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WILSON: Peace Corps Oral History Project interview of Cori Hash, April 18, April 27th, 2006, Lexington, Kentucky, interviewed by Jack Wilson- -Cori, if you would please, give me your full name and where you were born?

HASH: Full name is Cori Allison Hash and I was born in Denver, Colorado.

WILSON: And tell me something about your family if you would please.

HASH: I was raised by a single mom in, in Texas and we, my dad was remarried and had children but I lived mainly just with my mom and was very close to my, my maternal grandparents.

WILSON: And so you grew up in Texas? Where in Texas?

HASH: I grew up in El Paso which is right on the Mexican boarder.


WILSON: And did you go through elementary, high school, all the way through there or--?

HASH: Elementary and junior high and then, we moved to, to Dallas, Texas where I went to high school.

WILSON: Okay and you would have graduated from high school when?

HASH: In 1994

WILSON: Okay and then what?

HASH: Then, I went to college at the University of Texas.

WILSON: Help me, where is the University of Texas?

HASH: In Austin.

WILSON: Austin, okay, you'd think I should know. I have a daughter who lives in Dallas now but Texas geography is--

HASH: Oh, well--

WILSON: Not something I know much about-- Okay and what did you study in college?

HASH: I studied Latin American Studies and Government.

WILSON: And is there some relationship between that and your growing up in El Paso?

HASH: I think it might have had to do with it. Growing up in El Paso, 00:02:00I started taking Spanish classes in like first grade so I was really interested in Spanish and when I got to college, my other major required me to take a non-American history course, two semesters of it and so due to my Spanish background, I chose Latin American history and I just really, really liked it a lot and so I chose to, to pick up a major and to study the region and so it's, it's sort of tied together. I'm not really sure that it, you know, came just from El Paso but you know, it builds along the way.

WILSON: Was there anything in your growing up that you think that led to the Peace Corps?

HASH: You know, I think there are a couple of things. My, my dad worked for like a, he didn't, he wasn't with the military but he worked somehow 00:03:00related to them with their stores and stuff and during my summers, I used to go visit him and he lived abroad. We lived in Turkey when I was really young before my parents divorced and he lived in Europe after my parents divorced and so I got to spend some time, you know, in Europe and I think I really liked traveling. I liked going abroad but my dad's version of traveling and seeing the world, the European version, maybe because I was spoiled at a young age by seeing that, I'm just not so interested in, in Europe or you know, I guess that area of the world. You know, once I got into high school and college, I was more interested in learning about you know the Southern Hemisphere in particular Latin America and Africa and other areas and I think also my mom just, you know, really taught me you know about you know just 00:04:00giving back and wanting to, you know, to really you know do something that's important to you and you know finding something that, that makes a difference in your life whatever that was and I think that's what I saw the Peace Corps as, as a combination of all those factors.

WILSON: So you, you would have graduated from University of Texas when?

HASH: In 1998.

WILSON: In '98. Did you go directly into the Peace Corps?

HASH: No, I took a year. I went and worked for a big law firm in, in Houston, Texas and it was when, when I went there that I, I sort of had been interested in the Peace Corps before but was, you know, a little afraid of doing it and I got to this law firm and I thought gosh, Peace Corps sounds really great right now and I had no like indecision or 00:05:00doubt in my mind at that point and that's when I applied.

WILSON: How did you first learn about the Peace Corps?

HASH: Well, the University of Texas had an on campus recruiter, you know, and so there were often meetings and events. Also, one of my college roommates who graduated the year before I did joined to Peace Corps right out of college and she went to Malawi to teach English and I guess just being around other people who had been in the Peace Corps, were going into the Peace Corps and you know, just the campus recruiting events, that's how I learned about it and I guess really got interested in it.

WILSON: Okay, let's do a real quick check here. So when did you apply? While you were working at this law firm?

HASH: While I was working at the law firm. I don't remember what month it was but it was, I mean, it took a good nine months to a year I feel 00:06:00like for everything to get in line before I left.

WILSON: And tell me something about that application process?

HASH: I don't know if everyone else has the same thing but the application process was a, was a frustrating experience but like I said, I was you know whatever happened, whatever it took, I was ready to do it but I'm not surprised if a lot of people dropped out during, the process because I really, it tried my patience, yeah.

WILSON: Well, tell me about that.

HASH: Well, I remember applying and I really wanted to go to Latin America. My background was in Latin America, I spoke Spanish. It made sense to me but due to whatever system that happens when you're application gets into the Peace Corps, they just told me it wasn't possible for me to go to Latin America; that they didn't have programs 00:07:00that were leaving that time of year and that was my skills, you know, and I wasn't really sure what skills I had being a twenty-two year old graduate, college graduate beyond Latin America and maybe some legal skills but they said they were mainly business and environmental related so I couldn't really go to Latin America so I said fine, what about Eastern Europe? At the time, I thought Eastern Europe would be really interesting and they were like okay. Well, then, they found out that I had childhood asthma and I feel like that became like an enormous hurdle, you know, I swore. I was pleading. I promised. I don't even carry an inhaler. My asthma is that mild, I swear. Cats are my only trigger and even then, it's still really mild as long as I took my medicine but that became a huge sticking point. I had to go see tons of doctors who would confirm that you know, my asthma was okay 00:08:00and eventually, I got shifted to Zimbabwe and which I later learned once I got to Zimbabwe was where they must have put asthma, people with asthma because there were about half the other people there had asthma or had once had asthma. When I first got the assignment, I was like Zimbabwe? I don't know anything about Africa. I don't know anything about Zimbabwe. I'm not really sure, well, okay, I'll go so I did but it seemed like it took forever and I feel like I remember talking to the person who had my application case or file and just, you know, feeling like so anything? Do you have something for me? And they were like well and there was always some little thing. That program is leaving this day so we can't have you go there and etcetera, etcetera, etcetera and that's what I remember from it mainly and I do remember, 00:09:00ironically, despite all this talk they gave me the first time around, when I got home, I applied to go again because did everything that unfolded when I was gone, they'd put, put us back in for those who wanted to go start over in another country and they, they immediately found something for me in Latin America, and even though I didn't request it and it was totally unrelated to my skill set and I thought it was really funny so now, I believe that the whole you know skills set and, and everything is just a bunch of hooey.

So usually when I talk to people who are applying for the Peace Corps, just, you know, if you really want to go somewhere, one, I don't think, you know, you should be too dead set on it because I think, for me, it was, I'm really glad in the end that I didn't go to Latin America or Eastern Europe. I'm glad I went to, to Africa but on the other hand, I really, like I said, I think that was all just a, I don't know what it was, I don't know, I remember getting the packet saying you're invited 00:10:00to go to El Salvador to do water sanitation and I thought what? First time I around they told me I couldn't do this stuff and now, they say I can. I haven't gained any new skills beyond just basically cultural competency and Peace Corps survival skills that would have changed it but I often tell people, you know, if you really want to go somewhere, push it, you know, and see what happens because you know, one thing I learned in the Peace Corps is you're not necessarily taking you know a firm set of skills there to impart on everyone. You're going to, to serve as kind of you know, in a, in a way you know a cultural ambassador and a learning skill for you and your ability to get to know a community and, and what kind of skills you have here don't necessarily, may not necessarily pan out to be what you need to, to survive you know and to do well in your job in the Peace Corps but--


WILSON: Was there any kind of, of a language test or any, anything related to language that was a part of, of the application process?


WILSON: Did you apply online or did you do a paper application?

HASH: It was a paper application--

WILSON: Paper application--

HASH: And it was, I think, it had little steps. It started with one part and then, I had to do more and then, there were medical tests and there were recommendations and certifications to send in but it was pretty much all written. I was far enough back that, it was still all paper based.

WILSON: So this started, you're application started, must have started in the fall of '98?

HASH: I think it was like the winter--

WILSON: Of '98?

HASH: Of '98,

WILSON: Okay, and so when they finally invited you to Zimbabwe, when was that?


HASH: I don't remember when the actual invitation came. I left in, in September; it must have come a few, a few months before then.

WILSON: Oh, do you have some sort of staging or orientation in the U.S.?

HASH: We did. We had a two day, you know, staging, pre-staging, I don't remember what they call it in Washington, D.C--.

WILSON: And what did that consist of?

HASH: It was mainly we met with people who worked in the D.C. office, the Peace Corps office, you know, a little bit of basic this is what's going to happen, some of the financial things and the awards things but what I remember most was receiving lots and lots of vaccinations. That's what I remember more than anything about it is that we would, like we went like everyday and got numerous shots.

WILSON: What, going back a half step on you, you, you mentioned the, the 00:13:00financial stuff. What was the readjustment allowance at that time? Do you remember?

HASH: I believe that you got--I'm trying to remember because I thought it would be somewhere around at the end of your, upon your return, if you, you know, if you stayed the whole time, it would have been somewhere around $5,000, you know--

WILSON: For twenty-four months?

HASH: Right.


HASH: So I think it was like maybe $200 something per month--


HASH: Because I only got, you know, the time that I was there which was ----------(??)--


WILSON: So you were there a couple of days, got a lot of shots, a little bit of financial information. Did you go direct to Zimbabwe then? Was there any selection process at that point or anything?

HASH: No, I think everyone there had been, you know, had already been through the selection process.


HASH: So we all, you know, went to the airport and we all got on the plane together and we all were on the plane and you know, with the exception of a, you know, a couple layovers, we went directly to Zimbabwe.

WILSON: And what was it like when you arrived in Zimbabwe?

HASH: It was really overwhelming, you know, I think we were all exhausted and we'd had a really lengthy flight with a twelve hour layover at one point and then, another several hour layover, you know, and they just kind of herded us into a bus and we, we drove off to a government compound where we had like a, for a few days, our initial 00:15:00arrival and some, actually, we might have been there a little bit longer in initial orientation arriving there and you know, I remember that at the time when we got there, we had a, they had, you know, arranged this wonderful like ceremony for us. They had singers and dancers and music and a children's choir, you know, it was quite the presentation so you know, they all kind of, you know, got off and, and we able to witness that and then, you know, it's the small things I remember. Can I drink the water? Should you drink the water, you know, can I go to bed? Where am I going to sleep and those were the things I remember more than anything. And then, I immediately went to bed so--

WILSON: And this first few days of orientation, what did that consist of?


HASH: They, they began a lot of the, of our introduction to the in- country staff and sort of the, the ends and outs of you know, Peace Corps, Zimbabwe, you know, the hierarchy and in the administration and who we would turn to and that's when we began some of the cultural and language training so those first few days, we did spend a lot of time with, you know, it's language instruction and cultural issues. We met current volunteers and, and the staff and even, people from the community who came and talked about, you know, Zimbabwe culture, race issues in Zimbabwe and then, started our language.

WILSON: And what was the language you were learning?

HASH: The first few days there, because there are two major tribal languages in Zimbabwe, Shona and then, Ndebele, Shona being the 00:17:00majority language. We learned a little bit of both. Once we got to our main training site, they then split us up based on where we were going, where we were going to be living and so the language the spoken there but during the first few days, they, they tried to teach us both.

WILSON: And then, where was the second training site and what did that consist of?

HASH: The second training site was in, in Southern, well, kind of middle South Zimbabwe in an area called Lower Gweru and we were at a Seventh Day Adventist Mission and it was pretty, pretty rural area and we all lived with families in an adjacent villages and we come, we were there from like the beginning of October until pretty much New Years and my family lived the furthest from the site so I had to walk two miles 00:18:00every day to get to the training site and we usually started around like eight or nine in the morning and at that point, we learned what our job would be and so we had practical training and they continued with the cultural training and then, a lot of language training.

WILSON: And what was your job to be?

HASH: I was a community education resource volunteer which the plan was because we were the first ones to do this in the country so they weren't exactly sure what was going to happen but the idea was for us to start community centers that local schools and communities could use but really, a focus on teachers and the schools and training them and having books and computers that they could use and having programs for them and so we got a lot of training in library science and teaching 00:19:00and community organization and, and just a wide variety of things because they weren't really sure what each of us would do and each community was going to be different so they just sort of--

WILSON: Did you know at that point what community you would be assigned to?

HASH: No, no, I knew based on what language I was studying that I was going to be in a certain, you know, area of the country but that didn't really narrow it down too much. It wasn't towards, until closer to the end that I learned my exact location.

WILSON: And how did you feel about the, the training?

HASH: I thought it was pretty good. I thought the language training was really great. We were broken up into small groups of like five or six people with a language instructor and you know, they were native 00:20:00speakers, Zimbabweans and, and I felt like the language instruction that I got was really good. I wished that I, you know, been able to, to take it further than my time there but, but I felt like I really did learn a lot in that short period of time and, and I really, I really enjoyed the language instruction. The instruction for my, like I said, for my job was a little tiny bit like haphazard because they didn't really know what we were going to be doing and so they, they kind of were just feeling their way through with that. Training, I think, was probably the hardest time of, of the whole Peace Corps experience mainly because you know, I felt like we spent so much time with you know the group of people, all the other volunteers and, and sometimes, I think people and you know, it's the first, your first time away, away 00:21:00from your family and your friends and I think that you know people got stressed out a lot, you know, and so I think in a way, it was really great because I met all these great friends who I'm still friends with today but at the same time, I think we were all kind of like whew! Fazed, you know, to move out on our own and so I think that may have been the hardest part for it.

WILSON: Where you able to, through the language training, able to communicate then with the family you were living with and was that a good practice exercise?

HASH: I think it's great, yeah, because once I did move to my site, I had you know contact with coworkers and neighbors and local people at the shops, you know, but living with a family I think was a great experience. It really made me speak the language although we could get by with a little bit of English and a little bit of that. I really enjoyed living with the family.


WILSON: And what was, what was your family composed of and what was the living situation?

HASH: They lived in a, a very small house. House being a loose term. It was more than a hut. It didn't have a thatched roof which most in the area actually did but it was just a basic cement block house and it just had three, three rooms which were shared by the mom and dad, an older brother, a daughter and a young son and, and me. I took up a whole room which I felt really badly about but and they didn't have running water or energy although they did have a solar panel that was hooked up to a car battery that would power little things and they did 00:23:00have access to a well and so then, they had a cooking hut that was--

WILSON: Separate?

HASH: Separate from the house. They did have a thatched, that did have a thatched roof but it was really, you know, extremely clean and you know, always very organized and then the family was just great. You know, they were very, you know, they loved to have me in the evenings and would sit and they could get like TV for a little bit and they'd watch TV and they'd ask me about it and, and things and liked to play games and let me cook and things like, you know, looked out for me.

WILSON: Well, they have, well, a latrine and a separate facility or bath, bathing facility? How did that work?

HASH: They had another small little separate from the house in the kitchen, in the kitchen hut they had a, a latrine and an area to, to 00:24:00bathe in. It wasn't a shower. You had to take your water out there.

WILSON: Bucket bath!

HASH: Bucket bath.

WILSON: And did you eat with the family?

HASH: I did, well, in the evening, well, I guess in the morning and the evening.

WILSON: And what, what was the food like?

HASH: There, I guess the, the aftermath of being a British colony for so long, tea. Every morning was tea with milk and bread or something like that. You know, sometimes I wondered what their diet would be like when I left. If this was the normal diet or if this was special, I mean, I was there for almost three months so it seemed like that was would have been a long time to keep it up--

WILSON: Oh yeah.

HASH: But I, I don't know, you know, usually, elder children were gone and the youngest children was already on his way to school by the time that you know, I was getting, you know, eating my breakfast and going 00:25:00and so I don't know exactly what the other, what the rest of the family ate but tea was very important and in the evening, it was the, their version of the maize paste. There, they call is sadza and then, you know, usually like a stewed vegetable and you know, a very small piece of meat if they could.

WILSON: And then at the end of the three months of, of training, was there any kind of selection process at that point or did, how many people were in your group? I should have asked that to begin with.

HASH: I think there were about forty of us and there was no selection, I guess maybe self selection, those who wanted to didn't go forward. But there was no selection by Peace Corps.

WILSON: But did all forty go out to sites?


HASH: They did. We did have one person who didn't leave D.C. with us. And go to Zimbabwe but all those who made it to Zimbabwe made it to their, to their sites and I think that was actually unusual, you know, it was always the, the dying question everyday. Is anyone going to go home? Is anybody going to go home? And no one ever, no one did during the first couple months which I think was a, was a first probably for our country to have all forty make it through.

WILSON: So what was your site?

HASH: It was a small, I guess it was a small town I guess you could say. It was called Magunge.

WILSON: And town there meant how many people?

HASH: It wasn't actually a town. In Zimbabwe, it's called a growth point which means the government has decided to build offices there because it's kind of a centralized location amongst all the villages and some shops have grown up there but very few people actually lived 00:27:00in the little area. Most people lived outside in like the villages.

WILSON: But you lived there?

HASH: I did live there. I did live there and people did live there but I mean, at most, at most a couple hundred.

WILSON: Okay but, but this community center sort of thing that you were supposed to establish was supposed to be established there, is that right?

HASH: Right and the building was already allocated and, and when I showed up they were like here's the building. And so I had to go from there and I lived in, in the center. It was actually a house that was government owned house and I, I lived in one of the rooms and the rest of it was the center.

WILSON: Oh, I see, okay and what was that like? I mean, what was the 00:28:00house like there?

HASH: It was a really nice house. It was a really nice house. I mean, it was large. It had like three bedrooms and a bathroom where if water had run, it would have had a flushing toilet and a shower and a kitchen, you know, I mean, it was really, really nice.

WILSON: But there wasn't running water?

HASH: Water ran for forty-five minutes a day so you just, well, not, not all the time but--

WILSON: If you were quick, then the basics could be taken care of.

HASH: Well, the routine, you knew the routine, you know, you had to do it, you know, I knew how to get the water. I had like five buckets and I'd get up, I mean, because there I got up at six a.m. just because the sun came up so early but you know, had the routine down but there was like about a month where the water went out completely and I did have to go down to the well to collect my water which was, 00:29:00which was hard. But I guess a lot of people did it so I should have no complaints but--

WILSON: Did you cook for yourself? You lived by yourself then?

HASH: I did live by myself and I did cook for myself. I guess for most teachers and for most people in my position, it was normal to hire a school girl to cook or clean but I just had a lot of time on my hands so I enjoyed cooking and I just couldn't really see turning that over to anyone else, yeah--

WILSON: Did you cook local food or more imported American style food or--?

HASH: I think I cooked more American style food. I can't, I mean, with what I could get there. But yeah, it was more, you know, American style food. I didn't really have down making the, the maize porridge stuff and quite frankly, it was really heavy and I think I gained a 00:30:00lot of weight. And so, I was like oh, well, I guess I'll have it but otherwise, it was okay. I mean, it was good but not something I wanted to eat every day.

WILSON: And so tell me about the, the job, the creation of this center.

HASH: It--

WILSON: How did you go about that and how did it go?

HASH: Well, when I showed up at the center building, you know, the first week, I just had to sort of self create work to do and I spent, you know, probably, that was the hardest week, is the first week, figuring out what to do and I spent most of it cleaning the building and then, a lot of my work was the Department of Education like the local office like sort of working with them to try to figure out what is to be done and they sort of had an idea of what they wanted me to do as well 00:31:00so once I kind of sort of got it clean and my feet, you know, on the ground and sort of settled, the Department of Education which is like three buildings down pretty much was like you're going to be here from eight to five every day and you know, we want a library and we want computers and this is what we want so I mean, I sort of did that. We worked a lot with other, Peace Corps didn't really provide any of the, you know, the resources in the center--

WILSON: The government was doing that?

HASH: The government along with other donor agencies so there was a Danish agency that did provide computers and books were donated from different organizations. I mean, I think did spend some of my money, you know, with some furniture and the Department of Education did 00:32:00provide some of the furniture. Anything beyond that, I was, I was expected to sort of help in I guess seeking grants or funds to try and you know, get what it was they, you know, was necessary.

WILSON: Were you able to do that?

HASH: Well, I never got far enough, you know, in the, in the project to really start doing any sort of grant writing or developing any sort of resources.

WILSON: But you were able to get some books and some computers?

HASH: I did. Yes, we, we started with, with two computers and I had a little bookshelf for the books.

WILSON: And what about usage?

HASH: The Department of Education, the local office, we had a lot of people coming in and teachers would come in, you know, mainly to use the books. Computers, I had two great computers and was in the process of planning some computer training sessions but mostly, the 00:33:00teachers and most, most people really wanted to use the computer but I mean, it was completely foreign instrument for them I mean, even basic usage when I had someone from the local office who you know, did a lot of typing and things and I said well, I'll teach you how to use the computer and when he came and started putting the mouse in the air, I realized that I really had to start like further back than I had really anticipated and then, I really needed a very, very basic computer training so I had to learn a lot about computers myself so I did a lot of studying of computers which after leaving there, I immediately forgot. And have had nothing to do with since then but you know, that was one of the things that, that people really wanted to do but you know, things like internet and access to that was just not possible but 00:34:00you know, using the computers--

WILSON: It was not possible because there wasn't access or they didn't, people didn't know how to use, use it?

HASH: There was no phone service--


HASH: In the, in the town, I mean, eventually, it might have happened if phone service had, had improved and, but at the time, there was no real phone service to speak of.

WILSON: So the only thing the computer could be used for was for document creation?

HASH: Document creation, maybe if there had been some instructional programs that could have been created, things like that that I think would have been, would have been useful--


HASH: But I think, you know, even like videos or instructional programs would have been a good thing to have so and then, hopefully, it would have like the local community could have used it too and kids could 00:35:00have used games and things like that.

WILSON: So how long did this development go on?

HASH: I was actually only working there six months.

WILSON: Okay and then--

HASH: Five months, actually, probably, it was less than five months actually.

WILSON: And so tell me why it, how it came to a stop and why.

HASH: Well, I'll tell you the long Cori version. I had agreed to work with a friend of mine, another volunteer who was at a school not too far from mine, about an hour away and the schools were in their, were in a vacation period, sort of the summer vacation, and I had, I had agreed to work with her to do a camp for girls. One of the things that she saw as a teacher was that you know, access to education for girls 00:36:00was limited and those that did come were likely, it was likely for them to eventually maybe drop out or have to leave school due to the economic or, or whatever reasons and so she wanted to, her parents had given her $200 for Christmas and she thought you know, what the heck am I going to use this for in Zimbabwe and so she decided to use that with some funding we got, you know, or some resources we got from other people to do a camp for girls and so I had agreed to help her organize this. We had girls from her school and some other local high schools apply and we held courses on empowerment. We did sports and we did crafts. I was the crafter, arts and craft director and just allowed the girls to, to be in an environment of all girls and hope that they really thrive in that.


WILSON: Would they come in on a daily basis?

HASH: No, it was an overnight week long camp--

WILSON: Oh, oh, oh, boarding situation.

HASH: Right and we wanted it to be like a real camp, and so, I had a, we had held this camp and it was very successful we thought. I had about a group of ten girls and had gotten other volunteers to come to her school to help with other parts of it. There was an English, you know, they did some English classes and other, I mean, we had, it was an eight hour you know, an all day planned activities and at the end of that session, I had been on a bus and I had left my purse on the bus and I lost all my ID and everything so I had to go into the capital Harare to replace all my, to report all of this, that this was gone and you know, I even had to call home and tell my mom to cancel whatever it was I had in there and I decided to spend the weekend there for fun, 00:38:00and I had gone to the, the bus stop to, I think it was Monday morning I got back to the bus stop to take my bus home. It was about a four hour bus ride to the capital and I hadn't been there but ten minutes when someone, a staff from the Peace Corps office came by and told me to get in the car. I couldn't go home and I was a little surprised as to what was going on but people from, from my region were, had been pulled due to political activities there. Essentially, what had happened is when I first got to Zimbabwe, you know, the same president had been in power for almost twenty years and there had been very little opposition to him and what opposition had, there had been, had been quietly and 00:39:00somewhat violently repressed--

WILSON: And this was President--

HASH: President Mugabe.

WILSON: Mugabe.

HASH: But essentially, it was pretty stable. It was pretty quiet. If you had asked anyone, I mean, and I spoke to my host family and other people in the community about it and they thought oh, why bother voting? He's just going to win. It's fine, you know, it doesn't matter but the constitution that was in place had been the same constitution that had been written by the British controlled, well, it wasn't British, but the white gov-, the outgoing white-controlled government and had only meant to be a transitional constitution so they'd this election or referendum to redo the, to rewrite the constitution and when all of this happen, there was created a, an opposition political 00:40:00party, the Movement for Democratic Change and all of this, I mean, it was created really quickly. No one thought anything would happen. Mugabe would present this constitution. Everyone would of, you know, would vote for it and things would go on as, as before but out of nowhere or it seemed to, to us, a new party was created and people started to think hmm, maybe we, things can change and so when all of this started to happen, I guess, my best reading of it is Mugabe got somewhat, somewhat threatened by the, by the challenge and somehow related to this the control of the land was seen as the major issue and most of the large industrial farms in Zimbabwe were owned by white Zimbabweans and there was a lot of seizure of white owned farms and 00:41:00what was seen as the attempt to redistribute land to, to, to you know, the majority black Zimbabweans but it was really just a struggle for, for power but when all of this started happening, a lot of, there was a lot of violence or some violence towards white people and a lot of violence against educators who were mainly, educators were seen as kind of the strong hold of this new part so Peace Corps got really concerned about our safety as most of us worked with the education system and we were all white with the exception of a few volunteers so in my case, in my little small town, a bus had been set on fire maybe a hundred feet from my house, from my center and although no one was hurt and nothing happened, it was you know, a pretty, I guess there had been a 00:42:00lot of, this had all happened in the weekend when I was in the capital. There had been you know, statements and like I said it had been really close to my house and, and there were a lot of educators involved and threatening statements so there was a lot of stuff going on in my, my region so they had asked all of us to come to stay in the capital until things calmed down so my friends and I hung out at the local hostel where most of the volunteers stayed sort of waiting for things to calm down and eventually, it just got worse and worse and more and more volunteers were pulled in until finally, they had everyone in the capital just hanging out. And we were there for, for a month and a half, almost two months. Just waiting for things to improve. After 00:43:00being in the capital for almost a month, you know, and they wouldn't really let us go back to our, to our sites. They did take us to go pick up our belongings and to say goodbye, you know, or to at least, give a report to, to our, you know, our coworkers and our friends and neighbors. Unfortunately, the day they took me, they only left us for like thirty minutes to do all of that and it was a Saturday afternoon which in my, my little town, most of the people went to the nearby real town where there was a grocery store or they went to go visit family members because many people who worked for the government were placed wherever and didn't necessarily stay, you know, didn't stay through the weekend in the town so no one was there so I was given thirty minutes and I packed up my stuff and I left and I never saw anyone and we stayed until, we stayed in the capital until they essentially 00:44:00decided that it was best if, if most of us went home until the election on the constitution happened and then, that we could come back after that. They have, they wanted to keep like maybe about ten people there just to keep the program open and they allowed them to work in the capital and I had originally decided to stay and, and to do that but my grandmother got ill so I thought oh, this is a perfect opportunity for me to be able to go home and see her and then, I'll come back after the election and so there were a hundred of us in the country, over a hundred and so about ten stayed behind, ten to fifteen and the rest of us went home thinking we'd come back but we never did so--

WILSON: ----------(??), okay, this is a good time to--


[Side a ends, side b begins.]

WILSON: Side two interview with Cori Hash, April, what is today? The 27th, 2006, Cori, you just finished telling me about your early departure from Zimbabwe. Let me take you back a step or so. Were you ever, were you there long enough to establish coworkers or working relationship with Zimbabweans in any way do you feel?

HASH: Probably not as, as much as I would have liked to. I felt like I was just starting to kind of feel my way into really get a sense of what I was doing and to really start making, you know, getting ideas from, you know, the schools and the teachers and the people in the 00:46:00community as to what kind of things I could do so I felt like at that point, I really had some plans and I really felt like I would start moving on them and so I had, you know, I had contacts. I, you know, with the local schools and especially with the people in the Department of Education and within my community but I haven't maintained contact, you know, I did for the first couple of years with most of them but because of everything that's happened in Zimbabwe, communication has been really difficult and I think most of the people who were there probably, you know, my, my coworkers really, my colleagues probably aren't there anymore. Most of my letters have come back so--

WILSON: So when Peace Corps decided to let people go home, the idea was they'd just go home for a month or so?

HASH: That's what we thought and I think there was some miscommunication 00:47:00between Zimbabwe and D.C. We were under the impression that we could either, like I said, a few number could stay there and I had originally planned to stay there but the position they had for me was to organize the video library at the U.S Embassy which when I heard that I thought good grief, this is not why I joined the Peace Corps. I mean, I now think back and I'm like well, maybe I should have just done it and they would have found something diff- or I could have found something different for myself to do. A lot of people worked in schools or orphanages, maybe something else would have happened but like I said my grandmother was ill and, and you know, we'd been in the capital just sitting there for like a couple months at that point. You just wanted to go back or do something, whatever it was and we were all under the impression that we could either apply and go to another country or we would come back. However, when we got back to the U.S., we communicated with D.C. and after the elections occurred, they told 00:48:00us we couldn't go back. They had, it, it wasn't clear to most of us at that point whether they had never intended for us to go back at all or that they had changed their minds since we'd returned.

WILSON: Did the program continue in Zimbabwe?

HASH: The program continued with that small number of volunteers for about another, another year and then, they brought in a small group to, to you know, to work on different issues. One of the other problems is that Zimbabwe became increasingly unfriendly to the Peace Corps and didn't really want them to work with the schools anymore. So they brought in a small group to, you know, a new, new group of people but they were only there for a short period of time before they had to close the whole program down and they sent everyone home.


WILSON: Okay, so anyway, you were back in, in the states and started to communicate with D.C. How long, I mean, you were just sort of sitting at home or--?

HASH: I was, I was for the first, for the first, I would say almost month, I was just kind of, you know, readjusting, waiting for things to happen. Not really sure what was going on and you know, through my communication with other volunteers and through D.C., you know, you know, we were calling leaving messages. We were finally told we're not going back. That's when I decided to reapply or to put my name in the hat again to go somewhere else.

WILSON: Did you have to reapply or did they just--?

HASH: Well, I didn't have to fill out the application again. But I had to go through the, through that, through the process--


HASH: So my name had to start as if I had just applied again and they had to take me through that process of finding the country and doing 00:50:00all of that and it wasn't, it didn't happen very quickly. It took a really long time and in the meantime, I was just kind of hanging out at my mom's house until finally, she was like okay, well, you need to get a job. And so a few months later, I finally, I finally got a job and started working and some time, you know, I started working I think maybe in like September or so and--

WILSON: And you came back in?

HASH: It was in June or July.


HASH: I think I finally started working in September and in, in, I think it was like some time around January, I randomly got this invitation from the Peace Corps. I hadn't heard anything about my, you know, about my application and they randomly send me this, you've been this invited to work in El Salvador doing water sanitation and I was like whoa! They 00:51:00hadn't said anything and at that point, I had finally settled down and I felt like I had been in this just waiting period for so long that at that point I made the decision to, to apply to law school and I felt really unprepared at that point to go out again and so I did, I did turn that down and, and it was hard but you know, it had just been so--

WILSON: So that would have been in January 2000?

HASH: 2001--

WILSON: 2001

HASH: Because I came back in 2000 so it was 2001 when I finally--

WILSON: Okay so you were in Zimbabwe from when to when?

HASH: 199-, September 1999 and I got back in June 2000.

WILSON: Okay, okay, alright, so did you, did you have an opportunity to 00:52:00travel or do anything in Zimbabwe or in elsewhere in Africa while you were there?

HASH: Yeah, I did. We, you know, I visited other volunteers where they lived and part of our training was to go and stay with another volunteer, a current volunteer just to see how they lived and the person I visited was a, you know on the opposite end of the country that I was so I was able to visit in that area because our training site was different from where I was, you know, we would occasionally take small day or weekend trips around that area and I did have a chance to go to Victoria Falls for, between Christmas and New Years and to kind of see that part of the country. I didn't really get a chance 00:53:00to travel much in the, the eastern part of the country which I would have liked to have done and in my last few days, I did try and make it over there but the trains weren't running very frequently at that point and, and things were starting to get pretty chaotic. There was a gas shortage and it was really difficult to travel within a country.

WILSON: Well and would Peace Corps let you travel?

HASH: No, I would have done it without telling anyone.

WILSON: Oh, I see, okay.

HASH: They did allow us to travel outside of the country and I did have a chance to go to Tanzania and I went to Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar and I spent about a week in, a week there. They really didn't want us, they gave us like a short period of time where they were like if you want to travel, since you're going to stuck in the capital anyway, you can travel outside of the country. After that, they really didn't want us to, to leave the capital area but, but at that point, it's when it 00:54:00got really difficult to travel.

WILSON: Are there any particularly memorable stories or events that you'd like to tell me about other than this, this episode of how you found out that they were burning a bus at your, near your house?

HASH: I mean, I had some really funny stories. I mean, I think, although in retrospect, they're probably not as funny at the time. I think, you know, once you're in the Peace Corps for a while, you develop a strange sense of humor but I used to go to a lot community training with there were these health workers and social workers and government workers and you know, religious community and oh, when I 00:55:00tell this story now, I think it's just really disturbing but people have the strangest sense of humor and just the things that people would, you know, that the, even you know represented to the community, you know, learning about the sense of humor, you know, Zimbabweans. I went to one particular training where they were trying to teach about you know sexual abuse of, of children and you know, they tried to do a skit about how children would, you know, I try to present this in a way that's more Americanized but I think that my whole experience was colored by being American about how a child would present you know sexual abuse by a teacher or even by a family member and the whole skit was just really you know, you know, a true skit that presented a child 00:56:00coming to a, a headmaster, a principal of the school and, and informing the headmaster that they'd been abused by a teacher and this little skit went on and you know, they were trying to be the child and it was sort of funny but everyone in the audience just died laughing, you know, with some of the statements being made at, they thought the whole thing was funny and I'm sitting there with my mouth dropped open at the horror of the situation and I just remember you know, thinking how you know, I didn't know if I just didn't get the humor. If this was such a common scenario to have you know, the male teachers taking advantage of the students, the female students, that they, you know, that you just had to laugh. If that was a cultural thing of dealing with uncomfortable, tragic situations or if I just completely missed the humor and you know, there are little things like that that I sometimes forget about until you know, something will remind me of it, you know, 00:57:00but one of my, you know, it's the little things I think that I remember the most is getting up and running in the morning and having you know, I'd go run a few miles and I'd have to get up as early as I could so the kids wouldn't follow me and I tried to get in before the sun was like completely set but the kids got up really early and every morning I like had to race to try and get home and I felt really bad but the kids would just, you know, I was the only white person for miles and miles and they just didn't understand why I would be running unless I was going somewhere. Invariably, there would always be at least like at least a few kids on their way walking to one of the schools in, in the growth point and they'd see me and they'd just get so excited and they run alongside me and they're like bare feet or their shoes with their books and I'd be like panting to death And all like uh, uh 00:58:00and they'd be like what are you doing? Why are you running? What are you doing? I'm running. Where are you running to? I'm just running. Well, why? And for exercise and they'd just think I was insane. And then, they'd try and race me and I'd be like I couldn't keep up with them hahaha but every morning for me, it was like a race and I'm trying to run on these little back roads so the kids wouldn't see me but I just couldn't never make it in time. They were just always out there just so early, you know, and then, strange moments where I would go to a really small village and I'd walk up and very small children like three or four would be frightened of me because of the color of my skin. They'd never seen anyone like that. I mean, you know, they'd be scared of me but mainly, I was like the local novelty and so they, the kids were really just fascinated with me and things like going to the 00:59:00market every other day to buy my tomatoes to make dinner and talking to the women and you know, every day I would go to the market to buy a diet coke because diabetes was very prevalent in Zimbabwe so you can get diet coke everywhere which was a surprise for me but I specifically went everyday just to talk to people and you know, those are the, the, some of the shop keepers are some of the people I kept in contact with the longest and things like that are the things that I, you know, the most memorable. I wish I could say it was the work but it, I mean, just these little things, you know?

WILSON: The human contact, the relationship--

HASH: Right, right. One of the things like our director said is you know, your job is not to go out and build a or you know, plan X. Your job is to go in for the first year, I want you to sit by the well and 01:00:00that's your job, you know, is to get to know people in your community and to know what, you know, the pulse is and what the needs are and you know, what you'll do from there. Your job is not to go in and say this is what needs to be done and this is how it needs to be done and so after I got back, I really, at the time, I thought she was crazy. I was like whatever, that's just Sally being Sally, you know? Well, once I got back, I really think that, you know, that was like an important part of what I, what I did, you know? Or my experience is, is just, you know, is just kind of--

WILSON: Do you feel you, you established some particular relationships with people, individuals?

HASH: The, the, I mean, I guess the closest relationship that I formed or with the family or during the training and unfortunately, several 01:01:00of them have passed away, I, I imagine due to AIDS related illnesses and because of that the families dispersed and both of the parents passed away and one of the, the oldest sons kept in contact with me but because, you know, the parents had passed away, he did have a, had been shifted from school to another older sibling's household and so had a difficult time keeping in contact with them and you know, I wonder if, you know, and some of the other family members didn't, didn't run into problem as well.

WILSON: Were, were you expected to get involved in AIDS education as a part of your Peace Corps assignment?

HASH: Not particularly. The government wasn't really interested in that. And to be honest, most people didn't want to talk about it. It was the you know, the pink elephant in the room. I think later on in 01:02:00the capital there were movements to, to kind of, and when that small group of Peace Corps volunteers came in at the very end before the program was completely closed, that's what they did do was do--


HASH: HIV and AIDS related issues in the capital but mainly I found that in, in my work, people just or just in general, it, it was, it was just swept under the rug. People didn't want to talk about it. Government officials didn't want to recognize the problem. And so I think anything we would have done would have had to been done on kind of an individual or small group. I mean, it was hard not to, you know, not to I guess really you know have it around you, not to really see it 01:03:00happen but I think it would have been a really difficult job, you know, to do any sort of education or awareness.

WILSON: Do you feel you were able to, to or your Peace Corps service was able to have an impact on Zimbabwe in any way?

HASH: I don't know that it had it on the country as a whole. I do, hope to, like, hope that you know, my co-workers that, you know, that I met through my work at the center and even some of the other schools I had contact with that you know, even some of the, the basic things I, you know, I helped, you know, produce materials that I hope are still you know able to use, just like little sheets on like how to do things and I hope that people I worked with day to day with the Department 01:04:00of Education you know are able to learn something from me you know, whether it be the computer or the books, you know, but I think the biggest one is the, the girl's camp that I did, planning and, and working on that. That one maybe the one that had the most you know--

WILSON: Impact.

HASH: Impact.

WILSON: What do you think the impact of your time with the Peace Corps was on you?

HASH: I think it was immense, you know, even though it was cut really short, you know, I think it really changed the way I saw just you know, the world and, and it changed my view on foreign policy I think immensely and it kind of I think it changed my political opinion. I think it, it, it, it, I was a different person, you know--


WILSON: In, in what ways? What do you mean?

HASH: And I even think I've lost a little bit of the Peace Corps me since I've been back. I, I felt like I really became a very creative person when I was there. I became a really patient, you know, and very open person when I was there. You know, things don't happen the way you expect them to happen sometimes. In Zimbabwe, you just have to, you know, you can't get upset about things. You have things happen and that's okay and everyone's there just oh, okay. It doesn't always work out the way you want it to and you know, I, I think I learned a lot about that you know, I guess just going with the flow and letting things happen and not becoming upset by it certainly--[phone rings]--

WILSON: Well, Cori, I guess what you were talking about was sort of what, what the impact of the Peace Corps experience was on you.


HASH: Well, I think it, you know, led me to my career in a certain way. I'd always wanted to do international work and in a way, Peace Corps made me rethink that even though I really enjoyed my experience, I saw a lot of issues and, and aid was certainly one of them where I felt that I really didn't have the expertise to come in and, and like solve the problem, you know, I was, I was a willing body to help in whatever way they wanted but I didn't feel that I was the person to come in and, and say this is how you need to solve the AIDS problem because I learned a lot of cultural mores, you know, a lot of cultural issues that I just I couldn't even get my head wrapped around and I couldn't understand and I didn't understand why that was an issue that all. It just seemed quite, completely illogical and I think for me that 01:07:00was a learning experience, is that I really enjoyed the Peace Corps experience and you know, I, I'd do it over again and again and actually sought to do it again but I felt that, that it turned me back to the issues of poverty and human rights in my own country and I thought you know, I really when I got back focused on it and learned you know, there's a lot of need for assistance in other countries but there's an enormous poverty rate and a lot of people being denied rights within our own country and I feel that my knowledge in my own culture, I'd be better equipped to work here and to kind of, to do what I can here and you know, eventually immigration law holds kind of a nice compromise in that I'm working with an American legal system although sometimes 01:08:00it seems, it seems so totalitarian but I get to work with people from a lot of different cultures and, and I really enjoy that and in many ways, I'm helping people escape from you know, economic hardship, persecution but I'm helping them in a system that, that I know and that, that I can sort of assist in rather than a more imperialistic kind of way which I don't necessarily think the Peace Corps is like that but you know, I really did feel sometimes that you know, going in and being like well, I'm going to build you a basketball court and I saw the work of other like previous volunteers that had you know, basketball courts that had been grown over with weeds after the volunteer left and I thought God, that's just the poor volunteer who probably worked so hard to make that 01:09:00happen and the kids were probably so excited when it first happened. Now, it's gone and you know, nothing happened and so I think that you know, in, in many ways that's what I, you know, I learned from it.

WILSON: So when you came back, then, you went to law school?

HASH: I did. I worked briefly in Washington, D.C. just kind of random jobs while I was applying to law school.

WILSON: And where did you go to law school?

HASH: At the University of Texas.

WILSON: Okay and graduated there when?

HASH: 2004.

WILSON: 2004 and then, came to Kentucky?

HASH: Yes.

WILSON: And how did you manage to do that? Why Kentucky?

HASH: Well, it's I get, it's a special grant to set up this project help 01:10:00in immigration in the state and they, you know, they distributed the, the posting nationwide and so I saw it in Texas and I thought it was a great opportunity so I thought why not?

WILSON: Okay and so tell me something about the, the organization that you're working for, what it's called and what you're doing.

HASH: I work for a small non-profit. It's called Maxwell Street Legal Clinic and it's really small and it's mainly volunteers. I'm the first like full-time person to work there and we help immigrants, low income immigrants with immigration and other legal issues. It was started with you know, a group of lawyers and religious I guess, activists who decided that most immigrants fall through the cracks. They can't afford private attorneys and the legal aids and the legal 01:11:00services can't serve them due to restrictions and so there was no one to help them and so they created this organization and my project really focuses on you know, expanding that service and to look at economic issues. Mainly, immigrants who, who work and who don't get paid and, and then, I do just all sorts of different immigration cases. Ironically, several months ago a Seventh Day Adventist, minis-, a minister from the very same place I did my training walked into my office and I think he might have been the director for that, that--

WILSON: In Zimbabwe?

HASH: And I helped him, we helped him fill out an application to get his green card so I haven't really had the chance to talk to him about, because I didn't realize it until, till after he had left when one 01:12:00of the students had talked to him about the specifics of it and he'd gotten political asylum here due to all the stuff that's been going on but you know, hope to talk to him more because I think he, he was probably there at the same time I was there. I just may not have really had the chance to run into him while I was there so but you know, we, we have a lot of African clients, a lot of Latin American clients and, and so it's, it's really fun work.

WILSON: And is, is this limited time funding or--?

HASH: My, my grant runs out in August and they've gotten some funding to, to keep the project going for about another year and then, after that we don't know.

WILSON: And so you hope to stay that period of time, that other year?


HASH: Yeah--


HASH: Yeah. Assuming everything else you know, stays the same.

WILSON: What, what do you think the, the impact of your Peace Corps experience was on your, you family?

HASH: I think that, well, my dad just thinks I'm crazy. He, he's like well, why don't you just go to Paris? I think you know, after that my dad really just was like okay, this is who you are. You're not going to be like me and so he's, I think he's learn to, to even learn about these countries as a result and surprisingly when I came back, he had learned quite a bit about the country which he would never have done before hand and I have two young half brothers who are the first one just entered college and the youngest one is about to and, and I think 01:14:00I'm the nice family representative of the rest of the world. I'm like why don't you go? It'd be great if you joined the Peace Corps. You should join the Peace Corps. You should study abroad in South America or Africa and I think that hopefully my brothers see another side, you know, of life too as a result. My mom's gotten you know more of it and she's seen more of the craziness. She was there when I got back and I did have some, some difficulties even though I was only in Zimbabwe for a short while, I did have a little bit of a, a time in readjusting. One of my favorite stories, my Peace Corps friends think it's hilarious but my other friends just they don't laugh when I tell this story but when I first got back, my mom had moved into a new house and she left for work the first day and so I got up to take a shower and I couldn't figure out how to make the shower head, it wasn't one of those normal ones where you pull the little thing up or whatever 01:15:00so me being used to taking a bucket bath, I just squatted and I just showered like this, you know, shucking up the water onto my head from the faucet. And I forgot the next day, she went to work, I forgot to ask. And I kept forgetting and I kept forgetting so about a week had past. And my mom finally had the day off and I said oh mom, by the way, how do you get the shower, the water to get out of the shower head rather than the faucet and she jiggled with it a little bit and she said well, gosh, I don't know so have you been using the other showers? I said no. She said what have you been doing and I got down and I showed her. I squatted down and was like I just bathed like this and I really think she almost thought therapy really at that point. But I just been so accustomed to it, I didn't, I thought running hot water was great, you know. And I had been looking so forward to a shower but at that point, I was just like oh well, it's okay but she showed me 01:16:00how and after that, I was like okay. But you know, little things like that, you know, and that's, you know, TV and movies and I was like what is this? I've never heard of this and this is odd and you know, just little things like that but I think my mom was really nervous when I went in and you know, she was really but she was very supportive and I think she was, it would have been nice if she'd had come to visit me. I think it would have opened her horizons quite a bit but--


WILSON: You think she would have done that if you'd been there the full term?

HASH: She and her boyfriend were planning to come and unfortunately I came back before they had made, they made it but when I later studied in Brazil for a semester in law school and she did come and I think if she hadn't had my Zimbabwe time to kind of prepare for the, the unknown, she wouldn't have come and so she's, you know, she's opened, you know, her horizons quite a bit and when I went to Brazil, she wasn't as, as scared as I think she would have been but I think it's also made us closer. She's, you know, really glad to have me around and she spoiled me a lot more now that I'm older than I was as a kid. After I came back but she's also just I think learned to appreciate you know and to be really, I think she's pretty proud of you know, the work I do and what I've done and so, you know, other than that--

WILSON: Well, you, I was going to ask you the question about whether you'd had any international experience since so you did go to Brazil? How, what was, what the circumstance for that?

HASH: It was, it was through my law school. I spent, it was kind of a, sort of an exchange but it was the opportunity I spent a semester studying in a Brazilian law school and, and that, you know, wasn't 01:18:00quite the Peace Corps but I think, you know, fortunately, I had the Peace Corp experience before I went because I was the only like American student probably in the entire, well, in the entire law school but maybe in the entire university and the only foreign student in the law school.

WILSON: What was the language of instruction?

HASH: Portuguese.

WILSON: And where did you pick up Portuguese?

HASH: I had taken Portuguese a little bit in college and--


HASH: I had taken classes before I left and then, I did a month long intensive language course before my courses started there.

WILSON: Okay, so you, you have Spanish, Portuguese and Shona?

HASH: A little bit of Shona.

WILSON: Oh, well, that's pretty good though.

HASH: Yeah--

WILSON: Three other languages

HASH: And I've done some traveling, you know, I've been to Mexico 01:19:00several times. I mean, I guess going from Texas, it's not quite as, as far a trip but I've been to Mexico four or five times probably since I've been back and I did try to go to India one summer when I was in law school as, it would have been like a cultural exchange but it would have been near the border with Pakistan but it was canceled due to the turmoil there so--

WILSON: So do you see--

HASH: I've been to Cuba, I've been to Cuba too, to Cuba after we got back.

WILSON: How did you manage to go to Cuba?

HASH: It was before they, they tightened the laws but it was through an organization called Global Exchange and they do kind of cultural, sort of political tours throughout the world in less developed countries for 01:20:00people to really learn about the culture and the political situation and they, they did a two week tour of Cuba and at the time, they were able to get kind of educational exchange visas for us. And so that's why I went. It was a bike tour where we, we visited hospitals and schools and, and, you know, had fun too.

WILSON: So you got out of Havana?

HASH: Most of it was spent out of Havana but we did spent maybe about total of four or so days in Havana.

WILSON: Okay, do you look forward to some more international--

HASH: Oh yeah

WILSON: Travel?

HASH: Yeah. I'm probably not going to be doing anything too soon because I have to save up some money and some vacation time and, and my mom's sick but after that, definitely.

WILSON: You sort of said earlier but let me maybe you'll expand, what 01:21:00do you, what do you think the impact of the Peace Corps experience has been on the way you look at the world? You said something about foreign policy but you didn't elaborate.

HASH: Well, you know, I want to, I learned to question a lot of what I, you know, what I read in the media and that can go both ways. A lot of the media representations of what was going on in the U.S. when I was in Zimbabwe and this is particularly when there were the, pretty much the anti-globalist protest in Seattle made it and the press we received in Zimbabwe made it sound like the entire U.S. was up in flames and people there were very concerned about my family and things. But you know, everything I had learned about you know Zimbabwe in politics and history and you know, sort of the, the global pol-, the foreign 01:22:00policies that sort of created that situation and that how it's been dealt with since, you know, that certainly changed because I got to go and see it firsthand and, and I don't think that the press is really, fully explain the situation behind it and you know, the complexities of U.S. foreign aid and, and how that's allocated or decided, you know, and, and cuts that have been made due to, you know, moral, you know, decisions, those have changed because I've got to see the other side of it but also the, you know, the strange restrictions that occur in the, you know, nothing is really being, the U.S. has very little you 01:23:00know, what's happened in Zimbabwe has gotten very little attention from the U.S. government, yet, certain other situations have and, and, and I've certainly, you know, I don't think before hand I really, really understood that. Although, I had taken a lot of classes about it but I think being there and, and, and being there when the change occurred and seeing what happened, just really made me question what our priorities were and if we had any. And sort of you know, what our role should be and like I said a lot of the, the donor mentality of putting a lot of restrictions and deciding how things need to be spent or how foreign aid needs to be spent when you're there and you're like well, I'm here and I don't even know the best way for things to be done, you 01:24:00know, and I did see a lot of the corruption and things that you know, I don't know that before I really understood all the complexities of, of everything but, but, but I think I got a, it changed my you know, perception of all of that.

WILSON: What do you, what do you think the over all impact of Peace Corps has been over the years?

HASH: Well, one, I hope that you know, I'm, and I think you know, now is a particularly, I mean, I think it might be really difficult to be a Peace Corps volunteer maybe today than it was you know, when I was in the Peace Corpa but you know, I think one is for you know, the experiences that it offers, you know, are, you know, the people who are, the volunteers but I hope that it also you know presents you know some 01:25:00what the sense, you know, it offers people to do work that needs to be done, you know, whatever that work is and hopefully that, that small changes in individual's lives can happen whether that be one student or it be a hundred, you know, if there are two more students you know in Zimbabwe who further their education, I think that's enough but I also hope that you know individual communities and individual people get a different view of, of an American, Americans than they do from you know, our politicians and you know, that there's some cultural good will, you know, as a result of, of you know, the work of Peace Corps and that, you know, that a lot of good can be done because of that.


WILSON: What do you think the role of the Peace Corps should be today or into the future?

HASH: I mean, I definitely think that the Peace Corps program, you know, should continue and, and hopefully expand but I don't know that I see like a definite role. I think it's just going you know depend and, and, in each country. It may be different in each community. It maybe different, you know, I think that's one thing I learned is that we shouldn't necessarily have a preconceived idea of how to save the world, you know and that it should be kind of a, sort of a learning and deciding process but hopefully, you know, it'll, by providing 01:27:00role models, you know, within the community and you know, like I said, providing you know, some more of a, of another face of the American population, you know than, than what's presented today, you know today.

WILSON: Okay, that's, that's all the sort of structured questions I have but what haven't I asked you that you would like to answer or are there other stories or anecdote that you would like to add?

HASH: I don't know. I've already shared my shower anecdote, story.

WILSON: That's a good story by the way. Well, if there isn't, that's 01:28:00fine too.

HASH: I think that's it.

[End of interview.]