Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Dan Goering, April 16, 2021

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

 

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00:00:03 - Experiences before joining Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: Today is April 16, 2021. This is Randolph Adams who served in the Dominican Republic from 1966 to 1969. I am interviewing Dan Goering who was a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic from July 1968 to September 1970. Dan worked in the cooperative sector.

Segment Synopsis: Goering is of Mennonite background and therefore opposed the Vietnam War. In college, Goering majored in economics and wanted to help disadvantaged people. Goering was granted conscientious objector status by the draft board and applied to the Peace Corps as a way to enhance the image of the U.S. Goering's family supported his decision.

Keywords: Altruism; Applications; Applying; College majors; Family; Influences; Mennonites; Military drafts; Support; Vietnam War

Subjects: Draft resisters.; Families.; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--1960-1970; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic; Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements; World politics

GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
00:02:58 - Interest in the Peace Corps / Peace Corps application process

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Partial Transcript: How did you even know it existed? Do you recall, uh, hearing about it?

Segment Synopsis: Goering, even as a high school student, had been interested in the Peace Corps since it started. Goering applied while a senior in college. At the time Goering was posted, he knew little about the Dominican Republic. Goering had attended Antioch College in Ohio. Because of his background in economics, Goering was assigned to do accounting under the national co-op association in the Dominican Republic where he ended up, partly, learning the work on the job. While waiting to start pre-service training, Goering did a lot of reading about the Dominican Republic.

Keywords: Accounting; Agricultural co-operatives; Antioch College; High schools; John F. Kennedy; Learning; Library of Congress; Ohio; Pre-service training; Preparation; Waiting periods

Subjects: Dominican Republic; India; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic; Research; Washington (D.C.)

GPS: India
Map Coordinates: 21, 78
GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
GPS: Antioch College
Map Coordinates: 39.7999, -83.888
GPS: Ohio
Map Coordinates: 40.2862, -82.7937
GPS: Washington (D.C.)
Map Coordinates: 38.9101, -77.0147
GPS: Library of Congress
Map Coordinates: 38.888611, -77.004722
00:06:49 - Family's reaction to his Peace Corps invitation

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Partial Transcript: What was your family's reaction once they found out you were going to the D.R.?

Segment Synopsis: Goering's parents had some knowledge of the recent history of the Dominican Republic and thought his assignment would prove interesting.

Keywords: History; Rafael Trujillo; Regional conflict

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Families.; Parents; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic; World politics

GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
00:07:29 - Pre-service training

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Partial Transcript: So, uh, so you're on your way to pre-service training. Uh, where did you do your pre-service training?

Segment Synopsis: Goering's pre-service training was split between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. During pre-service training, Goering studied Spanish, accounting, safety and security measures, and relevant customs. Goering also had a site visit for a couple of weeks with a Volunteer in-country.

Keywords: Arecibo (Puerto Rico); Cultural training; Examinations; Exams; Language skills; Language training; Puerto Rico; Safety and security training; Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic); Site visits; Spanish (Language); Technical training; Training centers

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Manners and customs; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic; Volunteers

GPS: Puerto Rico
Map Coordinates: 18.2223, -66.4303
GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
GPS: Arecibo (Puerto Rico)
Map Coordinates: 18.375, -66.625
GPS: Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.466667, -69.95
00:17:26 - Assignment in San Jose de Ocoa, Dominican Republic

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Partial Transcript: So then when you completed training, um, when did you find out where your final site was going to be?

Segment Synopsis: While in Puerto Rico, Goering was informed that he was assigned to San Jose de Ocoa, about 100 kilometers from Santo Domingo. Goering was taken to his work site by a member of the Peace Corps staff. There, Goering met the priest and nuns, who were Canadian, and ran the local hospital. Goering was also introduced to his supervisor at the co-op, whose family he stayed with at first.

Keywords: Agricultural co-operatives; Bani (Dominican Republic); Distance; Peace Corps staff; Puerto Rico; San Cristobal (Dominican Republic); San Jose de Ocoa (Dominican Republic); Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic); Traveling

Subjects: Hospitals; Interpersonal relations; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic

GPS: Puerto Rico
Map Coordinates: 18.2223, -66.4303
GPS: San Jose de Ocoa (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.55, -70.5
GPS: Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.466667, -69.95
GPS: San Cristobal (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.416667, -70.105556
GPS: Bani (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.29, -70.33
00:22:01 - Housing

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Partial Transcript: What was the housing situation like?

Segment Synopsis: Goering rented a room from his host family and ate with them. Goering found the local people welcoming, with the exception of a group of Maoists. As he was completing his service, Goering was informed that the Maoists had plotted to kill him but that the other locals would have prevented it.

Keywords: Amenities; Anti-Americanism; Conflicts; Dangerous; Dangers; Food; Host family; Local people; Locals; Plans; Politics; Risks; Running water

Subjects: Interpersonal relations; Lifestyles; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic

00:26:19 - Description of work site

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Partial Transcript: San Jose de Ocoa, uh, can you describe a bit what the town was like?

Segment Synopsis: Goering's town had a population of around 10,000 people and was an agricultural center. It was on a beautiful plateau in the mountains. The agricultural co-op had been started only a couple years before Goering's arrival. Goering says that the co-op doubled the earnings of the members, as previously they had been cheated by the people who bought their produce.

Keywords: Acclimation; Agricultural co-operatives; Lebanon; San Jose de Ocoa (Dominican Republic)

Subjects: Changes; Dominican Republic; Emigration and immigration; Finance; Immigrants; Improvements; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic

GPS: San Jose de Ocoa (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.55, -70.5
GPS: Lebanon
Map Coordinates: 33.833333, 35,833333
00:30:38 - Role of the co-op

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Partial Transcript: What was the role of, of the co-op?

Segment Synopsis: The co-op provided some technical help but mostly sold the members' products. Their coffee was exported to Italy. Other crops of theirs were sent to Santo Domingo.

Keywords: Agricultural co-operatives; Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic); Technical training

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Finance; Italy; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic

GPS: Italy
Map Coordinates: 43, 12
GPS: Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.466667, -69.95
00:31:56 - Responsibilities at the co-op

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Partial Transcript: So, what was your role?

Segment Synopsis: Goering had two tasks. One was to teach accounting to his two counterparts. Another Volunteer followed Goering to reinforce this instruction. Goering's second goal was to promote the co-op in the local area. Goering spent about half his time doing each task. Goering found himself much less introverted at his work site.

Keywords: Activities; Agricultural co-operatives; Changes; Counterparts; Excited; Goals; Sustainability

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Emotions; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic; Teaching; Volunteers

00:34:33 - Daily routines

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Partial Transcript: What--what--how would you describe a typical work day for yourself?

Segment Synopsis: Goering lived within a few minutes' walk of the warehouse where he worked. Goering describes the processing of the coffee beans in the warehouse. Goering would work with his counterparts during the morning. Then, people would go home for lunch and have a break until late afternoon. When Goering was in the outlying villages, he would travel with the local co-op leader and visit people to encourage them to join the co-op. Goering describes the coordination between the co-op branches and the central warehouse in his town.

Keywords: Agricultural co-operatives; Counterparts; Encouragement; Recruiting; Traveling

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Finance; Lifestyles; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic

00:41:12 - Contact with other Volunteers

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Partial Transcript: Uh, were there other Volunteers in San Jose?

Segment Synopsis: Goering had a site mate but they worked independently. There were several Volunteers serving in other local sites. These local Volunteers visited each other regularly and became friends. The Volunteers in-country tended to meet in Santo Domingo once a month. There was also mid-service training. Goering feels that the training was adequate.

Keywords: Azua (Dominican Republic); Bani (Dominican Republic); Friends; Mid-service training; Padre Las Casas (Dominican Republic); San Juan de la Maguana (Dominican Republic); Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic); Site mates; Site visits; Socializing; Traveling

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Interpersonal relations; Lifestyles; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic

GPS: Bani (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.29, -70.33
GPS: Azua (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.46, -70.74
GPS: Padre Las Casas (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.733333, -70.933333
GPS: San Juan de la Maguana (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.81, -71.23
GPS: Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.466667, -69.95
00:44:37 - Contact with Peace Corps staff

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Partial Transcript: What about Peace Corps staff? Did they have much involvement with, with Volunteers or yourself?

Segment Synopsis: Peace Corps staff members visited Goering's work site several times. Goering found them supportive.

Keywords: Site visits; Support

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

00:46:06 - Different living situations

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Partial Transcript: You mentioned that you moved to a number of different living situations. What was the reason for that?

Segment Synopsis: Goering's initial host family needed the room he rented back when one of their adult children returned to live with them. So, Goering changed residence and lived with another nearby family.

Keywords: Adjustment; Changes; Expectations; Host family; Returning

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Lifestyles; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic

00:47:22 - Vacations

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Partial Transcript: Uh, what about vacations? Were you able to take a vacation when you were a Volunteer?

Segment Synopsis: Goering visited Haiti while on vacation. Goering also went to Washington, D.C., via Puerto Rico, to attend his sister's wedding. Goering also traveled within the Dominican Republic.

Keywords: Higuey (Dominican Republic); Marriage; Puerto Rico; Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic); Siblings; Traveling

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Haiti; International travel; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic; Washington (D.C.)

GPS: Puerto Rico
Map Coordinates: 18.2223, -66.4303
GPS: Haiti
Map Coordinates: 19, -72.416667
GPS: Higuey (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.616667, -68.7
GPS: Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.466667, -69.95
GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
GPS: Washington (D.C.)
Map Coordinates: 38.9101, -77.0147
00:49:09 - Challenges in Dominican Republic

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Partial Transcript: Looking back at your service, was there any particular challenge you think was, was difficult for you?

Segment Synopsis: The co-op federation provided Goering with a motorcycle for his personal use. Goering needed to learn how to ride it. For the most part, Goering felt he was able to fit into a role in the society, which didn't present him with great difficulties.

Keywords: Agricultural co-operatives; Learning; Transportation

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Lifestyles; Manners and customs; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic

GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
00:51:55 - Accomplishments

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Partial Transcript: What, what do you feel were your, your accomplishments?

Segment Synopsis: 40 years later, the accounting system, which Goering helped to put in place, is still in use. Goering learned to deal with differences of opinion without getting personal.

Keywords: First Goal; Personal growth; Sustainability

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Manners and customs; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic

00:53:20 - Potential violence at a baseball game in Dominican Republic

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Partial Transcript: Was there any particular moment that you consider one of your more memorable?

Segment Synopsis: Goering is a baseball fan and recalls attending a professional game between the 2 rival teams in Santo Domingo. There was a controversial call and the umpire was escorted to the airport by a military guard as some of the fans had come to the game armed with guns and knives.

Keywords: Airports; Baseball; Conflicts; Dangerous; Dangers; Risks; Safety; Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Lifestyles; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic

GPS: Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.466667, -69.95
00:57:52 - Lessons learned

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Partial Transcript: What, what was your perspective or your take away working with Dominicans in terms of, uh, how to go about building relations?

Segment Synopsis: Goering learned that if someone comes to you with the good intentions, that person should be made welcome. The locals found it strange that, at times, Goering chose to be by himself. When Goering returned to the U.S., he joined an urban commune where members shared their things and looked out for each other.

Keywords: Cooperation; Cultural differences; Joachin Balaguer; Local people; Locals; Relationships; Returning

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic; Washington (D.C.)

GPS: Washington (D.C.)
Map Coordinates: 38.9101, -77.0147
GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
01:07:56 - Reflection on Peace Corps service

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Partial Transcript: How would you, uh, in summary now, consider your service?

Segment Synopsis: Goering's Peace Corps service had a great impact on his life. Because of it, Goering lived in the urban commune after he returned to the U.S. and became a social worker. The vast majority of Goering's clients spoke Spanish. Since his retirement 6 years ago, Goering has moved to Albuquerque and works with undocumented immigrants.

Keywords: Albuquerque (N.M.); Career paths; Community service; Impact; Living situation; Spanish (Language); Traveling

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Emigration and immigration; Immigrants; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic; Retirement; Social service; Voluntarism; Washington (D.C.)

GPS: Washington (D.C.)
Map Coordinates: 38.9101, -77.0147
GPS: Albuquerque (N.M.)
Map Coordinates: 35.110833, -106.61
01:09:59 - Contacts from Dominican Republic

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Partial Transcript: Did you main-maintain, uh, any involvement with the D.R., continued contact over the years?

Segment Synopsis: Goering maintained contact with his work site supervisor/host father and has returned 3 times to the Dominican Republic to visit and is still remembered more than 40 years after his service.

Keywords: Advice; Buses; Deaths; Encouragement; Friends; Future plans; Host fathers; Returned Peace Corps Volunteers; Returning; San Jose de Ocoa (Dominican Republic); Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic); Special occasions; Telephone calls; Third Goal; Traveling

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Emotions; International travel; Interpersonal relations; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic; South Africa; Volunteers

GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
GPS: Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.466667, -69.95
GPS: San Jose de Ocoa (Dominican Republic);
Map Coordinates: 18.55, -70.5
GPS: South Africa
Map Coordinates: -30, 25