Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Patricia Maguire, February 12, 2021

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

 

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00:00:01 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: Hello. Today is February 12th, 2021. My name is Jay Sztuk. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Fiji, 1974 through 1976. And today I'm interviewing Patricia Maguire, who was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Jamaica from 1977 through 1979.

Segment Synopsis: The interviewer, Jay Sztuk, introduces himself as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Fiji from 1974 through 1976. He then introduces the interviewee, Patricia Maguire, Peace Corps Volunteer in Jamaica from 1977 through 1979. Maguire then worked as a training consultant from 1979 to 1989 and later as Director of the Western New Mexico University - Gallup Peace Corps Fellows Program from 2001 through 2011.

Keywords: Jamaica; Peace Corps Fellows Program; Western New Mexico University - Gallup

Subjects: Jamaica; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--1970-1980; Peace Corps (U.S.)--1980-1990; Peace Corps (U.S.)--1990-2000; Peace Corps (U.S.)--2001-2010; Peace Corps (U.S.)--2010-2020; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Jamaica; Voluntarism; Volunteers

GPS: Jamaica
Map Coordinates: 18.109581, -77.297508
00:00:35 - Background prior to joining the Peace Corps and motivation for joining

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Partial Transcript: So, uh, Patricia, tell us about your background, uh, what you were doing before Peace Corps, and what motivated you to join.

Segment Synopsis: Maguire notes that she had been a mental health and high school counselor prior to applying to the Peace Corps in 1976. Her then husband, Carl Marshall, had been a teacher and coach and had recently received training as an operating room technician. They decided to apply to Peace Corps together. Their reasons, like many other Peace Corps volunteers, were multiple and varied. During this time period, there was a lot of interest in the Peace Corps, John Kennedy, social justice, and general altruistic feelings. Maguire had done some overseas travel and her husband had served as a Coast Guard officer in Vietnam. During the Peace Corps application process in 1976, they were offered an assignment but they turned it down. When offered the opportunity to serve in Jamaica, they accepted. Because the Jamaican government had recently begun to emphasize counseling in the schools, Maguire was assigned a counseling position which involved training counselors in schools under the Jamaican Ministry of Education. Her husband was accepted without a firm assignment. Upon arrival in-country, he was assigned a position with the National YMCA. The feedback from her family about joining the Peace Corps was mixed. On the one hand, neither of her parents were college educated. They could not understand why their daughter would leave a good position in the United States as a counselor for a Peace Corps Volunteer position. Her father was bit more excited. In general, Maguire attributes her parents' reaction to her entry in the Peace Corps to the fact that they had lived through the Great Depression. Her training group was # 21.

Keywords: Altruism; Applications; Assignments; Civil rights movements; Excited; John F. Kennedy; Pre-employment screenings; Pre-service training; Schools; Social service; Spouses; Teachers; Teaching; Vietnam War; YMCA Jamaica; Youth development

Subjects: Families.; Jamaica; Non-government organizations; Nonprofit organizations; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--1970-1980; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Jamaica; Voluntarism; Volunteers

GPS: Jamaica
Map Coordinates: 18.109581, -77.297508
00:07:47 - Peace Corps training

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Partial Transcript: And where did you do your training? In-country or in Florida?

Segment Synopsis: All training was received in-country. Upon arrival in Jamaica on July 22, 1977, the volunteers were divided up into groups that lived with families for three or four days. They then returned to Kingston, Jamaica where they received about 5 1/2 to 6 weeks of training on Jamaica's government, history, culture and the like. There was no language training and no technical training. All the volunteers had already been trained in their technical specialty prior to acceptance into the Peace Corps. Every part of life in Jamaica revolved around national politics.

Keywords: Assignments; Host families; Jamaican Patois (Language); Language training; Languages; On-site training; Politics; Politics and government; Pre-service training; Training

Subjects: International relations; Interpersonal relations and culture; Jamaica; Language and languages; Peace Corps (U.S); Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--1970-1980; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Jamaica; Teachers; Teaching; Voluntarism; Volunteers

GPS: Jamaica
Map Coordinates: 18.109581, -77.297508
00:12:29 - Living with a host family

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Partial Transcript: Uh, tell me about your--living with host family.

Segment Synopsis: Maguire and her husband initially lived with a middle class family in Kingston, Jamaica. They soon became aware of the violence that was pervasive in the area. Everything from being subject to window peepers to continual gunshots at night. There was a lot of violence. Even though the Peace Corps administration provided suggestions about ensuring the safety the Peace Corps Volunteers, the pervasive and continual violence took its toll. This was reflected in the attrition rate of Peace Corps Volunteers--a 42 percent early termination rate.

Keywords: Dangerous; Dangers; Drinking; Driving; Host family; Housing; Living conditions; Local people; Parties; Politics and government; Rape; Risks; Safety issues; Sexual assault

Subjects: Culture shock; Jamaica; Peace Corps (U.S)--1970-1980; Peace Corps (U.S)--Jamaica; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Jamaica; Voluntarism; Volunteers; Volunteers work in education; World politics

GPS: Jamaica
Map Coordinates: 18.109581, -77.297508
00:21:06 - Job assignment with local school counselors

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Partial Transcript: Uh, okay, so you, um--your, your job assignment was there in, in Kingston as well.

Segment Synopsis: The counselor position was a new position in Jamaican education. It consisted of two prongs: high school and elementary schools. In addition, her position was responsible for putting together a national survey of counselors. Many issues arose that delayed the creation of this survey. Eventually, when she had gathered the data, she began to hold workshops with the local counselors. At the outset, the local counselors raised questions about why Maguire was interpreting the survey data. Rather, the local counselors felt that they should interpret that data; a bottom up, rather than a top down approach. And this is what happened--with very positive results for the five year plan and its success since the local counselors were very involved. The creditability of the survey was much greater. In addition, it gave the local counselors a reason to work together and develop a regional guidance association. Also, Maguire learned a great deal from the experience--lessons that she applied during the course of her career in international and community development.

Keywords: Counseling; International development; Teachers; Teaching; Training; Workshops

Subjects: Interpersonal relations; Jamaica; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Jamaica; Schools; Voluntarism; Volunteer workers in education; Volunteers

GPS: Jamaica
Map Coordinates: 18.109581, -77.297508
00:27:37 - Challenges in Jamaica

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Partial Transcript: Well, you--did you find it to be a pretty easy place to adapt to?

Segment Synopsis: Maguire says that on the surface, many things seems to be fine in Jamaica; however, just below the surface, the challenges for most Peace Volunteers were the constant rolling shortages of food, electricity, water and the like. As a result, there were mixed feelings among Peace Volunteers as to whether they belonged Jamaica in 1977. This may have contributed to the 42 percent early termination rate. Maguire and her husband did get out of their home base/work site, Kingston, to travel--to workshop trainings and to visits with other volunteers around the island. PCVs did not have cars so many traveled by bus.

Keywords: Early termination; Politics and government; Risks; Role of Peace Corps; Safety; Shortages; Transportation

Subjects: Intercultural communication; Interpersonal relations and culture; Jamaica; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--1970-1980; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Jamaica; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Management; Race relations; Travel; Voluntarism; Volunteers

GPS: Jamaica
Map Coordinates: 18.109581, -77.297508
GPS: Kingston (Jamaica)
Map Coordinates: 17.973380, -76.758660
00:33:26 - Racial discrimination in Peace Corps Jamaica

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Partial Transcript: And I noticed that in the, um, in the questions there was one question about diversity and I thought I would talk a little bit about that.

Segment Synopsis: Jamaica was diverse society and multi-racial. Eighty percent of the population was Black, but there were gradations of Black. The darker the skin, the greater the racial discrimination. There was a sense of anti-capitalism, not necessarily anti-United States. The Black Peace Corps volunteers felt like the white Peace Corps volunteers did not understand them; there were some social injustices and racism. In part, this resulted in the 3 of the 4 Black Peace Corps volunteers (of a total 35 volunteers in the group) dropping out of the Peace Corps. Maguire felt, in retrospect, there was some rightful resentment on behalf of the Black volunteers. In general, the Black Peace Corps volunteers were not accepted by the Jamaicans because of the color of their skin, nor, at the same time, did they feel that white Peace Corps volunteers understood the social injustices that were often experienced by Black volunteers. In short, they were not Jamaicans, nor were they white Americans. There were a lot of mixed feelings by the Peace Corps Volunteers (before and after) that they were not being well supported by Peace Corps--not enough staff and resources. Maguire and other Peace Corps volunteers were especially concerned about the lack of safety and security. Peace Corps Volunteers were required to be professional at all times in terms of their dress and activities. For example, illegal drugs were not permitted. As a whole, the Jamaican people appreciated the Peace Corps and the organization had a good reputation.

Keywords: Appearance; Colorism; Diversity in the Peace Corps; Peace Corps staff; People of color; Politics and government; Privilege; Racial discrimination; Rape; Risks; Safety; Sexual assault; White privilege

Subjects: Intercultural communication; Interpersonal relations and culture; Jamaica; Minorities; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--1970-1980; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Jamaica; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Management; Race discrimination; Race relations; Racism; Travel; Voluntarism; Volunteers

GPS: Jamaica
Map Coordinates: 18.109581, -77.297508
00:46:36 - Memorable experiences as a result of her Peace Corps service

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Partial Transcript: So any, uh, memorable experiences or big adventures, uh--

Segment Synopsis: The most memorable "ah ha" moment for Maguire was when, at a workshop where she was interpreting some gathered data to a group of local counselors, a local counselor said "Why don't we interpret the data back to the Ministry?" From this instance, Maguire learned that people want to be heard and have an input. She went on to apply this experience to her entire professional career, including in international development, as a university professor, and a statistician. This lesson can be broadened beyond work alone. For example, people and leaders can better can understand their own country by looking at it from the outside, i.e. examine what people in other countries think about policies and actions of the United States. Maguire says there is nothing like understanding your own country better by seeing it from the outside.

Keywords: Empowerment; International development; International politics and government; Lack of communication; Motivation; Perceptions; Personal growth; Perspectives; Politics and government; Sustainability; Techniques; Understanding

Subjects: (U.S.)--Jamaica; Communication and culture; Culture; Interpersonal communication and culture; Interpersonal relations and culture; Jamaica; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Jamaica; Voluntarism; Volunteers; West Indies

GPS: Jamaica
Map Coordinates: 18.109581, -77.297508
00:54:07 - Developing a master's program in counseling in Jamaica

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Partial Transcript: So, le-let's go, uh, back to your service in Ja-Jamaica for a minute.

Segment Synopsis: The Peace Corps Volunteers, who were trained counselors, and the Jamaicans launched a national guidance and counseling program. From 1975 through 1977, the Jamaican Ministry of Education had sent Jamaicans outside of the country to be trained as counselors. At that point, the Peace Corps volunteers were brought in to the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica to develop a master's program in counseling. As a result, the Jamaican government no longer needed outside assistance. These developments had long term implications for Jamaica since they now trained their own counselors and, in effect, owned their guidance and counseling services for schools.

Keywords: Biggest success; Changes; Contributions; Counseling; Impact; Improvements; Schools; Sustainability; Teacher training; Teachers; Teaching; The University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica; Training; Western Carolina University

Subjects: Jamaica; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Jamaica; School management and organization; Schools; Teachers; Teaching; Voluntarism; Volunteers

GPS: Kingston (Jamaica)
Map Coordinates: 17.99702, -76.79358
GPS: The University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica
Map Coordinates: 17.99702, -76.79358
GPS: Jamaica
Map Coordinates: 18.109581, -77.297508
GPS: Western Carolina University, Cullowhee (N.C.)
Map Coordinates: 35.310015, -83.19904
00:56:01 - Other work after Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: Um, alright, and then, you, uh--later on, you, you were director of this organization--

Segment Synopsis: After Maguire left the Peace Corps she obtained a doctorate degree at the Center for International Education at University of Massachusetts Amherst. By this point, she and her husband, who was now a nurse, were looking for an international position in world health or something similar. At same time, her husband had applied for a position with the U.S. Indian Health Service. Her husband took a position at the medical center in Gallup, New Mexico. Maguire accepted a position to help start and run a graduate program at the edge of the Navajo Nation Reservation in northwest New Mexico for Western New Mexico University. Up until 1989, there had been no way for locals to attend a 4 year university or get a graduate degree.
In 2000, Maguire then learned about Peace Corps Fellows, a program where 32 initial universities operated a master's program for returned Peace Corps Volunteers. This was funded by the Reader's Digest Dewitt Foundation and was operated by the University of New Mexico for three years. University of Western New Mexico permitted Peace Corps volunteers to attend the Peace Corps Fellows program at in-state tuition rates rather than out-of-state tuition rates. It was an attractive program because the students could become classroom teachers even if they did not have a teaching certificate, as long as they had a content degree. This Peace Corps Fellow program was called Working on Alternative Licensure. Through this program, the students could also get their master's degree in education at night and on weekends while teaching during the day. After the foundation money ran out, the University of New Mexico did want to operate the program anymore.

The local school district was largest school district in the United States in terms of square miles. The district had a hard time finding people to teachers. The Peace Corps Volunteers who started to attend the Peace Corps Fellow program filled this gap. The former Peace Corps volunteers loved participating in the Fellows program and teaching in western New Mexico because it was a cross-cultural experience and the school principals liked having them because they could handle working with very few resources.

Keywords: Adaptability; DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest grant; Education; Education programs; Education volunteers; Master's degrees; Native Americans; Peace Corps Fellows Program; Returned Peace Corps Volunteers; Teacher training; Teachers; Teaching; Working on Alternative Licensure

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

GPS: Gallup (N.M.)
Map Coordinates: 35.526425, -108.741645
GPS: University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Map Coordinates: 42.3804, -72.531
GPS: Western New Mexico University, Silver City, New Mexico
Map Coordinates: 32.770075, -108.280326
01:03:33 - Impact of Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: So Peace Corps has been a big part of your life for--

Segment Synopsis: Maguire says that Americans need to work at the local level in other nations to have an understanding of the rest of the world. Volunteers probably get as much, if not more, from the Peace Corps than they contribute. Maguire notes that Senator Rick Scott of Florida was adamant that all Peace Corps Volunteers be removed from China in 2019. She felt it was short-sighted not to understand and appreciate that it very important to have Peace Corps volunteers who have lived in China, and understand the language, culture, and customs. She notes that she had two daughters; her eldest daughter served in Ecuador as a Peace Corps volunteer from 2009-2011.

Upon reflection, Maguire says she had a positive experience in the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps has experienced challenges. She now understands the pluses and minuses of how challenging it is to run a large organization that meets the needs of volunteers. During her Peace Corps service, there was not a lot of emphasis on secondary projects.

Keywords: Accomplishments; Challenges; International politics and government; Perspectives; Political pressure; Politics; Politics and government; Senator Rick Scott; Volunteering; Young people

Subjects: Peace Corps (U.S); Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--1970-1980; Peace Corps (U.S.)--1980-1990; Peace Corps (U.S.)--1990-2000; Peace Corps (U.S.)--2000-2010; Teachers; Teaching; Universities and colleges; Voluntarism; Volunteer workers in education; Volunteers; World politics; Xenophobia

GPS: Jamaica
Map Coordinates: 18.109581, -77.297508
GPS: Ecuador
Map Coordinates: 1.339767, -79.366696