Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Sarah Twing, October 10, 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 - Experiences before joining Peace Corps

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Today is October 11, 2020. This is Randolph Adams who served in the Dominican Republic from 1966 to 1969. And, I'm interviewing Sarah Ann Twing who was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic from August 2013 to October--(audio cuts out)--. In the Peace Corps, Sarah served in the youth development sector.

Segment Synopsis: Twing was born in Uzbekistan. After several years in an orphanage, Twing was adopted and brought to grow up in Los Angeles. Twing was inspired to give back to her country, in part, by her brother who joined the Navy. Twing attended high school in Virginia and later attended college in Pennsylvania. While a college student, Twing spent time in Egypt. During her last two summers in college, Twing joined AmeriCorps and worked with refugee youth. Twing appreciates the opportunities she received by coming to the U.S. Twing applied to the Peace Corps to travel more abroad and to give back to others.

Keywords: Adoption; Altruism; AmeriCorps; Applying; Arabic (Language); Asian Americans; Childhood; College majors; First generation Americans; High schools; Identity; Influences; Los Angeles (Calif.); Moscow (Russia); Motivation; Pennsylvania; Siblings; Study abroad; Tashkent (Russia); Traveling; Undergraduate education; Virginia; Volunteering; Young people

Subjects: Canada; College students--Employment; Egypt; Emigration and immigration; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Health; Immigrants; International travel; Language and languages; Mexico; Multiracial families; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--2010-2020; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic; Sudan; Uzbekistan; Voluntarism; Volunteers

GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
GPS: Uzbekistan
Map Coordinates: 42, 63
GPS: Tashkent (Russia) [now Tashkent (Uzbekistan)]
Map Coordinates: 41.3, 69.266667
GPS: Los Angeles (Calif.)
Map Coordinates: 34.05, -118.25
GPS: Virginia
Map Coordinates: 37.5215, -78.8537
GPS: Pennsylvania
Map Coordinates: 40.8781, -77.7996
GPS: Egypt
Map Coordinates: 26, 30
GPS: Canada
Map Coordinates: 60, -110
GPS: Mexico
Map Coordinates: 23, -102
GPS: Ethiopia
Map Coordinates: 9, 38.7
GPS: Sudan
Map Coordinates: 15, 32
GPS: Eritrea
Map Coordinates: 15, 39
GPS: Moscow (Russia)
Map Coordinates: 55.755833, 37.617222
00:05:02 - Peace Corps application process

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What was the application process like?

Segment Synopsis: It took Twing about a month to complete the application. Over the course of her subsequent telephone interview, Twing was invited to join the Peace Corps. Twing accepted and stated a preference not to serve in Latin America as she was not interested in learning additional Spanish. Twing became aware of the Peace Corps while in college and thought it would be a natural continuation from AmeriCorps.

Keywords: Allegheny College; AmeriCorps; Applications; Arabic (Language); Berkeley (Calif.); Career paths; French (Language); Friends; Invitations; Peace Corps interviews; Peace Corps recruiters; Telephone calls; Waiting periods

Subjects: Egypt; Language and languages; Latin America; Peace Corps (U.S.); Universities and colleges; Voluntarism; Volunteers; Washington (D.C.)

GPS: Berkeley (Calif.)
Map Coordinates: 37.871667, -122.272778
GPS: Allegheny College
Map Coordinates: 41.6498, -80.145
GPS: Washington (D.C.)
Map Coordinates: 38.904722, -77.016389
GPS: Egypt
Map Coordinates: 26, 30
GPS: Latin America
Map Coordinates: -9.066609, -113.32832
00:09:43 - Reactions to her joining Peace Corps

Play segment

Partial Transcript: --(audio cuts out)--was the reaction of your parents and your friends once you got accepted?

Segment Synopsis: Twing's father accepted her decision. Twing's mother was shocked and concerned about the financial implications. Twing's friends and classmates were excited and supportive.

Keywords: Excited; Family; Friends; Support; Waiting periods

Subjects: Emotions; Families.; Finance; Parents; Peace Corps (U.S.); Voluntarism; Volunteers

00:12:44 - Pre-service training

Play segment

Partial Transcript: And then, I went to D.C. for my, um, was it IST? I can't remember what they call it.

Segment Synopsis: Twing's cohort had a staging in Washington, D.C. Twing's pre-service training occurred at Pantoja, close to Santo Domingo, and the trainees stayed with host families. For the second part of pre-service training, the trainees were moved to another locale and divided according to sector. They again lived with host families and emphasis was more on technical training. There were about 20 trainees in Twing's sector. Twing goes into detail about the different aspects of training. Twing states that more training in Creole would have been helpful for her assignment.

Keywords: Acclimation; Changes; Chicago (Ill.); Creole (Language); Cultural training; Deaths; Disappointment; Don Gregorio (Dominican Republic); Excited; Extensions; Host families; Language training; Pantoja (Dominican Republic); Preparation; Safety and security training; Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic); Staging; Support; Technical training; Traveling

Subjects: Acculturation; Dominican Republic; Emotions; International travel; Interpersonal relations; Language and languages; Peace Corps (U.S.); Voluntarism; Volunteers; Washington (D.C.)

GPS: Washington (D.C.)
Map Coordinates: 38.904722, -77.016389
GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
GPS: Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.466667, -69.95
GPS: Don Gregorio (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.231389, -70.199440
GPS: Pantoja (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.5249436, -70.0185788
GPS: Chicago (Ill.)
Map Coordinates: 41.881944, -87.627718
00:28:47 - Assignment

Play segment

Partial Transcript: --(audio cuts out)--during training where you might be assigned?

Segment Synopsis: Because she had come from an orphanage and had grown up in Los Angeles, Twing requested a challenging, rural assignment. Accordingly, Twing was assigned to Batey 80. Twing gives a description of a batey, a sugar plantation community.

Keywords: Batey 80 (Dominican Republic); Los Angeles (Calif.); Peace Corps interviews; Rural areas

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

GPS: Los Angeles (Calif.)
Map Coordinates: 34.05, -118.25
GPS: Batey 80 (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.5868323, -68.9575713
00:32:25 - First impressions of her assignment

Play segment

Partial Transcript: --(audio cuts out)--finally, uh, actually got to the Batey 80. Uh, what was your reaction?

Segment Synopsis: Twing was surprised to be in a community of only 30 houses, a school, and about 300 people. However, the undeveloped living conditions were what Twing had requested. There was another Volunteer nearby in Guaymate. But, he returned home after a year. Twing describes the local families and their typical living situation.

Keywords: Batey 80 (Dominican Republic); Creole (Language); Excited; Expectations; Guaymate (Dominican Republic); Leaving; Local people; Locals; Population

Subjects: Emigration and immigration; Emotions; Haiti; Immigrants; Interpersonal relations; Language and languages; Peace Corps (U.S.); Voluntarism; Volunteers

GPS: Guaymate (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.58, -68.98
GPS: Haiti
Map Coordinates: 19, -72.416667
GPS: Batey 80 (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.5868323, -68.9575713
00:35:16 - Living situation

Play segment

Partial Transcript: --(audio cuts out)--was your house like? D, d--were you with a host family, or?

Segment Synopsis: Twing lived with a host family. Twing describes her host family and her residence. Twing prepared her own breakfast and paid her host mother to prepare her other meals. Twing became a vegetarian, in part, because of the lack of refrigeration.

Keywords: Adjustment; Changes; Food; Host family

Subjects: Acculturation; Finance; Food habits; Peace Corps (U.S.); Voluntarism; Volunteers

00:41:08 - Problems with her posting

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Yeah, no, I was assigned to the community itself.

Segment Synopsis: Since Twing was assigned to the community, there was no outside, local agency to support her. The plantation company essentially owned everything and its owners were reluctant to change the status quo. Twing feels that the Peace Corps should not have placed her there as the company owners were not pleased by her presence. The school was not owned by the company, so Twing was able to help create a solar powered library there.

Keywords: Attitudes; Criticism; Difficult; Improvements; Unsupportive

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

GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
00:43:28 - Daily routines

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Give me a daily schedule, if, if there is such a thing.

Segment Synopsis: In the morning, Twing would buy groceries locally and chat with the neighbors. At noon, Twing would lunch with her host family or neighbors, jog for an hour, and then bathe. While the kids were in school, Twing would ready presentations on health, etc. After school, Twing would spend time with the students and help them with their homework. Twing offered help to the one teacher at the school with teaching English and selecting books for the library. Half a dozen boys and girls took Twing up on her offer to start an early morning running club. On weekends, Twing arranged various presentations for groups of children and adults in the community given by their peers.

Keywords: Acceptance; Books; Community involvement; Empowerment; Fluency; Host family; Kids; Language barriers; Language skills; Preparation; Recreation; Safety; Schedules; School management and organization; Spanish (Language); Speaking; Student activities; Teaching English as a foreign language

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Health; Language and languages; Lifestyles; Peace Corps (U.S.); Teachers; Teaching; Voluntarism; Volunteers

GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
00:50:12 - Library project

Play segment

Partial Transcript: So, I--when I did my community assessment early on, everyone was just like, "We need electricity."

Segment Synopsis: Twing was able to get a grant to create the solar powered library for the school. A friend of Twing's, who was in the Foreign Service, came down from Santo Domingo and brought tools and helped select the materials for bookshelves. This friend provided instruction to the local youth to build the bookshelves themselves. The project provided the youth pride and self-confidence.

Keywords: Community involvement; Contributions; Cooperation; Friends; Grants; Peace Corps directors; Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic); Self-confidence; Supplies; Support; Sustainability

Subjects: Emotions; Peace Corps (U.S.); Teaching; Voluntarism; Volunteers

GPS: Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.466667, -69.95
00:54:58 - Vacations

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Were you able to take any vacations while you were there?

Segment Synopsis: During her free time, Twing would travel to the capital or to the beaches to be with friends. On one vacation, Twing returned to the U.S. for a college reunion. Twing took another vacation to be with visitors from the U.S. who came to the Dominican Republic.

Keywords: Coming home; Friends; Returning; Safety; Traveling

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

GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
00:57:02 - Interaction with Peace Corps staff

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What about Peace Corps staff? Did you have much interaction with staff? Did they come to visit you at all?

Segment Synopsis: Peace Corps staff visited Twing on site several times. Another time, Twing was one of the Volunteers in the Dominican Republic visited by a U.S. Congressman.

Keywords: Peace Corps directors; Peace Corps medical officers; Pennsylvania; Site visits

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Peace Corps (U.S.); Voluntarism; Volunteers

GPS: Pennsylvania
Map Coordinates: 40.8781, -77.7996
GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
00:59:06 - Accomplishments

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Looking back on your service, what do you think your, your main accomplishment was?

Segment Synopsis: Personally, Twing feels that not quitting was an accomplishment. Twing feels that the establishment of the library was significant. But perhaps more important were the subsequent opportunities for some of the people that Twing had helped to be lesson presenters.

Keywords: Career paths; Human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS); Jobs; Stipends; Sustainability

Subjects: Mental health; Peace Corps (U.S.); Voluntarism; Volunteers

01:03:20 - Maintaining contact with work site locals

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Have you been able to, uh, maintain contact with people in the community?

Segment Synopsis: Twing is in contact with her host brother on social media. Twing makes annual return visits to the Dominican Republic and acts as a translator for a medical organization based in New York City.

Keywords: Host brothers; Marriage; New York City (N.Y.); Returning; Santiago (Dominican Republic); Social media; Translation

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Health; Interpersonal relations; Non-governmental organizations; Parents; Peace Corps (U.S.); People with disabilities; Voluntarism; Volunteers

GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
GPS: New York City (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 40.712778, -74.006111
GPS: Santiago de los Caballeros (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 19.457222, -70.688889
01:05:56 - Peace Corps' three goals

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What about Peace Corps' three goals? Did you think about them as a Volunteer?

Segment Synopsis: While a Volunteer, Twing would communicate on Skype about her community with a high school Spanish class in the U.S. Twing has given talks about her Volunteer experience since completion of her service.

Keywords: Aaron S. Williams; High schools; North Carolina; Peace Corps directors; Second Goal; Social media; Third Goal; University of North Carolina

Subjects: Peace Corps (U.S.); Universities and colleges; Voluntarism; Volunteers

GPS: North Carolina
Map Coordinates: 35.5557, -79.3877
GPS: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Map Coordinates: 35.908611, -79.049167
01:06:58 - Reflections on Peace Corps service

Play segment

Partial Transcript: You know. I didn't love my Peace Corps experience and I'm very honest about that.

Segment Synopsis: Twing has mixed feelings about her Volunteer service. Twing comments that international development is difficult and that Volunteers need to have realistic expectations as to what they might accomplish. However, Twing believes that the personal relationships which result make Peace Corps service worthwhile.

Keywords: Expectations

Subjects: Emotions; Interpersonal relations; Peace Corps (U.S.); Voluntarism; Volunteers

01:08:24 - On-going contact with Peace Corps Volunteers

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Do you, uh, maintain any contact with, uh, the Peace Corps community like the extended diaspora?

Segment Synopsis: Twing has encountered many other Returned Volunteers and shares a sense of camaraderie with them all. Twing is still in contact with others from her cohort.

Keywords: Chicago (Ill.); Cohorts; Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

Subjects: Interpersonal relations; Peace Corps (U.S.); Voluntarism; Volunteers

GPS: Chicago (Ill.)
Map Coordinates: 41.881944, -87.627778
01:09:46 - Personal impact of Peace Corps service

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Um--(audio cuts out)--know it's only been 5 years but how has it affected your, your life, your career path?

Segment Synopsis: Twing feels that her Peace Corps experience has been invaluable and taught her many things that cannot be learned in a classroom.

[This interview is concluded, but a second interview with Twing is available here: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt79t2jtx8m1m]

Keywords: Career paths; Learning; Personal growth

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