Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Patrick Bell, October 27, 2005

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:09 - Background and education

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Partial Transcript: Alright, this is Angene Wilson on October 27, 2005 and I am doing an oral history interview of a returned Peace Corps volunteer, um, Patrick Bell.

Segment Synopsis: Bell was born in Lexington, Kentucky and went to Sayre School. His father was accepted into Peace Corps but didn't go because his wife wanted to have children. In one of his Spanish classes, he saw photos of Machu Picchu that inspired him to want to travel abroad. He went to Rhodes College, majoring in Political Science with a minor in International Studies, and his professors exposed him to new ideas about the world. After college, he worked a variety of jobs until he decided to apply for Peace Corps.

Keywords: Bluegrass Aspendale Housing Projects; Bluegrass Aspendale Teen Center; Disability home aides; Housing projects; Personal aides; Personal assistants

Subjects: Autism.; Autistic children.; Children with autism spectrum disorders; Costa Rica; Disabilities.; International relations.; Lexington (Ky.); Memphis (Tenn.); Miami (Fla.),; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Costa Rica.; Political science.; Rhodes College; San José (Costa Rica); Sayre School (Lexington, Ky.); Soccer coaches; Soccer.; Spanish language.; Teachers' assistants; Tenement houses; World cultures

00:08:39 - Training

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Partial Transcript: Talk a little bit about what your training was like.

Segment Synopsis: Bell describes his training as difficult, but doesn't discuss any aspect in detail. They lived with a host family in a target neighborhood in San Jose. His program was called Urban Youth Development. There were eleven people in his group and the training lasted 3 months. He discusses his language training. They had some training with people from the government. He discusses a training visit to Limon and a site visit to San Isidro. He discusses his adjustment to arriving in a new country, including his language troubles. He describes the mall, which he says seemed to be a front for drug money.

Keywords: Movie theaters; Movies; Paved roads; Running water

Subjects: Adjustment (Psychology); Beans.; Child welfare.; Coffee industry.; Costa Rica; Culture shock; Drugs.; Electricity.; Food habits.; Food.; Language learning and language teaching; Limón (Costa Rica : Canton); Motion picture theaters.; Motion pictures.; Occupational training.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Costa Rica.; Poverty.; Rain and rainfall.; Rice.; San Isidro (Costa Rica : Canton); San José (Costa Rica); Shopping malls; Spanish language.; Squatters; Teaching.; Tenement houses; Training; Urban development.; Youth development.

00:25:58 - Peace Corps job

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Partial Transcript: What was a typical day like when you got into your site?

Segment Synopsis: Bell describes his work as self-directed. He lived with a host family for a year and a half and then got his own apartment. He describes what the parents and the children did and discusses his relationship with them. He describes trying to work with a center for young workers who needed a job to help support their family. He didn't have to take a bus to town. He would help at lunch for the young workers and organize activities for the kids, including soccer. He describes a specific game that was memorable. He describes dating a Costa Rican girl for a year.

Keywords: Beans.; Begging; Couples.; Homestay; Lottery tickets; Rice.

Subjects: Agricultural laborers; Apartments.; Art.; Child labor.; Cleaning.; Cooking.; Costa Rica; Dates (Social engagements); Dating (Social customs); Food habits.; Housing.; Interpersonal relations; Lifestyles.; Manners and customs; Parque Nacional Chirripó (Costa Rica); Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Costa Rica.; San José (Costa Rica); Self-control.; Self-directed work teams.; Youth activities in developing countries

00:39:02 - Travel / Working with children

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Partial Transcript: Where did you--wh, wh--so it sounds like you had a lot of opportunities for, for recreation in terms of getting out...

Segment Synopsis: Bell describes his travel in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. After he broke up with his girlfriend, he took a three week trip through Mexico and Guatemala. He discusses his interactions with host country nationals. He worked with children in orphanages, helping with homework and taking them to the park. He taught English and guitar and chess to children at a local school. He developed relationships with local businesses to take the children on outings. He describes his travel home to his family at Christmas.

Keywords: Buses.; Chess.; Couples.; Guitars; Homework.; Sea turtles; Tamales

Subjects: Child welfare.; Christmas.; Costa Rica; Dates (Social engagements); Dating (Social customs); English language--Study and teaching--Foreign speakers.; Friendship.; Guatemala.; Interpersonal relations; Lifestyles.; Managua (Nicaragua); Manners and customs; Mayas.; Mexico.; Motion pictures.; Music--Instruction and study.; Orphanages; Osa Peninsula (Costa Rica); Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Costa Rica.; Playa del Carmen (Mexico); Restaurants.; Talent shows; Teaching.; Tortuguero (Costa Rica); Travel.; Tutors and tutoring.

00:50:16 - Memorable stories

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Partial Transcript: But I also had this program--this is kind of an, an interesting story if I can spit it out...

Segment Synopsis: Bell describes a story where he was going to take children on a trip to the U.S. with a Costa Rican man who was trying to smuggle humans via an official tae kwon do tournament in the U.S. Some of the money was used to get T.V.s and VCRs for the orphanages. Another memorable moment was teaching a Shakira song on guitar to fourth and fifth graders. Smuggling tamales was memorable to him, as was his relationship with the Costa Rican woman. He describes a trip with an older woman to a beach. He describes his experience with dancing at discos. He describes a woman who left because of the sexism of the men in Costa Rica. He tells a story of getting a woman pregnant before he left for Peace Corps. He mentions his recovery from alcoholism. He tells a story about his host family thinking he was in danger.

Keywords: Disco dancing; Discotheques; Guitars; Merengue (Dance); Salsa (Dance); Shakira; Tae kwon do; Videocassette recorders

Subjects: Alcoholism.; Beaches.; Costa Rica; Dance.; Friendship.; Gender and culture; Gender and society; Gender politics, global issues; Gender.; Human smuggling; Intergroup relations.; Interpersonal relations; Lifestyles.; Machismo.; Man-woman relationships.; Manners and customs; Misogyny.; Music--Instruction and study.; Orphanages; Patriarchy.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Costa Rica.; Pregnancy.; San Isidro (Costa Rica : Canton); Sexism.; Sexual intercourse.; Social interaction.; Social norms.; Television--Receivers and reception; Travel.

01:13:00 - Returning to U.S and life after Peace Corps / Impact of Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: What was it like coming home?

Segment Synopsis: Bell describes how he still misses his time in Peace Corps because it was simple. He went on a month trip traveling around South America. After he came back, he conducted the U.S. census for Hispanic people and went to Japan to teach English for two months. He doesn't think he did anything with lasting impact during his time in Peace Corps. Peace Corps broadened and changed his whole world. He says it was hard in subtle ways, like experiencing Christmas on Christmas Eve versus Christmas Day. He says learning Spanish brought him opportunities like the census and teaching ESL to mainly Latinos for a year. He went back to school for his master's degree in education, focusing on social studies at the University of Kentucky and did his student teaching in Ecuador. He ended up teaching Spanish at the Sayre School. He thinks Peace Corps should be everywhere to improve how the world views the U.S. and to broaden the views of Americans.

Keywords: Day of the Dead; Día de los Muertos; Social studies; Teaching Spanish

Subjects: Adjustment (Psychology); All Souls' Day; Careers.; Census takers (Persons); Charity.; Christmas.; Cognition and culture.; Communication and culture.; Costa Rica; Cross cultural communication; Cross-cultural studies.; Cultural awareness.; Culture shock; Ecuador.; Education, Higher.; Education.; English language--Study and teaching--Foreign speakers.; Gifts.; Hispanic Americans; Intercultural communication; Japan.; Language and culture.; Language and languages.; Language learning and language teaching; Latin peoples; Lifestyles.; Manners and customs; Occupations; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Costa Rica.; Professions.; Racism.; Sayre School (Lexington, Ky.); September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001.; Social norms; Social sciences.; South America.; Spanish Americans (Latin America); Spanish language.; Stereotypes (Social psychology); Student teaching.; Teachers.; University of Kentucky