Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Sara Todd, January 27, 2006

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Influences on decision to join Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: Peace Corps Oral History Project. January 27, 2006. Interview with Sara Todd.

Segment Synopsis: Sara Todd describes growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, attending German immersion school, studying abroad, and how these experiences influenced her decision to join the Peace Corps.

Keywords: Austria; Biracial families; Cousins; Economics; Europe; German culture; German immersion schools; German language.; Germany; Growing up; Immersion schools; International studies; Italy; Milwaukee (Wis.); Private colleges; Public universities; Racially mixed families.; Rockford College; Siblings; Studies abroad; Universities and colleges.; University of Wisconsin--Milwaukee; Urban neighborhoods; World cultures

Subjects: Childhood.; Education, Higher.; Education.; Families.; Foreign study.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps Institute (U.S.); Travel.

00:04:54 - Joining the Peace Corps and application process

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Partial Transcript: Do you have any other jobs before you joined the Peace Corps or did you go straight from college?

Segment Synopsis: Todd talks about her brief work stints post-college graduation, her decision to join the Peace Corps, and her application process experience.

Keywords: Accounting firms; College classes; Economic training; Family reactions; Family support; Hair salons; Inspirations; International careers; International studies; Interviews; Jobs; Medical clearances; Peace Corps interviews; Peace Corps recruiters; Receptionists; Small jobs

Subjects: Armenia.; Business.; Education, Higher.; Education.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Armenia; Peace Corps Institute (U.S.); Work.

00:09:41 - Peace Corps training

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Partial Transcript: So you got an invitation for Armenia. Uh, what next? Training? Staging?

Segment Synopsis: Todd describes the staging and training processes for her Peace Corps service in Armenia. Todd talks about intensive language training and briefly about Peace Corps financial allowances.

Keywords: 9/11; Administrative orientations; Business education; Community development; Cultural trainings; Culture trainings; Gyumri (Armenia); Host families; Kumayri (Armenia); Language classes; Language instructors; Language trainings; Language translation; Language translators; Living allowances; Medical orientations; Nonprofit organizations.; Nonprofit trainings; Peace Corps staging; Peace Corps volunteers; Proposal writing for grants.; Readjustment allowances; Sector trainings; Security trainings; September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001.; Teachers.; Teaching.; Technical trainings; Villages; Washington (D.C.)

Subjects: Armenia.; Armenian language.; Communication.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Armenia; Peace Corps Institute (U.S.); Training.

00:17:51 - Peace Corps assignment

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Partial Transcript: Well, going back. Um, eleven weeks of, of training--

Segment Synopsis: Todd talks about being assigned to a business center in Goris, Armenia and her job there.

Keywords: Business centers; Business classes; Business consultations; Business trade shows; Business trainings; Conferences; Counterpart conferences; Economics classes; Grant writing; Language colleges; Nagorno-Karabak (Azerbaijan); Networking; Nonprofit organizations.; Peace Corps assignments; Proposal writing for grants.; Site announcements; Socialization; Socializing; Soviet Union.; Town populations; Trade shows

Subjects: Armenia.; Business.; Education, Higher.; Goris (Armenia); Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Armenia; Peace Corps Institute (U.S.); Teachers.; Teaching.; Work.

00:22:32 - Adjusting to life in Armenia

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Partial Transcript: Uh, did you find problems, uh, with adjustment?

Segment Synopsis: Todd talks about food, her living situation, relationships with her neighbors, and the most difficult adjustments to life in Armenia.

Keywords: Adjustments; Apartments; Apricots; Attitudes; Bucket bathing; Coffee; Community dynamics; Cooking; Fresh herbs; Fruit imports; Fruits; Gender roles; Gendered expectations; Gendered norms; Grape dolma; Herbs; Imports; Iran; Open mindedness; Patriarchal societies; Privacy; Running water; Russian borscht; Russian food; Russian influences; Salads; Showers; Supermarkets; Tea; Vegetable markets; Vegetables; Water

Subjects: Armenia.; Community relations; Food and drink; Housing.; Neighbors.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Armenia; Peace Corps Institute (U.S.)

00:29:34 - Typical day during service in Armenia

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Partial Transcript: Tell me what a typical day was like in your life.

Segment Synopsis: Todd describes a typical day of work and building community relations during her Peace Corps service in Armenia.

Keywords: Business centers; Business volunteers; Community activities; Community dynamics; Conversations; Cooking; Cultural exchanges; English teachers; Goris (Armenia); Health volunteers; Local businesses; Nonprofit organizations; Peace Corps volunteers; Social cultures; Socialization; Socializing; Teachers; Walking

Subjects: Armenia.; Business.; Communication.; Community relations; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Armenia; Peace Corps Institute (U.S.); Work.

00:31:29 - Recreation in Armenia

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Partial Transcript: What did you do for recreation?

Segment Synopsis: Todd describes hiking, traveling, and transportation in and outside of Armenia.

Keywords: Airplanes; Churches; Eastern Europe; England; Europe; Flights; Georgia; Hiking; Holidays; Hungary; Local transportation; Minibuses; Mountains; Peace Corps volunteers; Slovakia; Tourism; Tourist sites; Travel companions; Travel partners; Turkey; Vacations; Weekends

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

00:33:32 - Interactions with people in Armenia

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Partial Transcript: What were, what were your interactions with, with, uh, the host country nationals like?

Segment Synopsis: Todd describes her interactions and relations with host country nationals, people at work, other Peace Corps volunteers, embassy staff, and expatriates.

Keywords: Armenian culture; Armenian language.; Building relationships; Business centers; Community dynamics; Embassies; Expatriates; Expats; Gender roles; Gendered expectations; Gendered norms; Goris (Armenia); Host country nationals; Language fluency; Neighbors; Nonprofit organizations; Peace Corps camps; Peace Corps volunteers; Role models; Soccer; Summer camps; Teamwork; Traditional Armenian culture; Traditional cultures; Work counterparts; Young women

Subjects: Armenia.; Communication.; Community relations; Interpersonal relations.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Armenia; Peace Corps Institute (U.S.); Professional relationships; Work.

00:40:12 - Meaningful memories from Armenia / Armenian culture

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Partial Transcript: I think, uh, Sara, what I had, uh, just asked you was, um, uh, whether there was a story or an incident or two, uh, that's--are particularly memorable that you'd like to share.

Segment Synopsis: Todd describes the nature of Armenian celebrations and parties. She also briefly describes Armenian culture.

Keywords: Alcoholic beverages; Armenian celebrations; Armenian culture; Armenian parties; Armenian weddings; Birthday parties; Business centers; Celebrations; Dancing; Drinking; Drinking cultures; Entertainment; Food; Food and drink; Pottery; Vodka; Weddings; Woodwork

Subjects: Armenia.; Art.; Parties.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Armenia; Peace Corps Institute (U.S.)

00:42:45 - End of Peace Corps service / Returning to the U.S.

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Partial Transcript: Okay, so you, um, were in Armenia from spring of 2001--

Segment Synopsis: Todd talks about her Peace Corps Close of Service conference. She talks about her three months of travel post-service. She talks about what it was like to return to the U.S.

Keywords: Airplanes; Angkor Wat (Angkor); Bikes; Biking; Buses; C.O.S.; Cambodia; Close of Service conferences; Conferences; Families.; Flights; Group bonding; Group sessions; Health benefits; Hiking; Kathmandu (Nepal); Motorbikes; Motorbiking; Nepal; Parents.; Peace Corps volunteers; Readjustment allowance; Readjustments; Russia; Small jobs; Southeast Asia; Temp agencies; Thailand; Tourism; Tourists; Trekking; Vietnam; Whitewater rafting

Subjects: Armenia.; Culture shock.; International travel.; Interpersonal relations.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Armenia; Peace Corps Institute (U.S.); Travel.; United States.; Work.

00:48:52 - AmeriCorps service and later work

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Partial Transcript: I dec--well I decided to do an--another volunteer program, AmeriCorps.

Segment Synopsis: Todd talks about deciding to join AmeriCorps after ending her Peace Corps service. She talks about her AmeriCorps work and her current work with the Jenishian Memorial Program.

Keywords: Activities; Adolescents; Armenian development; Armenian development organizations; Armenian language.; Children.; Community relations; Community resources; David Nelson; Indigenous peoples; Jenishian Memorial Program; Ketchikan (Alaska); Native Alaskans; Nonprofit communities; Nonprofit organizations; Nonprofit work; Presbyterian Church; Program coordinators; Relief work; Work travel; Youth detention and mental health facilities; Youths

Subjects: Alaska.; AmeriCorps (U.S.); Armenia.; Career moves; Careers & opportunities; Careers.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps Institute (U.S.); Work.

00:51:47 - Family reactions to travel experiences / Communications and security in Armenia

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Partial Transcript: Uh, that, that takes me back to the question about, uh, your, your family and what they, uh, thought about all this.

Segment Synopsis: Todd describes her family's support of her travel ventures during and after her Peace Corps service. Todd talks about maintaining communication with people she met during her service. She talks about how the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States affected security procedures throughout all Peace Corps countries.

Keywords: Calling; Coordinators of security; Daily communication; Emails; Family support; Internet cafes; Parents.; Peace Corps staff; Peace Corps volunteers; Phone service; Phones; Security; Security procedures; Security protocols; Security trainings; Staff members; Staff positions

Subjects: Armenia.; Communication.; Families.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Armenia; Peace Corps Institute (U.S.); September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001.; Storytelling.; Travel.

00:56:29 - Impact of Peace Corps service / Contacts and international experiences after Peace Corps service / Armenian vodka

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Partial Transcript: Okay, uh, what do you, what do you think, uh, the impact of your Peace Corps service was on your community or Armenia in general?

Segment Synopsis: Todd describes the impact of her Peace Corps service on Armenia, herself, overall, and Peace Corps' future roles. She talks about how she maintained contact with family and friends during her Peace Corps service. She talks about Armenian vodka.

Keywords: Alcoholic beverages; Armenian vodkas; Armenians; Attitudes; Business centers; Community development; Community impacts; Community service; Cultural stereotypes; Emails; Encouragement; Fruit vodkas; Global perspectives; Goris (Armenia); Grassroots; Grassroots movements; Grassroots organizations; Group emails; Individual impacts; International experiences; Jinishian Memorial Program; National impacts; News sources; Nonprofit fields; Nonprofit organizations; Peace Corps programs; Peace Corps volunteers; Personal growth; Research; Stereotypes; Work travel

Subjects: Armenia.; Career moves; Careers & opportunities; Careers.; Communication.; International travel.; Interpersonal relations.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Armenia; Peace Corps Institute (U.S.); Travel.; Vodka.; World views