Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Donald Yates, October 22, 2020

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


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00:00:00 - Personal background and Peace Corps training

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Partial Transcript: This is Evelyn Ganzglass. Uh, today is October 22, 2020, and I am interviewing Donald Yates who was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines from 1962-1964. He was in an education and community development program.

Segment Synopsis: Yates was a senior in college at the University of Notre Dame when his friend invited him to a Peace Corps presentation that enamored him enough that he convinced his friend to enlist with him. He grew up in New Jersey and lives there now. He graduated with a B.A. in English. Training was at San José State University. He was destined for Jolo Island in the South of the Philippines. The language training he was given was in Spanish. When he arrived in his area, the language was called Tausug. The cultural training focused on working with different people and different cultural values and how to deal with groups of people. He taught English as a second language (ESL) and other subjects. He says his town was called Bilaan and they would go to Jolo City for the weekends. Training did not cover that his area would be Islamic.

Keywords: Arabic (Language); English (Language); English as a second language (ESL); Glen Ridge (N.J.); Jolo, Philippines; Mindanao Island, Philippines; Shrewsbury (N.J.); Spanish (Language); Tausug (Language); Trenton (N.J.)

Subjects: Arabic language.; Catholic Church.; College teachers.; Community development.; Education.; Elementary school teachers.; English.; High school principals; High school teachers.; Indonesia.; Islam.; Jolo (Philippines); Language learning and language teaching; Middle school teachers; Mindanao Island (Philippines); Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Philippines.; Philippines.; San Jose (Calif.); San José State University; Spanish language.; Spanish-American War, 1898.; Tausug language; Teachers.; Teaching.; Training.

00:13:02 - Arriving and living in the Philippines

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Partial Transcript: Okay, so you did six weeks of training and, um--

Segment Synopsis: After training, his group left for the Philippines via the Pacific route. When he got to Manila, he had ten more days of training. Then, his group went down to Mindanao Island and they stayed in Zamboanga City with a host family. He says when he went, the Filipinos loved Americans. He taught in Bilaan Pilot School that went from 1st through 6th grades. Most of the students were female because the males were helping with farming. The community development portion discussed soil conservation, rotating crops, and fertilization. When he first arrived, his house wasn't built yet. He mentions they loved cold fried eggs and curry spice. He bought a bunk bed and a settee set for the new house. He tells a story about some people who made some furniture from beer crates.

Keywords: English teachers; Furniture; Manila, Philippines; Mindanao Island, Philippines; Reading teachers; Zamboanga, Philippines

Subjects: Agriculture.; Building.; Community development.; Crop improvement.; Crop rotation.; Education.; Elementary school teachers.; Elementary schools; Fertilizers; Food habits.; Friendship.; Housing.; Language learning and language teaching; Male teachers.; Manila (Philippines); Mindanao Island (Philippines); Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Philippines.; Philippines.; Soil conservation.; Soil fertility.; Teachers--Training of.; Teachers.; Teaching.; Training.; Zamboanga City (Philippines)

00:26:39 - General thoughts about his Peace Corps experience

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Partial Transcript: Did you travel at all while you were in, um, in the Philippines?

Segment Synopsis: During school breaks, Yates would travel. He mentions staying with someone who had showers and access to different food and amenities. He set up his own meals, eventually getting a stove. They got invited out and he thought it was interesting to see how they lived. He mentions a speech he gave when he returned to the U.S. He discusses his culture shock going to the Philippines and returning to the U.S. He says he learned he could make more of a difference by teaching the teachers than teaching the students directly.

Keywords: English teachers; Hot-water supply; Plumbing; Reading teachers; Speeches; Stoves

Subjects: Adjustment (Psychology); Cooking.; Cross cultural communication; Cultural awareness.; Culture shock.; Education.; Educators.; Food habits.; Friendship.; Intercultural communication.; Male teachers.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Philippines.; Philippines.; Reverse culture shock.; Teachers--Training of.; Teachers.; Teaching.; Travel.; Vacations.

00:39:14 - Love of teaching / Story about culture-bound syndrome of "running amok"

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Partial Transcript: And, and what did you learn from Peace Corps?

Segment Synopsis: Yates states that he learned from Peace Corps that he loved being an educator. When he returned home, he immediately got his teacher certification and went into teaching. He's involved with the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of New Jersey. Being a Peace Corps volunteer helped him get his first job. He mentions that he has held several jobs in education, including English teacher, reading specialist, administrator, coordinator, guidance counselor, and supervisor. He reads out loud a story from his journal about experiences with culture shock and an experience with the culture-bound syndrome of "running amok." He ends the interview by showing the interviewer some photos and letters.

Keywords: Amok; Culture bound syndromes; Culture-specific syndromes; Diaries; Electricity; English teachers; Hot-water supply; Plumbing; Reading teachers; Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of New Jersey; Rifles; Run amok; Running amok

Subjects: Adjustment (Psychology); Cross cultural communication; Cultural awareness.; Culture shock.; Death.; Education.; Educational counseling.; Educators.; Fasting.; Hallucinations and illusions.; Hallucinogenic drugs.; Intercultural communication.; Islam.; Male teachers.; Mental illness.; Murder.; Muslims.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Philippines.; Philippines.; Ramadan.; Reverse culture shock.; School administrators.; Student counselors.; Suicide.; Supervisors.; Teachers.; Teaching.; Violence.