Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Sarah Twing, October 16, 2020

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


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00:00:00 - Personal impact of Peace Corps service

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Partial Transcript: Good day. This is part two of an interview with Sarah Twing who was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic from August 2013 to October 2015. And this is Randolph Adams who served in the Dominican Republic from nineteen sixty--(audio cuts out)--sixty-nine.

Segment Synopsis: Following her Peace Corps service, Twing worked as a financial project manager for four and a half years for USAID projects. Currently, Twing is more interested in domestic issues. From her Volunteer experience, Twing comments that she developed better critical thinking skills and a more global perspective. Twing is now a graduate student at the University of Chicago studying public policy and is considering going to business school.

Keywords: Career paths; Future plans; Graduate schools; Jobs; Personal growth; Perspectives; University of Chicago

Subjects: Education, Higher; Finance; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--2010-2020; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic; United States. Agency for International Development; Universities and colleges; Voluntarism; Volunteers

GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
GPS: University of Chicago
Map Coordinates: 41.789722, -87.599722
00:02:45 - Racial identity

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Partial Transcript: Do you feel that your own cultural and racial background shaped in any way your identity and view of your service?

Segment Synopsis: Although born in Uzbekistan, Twing was adopted and raised by white parents in Los Angeles. Accordingly, Twing considered herself to be white. However, when Twing traveled to Egypt, she started to identify more with her Asian heritage. As a Volunteer, Twing shared her ties to Uzbekistan with people in her community. As a Volunteer, Twing was perceived as "Yellow" or "Chinese" by some of the local people as opposed to "Black" or "White." This gave Twing further incentive to find out more about her Asian heritage. Subsequently, Twing traveled back to the orphanage where she had stayed and searched for her birth parents.

Keywords: Adoption; Awareness; Family; First generation Americans; Learning; Local people; Locals; Los Angeles (Calif.); Perceptions; Returning; Self-confidence; Skin color; Traveling

Subjects: Childhood; Egypt; Families.; International travel; Parents; Peace Corps (U.S.); Racially mixed families; Uzbekistan; Voluntarism; Volunteers

GPS: Uzbekistan
Map Coordinates: 42, 63
GPS: Los Angeles (Calif.)
Map Coordinates: 34.05, -118.25
GPS: Egypt
Map Coordinates: 26, 30
00:06:03 - Diversity in the Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: What about, uh, your identity with Peace Corps staff or other Volunteers?

Segment Synopsis: Twing did not have any problems getting along with the other members of her cohort. Twing comments that in the Dominican Republic, the top Peace Corps staff members were all white, whereas the pre-service training staff members were all Dominicans. Twing feels that having greater ethnic and gender diversity among the Peace Corps staff would be beneficial.

Keywords: Cohorts; Diversity in the Peace Corps; Peace Corps directors; Peace Corps staff; Struggles

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

GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
00:08:29 - Stereotypes

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Partial Transcript: How did the experience, maybe, shape your, your view now of being an American?

Segment Synopsis: Twing has always felt proud of being an American. However, Twing feels that the U.S. should be more careful about collaborating on foreign development projects to avoid colonialism. Twing comments that in the Dominican Republic, the people historically associated Americans with being religious missionaries. Initially, the local people thought Twing was a missionary or a government agent.

Keywords: Brooklyn N.Y.); History; Impact; Inoculations; Missionaries; New York City (N.Y.); Perceptions; Perspectives; Questions; Second Goal; Stereotypes; Vaccinations; Washington Heights (N.Y.)

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Emotions; Peace Corps (U.S.); United States. Agency for International Development; Voluntarism; Volunteers; World politics

GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
GPS: New York City (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 40.712778, -74.006111
GPS: Brooklyn (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 40.692778, -73.990278
GPS: Washington Heights (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 40.84, -73.94
00:12:28 - Discrimination

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Partial Transcript: Do you think, uh, your gender or your ethnicity, um, played any role in your interaction with your community?

Segment Synopsis: At her work site, women were mostly expected to do the dishes and clean. Twing hypothesizes that the local people might have been more responsive to a male Volunteer. Twing believes that women need to spend more time worrying about personal harassment and security.

Keywords: Asian Americans; Differences; Empowerment; Expectations; Gender roles; Privilege; Role of women

Subjects: Afghanistan; Central Asia; India; Middle East; Mongolia; Peace Corps (U.S.); Sexism; Voluntarism; Volunteers

GPS: Mongolia
Map Coordinates: 48, 106
GPS: Central Asia
Map Coordinates: 43.857919, 48.9613578
GPS: Middle East
Map Coordinates: 25.9007741, 25.7576669
GPS: Afghanistan
Map Coordinates: 34.516667, 69.183333
GPS: India
Map Coordinates: 21, 78
00:16:51 - Recommendations for Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: Um, that pretty much ends the interview.

Segment Synopsis: Twing believes that Peace Corps needs to recruit more minority Volunteers and staff. One of Twing's suggestions is to increase the benefits upon completion of Peace Corps service.

Keywords: Diversity in the Peace Corps; Historically black colleges and universities; Peace Corps staff; Privilege; Recruitment; Training

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