Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Erica Frenkel, October 7, 2020

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

 

Transcript
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Index
Search this Index
X
00:00:00 - Introduction of experience in the Peace Corps

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Alright, today is October 13th, I think? Tuesday. And I'm here with Erica and my name is Hana Admassu and I was a Peace Corps volunteer from 2016 to 2020--actually--2020 in Ukraine and so I'm going to go ahead and start.

Segment Synopsis: Erica Frenkel introduces herself and gives a brief overview of the work she did in El Salvador as a Peace Corps volunteer.

Keywords: Rural health and sanitation

Subjects: Peace Corps (U.S.)--El Salvador; Public health.; Voluntarism.; Volunteer workers in community health services

00:01:33 - College education and work experience

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Yeah, that's okay. Yeah, I'm glad. Like my next question is like what were you doing before you joined the Peace Corps?

Segment Synopsis: Frenkel talks about her time in college at the University of Pennsylvania before joining the Peace Corps. She talks about spending her time travelling and how she made the decision to join the Peace Corps.

Keywords: International development; Study abroad

Subjects: Education, Higher.; Foreign study.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Travel.

00:03:41 - Applying for the Peace Corps

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Okay, and how is the like application process and applying for Peace Corps? Did you choose your own country or like they chose it for you?

Segment Synopsis: Frenkel talks about applying for the Peace Corps and picking a region of the world to volunteer in. She talks about how speaking Spanish helped her get a position working in public health.

Keywords: Application process; Rural health and sanitation; Spanish (Language)

Subjects: Language and languages.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Public health.; Spanish language.; Teaching.; Volunteer workers in community health services

00:05:35 - Reactions from family and friends

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Great. That's awesome. So, I--what about your family and friends? Did they think you were crazy or--

Segment Synopsis: Frenkel talks about how her family and those around her reacted to her deciding to volunteer with the Peace Corps.

Keywords: Family; Reactions from family

Subjects: Developing countries.; El Salvador.; Families.; Parents.; Peace Corps (U.S.)

00:08:25 - Initial reactions to El Salvador / Benefits of knowing Spanish

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Okay, great. And so how was your, I guess, initial reaction when you get to El Salvador? Like your reaction about the place, the environment, the people? Was it something that you expected or did you go in without any expectations? How was it like?

Segment Synopsis: Frenkel talks about her first impressions of El Salvador, including being surprised by the living conditions in the rural areas. She talks about how knowing Spanish benefited her and how she had to adjust to some of the language practices in El Salvador.

Keywords: Cultural differences; Cultural integration; Expectations; First impressions; Formal language; Initial reactions; Language differences; Spanish (Language); Subjunctive Spanish; Volunteer training

Subjects: Acculturation; Culture shock; El Salvador.; Language and culture.; Lifestyles.; Manners and customs.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--El Salvador.; Rural conditions.; Slang.; Spanish language.

00:14:20 - Thoughts about the training she received

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Okay, great. Uh, what about training? Like did you feel like the training that you received kind of prepared you to, I guess, to be effective in your job or so just to integrate in the culture more?

Segment Synopsis: Frenkel talks about how the training she received before she began her work as a Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador impacted her experience. She talks about the training she received to work as a public health volunteer and how it may have influenced how she approached her community.

Keywords: Health issues; Medical advice; Peace Corps training; Public health interventions

Subjects: Communication and culture.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--El Salvador; Public health.; Volunteer workers in community health services

00:17:10 - Main volunteer site / Dealing with isolation

Play segment

Partial Transcript: And so once you--so what was your site? Like where did you work as your main site and, again, also what was your experience?

Segment Synopsis: Frenkel describes the rural community she was a part of while she volunteered in El Salvador. She talks about how often she communicated with other volunteers and how the isolation impacted her experience. She also talks about experiencing catcalling in the community and how she dealt with it.

Keywords: Catcalling; Isolation; Rural communities; Street harassment; Verbal harassment

Subjects: El Salvador; Interpersonal relations; Language and culture.; Lifestyles; Manners and customs.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--El Salvador; Rural conditions.; Sexism; Tourist camps, hostels, etc.; Travel.; Villages; Volunteers.

00:24:48 - Challenges faced while volunteering

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So, I guess besides, you know, language and you know, like, water you mentioned, was there any challenges you faced in terms of I guess work, for example?

Segment Synopsis: Frenkel talks about struggling with knowing what to do when she first arrived in El Salvador. She talks about organizing the community to help build a school. She talks about how some projects were not always a success.

Keywords: Breeding rabbits; Building schools; Challenges; Free time; Health interventions; Projects; Rural schools; Work schedules

Subjects: Community development.; Education.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--El Salvador; School management and organization.; Schools.; Voluntarism.

00:32:20 - The three goals of the Peace Corps

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Okay, so I guess in terms of the Peace Corps. Three goals. So how was--I guess, do you feel like your service, your training, and everything and the goals, they kind of a--align with each other and do you feel like you accomplished most of it?

Segment Synopsis: Frenkel talks about her efforts to teach others in the United States about El Salvador as part of the three goals of the Peace Corps. She talks about how the country has changed since she left. She talks about how she is fulfilling the first two goals of the Peace Corps.

Keywords: Human resource; Immigration; Rural areas; Three goals of the Peace Corps

Subjects: El Salvador.; Gangs.; Immigrants.; Intercultural communication; Lifestyles.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--El Salvador

00:37:19 - Stereotypes about Americans in El Salvador

Play segment

Partial Transcript: How about the expectation of Americans? Like how, how did they perceive you? Because I know like a lot of times I know Ukraine they have this preconceived notion of Americans being rich or, you know, like they have everything.

Segment Synopsis: Frenkel talks about how the people she interacted with in El Salvador viewed Americans and the United States. She talks about some of their realistic views of America.

Keywords: Economic opportunities; Expectations of Americans; Immigration; Stereotypes; Stereotypical Americans

Subjects: El Salvador.; Immigrants.; Intercultural communication; Lifestyles; Manners and customs; Minorities.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--El Salvador; Racism.

00:40:25 - Opinions on the Peace Corps today

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So my other question is, do you think Peace Corps is valuable in today's world and should it continue to exist? And if you do think so why or why--why not?

Segment Synopsis: Frenkel talks about why she thinks the Peace Corps is still valuable today and brings up some of the challenges it faces.

Keywords: Biases; Changes in the Peace Corps; Concerns; Travelling

Subjects: International travel.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Voluntarism.