Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Capp Yess, April 1, 2006

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Early life and education / Peace Corps training

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Partial Transcript: Peace Corps Oral History Project interview with Capp Yess of Morehead, Kentucky April 1st, 2006, interviewer Jack Wilson.

Segment Synopsis: Capp Yess was born in Waseca, Minnesota and moved around Minnesota throughout his childhood. He went to college at Bemidji State University, Minnesota as a physics major. He was accepted in the Peace Corps to Ghana but received a job offer teaching at a small community college in Wyoming and postponed the Peace Corps for a year. He taught physics, general science, and computer languages at the community college. When he finally went to Peace Corps, he was assigned to Fiji. He was part of a teaching program at a rural, Indian school. The training involved intense language and cross cultural training. They lived with host national families and went to various places to see the island. They were encouraged to go to church, Hindu temples, and mosques. After a few weeks, they went back to the capital city and were housed at a teacher school and were given some basic teacher training and taught a summer school. Total training was about ten weeks. Yess was taught Hindi.

Keywords: Computer languages; Programming languages

Subjects: Bemidji State University; Church buildings.; Community colleges.; Computer programming.; Education, Higher.; Fiji; General science program; Hindi language.; Hindu temples.; Indians.; Mosques; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Fiji.; Physics.; Programming languages (Electronic computers); Rural; Second language learning.; Teaching.; Waseca (Minn.); Wyoming.

GPS: Waseca (Minn.)
Map Coordinates: 44.0776, -93.507478
GPS: Wyoming
Map Coordinates: 43, -107.5
GPS: Bemidji State University
Map Coordinates: 47.48175, -94.87557
GPS: Fiji
Map Coordinates: -18, 179
00:14:50 - Teaching experiences in Fiji / Living situation

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Partial Transcript: Um, alright, so, uh, you had started to, uh, talk about, uh, your assignment and the, the process of, of that assignment.

Segment Synopsis: Yess describes some of his initial experiences with his host family. He was assigned to an Indian settlement called Vanua Levu that was outside Labasa. There were government schools and non-government schools that required tuition. His school was governed by a school board of local people and children paid fees to go to the school. Most of students were Indian students and farm children. The school was starting an extra year beyond high school to simulate the first year of university. He taught physics, chemistry, and math to this class. They did not have materials to teach physics so that subject was dropped. He tells a story about a receiving a material that when combined with water resulted in an explosion and fire. Yess lived in a converted classroom in an elementary school side building. He describes his shower experience and his general living situation without electricity. He describes the lunches he would receive from women in the community, as well as the one time he attempted and failed to make spaghetti.

Keywords: Curries; Farm children; Farming; Living conditions; Living situations; Rotis; Sodium metal

Subjects: Agriculture.; Bathing customs; Chemistry.; Chickens.; Education, Secondary.; Education.; Elementary schools; Fiji; Flatbreads; Food habits.; Food.; High schools; Indians.; Kerosene lamps.; Lamb (Meat); Lambasa (Fiji); Mathematics.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Fiji.; Physics.; Public schools.; Schools.; Sodium; Students.; Tuition; Vanua Levu (Fiji)

GPS: Vanua Levu (Fiji)
Map Coordinates: -16.583333, 179.183333
GPS: Lambasa (Fiji)
Map Coordinates: -16.433333, 179.366667
GPS: Fiji
Map Coordinates: -18, 179
00:33:34 - Daily life and recreation

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Partial Transcript: Tell me something about how you became acclimated, or what was the most difficult part of becoming acclimated in your--in Fiji?

Segment Synopsis: Yess says he was invited to people's homes often, but staying with other people wore on him. He mentions another family who lived in the compound with him who were really gracious towards him. He befriended their children and they would talk, go for walks, go to festivals at the temples, go to weddings, and play soccer. As a single young male, he was often matched with young women and he didn't like this aspect. He describes an issue that arose with contrasting teaching styles between his style and the style in Fiji. He describes a typical day. He would wake up early, cook breakfast, take a shower, and walk to school, often with the students. He would teach and oversee the student chores. He would often play soccer after school and then eat supper and interact with the headmaster. Every Thursday night, there would be different groups at the temples and they would sing the text of the Ramayan and then there would be Prasad, a blessing. He describes someone who came from VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) and his experiences with him.

Keywords: Cultural differences; Kava; Kava kava; Ramayan; Ramayana; Yangona

Subjects: Beaches.; Beer.; Camping.; Conversation.; Couples.; Culture shock.; Dates (Social engagements); Dating (Social customs); Education.; Festivals.; Fiji; Fishing.; Friendship.; Hindu temples.; Hinduism.; Hobbies.; Interpersonal relations; Kava plant; Leisure.; Lifestyles.; Manners and customs; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Fiji.; Prasà„da; Recreation.; Religion.; Soccer.; Sports.; Teaching.; Voluntary Service Overseas; Walking.; Weddings.

GPS: Fiji
Map Coordinates: -18, 179
00:51:30 - Memorable stories in Fiji

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Partial Transcript: Um, I think you were going to tell me a transportation story.

Segment Synopsis: Yess tells a story of when his friend visited and they traveled to a neighboring island and had transportation issues. He states that he traveled a lot in Fiji but not out of the country. He describes his summer project with computers donated by the Peace Corps. They taught summer school in the morning in Lambasa with six classrooms of students. They had to have a lottery to decide who got to participate. His time in Fiji ended with him marrying a Fijian woman. He describes his experience of Fijian churches, which had no pews and had seating divided by gender. He accidentally sat with the choir on his first day there.

Keywords: Church choirs

Subjects: Buses; Choirs (Music); Christianity.; Church buildings.; Church choirs, vocal groups & preachers; Computers.; Ferries; Fiji; Friendship.; Hindi language.; Interpersonal relations; Lambasa (Fiji); Manners and customs; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Fiji.; Savusavu (Fiji); Summer schools; Transportation.; Travel.

GPS: Lambasa (Fiji)
Map Coordinates: -16.433333, 179.366667
GPS: Savusavu (Fiji)
Map Coordinates: -16.746667, 179.358333
GPS: Fiji
Map Coordinates: -18, 179
01:04:13 - Marrying a Fijian woman

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Partial Transcript: So, uh, your s--your volunteer service ended when?

Segment Synopsis: When Yess's Peace Corps service ended, he stayed on and worked for the next training mission. He moved into the capital city and met with volunteers he knew. He made a friend and started jogging and swimming together and they dated for nine months. He then traveled alone in Southeast Asia for six weeks and at the end of this traveling, he called and proposed to her. He describes their process of getting married.

Keywords: Wife; Wives

Subjects: Bangkok (Thailand); Citizenship.; Couples.; Dates (Social engagements); Dating (Social customs); Dysentery.; Families.; Fiji; Friendship.; Hindu women; Hospitals.; Interpersonal relations; Lifestyles.; Manners and customs; Marriage customs and rites.; Marriage.; Minneapolis (Minn.); Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Fiji.; Southeast Asia.; Suva (Fiji); United States.; Weddings.

GPS: Fiji
Map Coordinates: -18, 179
GPS: Bangkok (Thailand)
Map Coordinates: 13.7525, 100.494167
GPS: Minneapolis (Minn.)
Map Coordinates: 44.981944, -93.269167
GPS: Suva (Fiji)
Map Coordinates: -18.1416, 178.4419
01:15:05 - Life after Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: What were your actual, uh, responsibilities relative to the training program?

Segment Synopsis: Yess acted as an assistant for education training, helping to arrange summer school training for teachers and acted as principal for the summer training. He also assisted with health education training. He traveled through Southeast Asia (Nauru, Thailand, Burma, India, and Hong Kong). He describes his return to the U.S. and the sort of culture shock he experienced upon his return, specifically mentioning the faster pace of life and the consumerist-oriented lifestyle. He returned to Minnesota and attended the University of Minnesota for the first year and then moved to Bozeman, Montana and attended graduate school at Montana State University and got a master's degree in physics. His wife got pregnant and they moved to New York and he taught at a community college. They moved to the Virgin Islands for three years and then moved to Lawrence, Kansas where he got his doctorate. They separated but moved together to Kentucky.

Keywords: Consumerism; Grocery stores; Montana State University; Pace of life

Subjects: Bozeman (Mont.); Burma.; Community colleges.; Consumption (Economics); Culture shock.; Education.; Fiji; Grocery trade; Health education.; Hong Kong (China); India.; Lawrence (Kan.); Lexington (Ky.); Material culture.; Montana State University; Morehead (Ky.); Nauru; New York (State); Northern Kentucky University; Occupational training.; Physics.; Pregnancy.; Southeast Asia.; Teachers--Training of.; Technology.; Thailand.; Training; Travel.; University of Minnesota; University of the Virgin Islands; Virgin Islands

GPS: Nauru
Map Coordinates: -0.533333, 166.916667
GPS: India
Map Coordinates: 21, 78
GPS: Burma
Map Coordinates: 22, 96
GPS: Thailand
Map Coordinates: 15, 101
GPS: Hong Kong (China)
Map Coordinates: 22.3, 114.2
GPS: University of Minnesota
Map Coordinates: 44.974747, -93.235353
GPS: Bozeman (Mont.)
Map Coordinates: 45.677778, -111.047222
GPS: Montana State University
Map Coordinates: 45.668333, -111.05
GPS: New York (State)
Map Coordinates: 43, -75
GPS: Virgin Islands
Map Coordinates: 18.35, -64.933333
GPS: Lawrence (Kan.)
Map Coordinates: 38.971667, -95.235278
GPS: Morehead (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.183611, -83.441111
GPS: Lexington (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.029722, -84.494722
GPS: Northern Kentucky University
Map Coordinates: 39.031944, -84.465278
GPS: Fiji
Map Coordinates: -18, 179
01:22:50 - Impact of Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: What do you think the impact of your Peace Corps experience was, uh, on Fiji and people in Fiji?

Segment Synopsis: Yess thinks he was instrumental in helping students gain an education. He thinks Peace Corps gave him a broader view of politics and life in different countries. He says Fijians had positive prejudices towards Americans. He is still in contact with a friend from Peace Corps. He and his former wife had taken their son back to Fiji three times. Peace Corps influenced his decision to come to Morehead, Kentucky because he wanted to live in a small town. Peace Corps helped him get the job in Morehead because Morehead served Appalachia. He describes in general terms his international experience. He describes his reaction to arranged marriages in Fiji and how it changed over time. He thinks Peace Corps helps to broaden insular minds and helps to counter mindsets based in superiority.

Keywords: Americans; Assumptions; Culture; Perceptions; Professors

Subjects: Appalachian Region.; Arranged marriage.; Astronomy.; Astrophysics.; Careers.; College teachers; Cosmology.; Cultural awareness.; Discrimination.; Education.; Fiji; Friendship.; Intercultural communication; International relations; Interpersonal relations; Lifestyles.; Manners and customs; Marriage.; Morehead State University; Multiculturalism.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Fiji.; Politics, Practical.; Prejudices.; Social interaction.; Toleration.; Travel.

GPS: Morehead State University
Map Coordinates: 38.189, -83.431
GPS: Appalachian Region
Map Coordinates: 38.8, -81
GPS: Fiji
Map Coordinates: -18, 179