Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Sally Spurr, January 27, 2006

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Childhood and growing up

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Partial Transcript: Peace Corps Oral History Project interview with Sally Spurr, January 27, 2006. Interviewed by Jack Wilson.

Segment Synopsis: Sally Spurr talks about her family members, growing up in Louisville, Kentucky, and the impact of spending summers in the countryside with her grandparents. She describes her grandfather's work as a farmer.

Keywords: Brothers; Christianity; Christians; Corn.; Cousins; Fathers; Graham, Billy, 1918-2018.; Grandparents; Growing up; Louisville suburbs; Mothers; Mount Washington (Ky.); Roberts, Oral, 1918-2009; Sisters; Spencer County (Ky.); Suburban homes; Suburban neighborhoods; Suburbs; Summer vacations; Summers; Televangelists; Tobacco farmers; Tobacco.; Waterford (Ky.)

Subjects: Childhood.; Country life.; Families.; Farmers; Grandfathers.; Louisville (Ky.)

00:03:08 - Education / first Peace Corps application

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Partial Transcript: Okay and so you went to, to elementary and high school--

Segment Synopsis: Spurr talks about her high school and college experiences. She talks about why she was interested in the Peace Corps and her first Peace Corps application.

Keywords: "Peaceniks"; Anti-war movements; Career goals; Career interests; Farming; Farming ventures; Friends; Life meanings; Peace Corps applications; Peace movements; Personal interests; Personal motivations; Psychology; Seneca High School (Louisville, Ky.); Sociology; Teaching certifications; Western Kentucky University

Subjects: Education, Higher.; Friendship.; High school; Louisville (Ky.); Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps Institute (U.S.); Vietnam War, 1961-1975.

00:06:43 - Time between Peace Corps applications

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Partial Transcript: So when, when Peace Corps turned you down--

Segment Synopsis: Spurr talks about how she spent her time after being turned down by the Peace Corps. She talks about work at a mental health hospital and substitute teaching in Louisville. She talks about her year of travels.

Keywords: Backpacking; Cusco (Peru); Cuzco (Peru); Ecuador; Hitchhiking; Israel; Mental health hospitals; Mental hospitals; Middle East; Morocco; Odd jobs; Peace Corps volunteers; Peru; Psychiatric hospitals; Saving money; South America; Student fares; Student traveling fares; Substinence; Substitute teachers; Substitute teaching; Travel partners

Subjects: Career moves; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps Institute (U.S.); Travel.; Work.

00:11:31 - Second Peace Corps application, training, and assignment

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Partial Transcript: Yeah, so then, when I applied to Peace Corps, I actually had, uh, went back to Ecuador and had the, the director there--I don't know whether he requested me or he put a word in for me or something--um, but--

Segment Synopsis: Spurr talks about being accepted into the Peace Corps and cultural and language training in Ecuador. Spurr talks about switching from an assignment in small community development to the horticulture research program and why.

Keywords: Altiplano; Ambato (Ecuador); Climatology; Community relations; Cultural training; Diverse climates; Ecuador. Ministry of Agriculture; English green peas; Farming; Field enrollees; Geographies; Green peas; Horticulture research programs; Language training; Mountain ranges; Mountains; Peace Corps applications; Peace Corps field directors; Produce; Quito (Ecuador); Small community development; Universidad Tecnica de Ambato (Ambato, Ecuador)

Subjects: Agriculture.; Community development.; Ecuador.; Horticulture.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ecuador; Peace Corps Institute (U.S.); Research.; Training.

00:18:42 - Language adjustment / Peace Corps programs in Ambato, Ecuador

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Partial Transcript: Uh, and did you, uh, had you picked up some Spanish before you went into Peace Corps training?

Segment Synopsis: Spurr talks about her language background prior to her Peace Corps assignment in Ecuador. She talks about various Peace Corps programs in Ambato, Ecuador and being particularly involved in teaching programs.

Keywords: Bilingual programs; Housing; Language adjustment; Language immersion; Language training; Learning languages; Leftists; Peace Corps programs; Peace Corps volunteers; Political climates; Quechua Indians; Quechua language; School construction programs; Small business programs; Suburban neighborhoods; Suburbs; Teachers; Teaching

Subjects: Ambato (Ecuador); Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ecuador; Peace Corps Institute (U.S.); Spanish language.

00:23:57 - Housing in Ambato, Ecuador

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Partial Transcript: Um, maybe you can tell me something about how you, how you lived, um.

Segment Synopsis: Spurr describes her living and housing situation in Ambato, Ecuador. She describes her Peace Corp volunteer housemates.

Keywords: Barrios; Bathrooms; Bilingual programs; Casket companies; Concrete holding tanks; Electricity; Holding tanks; Hot showers; Housemates; Houses; Housing utilities; Kitchens; Laundry; Lavanderias; Living rooms; Neighborhoods; Peace Corps volunteers; Public showers; Public water systems; Refrigerators; Roommates; Running water; Showers; Utilities; Water access; Water reserves; Water tanks

Subjects: Ambato (Ecuador); Ecuador.; Housing.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ecuador; Peace Corps Institute (U.S.)

00:31:09 - Building relationships in Ambato, Ecuador

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Partial Transcript: What happened in Ambato--now my, my normal day--(Spurr clears throat)--we lived in a little neighborhood, which was out of the valley.

Segment Synopsis: Spurr describes her relationships with her colleagues at her university research position for the Peace Corps. She talks about building relationships with local Indigenous people who worked on the fields with them and the language barriers that complicated that.

Keywords: Colleagues; Coworkers; Field labor; Field laborers; Field work; Field workers; Indigenous dialects; Indigenous peoples--Ecuador; Indigenous peoples.; Language barriers; Local people; Locals; Offices; Oppression; Quechua language; Spanish language; Spanish lessons; University farms; University jobs; University research

Subjects: Agriculture.; Ambato (Ecuador); Community relations; Ecuador.; Interpersonal relations.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ecuador; Peace Corps Institute (U.S.); Research.; Work.

00:37:36 - Peace Corps agricultural research

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Partial Transcript: Um, uh, I haven't talked about my work specifically but I loved what I did.

Segment Synopsis: Spurr describes her agricultural and horticultural research work for the Peace Corps.

Keywords: Agricultural improvement; Agricultural innovation; Azedones; Clean strains; Crops; Farming; Germination stages; Growing techniques; Indigenous agriculture; Indigenous growing techniques; Irrigation; Market produce; Peas; Produce; Research projects; Separating strains

Subjects: Agriculture.; Ambato (Ecuador); Ecuador.; Horticulture.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ecuador; Peace Corps Institute (U.S.); Research.

00:40:13 - Food and transportation in Ambato, Ecuador

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Partial Transcript: Uh, that reminds me--what, what were the, you know, the primary food stocks for people?

Segment Synopsis: Spurr describes the food stock and transportation available to them in Ambato, Ecuador.

Keywords: Abas; Avocados; Beans; Buses; Cabs; Cars; Cuy; Diets; Eggs; Flowers; Fresh produce; Fruits; Guinea pigs; Indigenous foods; Indigenous peoples.; Jungle produce; Market produce; Meats; Peanut sauce; Pineapples; Potato varieties; Potatoes; Public transportation; Quinoa; Tomatoes; Vegetables; Walking

Subjects: Ambato (Ecuador); Ecuador.; Food.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ecuador; Peace Corps Institute (U.S.); Transportation.

00:43:39 - Relocation to Otavalo, Ecuador

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Partial Transcript: But you lived at, then, out on the farm the second year?

Segment Synopsis: Spurr talks about why the Peace Corps was ousted from the university she worked at in Ambato, Ecuador in her second year. She talks about being relocated to Otavalo, Ecuador to work on a small gardening project for her last six months in Peace Corps.

Keywords: Agricultural techniques; Bed gardening; Bed technique; Communism; Community dynamics; Community impression; Community relations; French biodynamic intensive gardening; High altitudes; Oustings; Peace Corps extensions; Peace Corps program managers; Politics; Program managers; Propaganda; Raising soil; Riots; Service extensions; Small gardening; Soil types; Strikes; University strikes; Violence

Subjects: Agriculture.; Ambato (Ecuador); Ecuador.; Gardening; Otavalo (Ecuador); Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ecuador; Peace Corps Institute (U.S.)

00:51:14 - Recreation during Peace Corps service

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Partial Transcript: What, uh--uh, let me ask you this. Um, what about recreation and did you travel, uh?

Segment Synopsis: Spurr talks about places she traveled during her Peace Corps service and developing relationships with other Peace Corps volunteers along the way.

Keywords: Agriculture; Ambato (Ecuador); Baños (Ecuador : Canton); Beaches; Bonding; Community relations; Developing relationships; Horticulture; Hot baths; Housing; Interpersonal relations; Jungles; Peace Corps volunteers; Planting crops; Quito (Ecuador); Rain forests; Vacations; Visiting; Visits

Subjects: Ecuador.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ecuador; Peace Corps Institute (U.S.); Recreation.; Travel.

00:53:43 - Returning to the U.S. / career after Peace Corps service

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Partial Transcript: What was the--what was it like coming home?

Segment Synopsis: Spurr describes her reaction to the end of her Peace Corps service and having to return to Louisville, Kentucky. She talks about the cultural readjustment and dating. She also talks about her career post-Peace Corps.

Keywords: Adult education; Agriculture; Cannelton (Ind.); Corps of Engineers; Cultural adjusments; Cultural readjustments; Dating; ESL; English as a Second Language; Evansville (Ind.); Feminism; Gardening; Growing crops; Helping professions; Homecomings; Job Corps (U.S.); Jobs; Living situations; Lock and dam operators; Louisville (Ky.); Master's degrees; Mothers; Ohio River; Paraplegics; Park rangers; Physical injuries; Readjustments; Romantic relations; Romantic relationships; Silt; Soil types; Spanish; Swing shifts; Teaching certifications; Token females; Trailers; Vegetables; Veterans; Women in the workplace; Work environments

Subjects: Ambato (Ecuador); Career moves; Careers & opportunities; Careers.; Culture shock; Education, Higher.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ecuador; Peace Corps Institute (U.S.); Teachers.; Teaching.; Work.

01:02:42 - Impact of Peace Corps service on Ecuador and self

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Partial Transcript: What do you--what do you think, uh, the impact, uh, of your Peace Corps service was on Ecuador?

Segment Synopsis: Spurr talks about the impact of her participation in the gardening, agricultural, and horticultural Peace Corps projects on Ecuador. She talks about the impact of her service on herself and her world views.

Keywords: Agricultural projects; Department of Defense; Gardening projects; Horticulture volunteers; International Monetary Fund; Interpersonal relations; Nongovernmental agencies; Nonprofit organizations; Nonprofits; Peace Corps programs; Peace Corps projects; Peace Corps volunteers; Raised beds; Reunions; Small gardening projects; Small gardens; Volunteer reunions; World Bank

Subjects: Agriculture; Career moves; Careers & opportunities; Careers.; Communication.; Gardening.; Horticulture.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ecuador; Peace Corps Institute (U.S.); Work.; World views

01:07:48 - International experiences after Peace Corps service

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Partial Transcript: What about, uh, international experience? Have you had other international experience since?

Segment Synopsis: Spurr describes her international excursions post-Peace Corps. She talks about overseas teacher trainings and participating in exchange programs.

Keywords: Ambato (Ecuador); Cultural exchanges; Cultural relations.; Exchange hosts; Exchange programs; High school teachers; KCTCS; Kentucky Community & Technical College System; Louisville (Ky.); Middle school teachers; Partner for the Americas; Quintana Roo (Mexico : State); Quito (Ecuador); Santo Domingo de los Colorados (Ecuador); Sister Cities International; Sister cities.; Teacher trainings; Teaching methods; Technological development; Technological immersion; Technology

Subjects: Education.; Exchange of persons programs; International travel.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ecuador; Peace Corps Institute (U.S.); Teachers.; Teaching.; Travel.

01:10:29 - Impact of Peace Corps service on world views / overall Peace Corps impact and role

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Partial Transcript: What, um, what do you think the impact of your Peace Corps service was on the way you look at the world today?

Segment Synopsis: Spurr talks about how her Peace Corps service altered the way she views the world and teaches. She talks about the overall impact of Peace Corps on the world and what it's current role is like.

Keywords: Biases; Building relationships; Bureaucracies; Business trainings; Community dynamics; Community relations; Cultural exchanges; Cultures; Developing countries; Developing nations; ESL; English as a Second Language; Gardening; Gardening programs; Globalization; International connections; Interpersonal relationships; Life experiences; Peace Corps programs; Peace Corps volunteers; Prejudices; Relationships; Stereotypes

Subjects: Community development.; Interpersonal relations.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps Institute (U.S.); Subsistence economy; Subsistence farming.; Teachers.; Teaching.; World views

01:16:40 - Various memories of Peace Corps service

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Partial Transcript: Okay, uh, that's, uh, I guess the structured questions I have but what haven't I asked you that you would like to answer or do you have just a story or two that you'd like to share?

Segment Synopsis: Spurr talks about how her interest in politics was sparked during her Peace Corps service and how it affected her world views. She talks about dating during her service and Thanksgiving football matches between Peace Corps volunteers and Marines in Quito, Ecuador.

Keywords: Counterculture Movement; Dancing; Dating; English; Gender roles; Global politics; International reputations; Languages; Male-dominated professions; Marines; National reputations; Peace Corps volunteers; Perspectives; Political interests; Quechua; Sexism; Spanish; World politics; World views

Subjects: Football.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ecuador; Peace Corps Institute (U.S.); Politics and government; Storytelling.