Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Carolyn Cromer, February 2, 2006

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

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Partial Transcript: Peace Corps Oral History Project interview February 2nd with Carolyn Cromer.

Segment Synopsis: Cromer discusses her early life and experiences with different cultures as a child.

Keywords: Abroad; Adopted; Atherton High School (Louisville, Ky.); Aware; Chinese families; Current issues; Educated; Exposure; Family; Foreign exchange student; German; Global awareness; Guatemalan; Harvey Brown Presbyterian Church (Louisville, Ky.); Host family; Important; International students; News; Seneca High School (Louisville, Ky.); Sense of giving; Ship; Swedish; U.S. Navy; University; Well-read; White; Wonderful

Subjects: Average; Childhood; Christmas; Countries; Culture; Early life; Education; Experience; Father; Global issues; Great Britain; High school; Languages; Louisville (Ky.); Middle class; Mother; Parents; Sharing; Sister; Spain; Stockholm (Sweden); Students; Travel; University of Louisville

00:05:11 - Why Peace Corps?

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Partial Transcript: So where did you--uh--go to college?

Segment Synopsis: Cromer explains what prompted her to apply for the Peace Corps.

Keywords: Alternatives to the Peace Corps (book); Appalachia; Application; Beryl Markham; Beverly (Ky.); Bookmobile; Campus; Consulates; Cut; East Coast (United States); Eastern Kentucky; Environmental educator; Fascinated; Influence; International students; Job; Major; Marketable skill; Medical offices; Northwestern University; PBS (Public Broadcasting Service); Program; Recycling program; Red Bird Mission; Religious organizations; School; Student conservation organization; Study abroad; Sub-Saharan Africa; University

Subjects: Africa; Books; Brighton (England); English literature; Evanston (Ill.); Fall; High school; Kenya; Letters; Money; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Morocco.; Pilot; Presbyterian Church; Programs; Schools; Summer; United Kingdom; University of Sussex

00:09:08 - Peace Corps application process

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Partial Transcript: Uh, and what was that application process like?

Segment Synopsis: Cromer details her experience with the Peace Corps application process.

Keywords: Arduous; Dentist; Easy; Extension; Ignorance; Initiation; Interview; Medical clinic; Offer; Office; Phone; Quit; Recruiter; Red Bird Mission; Soul searching; Sub-Saharan Africa; Talking; Thoughts; Turned down; Unavailable; Wisdom teeth; Worth it

Subjects: Atlanta (Ga.); Countries; Kentucky; Opportunity; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Morocco.; Presbyterian Church; Teeth; Time; Volunteer; Washington (D.C.); Work

00:12:34 - Staging and training

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Partial Transcript: Uh, and was there some staging or medical stuff before you left or how did that work?

Segment Synopsis: Cromer describes the training and staging process that she underwent in Philadelphia and Morocco.

Keywords: Advantage; Assistant; Building latrines; Close; Comfortable; Compound; Concrete cover; Cross-cultural training; Dialect; Education programs; Evacuated; Germ transmission routes; Governor; Handwashing; Health and sanitation program; Health clinics; Hotel; Issues; Language skills; Medical classes; Philosophical issues; Phrases; Potable; Remote; Rudimentary; School; Site; Small; Staging; Teaching English; Technical training; Together; Translate; Treating water; University; Urban; Vaccinations; Villagers

Subjects: Arabic; Arabic alphabet; Berber; Berbers; Contraceptives; Culture; Essaouira (Morocco); Experience; French; Languages; Meetings; Morocco; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Morocco.; People; Persian Gulf War, 1991; Philadelphia (Pa.); Rabat (Morocco); Rural; Summer; Teachers; Training; Volunteers; Wells

00:19:20 - Assignment

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Partial Transcript: So, uh, at the end of the training what--what happened next, in terms of your assignment and so forth?

Segment Synopsis: Cromer provides an overview of her assignment as a health worker in Ouarzazate Province, Morocco. Cromer also discusses her friendship with the founder of her assignment.

Keywords: Alert; Alone; Assignment; Basic; Bus; Continue; Courtyard; Different; Drama program; Easier; Evacuated; Group; Happy; Harrowing; Health clinic; Health/sanitation volunteer; Introductions; Knowledgeable; Liaison; Limited; Mail; Market; Medicines; Misinterpreting; Proficient; Projects; Remote; Resumed; Return; Role; Site; Special; Supplies; Taxi; Transition; Truck; Vaccinations; Van

Subjects: Agadir (Morocco); Animals; Antibiotics; Arabic; Berbers; Casablanca (Morocco); Commune; Contraceptives; Education; French; Friend; Health; Home; Housing; Marrakesh (Morocco); Morocco; Mountains; Nurses; Ouarzazate (Morocco : Province); Paranoid; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Morocco.; People; Persian Gulf War, 1991; Rabat (Morocco); Training; Travel; Typhoid fever; Villages; Volunteer

00:25:59 - Health education

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Partial Transcript: And so my job was to be out in the villages, supplementing their work through health education, through, uh, contraceptive education and--and I handed out contraceptives.

Segment Synopsis: Cromer provides an overview of her work in health education, mainly focusing on the distribution of oral contraceptives to women.

Keywords: Bleach; Burden; Car; Chlorine bleach; Close; Contraceptive use; Difficult; Friends; HIV/AIDS; Habits; Health campaigns; Health clinic; IUDs (Contraceptives); Impression; Infant mortality; Manual labor; Meal; Mildly successful; Mule; One-on-one; Polio; Quantity; Receptive; Remote; Return; River valley; Shocked; Spacing children; Survival rate; Taboo; Talking; Transmission routes; Trips; Unofficial; Vaccinations; Water treatment

Subjects: Babies; Berbers; Birth control; Children; Chlorine; Cisterns; Condoms; Contraceptives; Drinking water; Europe; Fear; Foot; Health; Health education; Interest; Islam; Kitchens; Measles; Men; Morocco; Mumps; Muslims; Myths; Nurses; Oral contraceptives; Ouarzazate (Morocco: Province); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Morocco.; People; Promiscuity; Prostitutes; Religion; Rural; Successful; Tea; Typhoid fever; Villages; Vitamins; Walking; Wells; Wives; Women; Work

00:34:06 - Living situation

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Partial Transcript: What--uh--what about your living situation?

Segment Synopsis: Cromer describes her living situation, including her accommodations and food.

Keywords: Adobe; Agreement; Asset; Baking bread; Bathing room; Bathroom; Calories; Cilantro; Closet; Clothes; Common; Corn mush; Courtyard; Cuscus; Dinner; Downstairs; Dry climate; Eating; Family; Fields; Fodder; Fried bread; Friends; Great; Heating water; Holiday foods; Homes; Hot; Irrigation canals; Laborers; Latrines; Lunch; Mint tea; Mud homes; Pasta; Paths; Pennyroyal; Return; River; Roof; Room; Steam; Tagine; Tasks; Thin; Variety; Vegetable stew; Village

Subjects: Alfalfa; Almonds; Animals; Barley; Berbers; Bread; Breakfasts; Building; Butter; Buttermilk; Cattle; Cities; Coffee; Corn; Crops; Design; Drinking water; Eggs; Europe; Families; Fasting; Figs; Flour; Food; Grain; Home; Honey; Jam; Meat; Men; Morocco; Obesity; Older people; Olive oil; Opportunity; Ouarzazate (Morocco: Province); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Morocco.; Peppers; Plants; Ramadan; Rocks; Sauna; Soap; Spices; Summer; Tomatoes; Turnips; Villages; Walnuts; Water; Weeds; Wheat; Windows; Women; Work; Wormwood; Yeast

00:44:33 - Crops / Adjustment period

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Partial Transcript: And--and what were the cultivated crops?

Segment Synopsis: Cromer lists some of the crops grown in her village in Ouarzazate Province. Cromer also talks of her adjustment period to Moroccan culture, including a lesson in cultural boundaries with a local politician.

Keywords: Adjustment; Advantage; Allies; Angry; Breeze; Comment; Compound; Department of Agriculture; Derogatory joke; Difficult; Digging; Family; Forehead; Handpicked; Important; Judge; Justification; Lesson; Need; Nighttime; Outsider; Pitchforks; Political situation; Politician; Process; Provincial government; Separate; Shaft; Site; Soliciting; Stayed; Tattoo; Thrashing floors; Unsure; Village; Villagers; Well; Wind; Workers

Subjects: Air; Americans; Animals; Barley; Berbers; Building; Corn; Credit; Crops; Culture; Fall; Friend; Grain; Harvest; Language; Learning; Men; Morocco; Mountains; Mules; Native; Ouarzazate (Morocco: Province); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Morocco.; People; Perspective; Summer; Water; Wheat; Women; Work

00:49:07 - Effectiveness of training / Perception as a woman

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Partial Transcript: Did you feel that your Peace Corp training--uh--prepared you well or not well for the job situation that you found yourself in?

Segment Synopsis: Cromer considers the effectiveness of her Peace Corps training for her position in health education. Cromer also talks of how villagers reacted to her as a woman promoting and distributing contraceptives to other women. Cromer explains how these actions were perceived in the context of Berber culture.

Keywords: Access; Anomaly; Berber costume; Clean; Clear; Clothes; Cold; Different; Dirt; Discernable; Distinctive; Dress; Government; Important; Issue; Job; Mixture; Modification; Outsider; Pantaloons; Polyester; Prepared; Regions; Rope; Scarf; Skin color; Skirt; Style; Tasks; Toga; Unmarried women; Unquestioning; Useful; Wool blankets

Subjects: Americans; Berbers; Bureaucracy; Coats; Contraceptives; Culture; Freedom; Girls; Hair; Health education; Jewelry; Language; Men; Morocco; Muslims; Ouarzazate (Morocco: Province); Paper; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Morocco.; Perception; Perspective; Protection; Snow; Training; Volunteers; Winter; Women

00:55:13 - Recreation

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Partial Transcript: What--uh--what did you do for recreation?

Segment Synopsis: Cromer discusses what she did for recreation while volunteering with the Peace Corps.

Keywords: Activities; Border; Busy; Closed; Difficult; Extension; Friendly; Gorgeous; Insurrection; King of Morocco; Locked-in; Long; Mosque day; No privacy; Pain; Politics; Return; Sahara Desert; Social scene; Talking; Together; Vacation; Weekdays; Weekends; West Africa

Subjects: Algeria; Americans; Berbers; Change; Climate; Conversation; Cooking; Deserts; Experience; Geography; Hepatitis B; Hepatitis B--Vaccination; Holidays; Interactions; Islam; Italy; Mauritania; Moroccans; Morocco; Mountains; Muslims; Ocean; Ouarzazate (Morocco: Province); Party; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Morocco.; People; Population density; Recreation; Streets; Topography; Travel; United States; Volunteers

01:00:04 - Extension of service

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Partial Transcript: So, tell me about that--uh--decision to extend for a year, how did that come about?

Segment Synopsis: Cromer explains why she decided to extend her Peace Corps service for another year.

Keywords: Assistant; Coordinator; Departure; Different; Extension; Group; Head Trainer; Health campaign; Health/sanitation volunteer; Not ready; Obvious; Projects; Same job; Stay; Talking

Subjects: Berbers; Health education; Morocco; Ouarzazate (Morocco: Province); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Morocco.; Summer; Training; Volunteers; Work

01:01:47 - Travel in West Africa / Traveling in Morocco / Third year in Morocco

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Partial Transcript: And--well, tell me something about this--uh--month of traveling in West Africa.

Segment Synopsis: Cromer details her travel in Africa between her second and third years of Peace Corps service. Cromer also recalls her initial fears of traveling alone in Morocco. The interviewee then briefly talks of her third year of Peace Corps service in Ouarzazate Province.

Keywords: Accepting; Alone; Assumptions; Bus; Bus driver's assistant; Close; Dance; Dangerous; Different; Exhausted; Flight; Fortunate; Friendships; Fun; Harrowing; Hospitable; Host family; House; Isolated; Key; Nervous; New; Note; Return; Richer experience; Same; Scared; Special occasion; Sub-Saharan Africa; Transportation methods; Unknown; Village; Visit; Women's intuition; Wonderful

Subjects: Agadir (Morocco); Americans; Bamako (Mali); Berbers; Brother; Burkina Faso; Casablanca (Morocco); Design; Drums; Experience; Fear; French; Hospitality; Language; Mali; Morocco; Night; Ouarzazate (Morocco: Province); Paranoid; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Morocco.; People; Regret; Stereotypes (Social psychology); Travel; Volunteer; Walking; West Africa

01:07:46 - End of Peace Corps assignment

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Partial Transcript: Okay, but then it came to an end, right?

Segment Synopsis: Cromer relays what she did after completing her Peace Corps service. Cromer discusses the culture shock she felt once she returned to the U.S.

Keywords: Accustomed; Activities; Adjustment; Alone; City government; Community service; Constant; Cultures; East Africa; Embarrassing; Family; Friends; Full-time job; Fun; Great; Grocery stores; Haggling; Hard; Investing in self; Isolation; Lack of community; Local politics; Network; Part-time jobs; Places; Ready; Resentful; Return; Sub-Saharan Africa; Taxis; Village; West Africa; Wonderful

Subjects: Africa; Alderman; Culture; Culture shock; Energy; Europe; Great Britain; Home; Italy; Kentucky; Kenya; Louisville (Ky.); Memory; Milan (Italy); Morocco; Oranges; Outreach; Parents; Prices; Society; Tanzania; Time; Travel; Uganda; United States; Volunteer

01:12:15 - Job now / Impact of Peace Corps service

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Partial Transcript: --Uh--and so what are you doing now and how did you get into that?

Segment Synopsis: Cromer talks of the job she currently has at a nature preserve in Louisville. Cromer considers how her service in the Peace Corps impacted her personally as well as the effect it had upon Morocco as a whole.

Keywords: Amenities; Blackacre Conservancy (Louisville, Ky.); Combine; Communal living; Community-oriented; Dehydration; Depth; Development; Foreigner; Friends; Great; Greater; Help; House; Housemate; Infant diseases; Job; Lessons; Lifestyle; Meaning; Mutual; No electricity; No running water; Nonprofit; Outsider; Personalities; Place; Questions; Relationships; Return; Self-sustaining; Spacing children; Visit; Water treatment

Subjects: Africa; Berbers; Culture; Education; Harvest; Louisville (Ky.); Morocco; Muslims; Names; National geographic; Ouarzazate (Morocco: Province); People; Romanticism; Songs; Successful; Vitamins; Women

01:16:03 - Keeping in contact with Moroccans / Travel since Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: Uh, you've mentioned going back...

Segment Synopsis: Cromer explains how she keeps in contact with the friends that she made in the Peace Corps in Morocco. Cromer also discusses what types of telecommunications technology were present in her village in Ouarzazate Province in the 1990s. The interviewee highlights the international travel that she has done since her time spent in the Peace Corps.

Keywords: Cellphones; Communications; Exchange student; Friends; Illiterate; Landlines; Lazy; Letter; No email; No internet cafes; No letters; Post; Provincial capital; Return; Telecommunications; Visit

Subjects: Arabic alphabet; Berbers; Capital; Culture; Great Britain; International travel; London (England); Mexico; Morocco; Ouarzazate (Morocco: Province); Paraguay; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Morocco.; Sister; Sweden; Technology; United States

01:19:30 - Impact of Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: --Uh--what--what has the impact of--of the Peace Corps experience been on your family, would you say?

Segment Synopsis: Cromer evaluates the impact of her Peace Corps service on her parents and career path. Cromer discusses how her Peace Corps service impacted her worldview. She talks about how her views on development work changed. She talks about the general impact of Peace Corps and what she believes its role should be today.

Keywords: Agriculture; Attention; Aunt; Avoid; Career goal; Cynical; Development work; Education; Empathy; Enjoy; Forestry; Friends; Fulbright; Government; Graduate school; Health career; International work; Land resource management; Living; Meeting people; News; Opened; Others; Plant life; Projects; Protected; Relationships; State department; Sustainability; Understanding; Usefulness; Village

Subjects: Appalachia; Career; Cemeteries; Communities; Culture; Deforestation; Diversity; Experience; Food; Goats; Kentucky; Letters; Moroccans; Morocco; Ouarzazate (Morocco: Province); Outreach; Parents; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Morocco.; Reforestation; Sheep; Sister; Species; Travel; University of Wisconsin; World

01:29:13 - Decision to return to Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: Um, why did you decide to come back and work in Kentucky?

Segment Synopsis: Cromer talks about why she decided to return to live in Kentucky.

Keywords: Careers; Changes; Family; Goals; Living abroad; Overseas; Plans

Subjects: Families.; Kentucky

01:31:37 - Lifestyle in Morocco

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Partial Transcript: Okay, uh--(clear throat)--that's, that's all of the sort of structured questions I have.

Segment Synopsis: Cromer compares her experience in Morocco to her experience in Appalachia.

Keywords: Appalachia; Elderly; Lifestyles; Mental illness; Society

Subjects: Morocco.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Morocco.