Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Angel Rubio, November 29, 2005

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

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Partial Transcript: Peace Corps oral history interview with Angel Rubio, November 29th, 2005, interviewer Jack Wilson.

Segment Synopsis: Rubio was born in Cuba and his parents immigrated to the U.S. when he was around 8 years old. He describes the lives of his parents and an uncle. He went to Miami Dade Community College and eventually went to Florida State University. He describes his experience with the draft and how he wanted to avoid it. He ended up getting drafted and getting his Peace Corps acceptance around the same time. He had a temporary deferment until he finished his Peace Corps assignment. He describes his parents as progressive and involved in politics. He describes the application process and says he wanted to go to a Spanish speaking country.

Keywords: Cuban revolution; Progressive politics; Progressives

Subjects: Children of immigrants; Costa Rica; Cuba--History--Revolution, 1959.; Cuba.; Draft.; Education, Higher.; Florida State University; Hispanic Americans--Education.; Immigrant children; Immigrants--United States; Immigrants.; Miami (Fla.); Miami-Dade Community College; Minorities in higher education.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Costa Rica.; Progressivism (United States politics); Tallahassee (Fla.)

GPS: Cuba
Map Coordinates: 22, -80
GPS: Miami-Dade Community College [now Miami Dade College]
Map Coordinates: 25.777778, -80.190556
GPS: Florida State University
Map Coordinates: 30.442, -84.298
GPS: Miami (Fla.)
Map Coordinates: 25.775278, -80.208889
GPS: Tallahassee (Fla.)
Map Coordinates: 30.455, -84.253333
GPS: Costa Rica
Map Coordinates: 10, -84
00:16:14 - Training in Costa Rica

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Partial Transcript: So, uh, you went to Costa Rica.

Segment Synopsis: Rubio describes his training in Costa Rica. He says it started to feel real when he arrived in Costa Rica. Rubio stayed with a host family. Only around eight people finished the training. Rubio describes the language fluency of the group as well as the infrastructure for community development, including an organization called Dinadeco (National Administration for Community Development). A Costa Rican version of Peace Corps had been founded and Rubio describes some of the weaknesses of the program. A component in the training was on community development and culture. He describes a relationship that had developed when he was in college with a woman named Gwyn who came down to work with him.

Keywords: Cross Cultural training; Cross-cultural training; Cultural training; Dinadeco

Subjects: Community development.; Costa Rica; Costa Rica. Dirección Nacional de Desarrollo de la Comunidad; Couples.; Cross-cultural orientation.; Dates (Social engagements); Dating (Social customs); Fluency (Language learning); Housing.; Infrastructure; Interpersonal relations; Language learning and language teaching; Lifestyles.; Manners and customs; Marriage.; Occupational training.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Costa Rica.; Political participation; Spanish language.; Spanish-speaking countries; Training.

GPS: Costa Rica
Map Coordinates: 10, -84
00:31:31 - Job assignment

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Partial Transcript: And then, tell me something about, uh, where you--your specific job assignment, where that was and what, what you did.

Segment Synopsis: Rubio describes his specific job assignment in Peñas Blancas, Costa Rica, about 50 kilometers from San Isidro de General. He was also assigned to a second town, but most of his work was in Peñas Blancas. He was supposed to oversee whether the workers had plans that had been thought through and oversee various details of development. One of their main projects was finishing a church. They also built a small, functional bridge before planning for a bigger bridge. He describes his struggles with alcohol while isolated. They worked on giving people their own land and building a school. He helped put together a radio show.

Keywords: Alcohol abuse; Churches; Construction; Isolated; Land owners; Land ownership; Owning land; Peñas Blancas; Peñas Blancas (Costa Rica); Radio shows; San Isidro de General; San Isidro de General (Costa Rica)

Subjects: Alcohol.; Alcoholism.; Bridges; Building; Church buildings.; Community development.; Construction industry.; Costa Rica; Land tenure.; Management.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Costa Rica.; Radio programs.; Radio.; Schools.; Spanish-speaking countries

GPS: Peñas Blancas (Costa Rica)
Map Coordinates: 10.1166947, -84.6710461
GPS: Costa Rica
Map Coordinates: 10, -84
GPS: San Isidro de General (Costa Rica)
Map Coordinates: 9.375556, -83.705278
00:45:32 - Rubio's life with Gwyn

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Partial Transcript: Angel, let's, uh, let's go back and pick up, uh, the thread, um, of, uh, Gwyn coming in. She gets assigned elsewhere in the country--

Segment Synopsis: Rubio says he arranged for Gwyn to be assigned to his same host family. She had in-country training and had to work hard at her language skills. She was assigned to a program under the department of education for setting up kindergartens and preschools. Rubio describes his wedding in San Jose. He had fixed up a little house with a tin roof for them. He did a lot of traveling with his counterparts and she set up kindergartens and taught. He says they would often ride their motorcycle to the bigger city to see a movie or go to a restaurant, but most of the natives wouldn't go out past 6pm and if they did, it was to a local store for music or dancing or playing pool or drinking. He describes their vacation time traveling to Panama, Colombia, San Andres, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. After their Peace Corps tour, they went to Belize and Guatemala and Yucatan.

Keywords: Dancing; Playing pool; Seeing movies; Watching movies

Subjects: Alcohol.; Alcoholism.; Belize; Billiards; Bolivia; Colombia; Costa Rica; Couples.; Dance.; Dates (Social engagements); Dating (Social customs); Ecuador; Education, Elementary.; Education, Preschool.; Education.; Guatemala.; Hobbies.; Housing.; Intercultural communication in education; Interpersonal relations; Kindergarten.; Language learning and language teaching; Leisure.; Lifestyles.; Manners and customs; Motion picture theaters.; Motion pictures.; Motorcycles; Music.; Occupational training.; Panama; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Costa Rica.; Peru; Railroad trains; Recreation.; Restaurants; San Andrés y Providencia (Colombia); Spanish language.; Spanish-speaking countries; Training.; Travel.; Vacations.; Yucatán (Mexico : State)

GPS: Costa Rica
Map Coordinates: 10, -84
GPS: Panama
Map Coordinates: 9, -80
GPS: Colombia
Map Coordinates: 4, -72
GPS: San Andrés y Providencia (Colombia)
Map Coordinates: 12.55, -81.716667
GPS: Ecuador
Map Coordinates: -2, -77.5
GPS: Peru
Map Coordinates: -10, -76
GPS: Bolivia
Map Coordinates: -16.712, -64.666
GPS: Belize
Map Coordinates: 17.066667, -88.7
GPS: Guatemala
Map Coordinates: 15.5, -90.25
GPS: Yucatán (Mexico : State)
Map Coordinates: 20.833333, -89
00:59:27 - Living in Costa Rica

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Partial Transcript: Um, I want--I, I, I, before I lose it, I want, I want, want, I want to ask you about health issues and, uh, what--if there were any, what kind of, uh, uh, healthcare you had, uh, and so forth and what kind of--whether that was an issue in, in training and all.

Segment Synopsis: Rubio discusses whether he and Gwyn had any physical or emotional health issues while in Costa Rica. He then discusses his interactions with native Costa Ricans. He says Gwyn had to be more careful than him because of sexism. He mentions that the locals were good at soccer and one store owner tried to get people interested in boxing. In the beginning, Rubio was beating everyone at boxing. He mentions one time where bugs were swarming and it felt like a horror movie. He discusses the differences in the Spanish language in Costa Rica versus his native Cuba, as well as some cultural differences. He states that Costa Rica is fairly culturally homogeneous.

Keywords: Cultural differences; Depression; Diet changes; Dietary changes; Isolated; Isolation

Subjects: Athletic ability.; Boxing.; Bugs; Costa Rica; Cuba.; Depressed persons; Diet.; Food habits.; Food poisoning.; Food.; Health issues; Health.; Indigenous peoples.; Insects.; Intercultural communication.; Misogyny.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Costa Rica.; Sexism.; Soccer.; Spanish language.; Spanish-speaking countries

GPS: Costa Rica
Map Coordinates: 10, -84
GPS: Cuba
Map Coordinates: 22, -80
01:15:23 - Returning home

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Partial Transcript: What was it like coming home?

Segment Synopsis: When Rubio returned home, he was no longer worried about the draft. He describes his cultural shock at returning home. He and Gwyn didn't want to live in the same place that they used to call home. They were interested in getting back to nature and ended up settling on Kentucky because they could buy land. They spent their readjustment money on traveling Europe and North Africa. They decided they weren't meant to be "back to the land" people. Rubio decided to get his master's degree in sociology at the University of Kentucky. They then bought some land in Madison County and he started working for non-profits in Berea for around ten years. He's been with UK for 18 years.

Keywords: Back to the land; Back to the landers; Buying land; Construction; Construction work; Disney World; Non-profit organizations; North Africa; Progressive politics; Progressives; Readjustment

Subjects: Africa, North.; Berea (Ky.); Building.; Conservatism.; Costa Rica; Culture shock.; Draft.; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Education, Higher.; Education--Kentucky; Europe; Hispanic Americans--Education.; Kentucky.; Landowners; Madison County (Ky.); Minorities in higher education.; Nonprofit organizations.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Costa Rica.; Progressivism (United States politics); Sociology.; Travel.; University of Kentucky; University of Kentucky. Graduate School; Walt Disney World (Fla.); Wayne County (Ky.)

GPS: Costa Rica
Map Coordinates: 10, -84
GPS: Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 37.5, -85
GPS: Walt Disney World (Fla.)
Map Coordinates: 28.4038, -81.5794
GPS: Berea (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.576944, -84.293611
GPS: University of Kentucky
Map Coordinates: 38.033333, -84.5
GPS: Wayne County (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 36.81, -84.83
GPS: Madison County (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 37.72, -84.28
01:30:27 - Impact of Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: Tape two of interview with Angel Rubio. Um, what I was going to ask you, Angel, was, uh, what do you think the impact of your Peace Corps service was on Costa Rica and what was--and maybe you've answered this in a lot of other ways, the impact on you?

Segment Synopsis: Rubio discusses the impact of Peace Corps. He thinks they were reasonably good volunteers and hopes they left a good impression. He helped build roads and bridges and feels good about the workers' co-op. He thinks he got a lot more out of it than he gave. He thinks all of his adventures have an ethical grounding which he carried over from Peace Corps. He thinks his ability to analyze the world and see its interconnectedness came from Peace Corps. He thinks there needs to be more programs like the Peace Corps and that people need structural ways to leave their imprint on the world.

Keywords: Doctors Without Borders; Morality; Morals

Subjects: Altruism.; Amnesty International; Building.; Caring.; Costa Rica; Doctors without Borders (Association); Ethics.; Globalization.; Helping behavior.; Intercultural communication.; International relations; Nonprofit organizations.; Occupations.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Costa Rica.; Values.; Vocation.; Work.

GPS: Costa Rica
Map Coordinates: 10, -84