Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with John Rude, February 4, 2021

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

 

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00:00:01 - Why he joined the Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: This is Evelyn Ganzglass. I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Somalia from 1966 to 1968.--[audio cuts out]--February 4th, uh 2021 and I am interviewing John Rude who was a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia from 1962 to 1964 and that part of Ethiopia then became Eritrea.

Segment Synopsis: Rude talks about his childhood in a military family and learning about the Peace Corps after buying his first car. He talks about joining the Peace Corps rather than joining the military.

Keywords: Academics; Military children; Military families; Ministry; Navy pilots; Republican Party; Vietnam War; World travelers

Subjects: Childhood.; Elections.; Families.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Pilots; Somalia.; Travel.

00:04:17 - Peace Corps training

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Partial Transcript: And in, in those days all of the training was done in the United States, I believe?

Segment Synopsis: Rude talks about training at Georgetown University and describes some of the people there. He describes some of his memories from training and talks about feeling singled out because of his Christian beliefs.

Keywords: Christianity; Deselected; Discipline; Diversity; Language training; Military background; Pre-service training; Studying; Training groups

Subjects: Christianity.; Eritrea; Ethiopia.; Friendship.; Georgetown University; Language and languages.; Minorities.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Eritrea; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ethiopia; Psychiatrists; Religion

00:11:40 - First impressions of Ethiopia

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Partial Transcript: Where did you meet up with your group to fly off to Ethiopia?

Segment Synopsis: Rude talks about arriving in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, and meeting Emperor Haile Selassie I.

Keywords: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Airplanes; Emperors; Empires; First impressions; Flights

Subjects: Air travel.; Education.; Eritrea; Ethiopia.; Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia, 1892-1975; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Eritrea; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ethiopia; Teachers.; Teaching.; Volunteers.

00:14:28 - Orientation in Asmara, Eritrea / Arriving in Teseney, Eritrea

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Partial Transcript: So, you were welcomed by the emperor and then what happened? How di--where were you assigned and how did that whole process go?

Segment Synopsis: Rude talks about being sent to Asmara, Eritrea, to finish orientation and being assigned to a town called Teseney. He briefly talks about the history of Eritrea, including its time spent as an Italian colony. He talks about arriving in Teseney and interacting with the locals who did not speak Amharic.

Keywords: Amharic (Language); Asmara, Eritrea; Assignments; Colonialism; Italian (Language); Italian colonies; Orientation; Remote areas; Teseney, Eritrea; Traveling

Subjects: Amharic language.; Eritrea.; Italian language.; Italians; Language and languages.; Muslims.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Eritrea; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ethiopia; Travel.

00:21:02 - His assignment in Teseney, Eritrea

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Partial Transcript: Talk a little bit about Teseney. They welcomed you and then you decided not to speak, um, Amharic--

Segment Synopsis: Rude describes his assignment in Teseney, Eritrea, and talks about the school he taught at.

Keywords: Asmara, Eritrea; British people; Chalk boards; English grammar; Marketplaces; Teseney, Eritrea; The Vicar of Wakefield

Subjects: Amharic language.; English language.; Eritrea.; Italian language.; Language and languages.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Eritrea; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ethiopia; Schools.; Students.; Teachers.; Teaching.

00:23:19 - Living quarters in Eritrea / Ethiopia taking over Eritrea

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Partial Transcript: What--what was your living situation like?

Segment Synopsis: Rude talks about his housing not being ready when he arrived in Teseney and having to wait for them to finish remodeling the house before he could move in. He talks about what happened after Eritrea came under the control of the Ethiopian government.

Keywords: Bandits; Ethiopian troops; Houses; Housing; Language barriers; Living conditions; Rebels; Security

Subjects: Culture; Eritrea.; Ethiopia.; Lifestyles.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Eritrea; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ethiopia; Politics and government

00:27:08 - Being reassigned to a new village

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Partial Transcript: So, you taught at this school. Uh, did you teach there for both years that you were in the Peace Corps?

Segment Synopsis: Rude talks about having stomach problems while working in Teseney and getting his appendix removed as a result. He then talks about being assigned to another village, Mendefera, to replace a volunteer who had left. He talks about the school he taught at and describes the students he worked with.

Keywords: Adi Ugri, Eritrea; Assassination of John F. Kennedy; Curriculum; Doctors; English classes; Health concerns; Health issues; Mendefera, Eritrea; Motivation; Reassignment; Secondary schools; Teseney, Eritrea

Subjects: Ethiopia.; Hospitals.; Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963.; Lifestyles; Manners and customs; Mendefera (Eritrea); Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Eritrea; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ethiopia; Schools.; Students.; Teachers; Teaching.; Villages; Volunteers.

00:33:19 - How he spent his free time

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Partial Transcript: What did you do in your spare time when you weren't teaching?

Segment Synopsis: Rude talks about his servant who helped him learn the local language, Tigrinya. He talks briefly about how he spent his free time, and traveling to different places in Ethiopia.

Keywords: Asmara, Eritrea; Leisure time; Marketplaces; Recreation; Servants; Tigrinya (Language); Traveling; Volunteers

Subjects: Billiards.; Ethiopia.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Eritrea; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ethiopia; Red sea.; Tigrinya language; Travel.; Villages

00:35:41 - Friendships with teachers and students

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Partial Transcript: Did you make friends with any of your fellow teachers?

Segment Synopsis: Rude talks about his relationships with the other teachers and his students in Eritrea. He talks about having a reunion with his students and learning that many had died since he had left.

Keywords: Colleagues; Eritrean government; Friends; Liberation struggle; Reunions

Subjects: Eritrea.; Ethiopia.; Friendship.; Interpersonal relations; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Eritrea; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ethiopia; Students.; Teachers.

00:37:54 - The Eritrean liberation movement

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Partial Transcript: Um, so as you think about your Peace Corps experience, wh--what do you think the r--your role was right after independence just as they were--uh, it wasn't even independence after being, um, um, a protectorate and then being taken over by Ethiopia.

Segment Synopsis: Rude talks about the role of the Peace Corps in the Eritrean liberation movement and how the movement has developed over the years.

Keywords: American involvement; Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF); Eritrean People's Liberation Front (EPLF); Eritrean immigrants; Independence; Liberation movements; Liberation struggle

Subjects: Eritrea.; Ethiopia.; Immigrants.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Eritrea; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ethiopia; Politics and government

00:41:29 - Traveling across the Middle East

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Partial Transcript: So, y--you finished your--your service and, um, did you travel throughout Africa after or anywhere--

Segment Synopsis: Rude talks about learning Arabic and taking a vacation to travel across the Middle East.

Keywords: African countries; Arabic (Language); Colonialism; Teseney, Eritrea; Tigrinya (Language); Traveling; Vacations

Subjects: Africa.; Arabic language.; Language and languages; Linguists; Middle East.; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Eritrea; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ethiopia; Tigrinya language; Travel.

00:44:27 - His impact on communities

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Partial Transcript: Well, so as--uh, you know, uh, I always end these interviews by asking you to reflect about the--the experience and you've talked about the impact, um, that you're tra--that your service had in the communities in which you served. Do you think you--you taught the kids well?

Segment Synopsis: Rude tells a story about one of his students who developed the first word processing programs for the Tigrinya and Amharic languages. He tells another story about someone who borrowed a textbook from the library they started in Teseney and became a professor of mathematics.

Keywords: Amharic (Language); Communities; Contributions; Impact; Master's degrees; Teseney, Eritrea; Tigrinya (Language)

Subjects: Amharic language.; Computer programs; Education.; Macintosh (Computer); Mathematics.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Eritrea; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ethiopia; Students.; Teachers; Teaching; Teaching.; Tigrinya language; Word processing.

00:47:45 - Life after the Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: So is that the impact of Peace Corps on your life? Your--your going into education?

Segment Synopsis: Rude talks about how the Peace Corps impacted his life and describes his work with the Museum of the Peace Corps Experience.

Keywords: Exhibits; Museum of the Peace Corps Experience; Museums

Subjects: Education.; Eritrea.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Eritrea; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Ethiopia; Retirement.; Teachers; Teaching