Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Ananya Marathe, September 7, 2020

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

 

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00:00:01 - Decision to join Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: This is Evelyn Ganzglass.

Segment Synopsis: Marathe discusses how her undergraduate educational major in development studies and study abroad experience influenced her decision to enter the Peace Corps. She talks about her background as an Indian American and her childhood in the U.S.

Keywords: Career objectives; Childhood; Development studies; Development theory; Diversity; Immigration; Indian Americans; International development; Madagascar; Peace Corps; Study abroad; Undergraduate education

Subjects: East Indian American college students; East Indian American women; Education, Higher; Interpersonal relations and culture; Peace Corps (U.S)--2010-2020; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Madagascar; Universities and colleges

GPS: Augusta, Georgia
Map Coordinates: 33.466667, -81.966667
GPS: Salt Lake City, Utah
Map Coordinates: 40.760833, -111.891111
GPS: Cleveland, Ohio
Map Coordinates: 41.482222, -81.669722
00:04:18 - Application process for Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: Okay, so in, uh, college you decided--uh, this was undergraduate?

Segment Synopsis: Marathe gives a brief explanation of her Peace Corps application process, including discussions with a recruiter in Cleveland, Ohio and the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers that she met at the Cleveland Council on World Affairs.

Keywords: Geographic knowledge; Madagascar; Non-governmental organizations; Non-profit organizations; Peace Corps recruiters; Pre-service training; Returned Peace Corps volunteers; Undergraduate education

Subjects: Education, Higher; Nonprofit organizations; Peace Corps (U.S.); Voluntarism; Volunteers

GPS: Cleveland, Ohio
Map Coordinates: 41.482222, -81.669722
00:07:36 - Pre-service training in Philadelphia and travel to Madagascar for in-country training

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Partial Transcript: And where did you meet up with the rest of your group? Where was the staging in the United States?

Segment Synopsis: Marathe gives a description of meeting her training cohort for pre-service training in Philadelphia for health and agriculture volunteers. She gives an explanation for how she became interested in working in health while working for Carolina for Kibera, a health NGO, in Nairobi, Kenya while on a college study abroad program.

Keywords: Carolina for Kibera; Diversity in the Peace Corps; Income inequality; Indian Americans; Indian immigrants; International travel; Kenya; Kibera; Madagascar; Maternal child health; Motivations for service; Non-governmental organization; Nutrition; Philadelphia (Pa.); Pre-service training; Staging; Training centers; Undergraduate education

Subjects: East Indian American women; Education, Higher; Interpersonal relations and culture; Nonprofit organizations; Peace Corps (U.S)--2010-2020; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Madagascar; Voluntarism; Volunteer workers in community health services; Volunteers

GPS: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Map Coordinates: 39.952778, -75.163611
GPS: Antananarivo, Madagascar
Map Coordinates: -18.933333, 47.516667
GPS: Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya
Map Coordinates: -1.316667, 36.783333
00:13:14 - Arrival in Madagascar and initial Peace Corps training

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Partial Transcript: I don't even know. What is the capital of, um, Madagascar?

Segment Synopsis: Marathe gives a description of the location of the Peace Corps training center which she says was like a summer camp, and the training at the center.

Keywords: Health training; Host family; Language learning; Language training; Madagascar; Malagasy; Peace Corps staff; Pre-service training; Training centers

Subjects: Africa, French-speaking; Intercultural communication; Peace Corps (U.S)--2010-2020; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Madagascar; Voluntarism; Volunteers

GPS: Antananarivo, Madagascar
Map Coordinates: -18.933333, 47.516667
GPS: Mantasoa, Madagascar
Map Coordinates: -19.016667, 47.833333
00:17:14 - Peace Corps pre-service language training and site visit

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Partial Transcript: That's great. So the language training was, was really immersion training, living with a family--

Segment Synopsis: Marathe talks about the health training for her cohort. She discusses the topics they covered over the eight week period. She talks about their cultural training and language training based on which region their site was located in. She talks about how the culture varies from region to region. She talks about becoming friends with fellow volunteers.

Keywords: Cultural diversity; Cultural training; Health training; Language and cultural facilitators; Language diversity; Language variations; Madagascar geography; Madagascar regions; Malagasy; Other volunteers in training; Peace Corps friends; Peace Corps training; Site placement; Trainers; Training; Volunteers

Subjects: Communication and culture; Human geography--Africa; Intercultural communication; Language and culture; Language and languages; Peace Corps (U.S)--2010-2020; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Madagascar; Voluntarism; Volunteers

00:21:51 - Challenges of Peace Corps service and personal growth

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Partial Transcript: Well, I, I want to talk about what you did, but since you've talked about transforming your life, how did it transform your life?

Segment Synopsis: Marathe describes her change in self-confidence and her personal growth over the course of her Peace Corps service, and her changed sense of safety in a place that most Americans would probably consider "dangerous" compared to the U.S.

Keywords: Cultural adaptation; Personal challenges; Personal safety; Self-confidence; Social justice

Subjects: Peace Corps (U.S)--2010-2020; Peace Corps (U.S)--Madagascar; Peace Corps (U.S.); Public safety; Voluntarism; Volunteer workers in community development; Volunteers

00:24:16 - Initial impressions of Peace Corps site and starting work

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Partial Transcript: Really, really interesting. Well, let's talk a little bit about the actual work you did.

Segment Synopsis: Marathe talks about where she was assigned, in a village in the highlands of Madagascar. She talks about walking as her main transportation, being the first volunteer in her village, and her host family who worked as pharmacists and store owners. She talks about the cold weather in the highlands. She talks about her language skills and communication with people in the village.

Keywords: Climate; Dialects; English use; French (Language); Home stay; Host family; Housing; Language; Language learning; Madagascar geography; Malagasy (Language); Sites; Transportation

Subjects: Africa, French-speaking; Human geography--Africa; Intercultural communication; Language and culture; Language and languages; Mountain climate; Peace Corps (U.S)--Madagascar; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--2010-2020; Voluntarism; Volunteers

GPS: Antsirabe, Madagascar
Map Coordinates: -19.866667, 47.033333
GPS: Ambano, Madagascar
Map Coordinates: -19.8, 47.033333
00:28:42 - Peace Corps work in village and the importance of relationships and self-motivation

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Partial Transcript: Okay, so you worked for a pharmacist who's obviously in--I mean you lived with a pharmacist who is clearly in the health care field.

Segment Synopsis: Marathe talks about her work in the village. She talks about her relationships with people in the village and finding a counterpart. She talks about working at the clinic, helping health workers in other outlying villages, and initiating her own projects. She says the biggest need in her village was everyone wanting to learn English. She says her biggest impact was consistency and trust.

[Note: Video freezes from 29:04 to 29:15]

Keywords: Consistency; Cultural expectations; English language; Healthcare facilities; Host country expectations; Intercultural relations; Maternal-child health; On-the-job training; Professional expectations; Relationships with host-country nationals; Reliability; Self-motivation; Site visits; Teaching English as a second language; Trust; Work counterparts

Subjects: Intercultural communication; Interpersonal communication and culture; Interpersonal relations; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--2010-2020; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Madagascar; Voluntarism; Volunteer workers in community health services; Volunteers

00:35:48 - Peace Corps work in village

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Partial Transcript: Did you figure all of this out by yourself, or was that part of training as well?

Segment Synopsis: Marathe gives a description of the work culture in the village and a comparison of her motivations to the motivations of her Peace Corps peers.

Keywords: Career paths; Cultural adaptation; Development theory; Indian Americans; International development; Motivation; Relationships; Technical training; Work limitations

Subjects: East Indian American women; Intercultural communication; Interpersonal communication and culture; Interpersonal relations; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--2010-2020; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Madagascar; Voluntarism; Volunteers; Volunteers in community health

00:39:54 - Experience of having her parents visit her from India

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Partial Transcript: Well, I want to follow up on two things. Let's, let's--I'll divert for a moment with your parents coming.

Segment Synopsis: Marathe describes how her parents visited her in Madagascar from India, and how she felt that she had an opportunity to prove to them that she understood her privilege as an American but did not take it for granted.

Keywords: Career expectations; Ethnicity; Expectations; Family; Intercultural interaction; Motivation; Perceptions of Peace Corps; Relationships; Visits from home

Subjects: Culture; East Indian American women; Families.; Lifestyles; Peace Corps (U.S)--2010-2020; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Madagascar; Voluntarism; Volunteers

00:44:12 - Village life in the Central Highlands of Madagascar

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Partial Transcript: Well, let's go back to your, your little village. By the way, how big was this town--

Segment Synopsis: Marathe talks about her experiences going to a Peace Corps conference in Senegal with her counterpart, and about her impressions of travel in other areas of Madagascar.

Keywords: Air travel; Cultural differences; In-service training; Language and languages; Madagascar geography; Senegal; Transportation; Travel

Subjects: Dialects; Human geography--Africa; Language and culture; Language and languages; Peace Corps (U.S)--2010-2020; Peace Corps (U.S)--Madagascar; Peace Corps (U.S.); Voluntarism; Volunteers

GPS: Dakar (Senegal)
Map Coordinates: 14.666667, -17.416667
00:48:18 - Experiences in traveling in Madagascar as an Indian American

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Partial Transcript: How did people think of you as an Indian--well, did they know you were American?

Segment Synopsis: Marathe describes how she was perceived as an American and an Indian in Madagascar, and how it impacted her view of her own ethnicity where Malagasies already had perceptions based on local Indian citizens. She tells a story of going on a site exchange with another volunteer who was in a more tropical coastal region of Madagascar.

Keywords: Cultural diversity; Cultural expectations; Indian population in Madagascar; Madagascar geography; Madagascar regions; Perceptions of Indians in Madagascar; Perceptions of ethnicity; Site exchanges

Subjects: Culture; East Indian American women; Intercultural communication; Interpersonal communication and culture; Interpersonal relations; Interpersonal relations and culture; Lifestyles; Manners and customs; Minorities; Peace Corps (U.S.); Race relations; Voluntarism; Volunteers

00:52:50 - Reflections on Peace Corps staff in Madagascar

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Partial Transcript: What was your interaction with the Peace Corps staff?

Segment Synopsis: Thinking about the Peace Corps staff, both Malagasy and U.S.-based, Marathe has very positive comments. She thinks that Peace Corps experience is essential to being a member of the Peace Corps administration.

Keywords: Diversity of Peace Corps; Malagasy staff; Peace Corps employment; Peace Corps staff; Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs)

Subjects: Madagascar; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--2010-2020; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Madagascar; Voluntarism; Volunteers

00:55:06 - Departing Madagascar and the Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: So, a, as you--can you talk a little bit about your, your return?

Segment Synopsis: Marathe discusses her initial disappointment at going from Madagascar to India, where her parents were living at her close of service, and then her subsequent disappointment when she returned to the United States only to discover that it was not as she thought it would be. She felt that life was too mundane on re-entry to the U.S., and she longed for her life in Madagascar while she also felt very grateful for her affluence in the United States.

Keywords: Income inequality; India; Perceptions of United States; Post-Peace Corps employment; Post-Peace Corps travel; Poverty; Re-entry; Reverse culture shock

Subjects: Acculturation; Culture shock; East India; Madagascar; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--2010-2020; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Madagascar; Voluntarism; Volunteers

01:01:55 - Discussing Peace Corps with current colleagues

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Partial Transcript: Have you talked about this with your friends and your colleagues?

Segment Synopsis: Marathe talks about how her work colleagues and friends perceive her Peace Corps service, and the soft skills that she gained from the experience.

Keywords: Adaptability; Career expectations; Cultural imperialism; Facebook; Misinformation; Social media

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

01:05:25 - Opinions on Peace Corps recruiting in the 21st century

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Partial Transcript: How, how do you think Peace Corps should be recruiting people with that perspective from what you've just said?

Segment Synopsis: Marathe reflects on how Peace Corps is perceived in the corporate world, and how Peace Corps may think about their recruitment in the future.

Keywords: Benefits for RPCVs; COVID-19 (Disease); Corporate America; Diversity of Peace Corps; Facebook; National Peace Corps Association (NPCA); Non-governmental organizations; Peace Corps strategy; Perceptions of Peace Corps; RPCV career development; RPCV community; RPCV diversity; RPCV network; Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs)

Subjects: Madagascar; Peace Corps (U.S.); Social media; Voluntarism; Volunteers