Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Paul C. Winther, November 22, 2005

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Education and background / Peace Corps training and time in India

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Partial Transcript: Peace Corps oral history project interview November 22, 2005 with Paul Winther

Segment Synopsis: Winther was born in New York to a European family. When he was thirteen, he started hiring himself out to farms. He went to a junior college and then got a soccer scholarship to Michigan State University, getting his B.A. in Sociology. He applied to a naval aviation cadet training program. He then chose go to Peace Corps. He describes his training at Ohio State University, which took three months. The language training was inadequate. He was supposed to be a dairy expert but was ended up being a group leader/administrator. The on paper program did not work out well in real life. He ended up going to refugee colonies and helped them start a toy business but after they left the business fell apart. They as Peace Corps people were suspicious to the people in India.

Keywords: animal husbandry

Subjects: Aeronautics.; Agriculture.; Animal culture.; Business.; Commerce.; Domestic animals.; Education, Higher.; Education.; Europe.; Farms; Illiterate persons; India.; Language learning and language teaching; Literacy.; Livestock.; Mentoring in business.; Michigan State University; Naval Officer; Naval aviation.; New Delhi (India); New York (State); Nonprofit organizations--Services to illiterate persons; Occupational training.; Ohio State University.; Pakistan; Panjabi language; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--India.; Pilots; Refugees.; Small business.; Soccer.; Social workers.; Sociology.; Toys.; Training

00:20:22 - Culture shock

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Partial Transcript: When you first went, what, you know, what, what was the hardest thing to adjust to?

Segment Synopsis: Winther says he was immediately stuck by the poverty and death, as well as the coldness, noise, smells, and filth. The lack of heating and different level of cleanliness and the different food stood out. He discusses when he had dysentery and lost a lot of weight and his parents were emotional about his health. He visited Denmark and contrasts it to India. He discusses his status as group leader/administrator. He says that they tried to sleep early to stay warm and that they had shortwave radios for recreation. He says they had recreation when they went to Delhi, but that being an unmarried male was viewed as suspicious.

Keywords: Calcutta (India)

Subjects: Adjustment (Psychology); Bureaucracy.; Caste; Cleanliness; Cold; Culture shock; Dead animals; Death.; Denmark.; Dysentery.; Food habits.; Gender and culture; Gender and society; Gender politics, global issues; Gender, society & development; Health.; Hitchhiking; Housing.; India.; Intergroup relations.; Interpersonal relations.; Kolkata (India); Leaders; Lifestyles.; Low temperatures.; Man-woman relationships.; Manners and customs.; Passenger trains.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--India.; Recreation.; Shortwave radio; Social classes.; Social interaction.; Social norms.; Travel.

00:34:13 - Alienation at returning to the U.S. / Finishing his education

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about that

Segment Synopsis: Winther did not realize how much India had impacted him until he returned to the U.S. He went to Thailand and heard people talking about bombing and realized that India had changed his point of view to be anti war. When he returned to New York, he felt alienated at seeing "fat" people. He says he became a citizen of the world and owes what he is to the Peace Corps. He got a Master's in Sociology from Michigan State University. He then got a fellowship to Cornell University for Indian Studies and Anthropology and got his PhD at Cornell. He went back to India for his dissertation and discusses his experience in detail. He had to come home because he got hepatitis.

Keywords: Fellowships

Subjects: Adjustment (Psychology); Alienation (Social psychology); Anthropology.; Caste; Cognition and culture.; Cornell University.; Criminals.; Cultural awareness.; Culture shock; Dissertations, Academic.; Health issues; Hepatitis; India--Study and teaching.; India.; Kidnapping.; Manners and customs.; Michigan State University; Obesity.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--India.; Peace movements; Rajput (Indic people); Scholarships.; Social classes.; Social norms.; Thailand.; Tibet Autonomous Region (China); Tibetan language; Tibetans

01:00:11 - Life after PhD / Impact of Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: So you got your PhD, uh, and, uh, then what

Segment Synopsis: Winther wrote his dissertation while teaching at Duke University. He briefly discusses his two marriages. He discusses the impact of Peace Corps service on him, saying it helped him understand the impact of culture on thought patterns. He thinks the role of Peace Corps should be the help with basic needs and to help them become independent. He mentions a specific book that impacted him called The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude. He has taught at Eastern Kentucky University, Cornell University, Duke University, and the University of Kentucky. He briefly discusses the CIA's attempt to recruit him.

Keywords: CIA; Discourse on Voluntary Servitude; The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude; the politics of obedience

Subjects: Algeria.; Anthropology.; Cognition and culture.; College teachers.; College teaching.; Cornell University.; Cross cultural communication; Cultural awareness.; Dissertations, Academic.; Duke University; Eastern Kentucky University; Education, Higher.; Education.; Fear.; French language; Globalization.; Hindus.; Independent; India.; Intercultural communication.; La Boétie, Estienne de, 1530-1563; La Boétie, Estienne de, 1530-1563. De la servitude volontaire.; Multiculturalism.; Muslims.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--India.; Self-reliant living.; Self-sufficiency; South Asian studies; Teachers.; Teaching.; United States. Central Intelligence Agency.; University of Kentucky