Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Douglas Wade, May 19, 2021

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

 

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00:00:00 - Experiences before joining Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: --Um--this is Wednesday, May 19, 2021. And I'm talking with Douglas Wade who was an RPCV from Brazil, 1964 to 1966. And I'm Pat Maguire.

Segment Synopsis: Wade attended Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. Wade was inspired by President Kennedy to join the Peace Corps. Initially, Wade was unaware that liberal arts majors, like himself were also welcomed by the Peace Corps.

Keywords: Applications; Applying; Friends; John F. Kennedy; Liberal arts; Misconceptions; Sargent Shriver; Unaware

Subjects: Carleton College (Northfield, Minn.); Civil rights movement; Death; Education; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Northfield (Minn.); Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--1960-1970; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Brazil; Undergraduate; Universities and colleges

GPS: Carleton College
Map Coordinates: 44.461944, -93.153611
GPS: Brazil
Map Coordinates: -10, -52
GPS: Northfield (Minn.)
Map Coordinates: 44.458333, -93.161111
00:01:56 - Application process

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Partial Transcript: So, I did and I . . . it was successful. I--I--I've got little bit of a story. I was . . . I was invited to three different . . . three different sites before, before I find--I found the--I found the . . . the final one.

Segment Synopsis: Initially, Wade was invited to work with a credit union in Chile. Because of a medical issue, Wade was switched to a public health program in Brazil. Upon arrival in Brazil, Wade was one of several volunteers switched to a different program to meet a new request by the Brazilian government.

Keywords: Application process; Applications; Brazilian government; Credit union; Internships; Invitations; Jobs; Problems; Traveling

Subjects: Brasilia; Brazil; Change; Chile; College students--Employment; Health; International travel; Mato Grosso (Brazil : State); Minnesota; Peace Corps (U.S.); Public health

GPS: Chile
Map Coordinates: -34, -71
GPS: Brazil
Map Coordinates: -10, -52
GPS: Brasilia (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -15.793889, -47.882778
GPS: Mato Grosso (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -15.566667, -556.066667
GPS: Minnesota
Map Coordinates: 46, -94
00:03:49 - Reactions to Peace Corps invitation

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Partial Transcript: What . . . what did you family and friends think of you joining the Peace Corps?

Segment Synopsis: Wade's friends were supportive, twenty-four of Wade's 300 college graduating classmates also joined the Peace Corps at that time. Wade's father was in opposition to the idea for economic reasons. Wade is an only child but his mother was always supportive.

Keywords: Friends; Only child; Opposed; Support; Unsupportive

Subjects: Anxiety; Career; Carleton College (Northfield, Minn.); Economics; Emotions; Father; Finance; Mother; Parents; Peace Corps (U.S.)

00:05:07 - Pre-service training

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Partial Transcript: Okay. Let's talk some about--uh--training then.

Segment Synopsis: Wade's pre-service training was at Arizona State University. Once in Brazil, Wade had two Brazilian roommates, which allowed him to improve his Portuguese fluency. Wade found pre-service training exciting and fun. At the end of training, the Volunteers had a ten day break before flying to Brazil. Wade's cohort started with 60 trainees but a third of them were de-selected, which Wade feels was unfair. The trainees had an hour of physical fitness every day, which Wade feels was excessive. Before joining the Peace Corps, Wade had been accepted to attend graduate school. Wade was able to defer his acceptance until he completed his Peace Corps service. If Wade had not joined the Peace Corps and gone to graduate school, his military draft status may have changed.

Keywords: Accents; Applications; Applying; Cohorts; Conversations; Criticism; Cultural training; De-selection; Exams; Fluency; Future plans; Graduate schools; Health training; Holidays; Language skills; Language training; Living conditions; Military drafts; Swearing in; Technical training

Subjects: Arizona State University; Brazil; Brazilians; Criticism; Culture; Draft; Emotions; Exercise; Health; Holidays; Home; International travel; Language and languages; Outhouses; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Brazil; Portuguese; Roommates; Teachers; Tempe (Ariz.); Universities and colleges; Vietnam War, 1961-1975

GPS: Arizona State University
Map Coordinates: 33.421, -111.933
GPS: Tempe (Ariz.)
Map Coordinates: 33.412778, -111.943056
GPS: Brazil
Map Coordinates: -10, -52
00:14:02 - Arrival in Brazil

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Partial Transcript: --Um--tell us about your initial entry into country. What that was like. The . . . you know, the initial weeks that the group, was in . . . that you were in Brazil.

Segment Synopsis: Wade's cohort first spent several days in Rio de Janeiro during which Wade and eleven other volunteers were switched to a program by the Brazilian government. Wade and his sub-group members flew to Brasilia where housing was found for them. Wade had two Brazilian house mates but took all his meals with another volunteer, who was housed nearby with a host family. Thirty-eight years later, Wade returned and visited with the host family. Wade comments that many Brazilians were coming to Brasilia seeking better opportunities, which he found to be exciting.

Keywords: Assignments; Host family; Living conditions; Meals; Return; Site mates

Subjects: Brasilia; Brazilians; Change; Copacabana (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil); Emigration and immigration; Emotions; History; Housing; International travel; Interpersonal relations; Ipanema (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil); Mato Grosso (Brazil : State); Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Brazil; Portuguese; Rio de Janeiro (Brazil); Rural; Social media; Travel; Volunteers

GPS: Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -22.911366, -43.205916
GPS: Mato Grosso (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -15.566667, -56.066667
GPS: Brasilia (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -15.793889, -47.882778
GPS: Ipanema (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -22.983611, -42.204444
GPS: Copacabana (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -22.966944, -43.180556
GPS: Brazil
Map Coordinates: -10, -52
00:18:05 - Mental health

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Partial Transcript: So, that's . . . and Lacy--Lacy and I were, stayed in the same place the whole twenty-one months we . . . we did it.

Segment Synopsis: Wade comments that some culture shock and home sickness were normal among volunteers. Staying at the same work site with the same site mate provided Wade with stability and support. Wade comments on some of the cultural differences between the U.S. and Brazil. For entertainment, Wade was supplied with a considerable amount of books.

Keywords: Acclimation; Cultural differences; Entertainment; Mato Grosso (Brazil); Site mates; Support

Subjects: Acculturation; Americans; Books; Brazil; Brazilians; Culture; Culture shock; Homesickness; Mato Grosso (Brazil : State); Mental health; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Brazil; Social distancing (Public health); Stability; United States; Volunteers

GPS: Mato Grosso (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -15.566667, -56.066667
00:20:42 - Assignment

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Partial Transcript: Tell us about your--um--your assignment. Sort of your first couple of weeks on the job so to speak, your counterparts, what was that all like?

Segment Synopsis: Wade was assigned to a community center of Taguatinga, a town of 50,000 people. The town was only six years old and had residents who had internally migrated from all over the country. Wade describes some of the activities of the center. The center was administered by a social worker. Wade notes that two other Volunteers were assigned near his site.

Keywords: Accents; Activities; Community center; Community involvement; Counterparts; Internal migration; Rio de Janeiro (Brazil); Social worker; Taguatinga (Brazil)

Subjects: Brazil; Brazilians; Emigration and immigration; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Brazil; Population; Rio de Janeiro (Brazil); Taguatinga (Brazil); Volunteer workers in community development

GPS: Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -22.911366, -43.205916
GPS: Taguatinga, Federal District (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -15.833333, -48.056389
00:23:47 - Projects

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Partial Transcript: What was your daily . . . take us through a couple of the--uh--you know, a typical day.

Segment Synopsis: One of Wade's projects was to start and maintain a library. Wade also helped to coach the local soccer club. Wade worked with the civic association to plan special events. Together with people from the civic association, Wade helped to build a playground, which was popular among the local children. Wade also gave informal English lessons. Wade developed a working relationship with the local priest who aided in some of the projects. Wade found the people in Taguatinga welcoming and talkative.

Keywords: Activities; Civic association; Coaching; Construction; Contributions; Funding; John F. Kennedy; Lee Harvey Oswald; Library; Local people; Playground; Projects; Second Goal; Socializing; Teaching English as a foreign language

Subjects: Brazilians; Civil society; Community development; Death; English; Finance; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Brazil; Portuguese; Priest; Soccer; Taguatinga (Brazil); Teachers; Teaching

GPS: Taguatinga, Federal District (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -15.833333, -48.056389
00:29:02 - Living situation

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Partial Transcript: I think these guys didn't charge me rent but I--I--uh--gave them all of the furniture that I had . . . I had given . . .

Segment Synopsis: Wade describes his housing situation. Wade gives a brief history of Brasilia. Wade describes the changes he observed when he visited his work site in 2004.

Keywords: Jobs; Juscelino Kubitschek; Lucio Costa; Oscar Niemeyer; President

Subjects: Architects; Architecture; Brasilia; Brazil; Brazilians; Buses; Change; Finance; History; Housing; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Brazil; Rio de Janeiro (Brazil); Taguatinga (Brazil); Transportation; United Nations; Urban planning; Weather

GPS: Brasilia (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -15.793889, -47.882778
GPS: Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -22.911366, -43.205916
00:37:22 - Memorable events

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Partial Transcript: What were some of the particular joys and challenges of year one?

Segment Synopsis: For Wade, initial challenges included mastering Portuguese and meeting local people. Overcoming these obstacles enabled Wade to be more effective in the community and to establish deeper friendships.

Keywords: Accomplishments; Challenges; Fluency; Improvements; Local people; Relationships

Subjects: Brazil; Brazilians; Change; Communication; Community development; Finance; Friendship; Language and languages; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Brazil; Portuguese; Taguatinga (Brazil)

00:39:23 - Diversity in the Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: You know, were all pretty much--uh--white, middle class people and . . . there were, there no Afro-Americans, no . . .

Segment Synopsis: Wade recalls the volunteers in his cohort as all being white and middle class. Wade comments that in Brazil, people with whiter skin are given a higher social status than darker-skinned individuals. Furthermore, in Brazilian society, men made the major decisions and women's opinions were not considered.

Keywords: Cohorts; Gender roles; Male-dominated society; Marriage; Pre-service training; Skin color; Socializing; University of Brasilia

Subjects: African Americans; Americans; Blacks; Brasilia; Brazil; Brazilians; Culture; Discrimination; Manners and customs; Marriage; Middle class; Older people; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Brazil; Portuguese; Racism; Sexism; Siblings; Social status; Taguatinga (Brazil); Universities and colleges; University of Brasilia; Whites

GPS: University of Brasilia
Map Coordinates: -15.761389, -47.866389
GPS: Brazil
Map Coordinates: -10, -52
GPS: Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -22.911366, -43.205916
GPS: Arizona
Map Coordinates: 34.2744, -111.6602
00:45:50 - Interactions with Peace Corps staff

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Partial Transcript: What was your--uh--connection to interaction with Peace Corps staff?

Segment Synopsis: Wade met periodically with a staff member based in Brasilia, which was forty-five minutes away from his site. Overall, Wade found the staff supportive. Wade also met several important American politicians who were visiting Brasilia. Additionally, Wade attended a conference in Rio de Janeiro. Wade states that he never felt out of touch with the Peace Corps staff.

Keywords: Congress; Dancing; Distance; Frank Church; Hugh Scott; Rio de Janeiro (Brazil); Site visits; Traveling

Subjects: Americans; Brasilia; Brazilians; Finance; Mental health; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Brazil; Pennsylvania; Politicians; Rio de Janeiro (Brazil); Rural; Social media; Staff; Taguatinga (Brazil); Travel

GPS: Brasilia (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -15.793889, -47.882778
GPS: Pennsylvania
Map Coordinates: 40.8781, -77.7996
GPS: Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -22.911366, -43.205916
00:49:08 - Accomplishments/regrets

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Partial Transcript: --Uh--what do you think now in . . . in sort of retrospect, what do you think were your--um--biggest accomplishments or things that you're proud of over the two years?

Segment Synopsis: Wade is proud of helping to create the library and playground. Wade also mentions teaching English and meeting a lot of people. Wade regrets the manner in which his relationship with his Brazilian girlfriend ended. Wade also comments that he could have been more active in seeking other ways to contribute at his work site.

Keywords: Community center; Construction; Expectations; Girlfriend; Gregarious; Help; Leaving; Library; Playground; Relationship; Second Goal; Teaching English as a foreign language; Treatment; Welcoming

Subjects: Brazil; Brazilians; Community development; English; Interpersonal relations; Languages; Learning; Marriage; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Brazil; Portuguese; Proud; Taguatinga (Brazil); Teaching

00:51:07 - Personal impact of Peace Corps service

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Partial Transcript: What are some lessons that you think you--uh--life lessons, so to speak, insights, that you learned as a Volunteer that you then took into the rest of your life?

Segment Synopsis: Through Peace Corps, Wade came to understand the importance of persistence, of building consensus, of being open to new ideas and new experiences. Wade appreciated the upbeat, positive attitude of the local people.

Keywords: Attitudes; Consensus; Ideas; Impact; Local people; Locals; Open; Personal growth; Positive

Subjects: Brasilia; Brazil; Brazilians; English; Experience; Insight; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Brazil; Persistence; Portuguese

GPS: Brasilia (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -15.793889, -47.882778
00:52:20 - Re-entry

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Partial Transcript: Now, what did you go on to do after Peace Corps?

Segment Synopsis: After a week with his parents, Wade left the Chicago suburbs for two years to attend Cornell University. At Cornell, Wade earned a master's degree in public administration. During the summer, Wade got a job at the Brazil desk of USAID in Washington, D.C. During his first year at Cornell, Wade met a woman who had been in VISTA and they decided to get married. After graduation, Wade had a 40-year career with the federal government.

Keywords: College majors; Deaths; Fluency; Graduate schools; Master's degrees; Robert F. Kennedy

Subjects: AmeriCorps (U.S.); Brazil; Budget; Career; Careers; Chicago (Ill.); College students--Employment; Cornell University; Death; Federal government; Housing; Language and languages; Marriage; Maryland; New York (N.Y.); Newark (N.J.); Parents; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Brazil; Portuguese; Public administration; Travel; United States. Agency for International Development; Universities and colleges; Washington (D.C.)

GPS: Cornell University
Map Coordinates: 42.447222, -76.483056
GPS: Washington (D.C.)
Map Coordinates: 38.9101, -77.0147
GPS: Brazil
Map Coordinates: -10, -52
GPS: Maryland
Map Coordinates: 39.055, -76.7909
GPS: Chicago (Ill.)
Map Coordinates: 41.881944, -87.627778
GPS: Newark (N.J.)
Map Coordinates: 40.72422, -74.172574
GPS: Manhattan, New York City (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 40.783333, -73.966667
00:56:16 - Continuing community involvement

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Partial Transcript: I . . . I did. I did some things with the Peace Corps.

Segment Synopsis: Wade has helped to lobby for the Peace Corps and has attended Peace Corps reunions. Both Wade and his wife continue to do volunteer work. After his retirement, Wade tutored first grade students for ten years. Wade and his wife are currently tutoring a local high school student from Pakistan. Wade has four children, all of whom have done public service. Wade has given numerous talks about his service in Brazil.

Keywords: Elementary school; La Leche League; Politics and government; Speaking; Third Goal; Wife

Subjects: Alexandria (Va.); Baltimore (Md.); Brazil; Chautauqua Institution; Children; Emigration and immigration; High school; Lobbying; Minnesota; Non-governmental organizations; Nonprofit organizations; Pakistan; Peace Corps (U.S.); Retirement; Reunions; Students; Tutors and tutoring; Voluntarism; Washington (D.C.); Wilmington (Del.)

GPS: Pakistan
Map Coordinates: 30, 70
GPS: Alexandria (Va.)
Map Coordinates: 38.804722, -77.047222
GPS: Minnesota
Map Coordinates: 46, -94
GPS: Wilmington (De.)
Map Coordinates: 39.745833, -75.546667
GPS: Baltimore (Md.)
Map Coordinates: 39.289444, -76.615278
GPS: Washington (D.C.)
Map Coordinates: 38.9101, -77.0147
GPS: Brazil
Map Coordinates: -10, -52
01:01:08 - Health issues

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Partial Transcript: Let's just circle back for a minute to your experience--uh--and--and see if there are any health or safety issues you recall.

Segment Synopsis: Wade did not have any major health problems while in the Peace Corps. Wade was provided with a medical kit and had access to local doctors and dentists.

Keywords: Doctors; Healthcare; Illness; Inoculations; Medical kits; Special occasions

Subjects: Africa; Brasilia; Death; Dental care; Health; Sick; Travel; Vaccines

GPS: Brasilia (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -15.793889, -47.882778
01:05:53 - Reflections on Peace Corps service

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Partial Transcript: I think of it . . . I--I think of it with a great deal of pride, a great deal of happiness . . .

Segment Synopsis: Wade reflects on his Peace Corps experience, stating that he was happy overall with his service period.

Keywords: Future plans; Returned Peace Corps Volunteers; Speaking; Third Goal

Subjects: Brazil; Emotions; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Brazil; Philippines

GPS: Brazil
Map Coordinates: -10, -52
GPS: Philippines
Map Coordinates: 13, 122
01:06:41 - Vacations

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Partial Transcript: We . . . we haven't talked about my vacations . . .

Segment Synopsis: Wade took two three-week long vacations. The first was to northern Brazil and included Bahia, Fortaleza, Manaus, and a stop near the head of the Amazon River. On his second vacation, Wade traveled south and stopped at Curitiba, Iguazú Falls, Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, and Uruguay.

Keywords: Iguazú Falls (Argentina and Brazil); Oscar Wilde; Vacation

Subjects: Amazon River; Argentina; Bahia (Brazil : State); Brasilia; Brazil; Chile; Curitiba (Brazil); Emigration and immigration; Fortaleza (Brazil); German; History; Holidays; Homophobia; Homosexuality; Language and languages; Manaus (Brazil); Paraguay; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Brazil; Portuguese; Travel; Uruguay

GPS: Brazil
Map Coordinates: -10, -52
GPS: Bahia (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -12, -41
GPS: Fortaleza (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -3.7275, -38.5275
GPS: Manaus (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -3.1, -60.016667
GPS: Amazon River
Map Coordinates: 0.707778, -50.089444
GPS: Brasilia (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -15.793889, -47.882778
GPS: Iguazu Falls (Brazil/Argentina)
Map Coordinates: -25.686667, -54.444722
GPS: Argentina
Map Coordinates: -34, -64
GPS: Paraguay
Map Coordinates: -23, -58
GPS: Curitiba (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -25.429722, -49.271111
GPS: Chile
Map Coordinates: -34, -71
GPS: Uruguay
Map Coordinates: -34.866667, -56.166667
01:12:03 - Returning to Brazil

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Partial Transcript: --Uh--Four, I and three of my friends from Brazil went--went back with with . . . with three of our spouses and had a--had a wonderful time.

Segment Synopsis: In 2004, Wade returned to Brazil with three friends and their spouses. They were impressed by the progression in economic development. The trip had been planned by Wade's former site mate, Lacy, who was now a tour guide.

Keywords: Contact; Conversations; Fluency; Friends; Improvements; Jobs; Language skills; Returned Peace Corps Volunteers; Site mates; Tour guide; Traveling

Subjects: Brasilia; Brazil; Careers; Change; Cleveland (Ohio); Danger; Economic development; Emotions; International travel; Ipanema (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil); Language and languages; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Brazil; Portuguese; Reputation; Rio de Janeiro (Brazil); Taguatinga (Brazil); Travel; Tutors and tutoring

GPS: Brazil
Map Coordinates: -10, -52
GPS: Taguatinga, Federal District (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -15.833333, -48.056389
GPS: Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -22.911366, -43.205916
GPS: Ipanema (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -22.983819, -43.204528
GPS: Brasilia (Brazil)
Map Coordinates: -15.793889, -47.882778
GPS: Cleveland (Ohio)
Map Coordinates: 41.482222, -81.669722
01:16:56 - Peace Corps' involvement in Brazil

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Partial Transcript: Maybe, it . . . just talk about the--uh--government.

Segment Synopsis: Wade notes that after the Brazilian military overthrew the non-aligned civilian government in March 1964, a large influx of Peace Corps Volunteers into Brazil soon followed. Peace Corps programs in Brazil stopped in 1981, in part because of the progress made in Brazil's economic development.

Keywords: Jimmy Carter; Missionaries; Peace Corps directors; Politics and government; Social life

Subjects: Americans; Change; Conflicts; Danger; Economic development; History; Mental health; Military; Missionaries; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Brazil; Progress; Religion; Risk; Safety; Volunteers

GPS: Brazil
Map Coordinates: -10, -52