Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Khloe Benton, August 28, 2020

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries

 

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00:00:00 - Interest in joining Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: This is Evelyn Ganzglass.

Segment Synopsis: Khloe Benton is introduced. She talks about her interest in travel and intercultural communication. She talks about her childhood, college education, and her travel and study abroad experiences prior to joining Peace Corps.

Keywords: Asia; Brazil; China; Dallas (Tex.); Experiences; Interests; International; Jamaica; Japan; Joining; Kenya; Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV); Study abroad; University of Arkansas; World

Subjects: Childhood; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; Communication and culture.; Culture.; Education, Higher; Intercultural communication.; Interpersonal communication and culture; Interpersonal relations and culture; Language and culture.; Language and languages.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Travel; Voluntarism.; Volunteer workers in education; Volunteers

GPS: Dallas (Tex.)
Map Coordinates: 32.779167, -96.808889
GPS: University of Arkansas
Map Coordinates: 36.068681, -94.176012
GPS: China
Map Coordinates: 35, 103
GPS: Japan
Map Coordinates: 36, 138
GPS: Kenya
Map Coordinates: 1, 38
GPS: Brazil
Map Coordinates: -10, -52
GPS: Jamaica
Map Coordinates: 18.18, -77.4
00:03:54 - Parents' reactions / Application process

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Partial Transcript: What did your parents think about you applying for the Peace Corps?

Segment Synopsis: Benton talks about how her parents and friends reacted when she joined Peace Corps. She describes her application, interview, and her choice to go to China.

Keywords: Application process; Applications; Choices; Decisions; Friends; Interviews; Invitations; Parents; Reactions; Support

Subjects: Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--China; Travel; Voluntarism.; Volunteers

GPS: China
Map Coordinates: 35, 103
00:05:34 - Training in Chengdu, Sichuan, China

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Partial Transcript: So how many people were in your group?

Segment Synopsis: Benton talks about her cohort, staging in California, and traveling to Chengdu, Sichuan, China. She talks about her language and cultural training and her practicum to prepare for teaching. She talks about her fellow volunteers.

Keywords: American culture; Americans; Bonding; California; Chengdu (China); Chengdu, Sichuan (China); Cohorts; English (Language); Friends; Intense; Leaving; People of color; Practice; Practicum; Relationships; Safety; Staging; Support; Training

Subjects: Acculturation.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Communication and culture.; Culture shock; Culture.; Intercultural communication.; Interpersonal communication and culture; Interpersonal relations and culture; Language and culture.; Language and languages.; Minorities.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--China; Race discrimination; Race relations; Racism; Teachers; Teaching; Travel; Voluntarism.; Volunteer workers in education; Volunteers

GPS: Chengdu, Sichuan (China)
Map Coordinates: 30.657, 104.066
00:11:13 - Host family during training

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Partial Transcript: Well talk about your host family. What was that like?

Segment Synopsis: Benton describes the host family she lived with during training. She speaks about her relationship with her young host sister, which began pleasantly but ended unhappily, possibly due to jealousy on the part of her host sister who had grown up as an only child.

Keywords: Attitudes; Behavior; Chengdu (China); Chengdu, Sichuan (China); Children; Host families; Host family; Host mothers; Host sisters; Jealousy; Only children; Relationships; Standard Chinese (Language); Trainers

Subjects: Acculturation.; Communication and culture.; Culture.; Intercultural communication.; Interpersonal communication and culture; Interpersonal relations and culture; Language and culture.; Language and languages.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--China; Travel; Voluntarism.; Volunteers

GPS: Chengdu, Sichuan (China)
Map Coordinates: 30.657, 104.066
00:15:29 - Teaching in Gansu Province, China

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Partial Transcript: So you were there for two or three months in Chengdu and then where were you assigned?

Segment Synopsis: Benton describes Gansu Province, China as being more traditional than the other areas she had visited. She talks about being trained to be careful about discussing taboo topics like race and same sex marriage, as well as preparation for being under surveillance at all times. She talks about the need to be flexible in her plans. She talks about teaching English to three different classes at Lanzhou University and the attitudes among the various students.

Keywords: Administration; Assignments; Careful; Classes; Control; Departments; Difficulty; English (Language); Flexibility; Gansu Province (China); International community; Judging; Lanzhou (China); Lanzhou University; Muslims; People of color; Posts; Rules; Safety; Same sex marriage; Sites; Students; Surveillance; Taboo topics; Taiwan; Tourism; Traditional; Watched

Subjects: Acculturation.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Communication and culture.; Culture shock; Culture.; Intercultural communication.; Interpersonal communication and culture; Interpersonal relations and culture; Language and culture.; Language and languages.; Minorities.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--China; Politics and government; Race discrimination; Race relations; Racism; Teachers; Teaching; Travel; Voluntarism.; Volunteer workers in education; Volunteers

GPS: Gansu Province (China)
Map Coordinates: 38, 102
GPS: Lanzhou (China)
Map Coordinates: 36.0606, 103.8268
00:22:25 - Experiences as an African American woman in China

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Partial Transcript: So do you think you were treated differently than, let's say, a man or--

Segment Synopsis: Benton discusses the challenges she faced as a woman of color in China. She talks about her superiors often having meetings and passing messages to her through her white male site mate, despite her attempts to communicate with them directly.

Keywords: Attitudes; Behavior; English (Language); Females; Gender discrimination; Gender roles; Lanzhou (China); Lanzhou University; Males; Men; Metropolitan; People of color; Progressive; Sex discrimination; Sexism; Site mates; Standard Chinese (Language); Traditional; Treatment; White people; Women

Subjects: Acculturation.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Communication and culture.; Culture shock; Culture.; Intercultural communication.; Interpersonal communication and culture; Interpersonal relations and culture; Language and culture.; Language and languages.; Minorities.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--China; Race discrimination; Race relations; Racism; Teachers; Teaching; Travel; Voluntarism.; Volunteer workers in education; Volunteers

GPS: Lanzhou University
Map Coordinates: 36.046611, 103.858056
GPS: Lanzhou (China)
Map Coordinates: 36.0606, 103.8268
00:25:51 - More on teaching in Gansu Province, China

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Partial Transcript: And you said there was a heavy Muslim population.

Segment Synopsis: Benton talks more about teaching English at Lanzhou University. She talks about how her Muslim students were treated by their peers and she talks about forming relationships with her students.

Keywords: Bullying; Cities; City; English (Language); Exposure; Lanzhou (China); Lanzhou University; Learning; Muslims; Students

Subjects: Acculturation.; Communication and culture.; Culture.; Intercultural communication.; Interpersonal communication and culture; Interpersonal relations and culture; Language and culture.; Language and languages.; Minorities.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--China; Teachers; Teaching; Travel; Voluntarism.; Volunteer workers in education; Volunteers

GPS: Lanzhou University
Map Coordinates: 36.046611, 103.858056
GPS: Lanzhou (China)
Map Coordinates: 36.0606, 103.8268
00:28:21 - Living situation and recreation in Gansu Province, China

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Partial Transcript: And, and what were your living quarters like?

Segment Synopsis: Benton describes her apartment and living conditions. She talks about what she did in her free time. She talks about her discomfort at being in public due to stares and questions from strangers about her being an outsider.

Keywords: Amenities; Apartments; Community; Curiosity; Dancing; De-stress; Foreigners; Gansu Province (China); Gyms; Living conditions; Living situations; Museums; Outsiders; Photographs; Recreation; Retired teachers; Stares; Students; Walking; Walks; Welcome

Subjects: Acculturation.; African Americans--Social conditions.; Communication and culture.; Culture shock; Culture.; Intercultural communication.; Interpersonal communication and culture; Interpersonal relations and culture; Minorities.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--China; Race discrimination; Race relations; Racism; Teachers; Teaching; Travel; Voluntarism.; Volunteer workers in education; Volunteers

GPS: Gansu Province (China)
Map Coordinates: 38, 102
00:33:29 - Lessons learned during her Peace Corps service / Political pressure in China

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Partial Transcript: So as you think back at this whole experience, um, how do you think about it?

Segment Synopsis: Benton talks about some of the lessons she learned during her time in China. She talks more about political pressure and surveillance in China.

Keywords: Acclimation; Adaptation; Control; Empowerment; Flexibility; Learning; Lessons; Political pressure; Resilience; Resilient; Rules; Social media; Students; Surveillance; Time; Training; Views

Subjects: Acculturation.; Communication and culture.; Culture.; Intercultural communication.; Interpersonal communication and culture; Interpersonal relations and culture; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--China; Politics and government; Travel; Voluntarism.; Volunteers

GPS: China
Map Coordinates: 35, 103
00:36:52 - Peace Corps program closing in China

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Partial Transcript: And so, how di--how did the whole--how did you hear about the program closing?

Segment Synopsis: Benton talks about learning that the Peace Corps program in China would be closing and being immediately sent back to the United States. She talks about the reason they were given for the closing of the program.

Keywords: COVID-19 (Disease); Closing; Contact; Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); Ending; Evacuated; Evacuation; Home; In touch; In-Service Training (IST); Political pressure; Quarantine; Resources

Subjects: Culture.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--China; Politics and government; Travel; Voluntarism.; Volunteer workers in education; Volunteers

GPS: China
Map Coordinates: 35, 103
00:39:34 - Future plans

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Partial Transcript: And do you know what you want to do next?

Segment Synopsis: Benton talks about her future plans, including applying for a teaching program in Japan as well as a master's degree program in Taiwan. She talks about why she would not choose to return to the Peace Corps in China at this time.

Keywords: Challenges; China; Comfort zones; Fulbright Program; Fulbright Scholarships; International communication; Japan; Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme; Master's degrees; Self-care; Taiwan

Subjects: Communication and culture.; Culture.; Education, Higher; Intercultural communication.; Interpersonal communication and culture; Interpersonal relations and culture; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--China; Teachers; Teaching; Travel; Voluntarism.; Volunteer workers in education; Volunteers

GPS: Japan
Map Coordinates: 36, 138
GPS: Taiwan
Map Coordinates: 24, 121
GPS: China
Map Coordinates: 35, 103
00:41:57 - Impact of her Peace Corps service

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Partial Transcript: So the, the three goals of Peace Corps.

Segment Synopsis: Benton talks about her impact on her students in China and the connections she formed. She talks about her personal writings about her experiences.

Keywords: American culture; Americans; Connections; Cultural exchange; Family; First Goal; Food; Friends; Goals; Impact; Journals; Poems; Poetry; Relationships; Second Goal; Third Goal; Writing

Subjects: Communication and culture.; Culture.; Intercultural communication.; Interpersonal communication and culture; Interpersonal relations and culture; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--China; Teachers; Teaching; Travel; Voluntarism.; Volunteer workers in education; Volunteers

GPS: China
Map Coordinates: 35, 103
00:44:08 - Peace Corps' recruitment of minority volunteers

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Partial Transcript: So you--you're probably aware that there's a lot of conversation about where Peace Corps should be going in the future...

Segment Synopsis: Benton talks about her ideas for how the Peace Corps should support and recruit more minority volunteers in the future.

Keywords: Applications; Country directors; Future; Inclusive; People of color; Preparation; Recruiting; Recruitment; Roles; Support; Training

Subjects: African Americans--Social conditions.; Communication and culture.; Culture.; Intercultural communication.; Interpersonal communication and culture; Interpersonal relations and culture; Minorities.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Race relations; Travel; Voluntarism.; Volunteers

00:47:16 - Experience of returning home to the United States

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Partial Transcript: So are, are there other things that you wanted to talk about that I didn't ask you about?

Segment Synopsis: Benton talks about her lack of culture shock upon returning home and having to leave her belongings in China during her evacuation. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Belongings; COVID-19 (Disease); Closure; Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); Home; Leaving; Normal

Subjects: Acculturation.; Culture.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--China; Travel; Voluntarism.; Volunteers