Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Marco Moreno, November 11, 2020

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


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00:00:03 - Moreno's motivation for joining Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: I'm Evelyn Ganzglass. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Somalia from 1966 to 1968. Today is November 11, 2020. And I'm interviewing Marco Moreno who was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Samoa, not in Somalia, uh, in an education program from 2019 until he was evacuated because of the pandemic in March 2020.

Segment Synopsis: For a month, Moreno visited his former college roommate who was serving as a Volunteer in Thailand. Moreno got a master's degree in cultural anthropology but didn't get into a Ph.D. program. So, joining the Peace Corps seemed related to his field of study. Originally, Moreno was placed in an environmental program in Senegal. 2 weeks before Moreno was due to leave, he got a phone call from the Peace Corps requesting him to switch to an education program in Samoa instead.

Keywords: Changes; College majors; Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); Decisions; Education programs; Master's degrees; Roommates; Telephone calls

Subjects: COVID-19 (Disease); Evacuation; Friendship; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--2010-2020; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Samoa; Senegal; Thailand; Voluntarism; Volunteer workers in education; Volunteers

GPS: Samoa
Map Coordinates: -13.583333, -172.333333
GPS: Thailand
Map Coordinates: 15, 101
GPS: Republic of Senegal
Map Coordinates: 14.4682803, -16.7620746
00:04:08 - Moreno's experiences before joining Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: So, tell me a little bit about where you grew up.

Segment Synopsis: Moreno spent his first 10 years living with his family in northern Mexico. Then, Moreno moved with his family to Riverside, California. Moreno attended California State University, Fullerton, where he received his bachelor's and master's degrees. Moreno would like to work for a few years before attending graduate school again.

Keywords: California State University, Fullerton; Family; First generation Americans; Friends; Future plans; Graduate schools; Master's degrees; Riverside (Calif.); Undergraduate education

Subjects: Childhood; Emigration and immigration; Families; Immigrants; Mexico; Universities and colleges

GPS: Mexico
Map Coordinates: 23, -102
GPS: California State University, Fullerton
Map Coordinates: 33.880556, -117.885278
GPS: Riverside (Calif.)
Map Coordinates: 33.948056, -117.396111
00:06:27 - Getting to Samoa

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Partial Transcript: How many people were in your program going to Samoa?

Segment Synopsis: Moreno's cohort of 28 trainees had a staging in Los Angeles. After a layover in Fiji, Moreno's cohort was greeted with leis and coconuts at the airport by the Samoa Peace Corps staff.

Keywords: Airports; Cohorts; Customs; First impressions; Los Angeles (Calif.); Peace Corps staff; Staging; Traveling

Subjects: Fiji; International travel; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Samoa; Voluntarism; Volunteers

GPS: Los Angeles (Calif.)
Map Coordinates: 34.05, -118.25
GPS: Samoa
Map Coordinates: -13.583333, -172.333333
GPS: Fiji
Map Coordinates: -18, 179
00:09:32 - Pre-service training

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Partial Transcript: And what was the training like?

Segment Synopsis: During pre-service training, Moreno's cohort stayed with host families. Moreno found the training useful, especially when Volunteers from earlier cohorts gave presentations about practical matters. At his work site, Moreno also lived with a host family where his host sister was the only member who spoke English. Moreno was one of the older trainees in his cohort. Moreno's cohort included 2 African Americans and 3 Hispanic Americans. Moreno was prepared to teach English literacy skills.

Keywords: African Americans; Black Americans; Cohorts; Diversity in the Peace Corps; Hispanic Americans; Host families; Host sisters; Language training; Literacy; National languages; Pronunciation; School systems; Skills; Teaching English as a foreign language; Technical training; Villages

Subjects: Language and languages; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Samoa; Voluntarism; Volunteers

00:16:35 - Moreno's work site

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Partial Transcript: Where were you then assigned?

Segment Synopsis: Moreno's village was located on a secondary island. Moreno's work site had Volunteers at neighboring villages. Moreno's host family had 3 generations living together. Moreno had his own room in the house. Moreno's school had 300 to 400 students with about 8 teachers. Moreno was at the school all day working with students in grades 4 through 6. Moreno spoke to the other teachers in English.

Keywords: Host family; Students; Transportation; Villages

Subjects: Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Samoa; Schools; Teachers; Voluntarism; Volunteers

00:24:18 - News of COVID-19

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Partial Transcript: So, how did you learn about COVID?

Segment Synopsis: Over the internet, Moreno heard the head of the World Health Organization declare a pandemic. Volunteers would also hear news about COVID from the United States. There was some conversation about COVID with the country director. Moreno anticipated getting evacuated. Finally, the Volunteers were notified that they had 24 hours to return to the capital to be evacuated. The Peace Corps staff came around to the villages to pick up the Volunteers and their baggage. Moreno thought the danger from COVID might be less in his village than at his home in California.

Keywords: Awareness; California; Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); Dangerous; Dangers; Peace Corps directors; Peace Corps staff; Safety; Transportation

Subjects: COVID-19 (Disease); Emotions; Evacuation; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Samoa; Voluntarism; Volunteers

GPS: California
Map Coordinates: 37, -120
00:28:28 - Moreno's departure

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Partial Transcript: But beyond that, once, once I had to actually say goodbye to my host family, I remember staying up late the night before, you know, when we were leaving. And, um, staying with my, staying with my host family. Sitting there, talking, just being present.

Segment Synopsis: On his last night in the village, Moreno stayed up late with his host family. On the next day before he left his village, Moreno was able to spend a little time at school with each of the 8 groups of students with whom he worked. The principal arranged a farewell ceremony for Moreno at which the students sang. Moreno was in the capital for 2 days before flying out.

Keywords: Coming home; Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); Customs; Leaving; Preparation; Returning; Special occasions; Traveling; Villages

Subjects: COVID-19 (Disease); Emotions; Evacuation; International travel; Interpersonal relations; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Samoa; Student activities; Voluntarism; Volunteers

00:31:34 - Re-entry to the U.S.

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Partial Transcript: So, what was it like getting back?

Segment Synopsis: Because his mother was over 65 years old, Moreno quarantined with a friend for 2 weeks. Then, Moreno went back to his parents' home. Moreno is now living with his girlfriend in Washington, D.C. Moreno's girlfriend is another Volunteer whom he met in Samoa.

Keywords: Arrangements; California; Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); Difficult; Friends; Mothers; Quarantines; Returned Peace Corps Volunteers; Safety; Struggles; Travel; Traveling

Subjects: COVID-19 (Disease); Emotions; Friendship; Interpersonal relations; Mental health; Parents; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Samoa; Samoa; Stress (Psychology); Voluntarism; Volunteers; Washington (D.C.)

GPS: Samoa
Map Coordinates: -13.583333, -172.333333
GPS: Washington (D.C.)
Map Coordinates: 38.9101, -77.0147
GPS: California
Map Coordinates: 37, -120
00:36:22 - Impact of Peace Corps service on Moreno

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Partial Transcript: As a anthro--cultural anthropologist, how do you talk about your, your experience both going, coming back?

Segment Synopsis: Serving in the Peace Corps has given Moreno a broader perspective on human culture, which he values. Still re-establishing himself in the U.S., Moreno is unwilling to re-join the Peace Corps in the near future. Moreno says the Peace Corps community, including members of his cohort, helped to ease his readjustment to the U.S.

Keywords: Cohorts; Community; Contact; Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); Cultural differences; Culture; Future plans; Perspectives; Preparation; Readjustment; Returned Peace Corps Volunteers; Support

Subjects: COVID-19 (Disease); Finance; Interpersonal relations; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Samoa; Voluntarism; Volunteers

00:43:14 - Moreno's current project

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Partial Transcript: Good. You want to talk about the, the project you're involved with, with Many Faces?

Segment Synopsis: Moreno is now involved with the Many Faces of Peace Corps Project which attempts to document the stories of Volunteers of racial, ethnic, religious, or sexual minorities.

Keywords: Many Faces of Peace Corps Project; People of color; Recruiting; Recruitment; Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

Subjects: Minorities; Peace Corps (U.S.); Race relations; Sexual minorities--Identity; Voluntarism; Volunteers

00:45:57 - Diversity in the Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: Well, I kind of asked you about--(clears throat)--whether you felt included in the Somoa experience. You want to talk a little more about that?

Segment Synopsis: Moreno's Peace Corps training did not include anything specifically about discrimination. Moreno supports equality for all.

Keywords: African Americans; Attitudes; Black Americans; Conflicts; Discrimination; Hispanic Americans; White privilege

Subjects: Minorities; Peace Corps (U.S.); Race discrimination; Race relations; Racism; Voluntarism; Volunteers

00:48:49 - Moreno's future plans

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Partial Transcript: So, where are you going to go next?

Segment Synopsis: Moreno plans to stay in Washington, D.C. for several years. Moreno has a job as a substitute teacher. Moreno would like to do more international travel and possibly obtain a Ph.D. Moreno plans to continue writing.

Keywords: Goals; Graduate schools; Jobs; Traveling

Subjects: International travel; Washington (D.C.)

GPS: Washington (D.C.)
Map Coordinates: 38.9101, -77.0147
00:50:01 - Moreno's reflections on Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: I, you know, I met a Latino, another Mexican American male, in Samoa.

Segment Synopsis: Moreno points out that because of the challenges of being a Volunteer, it is important that Volunteers have a safe forum to obtain support. Because of economic issues, Peace Corps service is not an option for many people of color. Moreno feels that being in the Peace Corps is a unique, positive experience and it will continue to have an impact on his life.

Keywords: Advantages; Challenges; Comfort zones; Conflicts; Difficult; Encouragement; Impact; Mexican Americans; People of color; Preparation; Support

Subjects: Finance; Interpersonal relations and culture; Minorities; Peace Corps (U.S.); Voluntarism; Volunteers

GPS: Samoa
Map Coordinates: -13.583333, -172.333333