see. Like slow moving
lorises and things like that so, so it was good and I, the laboratory,
00:36:00the, there was a, a Peace Corps volunteer who was a teacher before me
and he really got into snakes so that one laboratory was filled with
jars of different kinds of snakes and he had, he had a deal with the
local farmers that if they would bring in a snake, he'd give them a
little bit of money for it--
ANDERSON: So he got a great snake collection, yeah, black mambas and
green mambas and things like that.
WILSON: Now, did you get and, and you were, when you were out in
villages and, and did you do some hiking in the bush, in the forest?
I'm thinking about the fact that what later becomes Kakum National Park
wasn't too far from--
WILSON: From and, and was really virgin rainforest.
ANDERSON: Yeah, the only, the ways that I did that was if I was
00:37:00traveling to visit someone and in that visit, we might to a hike
between villages or something like that. I remember one place I went
to was a, was a, it was a tree farm that was set up by the, one of the
ministries in the government and they raised, they were raising teak
to root plants. The Germans had originally before the First World War
had planted a lot of teak in West Africa and they had a teak plantation
and I went to visit a guy who was a forester. He was a Peace Corps
volunteer who was running this thing and we got into some real forest
areas then because he took me around to that. But ordinarily, I
didn't, I didn't, I didn't have access to forest during the day because
00:38:00it was all cleared farm land around the city where I lived so I wasn't
living in a forest. It was more coastal--
WILSON: Yeah, yeah, right.
ANDERSON: Kind of thing so you know, I probably did more swimming and,
and surfing with a body board. You don't stand up on it, you just put
it on your test and catch a wave and it's kind of a floatation device.
I probably did more beach recreation than anything when I was there--
WILSON: Mm hmm, right.
ANDERSON: Other than the basketball and that kind of thing, yeah.
WILSON: Did you travel other places in Ghana or outside of Ghana while
you were there?
ANDERSON: Oh yeah. I traveled through most of Ghana except the, except
the far western place, south western place where the, where the rain
forests are because I didn't know volunteers there but in between
00:39:00school breaks is when we would really travel so I traveled, I remember
one other volunteer and I, a good friend took a plane up to town which
is half way up the country called Tamale and we took lorries through
the whole northern part, did a square through the whole northern part
of Ghana and then, came back down into the eastern part and then,
back home one time. That was a great trip and in between my first
and second year, there was a charter plane that was set up by other
volunteers in West Africa to go to East Africa--
ANDERSON: So we got, it was a DC 6 and four of us from our group went
together and flew to East Africa, rented a car in East Africa and drove
00:40:00all through the game parks in Kenya and Tanzania including Olduvai
Gorge which is famous for finding a fossil called Zinjanthropus man
and that was a phenomenal trip and Ngorongoro Gorge and the game parks
and Lake Nakuru where there are two or three million pink flamingos,
Thompson Falls, that was wonderful and we traveled to Togo and Nigeria
and by doing that, you go through Dahomey which is now Benin and up
into Nigeria to the north where there's a large trading town called
Kano. It's one of the, it on, it was on the salt caravan route so
00:41:00it's, it's, it's an old, old city. We were there during, during the
Biafran War and I remember one night we had a dark out because there
was a rumor that there was a Biafran war plane that was going to bomb
the city but that never did, that never did happen and another trip, we
took a train from Abidjan which is the in Ivory Coast which is on the
coast all the way up through the length of Ivory Coast to Ouagadougou
which is the capital of Upper Volta which is now Burkina Faso and then,
back down to Ghana.
WILSON: Oh wow!
ANDERSON: And that was, that was a fantastic trip, yeah, so you know,
in those vacations and things, we were, I was always on the road going
00:42:00some place, visiting other volunteers and seeing what, what their part
of Ghana was like so I got to go around Ghana quite a bit.
WILSON: What were your interactions with host country nationals like?
Did you have a, a, a counterpart? Of course, in those days, Peace Corps
volunteers didn't live with families so that was different but what,
what were your interactions with host country folks like?
ANDERSON: It was actually through Ghanaian teachers in the school that
I became friends with and through them, I got to know some of their
family members and got accepted into households and, and I got to be
friends with, with quite a few Ghanaians and this happened after my
first year there, started to get those relationships built and then,
the second year and then, I stayed for a couple more years so, so they
just grew better. I had one particularly good friend who became a good
00:43:00friend who was a, a teacher in their industrial arts program. He had
machinery where they could bend metal and things like that and he was a
good builder of things like that and designer and we became real close
friends and he introduced me more to Ghanaian society in that region
than anybody, yeah, wow and I lived on the economy after my, after my
Peace Corps experience. We got a, we got a house in town that belonged
to a fairly wealthy Ghanaian and it was his second home and he's leased
it to the school and the school paid for our rent at that place so
then, we, we just bought food off the local economy and we knew we'd
get one meal at lunch for sure at the school so that, that experience
00:44:00of living in town rather than on the compound also got you more just
right there in, in the town society anyway because you go to the market
and things like that and you don't have somebody else shopping for you,
you're doing that--
ANDERSON: And the guy that I roomed with was another British teacher. He
was actually from Scotland and he had a car so that helped. That's how
we got to Nigeria. We got in his car and took off for that trip so--
WILSON: What about, you already mentioned interacting with other acting
Peace Corps volunteers and of course there were British teachers as
ANDERSON: There were British teachers, there were Canadian volunteers,
there were Irish volunteers, got to know one young woman fairly well
and a couple of us after, after, after the four years, I went to Europe
for six weeks and we visited her in Ireland so we met a lot of other
00:45:00people from other countries that were teachers. There were actually
some Germans there too that, that came to town for about a year or so
and it was real interesting getting, I got to know one of those guys
fairly well and during the First World, before the First World War, in
Togo and at that time, part of Ghana, the Germans controlled that part
of, of West Africa and that volunteer told me that when he went into
some of those villages in the Ewe Region that people would talk German
ANDERSON: And he became an honorary chief of one village just because
of that old association with that so we got, we got to know quite a few
people from other countries too.
WILSON: Are there several sort of memorable stories from your years
00:46:00in Ghana that you still tell and why are they still memorable and
ANDERSON: Well, I don't know, the stories are just the, my trips and
adventures that you have and there's not one or two that stick out.
There's just, just a lot of them. I remember going up to the north of
Ghana to a secondary school in a town called Navrongo. We were up there
to do some kind of a work project, I forgot exactly what it was but we
were taken to a village where they had not seen Europeans in two--
[Side a ends, side b begins.]
ANDERSON: And that's the first time that I was really in an area where
00:47:00the people were governed by tribal rules, not laws. We were feted as
very important visitors and it's the first time I ever heard anybody, I
think it's called ululate where the women--
WILSON: Ululate, yeah--
ANDERSON: Do, I first thought it was a scream. But it's not a scream,
it's a thing to do, to announce that, that the tribal chief is coming
into your presence and we saw, there were dancing and things like that
and a lot of talk between the interpreters because there's, there's
several different languages in the north. There's a couple main ones,
two or three main ones in the south where I was but there are many more
smaller tribes and different languages in the north so that, that was
really different in the southern part of the country and the northern
part is also in savannah so you don't have rain forest and a lot of
00:48:00lush greenery or things like that. It's just a whole different. It's
dry, it's not humid so those experiences in the north were really
interesting and I still remember seeing a, because it was an altar
to the god Baal which was the most primitive worship place I'd ever
been in, it was, that was really interesting so, so we, and that's the
first time up there that I saw some village women just wearing leaves
as skirts. Yeah, where in the south, people were fully dressed and
dressed very well in local, colorful cloth and suits and slacks for men
and things like that so that was really different so you know, those
stories can go on and on like that, just when the mind's recharged.
WILSON: What was it like to come home? Been gone four years and you
didn't come home in the interim, right?
ANDERSON: Actually I did--
WILSON: Did? Yeah?
ANDERSON: And that was the good thing about Peace Corps and the
transition to Teachers for West Africa because the Teachers for West
Africa would pay my way to Ghana--
ANDERSON: And back from Ghana--
WILSON: Oh, okay.
ANDERSON: And the Peace Corps would pay my way back from Ghana at the
end of my Peace Corps time so I got to go back and an interesting
story about that. The Vietnam War was going on then and there were
volunteers that, that were drafted right out of, right out of the Peace
Corps. I had an ear infection that I got swimming and I couldn't get
it cured in Ghana. I also got a draft notice to appear for a physical
00:50:00and so I called my draft board in between that Peace Corps and going
back to Ghana and the draft board told me and the draft board was in
Pullman, Washington and they'd dealt with college students for years
and they said that I wouldn't have to worry about being drafted because
I was twenty-six years old and they hadn't drafted anybody that was
twenty-six years old since the Second World War, okay? But to do the
physical and get all my paper work done so I had this ear infection
when I had my physical so I was given a, a, I forget what they call
it, a special W2 [4F] or something like that, that was a medical
disqualification, something like that but then, I got my ear infection
fixed after that and went off to Ghana. I remember the doctor was
00:51:00really mad because I had the ear infection and he thought I was trying
to get out of the draft, you know? He said make sure you come back in
six months and I knew I was going to Ghana and I said sure, I'll be
back in six months but I, I because I was the oldest, I was kind of
made a temporary sergeant and I was in charge of all these kids who
were taking their physicals. I call them kids because they're eighteen
year olds, you know, I was the oldest one amongst them. Some of those
kids were just deathly afraid of going to Vietnam and other ones just
wanted to go there and be a good solider and were gung-ho about it, you
know. It was quite an experience, yeah.
WILSON: Yeah, that's really part of the whole thing for a lot of us I
think in the 1960s is that Vietnam is connected to this--
ANDERSON: Well, there were people in my group, you know, that, that were
00:52:00very truthful. They said I'm going to Peace Corps so I don't go to
Vietnam. At least two years, maybe it'll be over with, you know.
WILSON: Yeah, yeah but you're right, there were also people who were
drafted right out of Peace Corps.
WILSON: Yeah, yeah.
ANDERSON: Right, right.
WILSON: What do you think the impact of your Peace Corps service was
on people, country and world and even more broadly, what do you think
that, I mean, Peace Corps been in Ghana since 1961 and then, what was
the impact on you?
ANDERSON: Well, like I said I felt, I felt really good about my
experience and the job that I had there because I knew we were, we were
filling a real gap and that having experienced, knowledgeable teachers
was something that Ghana really needed so I really feel that we really
did fill that gap. Some of the, some of the teachers in my group got in
00:53:00trouble because they tried to teach too much off the syllabus and they
had students boycott classes or riot and just not come to class because
they weren't being taught the right thing. You learned real quick to
teach the right stuff and then, try and teach thinking around that and
more exploration but you had to cover that core or else because they
knew the syllabus as well as you do. They knew the topics that were
supposed to be covered so it was really important to, to keep on that
kind of, keep that frame in mind when you were teaching so I think it
was a positive experience for the country to have us fill that because
it worked. I mean, we're not teaching there in the secondary schools.
Ghanaians are teaching in the secondary schools with help probably
from some still expatriates and things like that that are there but--
WILSON: What about the impact on you?
ANDERSON: Oh well, the Ghanaian culture, Ghanaian, the Ghanaians that I
knew are very welcoming people. They have a real sense of self pride
and even though they don't have a lot of the material things that we
have, their sense of community and sense of family is really strong and
that is something I've carried with me throughout my life after that is
just that sense of, of being able to enjoy every day life because they
certainly did. They had a knack for it and that's been in the back of
my mind ever since about just enjoying what you have more than anything
WILSON: What about any impact on what you've done since as a career and
just talk about what you have done since you came back?
ANDERSON: Yeah, well, I, I did go to graduate school. I got accepted to
the University of North Carolina in their Department of Environmental
Sciences in Engineering which was part of the School of Public Health
and I got the last Peace Corps traineeship that that department
had so I had essentially a full ride. I didn't have to do any lab
preparations or be a lab assistant or anything like that so I worked
two years for a professor who was a limnologist, that's somebody who
basically studies lakes and reservoirs and then, I got married while
00:56:00I was in graduate school or just after graduate school and got a job
at the university working for this professor and worked five years
for him doing research work for a big power company on reservoirs in
North Carolina, looked at time impact of their heat discharges on the
reservoir ecosystems. We did work for the state of North Carolina
looking at water quality in certain lakes and we did pre-impact studies
on rivers before they were impounded looking at the, basically, the
chemistry and biology of those rivers so it was, it was an exciting
time. It was a great time being in graduate school in the sixties.
I was there from '69, I graduated in '71. The environmental movement
00:57:00had just started and we had some of the world class lectures and people
that were in, you know, in the science news at the time come to that
university because it was a well known university so it was, it was
a wonderful time and I, one of the things that, that I searched for
when I was in graduate school was something that was traditional in
American society because I'd been in a traditional society for four
years and I found old time mountain music and became a real devote of
that kind of music and we'd go to fiddle festivals and things like that
all over North Carolina and Virginia like that. I found it. I found
something real traditional and that was really important to me, to find
00:58:00that kind of thing in our society that was still going on which helped
me kind of make a transition. It was also an easier transition for
me coming back into society because I was in graduate school and at a
large university, there were other Peace Corp volunteers around that
you could talk to about your experience. And in fact, one, one guy who
was in the Chemistry program there became one of my best friends and we
roomed together and things like that so was easier than going back to
a small town like Kittitas where I grew up, something like that because
I remember when one of things that I noticed and, and dismayed me most
is when I came back and talked to my friends, they were always talking
about the things that they just got like new cars and things like this,
00:59:00all this materialism but I wasn't used to talking to people about and
that seemed to be the most important thing that they wanted to talk
about. You know, I was full of stories on West Africa.
WILSON: Right, right, exactly.
ANDERSON: So, so going back to graduate school rather than like going
into a secondary school and becoming a teacher, you know, was, was, was
a good thing for me like that because that really made that transition
WILSON: And you never considered teaching afterwards? I don't know what
WILSON: The percentage of teachers is because I've heard lots of us talk
in Peace Corps--
WILSON: About percentages who've stayed in teaching.
ANDERSON: I don't know. I do know that at that time, New York City was
really recruiting a lot of volunteers who were teachers to go teach in
the inner city schools--
WILSON: Mm hmm, right.
ANDERSON: And some of the guys, some of the people that I knew did that--
WILSON: Did that, yeah.
ANDERSON: But I, I really got interested in ecology and, and wanted to
01:00:00go to graduate school. In fact, that's one of the, one of the reasons
I stayed the fourth year in Ghana was I had, I'd been accepted to the
University of Michigan also but I had to like wait out a semester or
fund my own, fund my tuition and things by myself and then, after that,
they would have a scholarship available so I had the choice of either
going back home and maybe substitute teaching for a while before I
could go to university or stay in West Africa for another year and I
said no brainer--
WILSON: Right. That's exactly right
ANDERSON: I'll stay the fourth year and then, I got accepted you know to
the University of North Carolina and got the traineeship--
ANDERSON: And that really worked so--
WILSON: So then, you were in--so did you come to Kentucky from North
ANDERSON: Yes, yeah.
ANDERSON: That was in 1978 and I had, I had heard through friends that
Kentucky was looking for some biologist and I just sent a letter and
it got onto the right desk and went up for an interview and got hired
and I worked for the same agency the Division of Water for twenty-five
years and seven months.
WILSON: Have you had any international experience since Ghana? Been
other places or is that, that part, part, part of the future now that
ANDERSON: Well, no, actually, the traditional music that I got
01:02:00interested in translated into dancing, traditional dances and there are
dance groups all over Kentucky that do that and I got involved enough
that I was getting pretty good at doing those dances and got invited
for a performance team that went to Denmark in 1965. I'm sorry, 1985--
WILSON: Okay, wow.
ANDERSON: And that was through my association with people at Berea
College where they had traditional dance teams at the college for
years and years and years and they teach particular style of dance
that, that's really fun and good to know so as a result to that trip
to Denmark, I got asked to go to Sweden later and Den-, on a later
01:03:00trip, to Great Britain, to England and they're thinking about one trip
to Czechoslovakia in 2007 so I'd do that if that happened and then,
I'm finished so I traveled to Finland. I'd been there after I got
out of the teaching in Ghana, I spent six weeks. I bought a little
Triumph spitfire and, and another volunteer and I ran all over Europe
for six weeks and made it to Finland for the first time and so I went
back in '98 and then, went to Iceland after that to visit some Danish
friends that were traveling in Iceland and so I've, you know, done some
traveling like that, you know?
WILSON: What do you think the impact of Peace Corps has been on the way
you think about the world and what's going on now?
ANDERSON: Well, I'm much more tuned into reading and learning about
what's going on in other countries than I think I would have been if I
would have stayed here and in fact, I got so frustrated with not being
able to read very much on what was going on in Africa and other things,
I subscribed to a West African publication for several years when I
was in graduate school and after that and then, then I subscribed to
the Christian Science Monitor which has a good international coverage,
better than you can find in local papers so I did that because I
wanted to continue learning what was going on and, and there would be
articles about Ghana every once in a while so I just wanted to keep
01:05:00in touch with what was going on internationally and much more aware
of, of people in countries that, that don't have the resources that
we have and in fact, probably through that association, I've, for, I
don't know, maybe fifteen years now, I've sponsored a child through
the Christian's Children Fund. They've all been from Zambia and there
was never, there was never a program in Ghana so I thought well, I know
what a small amount of money continually being available can do for an
individual and for a family and for a project and usually once a year,
01:06:00I'll give fifty or sixty dollars to the project for something that,
that they need, you know, usually around Christmas time, something like
that so I've, I've done that, I've got probably four different kids.
Sometimes, they leave projects and then, you pick up, you get assigned
WILSON: Mm hmm, right, right.
ANDERSON: Yeah or this last young, young girl got six-, became sixteen
and she was married right away which bothered me like that, you know,
you hope that maybe something that you did might get them to go further
in their education and out of a traditional society but then, that's,
that's just the way it goes, you know?
WILSON: Yeah, yeah, right.
WILSON: Were you helping kids go to school anywhere in Ghana too?
ANDERSON: Mm, mm.
WILSON: Well, I'm asking, I asked that because I've often wondered, I
01:07:00mean, it sounds like afterwards, but I've often wondered how many kids,
students, Peace Corps volunteers have put through school because I
think it's probably a lot--
ANDERSON: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
WILSON: Because as you say or gotten other people to help maybe back
ANDERSON: Right, right.
WILSON: Because as you say it's really not very much money.
ANDERSON: Yeah, I had a good experience. I became real good friends
with, with a Ghanaian sanitary engineer, had been trained in Britain
and he was a relative of, of one of the, one of the teachers that I
knew real well and we became very good friends and he got to come to
North Carolina at the university for one year for advanced training
through a WHO, World Health Organization scholarship--
WILSON: Oh great!
ANDERSON: And so we were roommates for six months or so until he, he
part, part of his curriculum was to be assigned to an engineering firm
01:08:00so he went out and worked for an engineering firm then, after that and,
and I went to Washington, D.C. and saw him off after he went back to
Ghana but that was great.
ANDERSON: That was really great, yeah.
WILSON: Can actually go there. What do you think the overall impact of
Peace Corps has been?
ANDERSON: Well, I, I think it's hard to say. I'm, I'm an optimist so
I'm thinking for the majority of people who are affected by volunteers,
it's given them a better idea of American citizens, not particularly
government or anything like that but just about what Americans
are about and in fact, I know when I was in Ghana, there is a big
difference between how Americans react to Ghanaian society than people
in other countries like the British who were the, the colonial masters
01:09:00and we, Americans went there without any of that colonial baggage and
we were accepted very readily and I was told by several people that
they just liked the way Americans deal with other people, you know,
they're honest and friendly and with a lot of goodwill, you know?
So, you know, I think the difficulties arise when volunteers are in
particular jobs that, that they don't have a positive experience in,
you know? And they don't get to influence other people but you know, as
a teacher, you, you really don't know what your impact is but you know
you're having an impact. Lots of funny things happened to me with some
kids that they're--American English is a lot different than British
English and we roll our Rs a lot, you know? And I would have students
01:10:00trying to mimic my American language and come up to me and kind of
rumble around in their mouth making those Rs. I couldn't understand
what they were saying but then, I understood they were trying to talk
like I was. It was real funny but--
WILSON: What do you think the role of the Peace Corps should be today?
WILSON: In Ghana or elsewhere?
ANDERSON: Yeah, I think it should continue doing those jobs that other
countries are, are, want you to do and invite you into the country
to do. Yeah, I think it's, I've always said I think Peace Corps
volunteers probably come away with, with more than they give because
they're the ones that, that are in a completely different culture and
01:11:00there's so much to learn from that that just broadens your outlook
and your life experiences so I think, I tell people keep going, go
into the Peace Corps, think about it, you know? Yeah and there's more
opportunities in, in, in different vocations than there were when I was
a volunteer, I mean, there's business, computer.
ANDERSON: I don't know, assistance, all kinds of different ways to
get into the Peace Corps than there were when I was because it was
largely teachers and I don't know, there were some mechanics and, and
geologists and things like that but there's much more opportunity for
people with skills. I think, I think the Peace Corps needs to recruit
people, recruit people with real skills because some of those earlier
experiences were sending a volunteer out in places where they would
01:12:00just be frustrated for quite a period of time trying to figure out what
to do because they didn't have a lot of good, good training in various
WILSON: Whereas teaching was an obvious job--
ANDERSON: Teaching was a job.
WILSON: Where you knew you were going to--
ANDERSON: And the geologist, that was, the geologists in Ghana were,
they were doing some of the original surveying work, so you know so
they were really needed like that
WILSON: What else do you want to say that you haven't had a chance to
say? What question do you want to answer that I haven't asked?
ANDERSON: I don't know. Do you ever, do you ever ask or do people ever
ask you about their romances, things like that overseas?
WILSON: Some people have said that that's something they don't want to
ANDERSON: Yeah, do other people talk about that?
WILSON: Well, actually, I don't think we've had anybody talk about that
but that's part of it.
WILSON: I mean, I can think of someone--
ANDERSON: A little bit, yeah, yeah--Ghanaian society is very open with
sexual relationships. In fact, if, for instance, after I was in Ghana
for a while, I had a lot of different Ghanaian girlfriends because if
somebody liked you and you liked them back, there wasn't a whole lot
of pretense in terms of dating for a long period of time before you
kiss and that kind of thing and in fact, kissing was kind of strange to
01:14:00Ghanaians, yeah but sex wasn't so you, I had a lot of sexual experiences
in Ghana. In fact, I lost my virginity in Ghana which was a wonderful
thing to lose in Ghana and I had a Ghanaian girlfriend for two or three
years, for two years, almost married her. She had a, she had a child
with another man during our relationship and so that kind of, when I
went to graduate school, that kind of changed that whole thing but--
WILSON: Were there volunteers in your group that were married?
ANDERSON: Yeah, there, there, yeah--
WILSON: Because they're, they're certain ----------(??)--
ANDERSON: A good friend of mine, a good friend of mine and I still
correspond with him. They live in, they live in Elkhart, Indiana. He
married a Ghanaian woman who was a teacher in one of the, one of the
01:15:00girl schools and, and we had a lot of parties among facilities in those
ANDERSON: And she's a great lady. She's really neat to be around and
yeah, they married. The, the Scottish guy that I lived with married
a Ghanaian. In fact, his, his sister is real interesting. His last
name, his name was Angus Miller and the Miller brothers were some of
the original British traders in West Africa There are Miller stores in
Nigeria and other places and when we traveled sometimes and went into
some of these places, people heard his name and said are you related
to, you know, because they remember those stores and those trading
associations so yeah so that's it, yeah.
WILSON: Okay, well, there's certainly a long history on the coast of--
WILSON: Europeans and Ghanaians--
ANDERSON: Oh yeah, yeah
WILSON: People told me, they said well, Wilson is a Ghanaian name, you
ANDERSON: Oh really?
ANDERSON: Well, I do know that, that, that light-skinned Ghanaians were
looked up to as having the right kind of color and it, I think it has
something to do with that European ancestry thing but I know the light
and when kids would write essays sometimes, they, you'd know it right
away, they'd say my friend, the light skinned guy, you know, etc, etc,
etc so there was a thing that, that was impeccable --
WILSON: One of my colleagues said that that's one of the reasons why
President Jerry Rawlings was so popular.
ANDERSON: That what?
WILSON: That, that Jerry Rawlings was popular.
WILSON: It was the same kind of thing--
WILSON: The looking up to somebody who was--
WILSON: Mixed race.
ANDERSON: Yeah, yeah.
ANDERSON: I do know there's some, some--I got into trouble after the
Peace Corps. I went on a, I was a trainer, a resource person at
Columbia University for a group being trained to go to Ghana--
WILSON: This is after you came back after the four years?
ANDERSON: After, after the four years
WILSON: After the four years, okay
ANDERSON: Yeah, no, it was in between the Peace Corps and the Teachers
for West Africa--
WILSON: Oh, okay.
ANDERSON: During that summer--
ANDERSON: Another guy and I, who had left at the same time, were
resource people at Columbia University in New York. See and I thought,
now, that's be a great thing to do, learn a little bit about the city
and he knew the city pretty well so, so I did that and we got in a
discussion one time with volunteers about sexual mores and things and
01:18:00I said that don't be surprised if you get on the lorry and somebody
jokingly says or maybe not jokingly, do you want my wife?
WILSON: Mm hmm, yes.
ANDERSON: You know?
ANDERSON: That happens.
ANDERSON: Oh, man, we almost got kicked out of that training because
we said that. Some Ghanaians got really affronted by what that might
connotate to other people. The faculty got all disrupted. And,
and this happens all the time in Ghana. It wasn't like I was trying
to plant a bad seed or anything. I was just being honest about
experiences that people would get into--
WILSON: Preparing people.
ANDERSON: Yeah, preparing them and boy, we almost got banned from the
group, you know. I'd forgotten about that, that's interesting so yeah,
that, that sexual mores are much open than they are in this country,
01:19:00yeah, yeah which was an enlightening thing for me so--
WILSON: Anything else?
ANDERSON: Nope, that's fine.
[End of interview.]