Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with John Trumper, September 1, 2021

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

 

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00:00:00 - Peace Corps responsibilities

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Partial Transcript: Hello, John. My name is Pamela Watkins. Can you give me your name and when you were involved in Peace Corps?

Segment Synopsis: Trumper was the Peace Corps doctor in the Dominican Republic. Trumper briefly describes his work experience before joining the Peace Corps. Trumper arrived in-country a couple months before the first Volunteers. Along with the country director, Trumper examined possible Volunteer work sites. Once the Volunteers arrived, Trumper was responsible for their healthcare and for overseeing the Volunteers who were serving as nurses.

Keywords: Changes; Doctors; Inoculations; Native Americans; Peace Corps Medical Officer (PCMO); Peace Corps directors; Peace Corps staff; Site visits; Spanish (Language); Transition periods; Traveling

Subjects: Health; International travel; Language and languages; Medical care; Medicine, Rural; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--1960-1970; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Management; Physicians; Rural health services; Volunteers

GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
00:02:51 - Early evolution of Peace Corps in Dominican Republic

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Partial Transcript: How many Volunteers, uh, were in the first group, uh, uh, in the Dominican Republic?

Segment Synopsis: During Trumper's service, the number of Volunteers increased from about 30 to about 200. The Volunteers arrived at irregular intervals. Trumper enumerates some of the various programs in which the Volunteers served. Trumper describes working with the country director, whom he found very effective with the Volunteers and with the local people.

Keywords: Changes; Cohorts; Fluency; Local people; Locals; Mexican Americans; Peace Corps directors; Relationships

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Management; Voluntarism; Volunteers

GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
00:08:32 - Medical challenges

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Partial Transcript: What did you see as some of the challenges with regard to, uh, the--your medical profession in, uh, the D.R., uh, among the, among the, uh, uh, Volunteers as well as among the community?

Segment Synopsis: The Volunteers were, generally, under 30 years old and in good health. However, outside of the capital, Trumper believed that the available healthcare for the Volunteers was inadequate. Trumper tried to visit the Volunteers every couple of months. Volunteers with serious health problems were flown to Puerto Rico. Trumper volunteered once a week at the maternity hospital in the capital.

Keywords: Age ranges; Changes; Community involvement; Community service; Doctors; Extracurricular activities; Healthcare facilities; Hospitals; Improvements; Puerto Rico; Site visits; Traveling; Volunteering

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Health; International travel; Medical care; Medicine, Rural; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Management; Physicians; Rural health services; Volunteer workers in medical care; Volunteers

GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
GPS: Puerto Rico
Map Coordinates: 18.2223, -66.4303
00:11:41 - Choosing Volunteer work sites

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Partial Transcript: When you were, uh, uh, first located, uh, to the Dominican Republic, and the Dominican Republic, were, were--and you, um, were looking for sites, what, uh, what were the criteria at that time for, um, the sites, uh, for the Volunteers?

Segment Synopsis: Most of the work sites were selected by the Peace Corps country director. Trumper had some input at locations intended for the 18 to 20 Volunteers in the nursing program. Trumper believes that these Volunteers were better trained than the local doctors.

Keywords: Choices; Decisions; Doctors; Fluency; Hospitals; Improvements; Local people; Locals; Peace Corps directors; Spanish (Language); Technical training

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Health; Language and languages; Medical care; Medicine, Rural; Mexico; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Management; Physicians; Rural health services; Spain; Volunteers

GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
GPS: Mexico
Map Coordinates: 23, -102
GPS: Spain
Map Coordinates: 40, -4
00:13:37 - Volunteers' medical problems

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Partial Transcript: Um, tell me about some of the, uh, things that you had to treat the, uh, Volunteers for.

Segment Synopsis: All the Volunteers were issued a medical kit. The Volunteers least liked to get a hepatitis shot every 6 months. The Volunteers were to take monthly anti-malaria medicine. During Trumper's tenure, one Volunteer had a fractured shoulder. Another Volunteer was killed in a motorcycle accident. Initially, many of the Volunteers were issued jeeps, although driving conditions were often unsafe. Trumper notes that Peace Corps has been active continuously in the Dominican Republic for over 50 years and has earned a good reputation.

Keywords: Changes; Conflicts; Dangerous; Dangers; Deaths; Disease transmission; Driving; History; Inoculations; Lyndon B. Johnson; Malaria; Medical kits; Medication; Policy; Politics and government; Reputations; Safety; Transportation; Vaccinations

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Health; Medical care; Medicine, Rural; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Management; Physicians; Rural health services; Volunteers; World politics

GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
00:20:45 - 50th anniversary reunion

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Partial Transcript: Tell me about, um, your going back after 50 years.

Segment Synopsis: At the reunion, among those in attendance were one Volunteer and several staff members who had been in the Dominican Republic at the same initial time as Trumper. Trumper was in the Dominican Republic for slightly less than 2 years as he went to Bogota, Colombia for 5 months to fill in as a second Peace Corps doctor.

Keywords: Bogota (Colombia); Leaving; Peace Corps staff; Returned Peace Corps Volunteers; Returning; Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Health; Medical care; Medicine, Rural; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Colombia; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Management; Physicians; Rural health services; Volunteers

GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
GPS: Bogota (Colombia)
Map Coordinates: 4.711111, -74.072222
GPS: Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.466667, -69.95
GPS: Colombia
Map Coordinates: 4, -72
00:23:03 - Description of the Peace Corps Dominican Republic staff

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Partial Transcript: You, you talk about, uh, being part of the staff. Well, how big was the staff and were the staff all, uh, uh, Americans or were there some Americans and some, uh, uh, people, uh, uh, Dominicans?

Segment Synopsis: At first, Trumper and the country director were the only staff members in the Dominican Republic. As the number of programs increased, the number of staff members increased. At the time Trumper left, there were about 5 staff members, all of whom were Americans. Eventually, Dominicans became members of the Peace Corps staff, as did Returned Peace Corps Volunteers. Trumper recounts the death of Rafael Trujillo, which some argue was backed by the CIA. This in turn cast suspicion on the early Volunteers.

Keywords: Ages; Americans; Changes; Deaths; History; Leaving; Peace Corps directors; Rafael LeĆ³nidas Trujillo Molina; Rafael Trujillo

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Health; Medical care; Medicine, Rural; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Management; Physicians; Rural health services; Volunteers

GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
00:26:26 - Serving in Colombia / Infrastructure improvements in the Dominican Republic

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Partial Transcript: Now tell me a little bit about your time in Colombia.

Segment Synopsis: Trumper lived with his family in Bogota, Colombia for about 5 months. At the time, there were about 600 Volunteers in-country. So, Trumper filled in as a second Peace Corps doctor there and flew around the country to visit Volunteers as needed. Because of his short stay there, Trumper did not get too familiar with the Volunteers or other staff members and did not do any additional volunteer work. Trumper comments that the level of healthcare and the transportation system in Colombia were much better than in the Dominican Republic. Trumper remarks on how life in the Dominican Republic has improved since he was first there.

Keywords: Activities; Bogota (Colombia); Challenging; Changes; Doctors; Education programs; Healthcare; Improvements; Living situation; Peace Corps staff; Rural areas; Santiago (Dominican Republic); Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic); Site visits; Technology; Tourism; Tourists; Transportation; Traveling

Subjects: Colombia; Dominican Republic; Haiti; Health; Medical care; Medicine, Rural; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Colombia; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Management; Physicians; Rural health services; Volunteers

GPS: Bogota (Colombia)
Map Coordinates: 4.711111, -74.072222
GPS: Colombia
Map Coordinates: 4, -72
GPS: Haiti
Map Coordinates: 19, -72.416667
GPS: Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.466667, -69.95
GPS: Santiago (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 19.457222, -70.688889
GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
00:31:30 - Politics in the Dominican Republic

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Partial Transcript: The other thing, if I want to go on, is, is the politics.

Segment Synopsis: Trumper reflects that the common people in the Dominican Republic were rather indifferent and unaffected by political changes at the national level. There was a stronger reaction when President Kennedy was shot as the Dominicans felt that American aid to Latin America might be discontinued.

Keywords: Changes; Differences; John F. Kennedy; Juan Bosch; Support

Subjects: Culture; Dominican Republic; Kennedy, John Fitzgerald, 1917-1963; Latin America; Lifestyles; Politics and government

GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
GPS: Latin America
Map Coordinates: -9.066609, -113.32832
00:34:00 - Volunteering at the maternity hospital

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Partial Transcript: No. I was in the field visiting the Volunteers and in--then a day a week I worked in the maternity hospital in Santo Domingo.

Segment Synopsis: Trumper describes volunteering one day a week at the maternity hospital in Santo Domingo.

Keywords: Changes; Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Johnson; Community involvement; Community service; Deaths; Extracurricular activities; Healthcare facilities; Improvements; Lady Bird Johnson; Newfoundland (Canada); Problems; Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic); Site visits; Unsupportive

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Emotions; Health; Manners and customs; Medical care; Medical technology; Medicine, Rural; New Zealand; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Management; Physicians; Rural health services; South America; Volunteer workers in medical care; Volunteers

GPS: Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.466667, -69.95
GPS: New Zealand
Map Coordinates: -42, 173
GPS: Newfoundland and Labrador (Canada)
Map Coordinates: 53.23, -59.999167
GPS: South America
Map Coordinates: -15.6192144, -100.9204189
00:40:48 - Experiences before joining Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: I was working on, on the Navajo reservation.

Segment Synopsis: When Trumper was invited to join the Peace Corps, he was married, had 3 young kids, and was working on a Navajo reservation. Trumper's wife supported the idea of going to the Dominican Republic. Peace Corps gave Trumper a choice between serving in Venezuela or in the Dominican Republic.

Keywords: Career paths; Children; Choices; Decisions; Family; High schools; Jobs; Kids; Motivation; Native Americans; Spanish (Language); Study abroad

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Health; Language and languages; Medical care; Medicine, Rural; Mexico; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Management; Physicians; Rural health services; Venezuela; Volunteers

GPS: Mexico
Map Coordinates: 23, -102
GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
GPS: Venezuela
Map Coordinates: 7, -65
00:43:24 - Living situation in Santo Domingo

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Partial Transcript: You were living in the, um, um, capital, uh, um, Santo Domingo.

Segment Synopsis: Trumper's family had a house in Santo Domingo and hired a cook. The Volunteers, although reluctant to do so, were expected according to local custom, to hire a cook as well. Trumper's 2 older children attended an English speaking school.

Keywords: Amenities; Children; Cultural training; Difficult; English (Language); Expectations; Family; Housing; Jobs; Leaving; Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic); Traveling; Vermont

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Emigration and immigration; Finance; Health; Immigrants; International travel; Interpersonal relations; Language and languages; Lifestyles; Manners and customs; Medical care; Medicine, Rural; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Management; Physicians; Rural health services; Schools; Volunteers

GPS: Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 18.466667, -69.95
GPS: Vermont
Map Coordinates: 44, -72.7
00:48:03 - Reflections on the future of Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: And what are your, um, uh, thoughts and expectations of the Peace Corps going forward?

Segment Synopsis: Trumper comments on the great economic development which has made the Dominican Republic a tourist mecca. Trumper hopes that Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic continues to respond to the needs of the people, especially outside of the capital.

Keywords: Changes; Community economic development; Differences; Improvements; Rural areas; Tourism; Tourists

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

GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
00:49:12 - Friends of the Dominican Republic

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Partial Transcript: Something that's made a big difference, uh, there's been for many years, and I'm still a member of it, um, it's called F.D.R. - which is Friends of the Dominican Republic.

Segment Synopsis: Trumper is a member of Friends of the Dominican Republic. Trumper describes some of the organization's activities.

Keywords: Activities; Changes; Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); Differences; Friends of the Dominican Republic; Funding; Learning; Returned Peace Corps Volunteers; Support

Subjects: COVID-19 (Disease); Dominican Republic; Non-governmental organizations; Nonprofit organizations; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Dominican Republic; Peace Corps (U.S.)--Management; Volunteers

GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
00:50:44 - Personal impact of Peace Corps service

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Partial Transcript: Um, what has been the effect of your, uh, Peace Corps service in your, in your life?

Segment Synopsis: Serving in the Peace Corps increased Trumper's desire for international travel. After leaving Colombia, Trumper was based in Vermont. Trumper has also worked in New Zealand, Newfoundland, and the former Soviet Union. Trumper has also been involved with the School for International Training which has been involved with the pre-service training of some Peace Corps recruits. Trumper believes that Returned Peace Corps Volunteers have made great, positive contributions to life in the U.S.

Keywords: Brattleboro (Vt.); Career paths; Cultural exchange; Cultural training; Dummerston (Vt.); Foreigners; Interests; Jobs; Newfoundland (Canada); Organization of American States; Peace Corps staff; Perspectives; Pre-service training; School for International Training; Third Goal; Traveling; Vermont

Subjects: Colombia; Culture shock; International travel; Nepal; New Zealand; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Management; Physicians; Soviet Union; Volunteers

GPS: Vermont
Map Coordinates: 44, -72.7
GPS: Colombia
Map Coordinates: 4, -72
GPS: Newfoundland and Labrador (Canada)
Map Coordinates: 53.23, -59.999167
GPS: New Zealand
Map Coordinates: -42, 173
GPS: Former Soviet Union (also known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics)
Map Coordinates: 60, 90
GPS: School for International Training
Map Coordinates: 42.888067, -72.56474
GPS: Nepal
Map Coordinates: 28.166667, 84.25
GPS: Brattleboro (Vt.)
Map Coordinates: 42.85, -72.582222
GPS: Dummerston (Vt.)
Map Coordinates: 42.9225, -72.577778
00:56:23 - Comparison of cultural differences

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Partial Transcript: The culture in the Caribbean, you know, the, the D.R., uh, was not as different from ours, um, as my work has been with Native Americans.

Segment Synopsis: Trumper comments on some of the cultural differences among the local and indigenous people of some places where he has worked. Trumper encourages others to join the Peace Corps or travel overseas in some other way and have informal interaction with the local people.

Keywords: Encouragement; English (Language); Local people; Locals; Native Americans; Navajo (Language); Newfoundland (Canada); Readjustment; Spanish (Language)

Subjects: Canada; Caribbean; Dominican Republic; Health; International travel; Language and languages; Medical care; Medicine, Rural; New Zealand; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Management; Physicians; Rural health services; Russia; Volunteers

GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667
GPS: New Zealand
Map Coordinates: -42, 173
GPS: Caribbean
Map Coordinates: 18.412309, -81.3388177
GPS: Russia
Map Coordinates: 60, 90
GPS: Newfoundland and Labrador (Canada)
Map Coordinates: 53.23, -59.999167
GPS: Canada
Map Coordinates: 60, -110
00:59:34 - Relevance of the Peace Corps

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Partial Transcript: And, would you, um, tell me your thoughts about Peace Corps continuing, uh, its work?

Segment Synopsis: Trumper comments that the world has changed a lot in the last 60 years, especially technologically. Trumper posits that if American policy makers had the perspective more like that of a Volunteer, different decisions would have been made, for example, in Afghanistan. Accordingly, the Peace Corps continues to be relevant.

Keywords: Changes; Perspectives; Technology

Subjects: Afghanistan; Dominican Republic; Peace Corps (U.S.); Peace Corps (U.S.)--Management; Volunteers

GPS: Afghanistan
Map Coordinates: 34.516667, 69.183333
GPS: Dominican Republic
Map Coordinates: 19, -70.666667