WILSON: Okay. This is the Peace Corps Oral History Project, Angene Wilson interviewing Susan Samuel on May 13, 2004. Hello?

SAMUEL: Hello.


SAMUEL: Can you hear me?

WILSON: Yes, I can. All right, let's go. What is your full name?

SAMUEL: Susan Dorothy Samuel.

WILSON: Where and when were you born?

SAMUEL: I was born on October 31; I'm a Halloween baby, 1939 in Jackson Heights, New York. That's the tip of Long Island, the tip closest to Manhattan.

WILSON: Right.

SAMUEL: Queens, it's actually Queens.

WILSON: In Queens, okay, all right, same year as me. Tell me a little bit about your family and something about your growing up.

SAMUEL: Oh my. I'm the grandchild of immigrants and my dad and mom were both raised in New York City--one on the east side, one on the west side. I think I could figure that out if I thought about it but 1:00I'm not sure it matters. Dad was actually born and raised in Harlem, what's now Harlem, and his dad among other things ran a grocery store. I don't know how they got the grocery store but they had this store and my dad tells the most wonderful tales about living with his family of origin and the grocery store and the brothers and the sisters. And my aunts, as I understand it, my aunts in Jewish called him the wild one because evidently he was always getting into trouble and always doing all kinds of things. So he grew up, he had seven in his family. He was the next to the youngest. And my mother grew up with five in her family. Now her family came from I'm going to say somewhere in a place, in an area that used to be Poland--maybe still is Poland, not 2:00sure. They were there. Is that going to affect anything? Nah.

WILSON: We'll just go on.

SAMUEL: Yeah, we'll just go on. They came over and as soon as her parents came over with one child and as soon as they arrived--

WILSON: We're going to hear that.

SAMUEL: We are going to hear that? Pammy! Pammy! Honey, we're making a tape recording for an archive, for the archives at UK.

WILSON: Okay, so back up.

SAMUEL: Let me go back. Okay, so Mother's parents came over with one child and immediately as I understood it my grandpa got hit by a trolley and he was no longer able to work. So Grandma went to work, or maybe she always was at work. And she allegedly spoke five languages. She 3:00scrubbed floors for a living. She was a janitor for several different apartments, tenement houses in the west side where they lived. I think Dad lived on the east side. I'm not sure if that's correct; I can't remember my geography but one of them lived one side and the other lived the other. Grandma--mother's mother scrubbed floors; Grandpa stayed home and took care of the children unlike others of their generation, certainly a role reversal. Mother is a twin. Her twin-- Mother's name was Rose, her twin was Lily; and Lily and Rose were the youngest of five children born to my grandparents. Dad's parents, on the other hand, were actually pretty wealthy compared to other immigrants and so Dad was able to grow up and have some privileges that 4:00Mother never had. Dad at least went through the tenth grade; Mother only went through the eighth grade. But Mother, it's my understanding that Mother got a job as the secretary or I don't know what she was called at that time, to Mr. Martinson of Martinson's Coffee and worked throughout the Depression as did my dad. I mean they were married in '28 so they were married through the Depression and both of them were employed. And so they were really doing well compared to other people. They, when I was about a year and a half old, they were married eleven years before they had me and I'm the first child. I have a brother who's seven years younger than I. They decided to move out of New York City because my dad had a golf driving range and all the relatives were driving him crazy. They all wanted jobs and they all wanted special privileges and they all wanted to borrow money. So he wanted to get as far away from them as he could; so they moved to what really you would 5:00call barely up state New York, maybe mid state New York about 60 miles north of the city on the Hudson River in a little town called Cornwall, New York. And that's where I was raised. I guess I moved there when I was about a year old and lived there until I moved away and--

WILSON: Did you move away when you went to college or--?

SAMUEL: Well I went to college 30 miles away and I lived at college but I mean I didn't really move--move until--

WILSON: And what college is that?

SAMUEL: State University--SUNY, yeah SUNY at New Palz.

WILSON: Oh okay, right, yeah, right.

SAMUEL: And I was an education major. I guess we had to have an academic major so I was a biology which absolutely throws me today. I can't even imagine thinking about teaching biology today. But it plays out in the Peace Corps because I did actually end up teaching science in the Peace Corps.

WILSON: So before you joined Peace Corps, let's see, did you join Peace 6:00Corps right out of college?

SAMUEL: Oh no, no, no.

WILSON: No, you didn't.

SAMUEL: Excuse me.

WILSON: Okay, so when did you graduate from college? You graduated with biology and education to be able to teach? Certified to teach?

SAMUEL: Certified to teach with an extra summer, certified to teach middle school--then called junior high.

WILSON: Right.

SAMUEL: Science.


SAMUEL: And elementary, all of elementary as well.


SAMUEL: And no, I went to work. I became a teacher and I went to Long Island and taught for a year and had the higher IQs in Merrick, Long Island. And among the children in my first class were the twin girls whose father was an editor of Sports Illustrated. I had a child whose father was the creator of Mad Magazine--creator of Mad.



SAMUEL: There were a lot of kids who were very, very wealthy and I got all the bright ones. Now I got all the bright ones and the other new hired teacher got all the reluctant learners as she called them because she was six feet tall and I'm barely five feet tall. So that's the way the principal decided who would get what in terms of for teaching assignments. So we were there for a year, I was there for a year and went there with my best friend from college. We lived in Long Island and we were not happy on Long Island. We, there was just nothing for young women that we wanted to do. So we decided to throw our hats in the ring and try to go-- See what would happen, see what there was out west, and you know I guess we packed our bags and got on an airplane. And the other woman that I taught with who was not in college with us but became a friend, and my college roommate and I went to Los Angeles. 8:00In L.A. we flipped a coin--north or south--San Francisco or San Diego. San Diego won and in just before Labor Day arrived in San Diego, no job, no car, no place to live. And within oh maybe a week and a half or so had everything we needed. Second year I was in California-- So I taught and the second year I was in California decided to go back to school but I had been at the best art major school in the country- -state school in the country--New Palls, and had never taken any art course and what a mistake that had been. So became an art major and went to San Diego State and received, just got the major; I didn't want anything else with it. I wanted the coursework for the major so that's what I did. In the process of that, I don't know if I should tell this story or not--how I actually got into Peace Corps.

WILSON: That's the next question.

SAMUEL: Should I tell that story? Oh my word.


WILSON: How did you find out about the Peace Corps and why did you want to join?

SAMUEL: Wait till you hear how deep this is. I'm surprised I never told you this story before. I was-- It was in October and I was living alone.

WILSON: This is October of 1964?

SAMUEL: Of '64.

WILSON: Or three.

SAMUEL: Three, October '63. Roommates, one had gotten married and the other one was traveling all over Europe and I was living alone attending school at San Diego State. Had a woman who lived nearby and she called up and said, "Let's go for a drink." So we went down to the local beer place for a drink and we walked in and I saw an extremely good looking man sitting at the bar and I said to Belle--this woman I was with, "I've got to find out who that is." So I did and guess who he was. He was the Peace Corps recruiter!

WILSON: Oh okay.

SAMUEL: He was in town from D.C., yeah, in town from D.C. and he said, 10:00"Now you are going to take the test tomorrow, aren't you?" "Oh yes I'll be there." And I was. So that's when I decided I better look and see what this was I was getting myself into. And of course I had heard of the Peace Corps, and the other thing that really pushed me in that direction besides the good looking guy, was the fact that I had taken a course in African civilizations in college. It was a required course actually.

WILSON: That's interesting.

SAMUEL: Which was interesting. Every undergraduate at New Palz at the time was required to have a course in African studies and Asian studies.

WILSON: Really, good for New Palz?

SAMUEL: Yeah, good. And I just fell in love with Africa. Several of my fellow students had gone on to the Columbia University program Teachers for East Africa. My grades weren't good enough to get in. I tried but 11:00my grades weren't good enough. So in the back of my head it was, "How do I get to Africa?"

WILSON: So did you choose Liberia? By that time could you choose?


WILSON: You could choose Africa though?

SAMUEL: I could choose Africa.

WILSON: Because we, there was no choice when we went in.

SAMUEL: No, I could choose Africa. And indeed because of my inability to learn a foreign language, that was a good match. So I ended up in a Liberia program. I think you could make your choice. You can do that today, but I mean it doesn't mean you're going to get it. So, but I very distinctly-- As a matter of fact I don't think I ever asked for anything but Africa, I just said Africa period I think.

WILSON: What was the process of joining besides taking the test? There was a test.

SAMUEL: Oh my god, there was that awful training program that we had in San Francisco.

WILSON: You trained in San Francisco?

SAMUEL: Yes! We trained in San-- Well the training part, I can't say awful. But the training program was great fun; we just thought it was a wonderful thing to do. It's an interesting group process that 12:00occurs as you well know when the trainees assemble. They immediately coalesce and there are these cliques of people and as a matter of fact if you ask somebody who has been in the Peace Corps who, you know, in their twenties or early thirties who was in your group. If you say the words "your group" it doesn't mean your high school group, your college group, your sorority, your fraternity, it means your Peace Corps training group--the group. And it was a very, very affirming process I think among all of us to be together and to know that we were going to have this great adventure.

WILSON: What was your experience in training in terms of people who came and lectured to you or just other kinds of experiences you had? Was it 13:00sort of dawn to dusk--there was always something going on? Was there medical training as well?

SAMUEL: Well--

WILSON: I, for example, remember the snake bite kits and we were trained how to give ourselves an anti-venom shot.

SAMUEL: Good lord, you were only two years ahead of me and did that! We didn't have that at all.

WILSON: You didn't have to?

SAMUEL: No, not--

WILSON: But you learned about hookworms and tapeworms and--

SAMUEL: I guess so. It's just schistosomiasis.

WILSON: See, schistosomiasis. So you knew you weren't supposed to swim in any place, what, less than--more than 25 miles from the coast I think. That's what we were told.

SAMUEL: Oh dear. Or wear sandals, or wear sandals maybe, when you're walking in the bush? I can't--

WILSON: Yeah, yeah. I think that's probably true.

SAMUEL: Or wear sandals when you're-- I can't remember but I wore sandals for three years straight. My feet grew while I was there.

WILSON: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

SAMUEL: You know age 24, my feet were growing. I-- It's hard for me to 14:00separate that training because I worked for Peace Corps for years and--

WILSON: Yeah, right. And so that--

SAMUEL: And so I want to make sure I get that training to talk to you about as opposed to the trainings that I actually worked and helped to develop.

WILSON: Right, right. Different--

SAMUEL: So those are different kinds of experiences. I remember some very strong and some very strong trainers in terms of the cross cultural piece. One particular one was Warren D'Azevedo who was from--

WILSON: He was wonderful.

SAMUEL: Wasn't he wonderful? Yes.

WILSON: Who taught you all about Gola?


WILSON: Because that's where we were.

SAMUEL: Yeah, yeah.

WILSON: We were in Gola country.

SAMUEL: As a matter of fact we made sure that a later program in Nashville that we had D'Azevedo come and he stayed with Tom and me and spent some time with us and that was just a great joy.


SAMUEL: I don't even know if he's still alive. Do we know?

WILSON: No I don't. And now I don't remember where he was.

SAMUEL: Nevada.

WILSON: Was he in Las Vegas?


WILSON: Okay, alright.

SAMUEL: Yes, he was at UNLV. That's I'm sure of. But I don't know, I 15:00mean obviously he's very retired by now.


SAMUEL: We were young and he was old at the time. Who else was there? Several people who ended up, who were or are, have been faculty at Indiana--at Indiana University. Roy Seiber, the art person of Liberia--

WILSON: Right, person. It was Leibnow, Gus Liebnow?

SAMUEL: Gus Liebnow, that's who I was trying to think of, yes, yes. Anybody else from IU?

WILSON: I think those two are the main ones.

SAMUEL: The primary ones, okay. They were at our training program.

WILSON: Gus was a political science and wrote several books about Liberia and its history and politics.

SAMUEL: And I have Roy Sieber's household items, African household items, a wonderful book, and of course we had acquired a number of those pieces.

WILSON: A number of those kinds of things.

SAMUEL: Yes, yes, during the time we were there. The book came quite a bit later.

WILSON: How many in your group?

SAMUEL: A hundred and twenty, something like that.


WILSON: And you were teachers and was that it? You were all teachers.

SAMUEL: Large, yeah, I don't think we had any public administrators. My husband Tom of course was in the next--

WILSON: Right, group, correct?

SAMUEL: No, not, I was four, he was six.

WILSON: Oh he was six, okay.

SAMUEL: So there was a five in between. I remember training, dusk to dawn training. We were very, very busy and I liked the training that we had in San Francisco but when I started to talk about training I said some disparaging things and what I really was talking about was the physical part of the training and I hated every minute of it.

WILSON: What did they do physically?

SAMUEL: We went to the wilds of the mountains outside of San Francisco.

WILSON: Oh, so you sort of did the--

SAMUEL: The camp stuff.

WILSON: Yeah, yeah, the outward bound stuff.

SAMUEL: I didn't camp then; I don't camp now. I wasn't going to camp in between, you know none of that. And we were in a paper sleeping bag in the Sierra Nevada's or some place like that. It was freezing cold, 17:00we were digging pit latrines, I thought it was absolutely absurd and that's when I said, "You have to put me in a city. I will not make it unless you put me in a city. I cannot be in the bush, I just can't." So, I mean I knew what I needed. As a matter of fact, we spent a fair amount of time assessing for ourselves what it is that we needed in terms of placement.

WILSON: Did you also, were there psychologists who interviewed you and did you take the-- I can't even think of the name of the--


WILSON: MMPI, uh-huh. That test, personality test sort of.

SAMUEL: Yeah, I'm pretty sure we did. Yes, multi-- Minnesota Multi Phase or whatever--

WILSON: Exactly, right, right.

SAMUEL: I'm sure we did. I'm not sure whether my recollections are the same or Tom's stories are what I'm remembering about the psychologists who stood up and said, "There are two kinds of loneliness." Oh yeah. Okay, let's see how many billions of people in the world and there are only two kinds of loneliness? Let me think about this. I mean some of 18:00the people were pretty far out and we were just sort of beginning to be a little bit jaded about what we--a little bit critical about what we were thinking about. And so if somebody stood up and said, "There are two kinds of loneliness in the world." We said, "Hmmm, how much more do I have to listen? How much more of this do I want to listen to?"

WILSON: Right.

SAMUEL: It was a lot of lecture and I know that the Peace Corps training evolved into something way more experiential and was better. Even though our lectures were so good; they were excellent. They really were good.

WILSON: Yeah, we had good lecturers too. And you're right, it did change and let's remember that for coming back to in terms of what you did with training too. So where did you serve in the Peace Corps and what years? Let's be sure we have that on the tape.

SAMUEL: 1964 to 1967 in Liberia and I was in Buchanan the entire time.


SAMUEL: Yeah, down the coast.


WILSON: Which is the second largest city.

SAMUEL: Yeah, second largest city just about 100 miles south of Monrovia.

WILSON: And what was your Peace Corps job?

SAMUEL: I was a teacher the whole time.

WILSON: So you were teaching what grade levels?

SAMUEL: Started out in the government school teaching fifth grade and did that for-- And I can't remember if this is two years or a year and a half, and for some reason for the second half--the other year and a half--or the third year, I moved over to the mission school. No, I was in the mission school when Tom arrived. So I think one year at the government school and I don't know why I transferred. I just don't remember.

WILSON: Can't remember.

SAMUEL: Transferred over to the mission school--Catholic mission.

WILSON: And you were still teaching elementary?

SAMUEL: Yes, well by that time middle.

WILSON: Middle school.

SAMUEL: Middle school, yes, I was asked to teach science and math.

WILSON: Science and math.

SAMUEL: Oh my god, those poor children, yes.

WILSON: What was it like to teach?

SAMUEL: Well let's talk first about what it was like being there.

WILSON: Okay, alright.

SAMUEL: Being there.

WILSON: All right, just living, yeah, okay.


SAMUEL: I guess my-- It was interesting. I guess I've lived half my life pretty oblivious to where I am, that my surroundings are any different from anything I had yesterday, a year ago, ten years ago, or that I've aged or changed in any way. And I was, I guess I was about three months in and I was in the market. It was after school and it was very hot and the market was such a wonderful place with smells and colors and sounds that were very beautiful. And I had my head down because I was looking closely at something and I remember looking up and I had this-- Excuse me, sensation, and I realized that everyone around me was black. And that it smelled different, and it looked different, and I was just overwhelmed by the privilege of the thing. 21:00It was privilege to be in that place at that time. And I've had similar things happen in various interesting places in the world since that time. But that was the first time; it was just wow you know. I was-- I like to sop up Liberian culture like a little sponge and can you hand me a tissue please, my dear? Right over there, that's right. We'll chatter over-- They're not going to-- Thank you. Really, very intrigued by the host culture, by all parts of the host culture, by the not just the Liberian culture as in the African culture but the Americo Liberian culture particularly just absolutely and really did intrigue 22:00me. And especially was noticing the Americanisms that were a part of that wonderful rich culture. Tom and I got married overseas. And I know we're jumping ahead here. Tom and I got married and one of the gifts that we received for our wedding was from the grade school, the elementary school, the government school where I had taught the first year. And the present was a quilt, a handmade quilt made of course and the Americo Liberian style, which is-- Which replicates the quilts that were done in the antebellum southern culture here, and of course that sort of set me off in terms of what I would have wanted to study and never did get a chance to study the quilts. And I'm sure they're all gone by now sadly. Yeah, yeah. I don't know if I answered-- You had something about what was I teaching.

WILSON: Well, but go on from where you are. Say something more about 23:00your living conditions because you talked about the market but what about where you lived, what your-- Maybe and that could include the school too, what was a typical day like?

SAMUEL: I don't remember that very well, I really don't. I do remember the living conditions and remember I'm the woman who said, "You need to put me in a city."

WILSON: In a city, right.

SAMUEL: And indeed they did, and they put me in a place where I had two roommates--two women that I roomed with who were in groups before mine.

WILSON: And how many volunteers were there in Buchanan altogether? Were there quite a few?

SAMUEL: Oh my, well there had to have been five of us. I must have made the fifth because one of them was not interested. She sort of went her own way, walked to a beat of a different drummer than the rest of us, and that left four of us. And I was the only one who didn't play bridge and that's how I remember that there were four of us because they made me learn how to play bridge--the other three who were there.


WILSON: Okay, okay.

SAMUEL: So there were four and then I made the fifth one and Tom made-- And then Tom came, that was a year later so that's a whole different mix of people.

WILSON: Right, right, right, okay.

SAMUEL: But was Gina Peek in your group?


SAMUEL: Lee Reno?


SAMUEL: Must have been--

WILSON: There wouldn't have been--

SAMUEL: Three, would have been three. You were one, maybe two.

WILSON: No, well no, but we would have left by that time. '62-'64.

SAMUEL: That's right, that's right. Well no they came, they were there. They had been there a year.

WILSON: Okay, but they might have been two.

SAMUEL: Yeah, they were probably two.

WILSON: Group two.

SAMUEL: Yeah. Well anyway, there was this lovely group of people in Buchanan. We were stepping all over each other. It was way too many people for such a small place.

WILSON: How big was Buchanan at that point even though it was--?

SAMUEL: I'm going to say 10,000 because that's the number that sticks in my head.

WILSON: Okay, but that's small.

SAMUEL: But I don't know if they were, yeah, yeah.

WILSON: Yeah, so you lived in like an apartment?

SAMUEL: I lived in a--

WILSON: An apartment.

SAMUEL: Yeah I lived in a house to begin with. We had the bottom floor; I have no clue who lived in the top floor. And we had electricity most of the time, and running water some.


WILSON: Running water? Wow.

SAMUEL: Some, some, and I remember that I learned very successfully how to wash my hair and me and everything else I needed to do in about an inch of water in a bucket. So maybe it wasn't really running, running. I can't remember, it may have been brought in. But then when I got married-- Then we moved to a different kind of house when the groups changed in the second year that I was there. And then Tom and I were together in the third year that I was there. So I had three different housing--

WILSON: So you had three different housing situations?

SAMUEL: Housing situations, right.

WILSON: So did it seem very basic in, or did you feel as though you could go to the market, you could get the food, or go to a supermarket. Was there a supermarket in Buchanan?

SAMUEL: Yes, well no not a supermarket, but enough markets.

WILSON: Not a Lebanese store?

SAMUEL: Yes, lots of Lebanese stores.

WILSON: Stores.

SAMUEL: Quite a few Lebanese stores with everything you could possibly want and then the meat market and then the fresh fish coming in. And I really think that we knew how privileged we were. We really knew how 26:00privileged we were.

WILSON: Did you know that because you went up country to visit other volunteers and so you saw where they lived?

SAMUEL: Oh partially yes. And the other part was that we were the Riviera of Liberia so we had hoards of people coming to visit us, people we knew--

WILSON: Right. You could-- Could you swim in the ocean? Did you have a beach?

SAMUEL: Oh yeah.


SAMUEL: We had a wonderful beach that was actually built by the mining company and where the breakwater came in on the-- I can't remember where, but I mean there was a beach.

WILSON: Because the train came down from Nimba.


WILSON: North, and brought the iron ore to the court at Buchanan didn't it?

SAMUEL: Right, right, it did.


SAMUEL: And so we had a Swedish group there, a large Swedish group.

WILSON: Oh really?

SAMUEL: Really.

WILSON: Okay, alright.

SAMUEL: Who really took us under their wings.

WILSON: What do you mean by large? How many?

SAMUEL: I don't know, but it seemed like a lot.


WILSON: But it was more than you?

SAMUEL: Well my goodness, yeah it was a lot of expatriates and there were quite a few Germans and Swedes. There were some local bars around and places to eat dinner so we, chophouses, so we all hung out.

WILSON: So you all-- And were you hanging out mostly with expatriates or with counterpart teachers or a variety?

SAMUEL: We never had-- No, as a matter of fact, that's probably the sad thing about our Peace Corps experience is that we didn't hang out with country nationals. We either missed the opportunity, didn't take the opportunity, didn't make the opportunity, not very much.

WILSON: Because there were so many expatriates even teaching in the schools and so forth, there really wasn't the opportunity.

SAMUEL: I would have to look back and see what the dynamics were. First of all, there were too many of us. It was easy and comfortable. It 28:00was comfortable and easy to fall back on, "Well what are you doing after school?" We were all teaching except maybe one of us or two of us. And so our hours were the same and right after school we would all congregate together and sit there and play cards or do something after school, maybe cook dinner communally or something. We did that a lot. We were-- None of us-- Everybody stayed and part of the reason everybody stayed, nobody went home, was that we were this tremendous support for each other.

WILSON: Right.

SAMUEL: So we did stay but I think we missed a whole lot in terms of not forming the friendships with Liberians that we should have and could have done. The place where we did form friendships was with the kids who hung out with us. They essentially worked for us, and I put that in great, great quotes there. They were kids whom we helped to support.

WILSON: Right.

SAMUEL: Who were our students.

WILSON: And by supporting you mean paying school fees?

SAMUEL: Paid school fees, paid salaries too.


WILSON: I've often wondered what the dollar figure of the support that Peace Corps volunteers would have given, particularly in Africa, to school fees for kids because I think everybody did that. Everybody put kids through school.

SAMUEL: We had four kids that Tom and I did.

WILSON: Yeah, yeah.

SAMUEL: And I can't remember what the women and I did, but Tom and I had four boys who every day after school came home with us, came home with me. He wasn't home. And they cooked and they cooked, they ate it, we ate it. I mean they did a little cleaning, they did a little--they did the wash. That was the big thing they did that was wonderful that I certainly didn't want to do. But more than that, they shared who they were with us and we shared who we were with them. So that was by far the more important interaction rather than the employee/employer relationship.

WILSON: Yeah, and did you keep in touch with any of those four?


SAMUEL: No, I did for a while. I think I did for a while. Actually, we kept in touch with other people. And there was a particular person who was very, very important to Tom and me in Liberia and that is Father Juele. Father Patrick Juele was the first Liberian ordained a Catholic priest.

WILSON: Oh wow.

SAMUEL: And it was his mission school where I was assigned, and Tom at the time was a practicing Catholic. So I mean we were very intertwined, and then we were married in that Catholic Church by Father Juele. He came to see us once when we were in Oak Ridge, Tennessee and then he was on his way to America several years later and was in Ireland and had a massive stroke and died.

WILSON: Oh my.

SAMUEL: But he was on his way. He was supposed to come and visit. And he was very significant to us as a friend, as a mentor, as a guide 31:00and we spent lots and lots of time talking to him about the overlay of Western culture, on African culture, the overlay of Christianity on traditional Liberian religious beliefs, how the church had started out with him to keep him in seminary, for example, for many years longer than westerners were in the seminary. They were trying to get the African out of him, trying to get it out of him. And the older he got, the more he was convinced that they had to bring the Africanisms back into the Catholic Church in order to retain their flock. And that was his life's work.

WILSON: And he didn't lose that?

SAMUEL: No, that was his life's work was how to integrate what he had learned as a boy. And he didn't convert until he was in his twenties 32:00and he says that the-- He was from Cape Palmas and he said the light came to Cape Palmas meaning the missionaries came to Cape Palmas but he was already a grown man when that happened. And so he did-- The Africanisms were very much instilled in him as a boy growing up, and he explained things to us; he did all kinds of things. But the real gift that he gave to us, he had collected proverbs for his whole life. He was Kru and he collected Kru proverbs and he gave to us his collection of Kru proverbs.


SAMUEL: Which we have never given to anyone.

WILSON: Oh my.

SAMUEL: Would the archives like to have Father Juele's--?

WILSON: Well they ought to be someplace.

SAMUEL: They are in Kru and then in English.

WILSON: And then in English.

SAMUEL: And I have tape recordings of him, old tape recordings of him telling me what these things mean. And I think this is-- Who knows? Who has collections like this?


WILSON: Well that's a good question, maybe Indiana but--

SAMUEL: No, they didn't. No, no, no.

WILSON: They didn't? They didn't want--

SAMUEL: They didn't at the time I went to grad school there.


SAMUEL: No, no they would have liked to have had what I had but I never got around to giving it to them.

WILSON: Yeah, yeah.

SAMUEL: So now I have to dig it up again and figure out where it is and then I certainly would like to send it--


SAMUEL: Wherever somebody wants it.

WILSON: Somebody would want it. We'll certainly talk to Terry about that. How did you become acclimated to Liberia? I mean you know we talk about people having culture shock or having an epiphany like you I think maybe had about I am one among all these black people and that is a privilege but--

SAMUEL: I don't think I had culture shock.

WILSON: Shock.

SAMUEL: Not going over; mine was coming back.

WILSON: Coming back.

SAMUEL: Yeah, mine was coming back. I remember being in a soup-- Well, we're getting ahead of ourselves. Remind me to tell you about my 34:00culture shock. No, I think that our training really did a good job of preparing us for understanding culture shock.

WILSON: And so you were prepared for that? Was there anything that training didn't prepare you for?

SAMUEL: No, I don't think so.

WILSON: You felt as though you were prepared for the living--

SAMUEL: I just don't meet--

WILSON: --conditions for Liberian culture and history and so forth and for your job I guess?

SAMUEL: Well not that I knew it, not that we knew a lot. We didn't.

WILSON: Right.

SAMUEL: But I guess we were prepared to be open to new experiences. We were prepared to understand that there would be times we would be uncomfortable. Rather than specifics, we were prepared generally I thought to do those kinds of things. I think they-- I know that there 35:00were people in our group who did go home eventually. Of course this was the time when people were deselected.

WILSON: Oh yeah.

SAMUEL: There was some self selection, but deselection was--

WILSON: You could be deselected by the psychologist.


WILSON: Before you came.

SAMUEL: Yeah, the pink slips. Yeah, we all worried about the pink slips. And I remember in training, several people being deselected and hanging around--which was deadly, absolutely deadly. I know that when I became a trainer later on, one of the things that I insisted on was that if they were deselected they left immediately because it just did terrible things to the group process that was going on.

WILSON: Right, right. Anything else you want to say about teaching? You talked about the four boys. Were they your students?


WILSON: Okay. How did that go in terms of teaching science and math? I mean did you--

SAMUEL: The kids were wonderful.


SAMUEL: The kids were absolutely wonderful but then I really like kids. 36:00So I mean it's-- The kids were wonderful here and they were wonderful there and they have been wonderful since. You know my whole life I've always been in something having to do with children.

WILSON: Right.

SAMUEL: Even my social work is--

WILSON: Right, right.

SAMUEL: --of course geared in that direction. I just remember that once you heard what the kids were saying, there was some difficulty hearing everybody's language.

WILSON: But you learned Liberian English?

SAMUEL: Easily, yes. Learned it, wasn't hard, the kids made it easy; they made it easy for you to be there. They were just nice human beings and a) they wanted to be in school. That's part of it; they really did want to be in school.

WILSON: Sure, yeah.

SAMUEL: So there was a different--whole different mindset to why they were there and what they were doing in the school.

WILSON: Did you-- Do you and Tom still speak Liberian English sometimes to each other? I mean does that-- Is that part of your--?


SAMUEL: We still say, "How do ya?" We still say, "Ne my ya." We still can go, "Eh." There are a few things that have-- I mean this is thirty seven years later and we can still on occasion still use some pieces of those phrases some.

WILSON: When our kids were growing up I would say, "Don't humbug." You know or humbug--

SAMUEL: That's right, of course, yes.

WILSON: "Don't humbug me!" which is a Liberian English thing.

SAMUEL: But lots of things, but especially the-- Still will do, yeah, uh-huh--

WILSON: Or "Eh yah" or "ne my yah."

SAMUEL: Eh yah.

WILSON: You talked about recreation, learning to play bridge, beach, you traveled some, drinking.

SAMUEL: We drank a lot, yes.

WILSON: Yeah, yeah, right.

SAMUEL: I didn't drink as much as some others but yeah.


SAMUEL: Way more than I did stateside, let me put it that way.

WILSON: What about you went traveled around Liberia?


SAMUEL: Oh my goodness yes.

WILSON: All over?

SAMUEL: I traveled around Liberia, which was great fun. But also, we had that Christmas vacation and the first year I don't know that I went anywhere except around Liberia because I think that's what we were allowed to do. The second year we chartered a plane and went to East Africa.


SAMUEL: Oh my gosh, yes.

WILSON: A whole bunch of you?


WILSON: How neat.

SAMUEL: Oh my gosh, that was too wonderful. That was my first trip to Kenya and that was oh, since been many. Or not many, but not enough, but there have been several after that.

WILSON: Right.

SAMUEL: Yeah, yeah, what an interesting contrast between Kenya and Liberia.

WILSON: Oh yeah.

SAMUEL: Climate wise and all that, very rarely--

WILSON: What about the places in West Africa?

SAMUEL: Didn't go, didn't go, and even on the way home barely touched any place in West Africa, wanted to get over to East Africa and beyond as opposed to wanting to go through West Africa. Would love to go back to West Africa now, but and subsequently would have wanted to, but not then. Just wasn't interested.


WILSON: Right. I think that you've already talked about interactions with host country nationals and your experience with-- Do you want to--

SAMUEL: Not really, I really haven't. Let me tell you about--

WILSON: Well you talked-- Go ahead.

SAMUEL: Let me tell you some anecdotes as opposed to just straight down the question list here.

WILSON: Yeah, alright, that's fair.

SAMUEL: I'll tell you a couple funny stories. One of the stories was my-- We were at the government school and a woman named Marilyn Schanzer who was from Buffalo, New York was teaching with me. Marilyn came in another group and she and I were sitting there and we were in a faculty meeting and somehow religion came up and the principal said, "Oh something, something, something, but we're all Christian here, right?" And Marilyn and I, both of whom are Jewish, kind of looked at each other, kind of got these impish grins on our faces and said, "No!" And she said, they all looked at us--all the faculty members looked at 40:00us and they said, "No? What are you?" And we said, "We're Jewish." And the response was, "We thought they were dead!"

WILSON: Oh that's great, that's great.

SAMUEL: Isn't that wonderful?

WILSON: So did you educate them a little bit?

SAMUEL: Well obviously, I don't remember beyond that. We were just so tickled about it, we just thought it was so funny, we just thought it was so much fun. But--

WILSON: What are other, because actually that's my next question here, what are other memorable stories from Peace Corps service and--

SAMUEL: Well I got married.

WILSON: And why do you tell them still?

SAMUEL: I met my sweet husband.

WILSON: Okay, all right, so talk about that.

SAMUEL: Between my, this is in the change of shifts here, group that we had seen--met when we got there were gone, and the new group was coming in and they were coming and the first group arrived and came to 41:00our town in Buchanan and Marilyn, this girl I'm talking about, was one of the people. But that was maybe, I can't remember what month that was, probably July or August. Later in September, someone else was coming, and we heard that we were going to get a public administration volunteer. We didn't know what that was but we had heard about them and we-- The plane buzzed the school; the airplane buzzed the school where I was teaching one day. We were sort of expecting somebody and that means when the plane buzzes the school, that means you borrow the Jeep from the priest and you go out to the airport and see who gets off the airplane. So I did that, it was my turn I guess. So I did that, I took the Jeep and I went to the airport and we-- And I picked up this fellow, who was brand new, brand new to Liberia, and we get juggling down the dirt road and he said, "God, what a road this is." I 42:00said, "Well it's the best damn road we've got." And I thought, "Whoa, he's going to last about what, you know, maybe a week or two." And he thought, "Geez, what a bitch." So he went his way and I went my way and I'm going to let him tell the rest of the story on how we finally hooked up. That was in September and we really did almost not, even though we were in the same town, we hardly saw each other at all until just before Thanksgiving and I guess I'll leave the Thanksgiving story for him.

WILSON: Okay and we'll assume that he told it?

SAMUEL: Oh I don't know, has he already talked to Jack?

WILSON: Yeah, he's already done it.

SAMUEL: Well let me tell it, I don't know, I don't know.

WILSON: Well tell it so that we're sure it's on here.

SAMUEL: Okay, this story, this story-- He, his buddies from Monrovia decided they wanted to spend Thanksgiving in Buchanan. Well there was a question of who was going to cook for them. They had to get one of these women who were in, you know, in our household. Who was going to 43:00cook? Well somebody was going hither, and somebody else was going yon and so forth and so on, so by sort of process of elimination I didn't have a place to go. And so he decided, "Well I'll just pick that one." He thought, "Well I'll take her to the movies first." So he took me to the movies one night and he finally said, "Well, what are you doing for Thanksgiving?" and I said, "Well, I don't have any plans." He said, "Well, a bunch of my buddies want to come down." He said, "Will you cook?" And I said, "Sure, I'll cook." So that was his first Thanksgiving with me and he ended up having thirty eight more after that and still going.

WILSON: And so you all got married in Buchanan?

SAMUEL: In April.

WILSON: In April.

SAMUEL: Met in September, didn't hook up until November-- No, it would have to be October because Liberian Thanksgiving was the first Thursday in November. So hooked up in mid or late October, made Thanksgiving 44:00dinner, I went away the whole month of January or whatever that Christmas holiday.


SAMUEL: It was a whole month.

WILSON: It was a long holiday, right.

SAMUEL: Long holiday, and in that time period-- Now we'd been dating from October to December, two months, I paced up and down in my girlfriend's house because she was one of the teachers for East Africa and she married an Italian contractor in Uganda. And they have this gorgeous home and this lovely baby and all this other stuff, so I visited her and I paced up and down and said, "This guy's going to ask me to marry him."

WILSON: Oh wow.

SAMUEL: And she said you know, "Are you sure?" And I said, "No, but I think this is what's going to come down." And I paced up and down, "Should I do it? Should I not? Should I do it? Should I not?" And didn't really come to any conclusion, and I got off the airplane and that night he proposed. So there, down on one knee and all that wonderful stuff. Isn't that sweet? Such a sweetie.

WILSON: And so you--


SAMUEL: April 16, so didn't wait.

WILSON: No family came.

SAMUEL: No, but we had 125 people at our wedding.

WILSON: Right, right. Oh my gosh.


WILSON: Peace Corps weddings were really, really neat.

SAMUEL: Yeah, we had staff, we had embassy. We didn't know we had-- Said to us, "Well, who's going to witness your wedding?" And we said, "I don't know, what is a witness?" And we said, "All the people who are there." And he said, "No, no, no. You have to have somebody officially from the embassy and they have to certify that you were married."

WILSON: I wonder if Jack did that for a couple in Bo, maybe he did because we-- There was a couple who got married in Peace Corps while we were there.

SAMUEL: Well I don't know, I don't know. So anyway, we invited him and he did the official certification. Now, I tell you what. Instead of generally talking about Liberia, why don't I talk about the wedding?

WILSON: Okay, yes. That's fine.

SAMUEL: Because that's very fun and I'm sure Tom didn't do that in any detail.

WILSON: Sure, yeah, okay.

SAMUEL: Well getting married in Liberia was a wonderful experience and 46:00not only that but I got married in a Catholic church. Now, you get married-- You know it's just like--

WILSON: And he was okay with that?

SAMUEL: You get married in one Catholic Church; you get married in them all. You know I mean it's the same ole same ole. You go through the same thing.

WILSON: Yeah, and they were still using Latin.


WILSON: In Catholic Churches all over the world in the sixties, right?

SAMUEL: Yes, yes, yes. I think that's right.

WILSON: I'm not for sure.

SAMUEL: But I also know that I was among the very last to sign that I would raise my children Catholic. A month earlier or a couple of weeks earlier in Monrovia, another couple had gotten married. They didn't sign; she was non-catholic, he was Catholic or the other way around.

WILSON: Oh wow.

SAMUEL: And they didn't sign but the word hadn't gotten down to Father yet so I signed, which is fine. I didn't care. I mean that was fine.

WILSON: Yeah, yeah.

SAMUEL: But some of the fun things that happened, my bridesmaids were all from the Peace Corps group.

WILSON: Peace Corps, great.

SAMUEL: The audience was probably 60% Peace Corps, 40% Liberians--host 47:00country nationals and all the people we taught with and of course Father performed the ceremony. And I was a little bit late getting to the church and the shoe shine boy came by and saw all these people sitting there in the church and thought it was a great opportunity. So he went up and down the aisles looking for people whose shoes he could shine because nobody was, you know everybody was just sitting there.

WILSON: What did you wear?

SAMUEL: Oh I have this wonderful-- First of all I weighed about 95 lbs. And it was this little short white dress; I mean probably right under my knee, little white linen dress that someone made for me. And a beautiful white little overtop, lace overtop that buttoned down the back with those little teensy little buttons all the way down, lots of those, long sleeves but that was all lace so it was cool and comfortable. My headpiece now looks like a donut with a--.

WILSON: But that was the style.

SAMUEL: Well with some veil coming off of it, right. And our wedding 48:00rings didn't come. Our wedding rings were made by one of my professors at San Diego State. We had-- I had written to her and said-- She was a jeweler and I wanted her to make our rings and I wanted them to be gold and wood. And she said, "No, you're going to get ivory and silver." Well those were her gifts to us. I didn't know that so I mean I wanted. You know I was telling her what I wanted and she was saying, "No, I couldn't have that." So they didn't come. So the night before we got married I went down to the local market and bought some plastic earrings that were bendable and Tom got married in one of those. We just coiled them around; it was kind of silvery color. So he got one and I got the other and that's what we were married in. Then later, the real rings came and Father blessed those. So he had blessed two sets and he asked if there would be any more and we said, "No, this was probably it." So anyway, they came. 125 people came to the wedding and 49:00our cake was donated, was a gift from the people who owned the bar in town. And it came 100 miles by road from Monrovia, from the bakery in Monrovia. And it had, it was a tiered cake. It was pretty good size if I remember and it had a little bit of chocolate around the rim, but of course all the chocolate had dripped in that 100 mile ride in the heat from the capitol and so it was sort of chocolate. It looked like chocolate ice cicles coming down all over the cake and a little blonde bride and groom, little white blonde haired bride and groom because it was made by the-- Oh I don't know the Dutch or the bakery or something like that, sitting on there, and of course we laughed about that. And we paid about 100 bucks for our whole reception; it was at the bar of 50:00course. Champagne and wedding cake--that was it. I mean we didn't have to feed anybody or anything like that but about 100 bucks for the whole thing, just like we would have spent in the United States. Yeah right.

WILSON: So did you have a honeymoon?

SAMUEL: No, no we had to go back to school.

WILSON: No, just went back to work? Had to go back to school--

SAMUEL: Yeah, had to go back to school.

WILSON: But then you stayed an extra year?

SAMUEL: I stayed an extra year, I extended.

WILSON: So that you--

SAMUEL: As a matter of fact, Peace Corps was very surprised when that happened which surprised me that they were surprised. They thought that we would be leaving when my term was over, but I said, "No. Why would we do that?" I mean he wants to fulfill his commitment as well.

WILSON: That's what my sister did in Afghanistan.


WILSON: She stayed an extra year.

SAMUEL: Yeah, and they sent me home between the second and third year, let me go home. That was great fun. I brought palm butter with me and raised some money for the school. I spoke in several different locations at home. My dad had made those arrangements for me. One of them was a Catholic Church at home and they gave a significant amount of money--what I thought was a significant amount of money for the 51:00mission and for the school.

WILSON: So how did your families-- I mean, your family didn't ever meet Tom until--

SAMUEL: No. We were married a year and a half before the families met each other, before we met the families. And that was very good because then there was no such thing as, "Do you like him?" The question was never even asked I mean it was too bad by then. It was too late; we had already been married a year and a half. And actually the families were joyous, it was just fine. It worked for everybody, we were all very happy that that had happened. Tom's family is just wonderful, my family was wonderful. There was never any conflict. That all worked extremely well, plus we got to have three wedding--three receptions. One in Liberia and one in New York and one in Indiana, so that all worked out very well.

WILSON: Now you were saying earlier that reverse culture shock was worse 52:00than-- And you were going to tell a story about coming home.

SAMUEL: Yeah, coming home.

WILSON: What about that?

SAMUEL: I was a-- I remember we went to work for Peace Corps when we came home.

WILSON: You both went to work for Peace Corps? Where?

SAMUEL: Right, training program in Boston for the, oh gosh, I've since-- I've recently met some people who worked for the same organization. I don't remember who had the training contract.


SAMUEL: A group in Boston had the training contract.

WILSON: And the volunteers were going to Liberia or--?

SAMUEL: Going to Liberia, right, going to Liberia.

WILSON: And so how long did you work for them?

SAMUEL: Two months.

WILSON: Two months.

SAMUEL: Two months, October-- Maybe October, November-- Probably three months, and then January went back to school.

WILSON: And this would have been a group of teachers and--

SAMUEL: Teachers.


SAMUEL: Right.

WILSON: There were always teachers.

SAMUEL: Yeah, it was in the south end of Boston right next to Roxbury, right at the rise of black power. It was a very interesting place to be at that time period.

WILSON: But you did other training after that, right?

SAMUEL: Oh yeah, I did it for years.


SAMUEL: I worked for Peace Corps from '76 through '81.


WILSON: But that's much later.

SAMUEL: I didn't-- Much later.

WILSON: Okay, alright, okay.

SAMUEL: The one program and then off and on from '76 through '81.

WILSON: Okay, so you came back and spent two months doing this training?

SAMUEL: Oh yeah.

WILSON: Then you went to graduate school in?

SAMUEL: Indiana. But my culture shock was during that training.


SAMUEL: When we had to go to-- I was okay when I was in south end. I mean it was poor, it was mostly certainly black, and there was a level of comfort with it. One day for some reason I found myself at a suburban supermarket and not only was I overwhelmed by all of the stuff in the market but here were groups of women, and at the time it was the short skirts, the high boots, and the beehive hair, and I was so blown away by what these people looked like and what they were wearing 54:00and the plenty, the amount of goods that were there. And I was very distasteful of these things. I really for a long, long time did not like. I was uncomfortable there; I didn't want to be where there was a lot. I mean not that I lived-- I didn't sacrifice anything in Peace Corps, but to see all of this just was overwhelming to me and I was very uncomfortable with it and stayed uncomfortable with it for a long time. I'm still not terribly comfortable with it. The shrimp at UK still bothers me, the excess still bothers me.

WILSON: Okay, so let's go back to then in January of that next year which is 1968, right?


SAMUEL: Seven.

WILSON: 1967, okay.

SAMUEL: Oh, it would be eight, it would be eight.

WILSON: Then '68, then you go to Indiana?

SAMUEL: Then we go to Indiana for two years.


SAMUEL: And I major in folklore which is very interesting because my husband-- I had never been-- You know New Palz has 1200 students and we're going to Indiana University and he had been there.

WILSON: Right, right.

SAMUEL: And he was trying to explain to me. He did his undergrad there and he was trying to explain to me how different this was going to be and that I was just going to be a number. So we got home, got on campus just to I guess touch base, and I found the building, the little house where the folklore department was housed and just prior to the January session starting and I walk in. And someone says, "May I help you?" And I said, "Yes, my name is Susan Samuel." "Oh! We've been waiting for you!"


WILSON: Oh, that's wild.

SAMUEL: And my husband almost fell over. My god, that wasn't his experience at Indiana University, you know. And so it's wonderful, it was very, very wonderful to be at Indiana University at that time in the folklore department, very--

WILSON: So you were there doing a master's in folklore?

SAMUEL: Yes, a master's in folklore and I did all of it to and through the first draft of the thesis.

WILSON: And then didn't finish.

SAMUEL: Didn't finish, no, no.

WILSON: Didn't finish it, okay. And any of that related to Liberia?

SAMUEL: A lot of it related to Liberia. My thesis was on Spider and how the character played into the culture in terms of its mindset. And I was very convinced that the character of Spider and his-- The way in which he interacted with people was reflective of the fixed pie 57:00universe. In other words, if I can't-- If I get mine, you can't have yours. Or if you get yours, there's something less--I'm going to get something less. As opposed to the expanding universe theory where everybody can have all they want, which is really what the American way was at that point in time. And I was looking at comparing and contrasting the Spider with, I can't remember what, but I mean it was a whole thing built on this negative or this expanding versus a fixed universe mindset philosophy.

WILSON: And your thesis was that the fixed universe was the Liberian and the expanding was the American?

SAMUEL: Yes, and definitely that Spider reflected the tales.

WILSON: What's your favorite Spider story?

SAMUEL: I don't have a clue. I don't remember.


WILSON: Spider, how does the spider get a thin waist or--?

SAMUEL: I don't remember, no I don't remember. I really don't. I don't, I don't. And the sad thing about it was that I had someone from a North African country on my committee and he didn't like it. He just didn't like it and I just quit. I just--

WILSON: Because you didn't have somebody?

SAMUEL: I didn't have the-- I just didn't have the support to go on.


SAMUEL: And I didn't have it in me to go on. Today, I would have taken him on in a heart beat but at that point in time I didn't.

WILSON: Right.

SAMUEL: And I did also, the other fascinating thing that I liked that I did, not that it was so great but I liked it for me. I did a very extensive paper comparing Americo-Liberian architecture with antebellum architecture.


SAMUEL: And the different--

WILSON: Similarities and stuff.

SAMUEL: Yeah, the different parts of that. And I think, as I re read that maybe five or six years ago and you know it's still not bad.

WILSON: Right.

SAMUEL: It isn't.

WILSON: So did you have courses with Roy Seiber and Gus Liebnow?


SAMUEL: Yes, oh yes.

WILSON: Yes, okay.

SAMUEL: Roy Seiber, Gus Liebnow, and Dick Dorson who was the premiere folklorist from anywhere.

WILSON: Right, because Indiana has been a very big place in African Studies.

SAMUEL: Oh my gosh, a wonderful, I had a wonderful course in African architecture. Fantastic course in African architecture, a woman taught it. I can't remember who she was but her work was in Ghana. And the Ghanaian granaries were a huge part of this thing.

WILSON: Right, right.

SAMUEL: I was just so fascinated by all of that and just really--

WILSON: And you liked living in Bloomington and there were--

SAMUEL: Oh sure.

WILSON: And there were African students in school there too, right?

SAMUEL: Yes, yes, yes.

WILSON: So you could have connections there?

SAMUEL: And we certainly, certainly met a lot of African students and ate a lot of African food--continued to cook a lot of African stuff over time, yeah.

WILSON: So after that, after two years in Bloomington, then?

SAMUEL: Moved to Oak Ridge, Tennessee and forgot that I had been in the Peace Corps, just lived another kind of life for a lot of years. 60:00Didn't pick back up with the international stuff or the Peace Corps until 1976 when we moved back to Nashville and from Knoxville. Tom had finished law school.

WILSON: Okay, so this is the time you're having your kids?

SAMUEL: Having my kids, well adopting our children and going to law school and raising the kids.

WILSON: Right.

SAMUEL: And doing all that, so I'm not working outside the home most of this time. I taught for a total of eight years in various places and then stayed home and now it's 1976 and we have just moved to Nashville for the first time from Knoxville where Tom was in law school.

WILSON: Okay and then?

SAMUEL: And as we move into town I happen to be listening to the radio and I hear somebody say, "Peace Corps Kenya program at Peabody." And I think I even called the station and said, "What did I just hear?" 61:00And they told me, somebody told me something. I found that day, that morning I found who it was, where it was, who it was, and what it was. And I called a guy named Dick Mulaney who was the director of the stateside training program and I said, "I was in Liberia. I have been to Kenya. When can we meet? I want a job." He said, "What are you doing after lunch?" I said, "I'll be there." And that was the start of a long, long relationship with I guess I did ten or twelve Peace Corps training programs. We did large numbers.

WILSON: All at Peabody?

SAMUEL: All except one.

WILSON: And these are all East Africa?

SAMUEL: Nope, they were all over the world.

WILSON: All over the world.

SAMUEL: Fiji, Liberia, Kenya--

WILSON: Fiji? Are you sure?

SAMUEL: Yep, Fiji I'm sure.

WILSON: Fiji was doing in country training by 1972.


SAMUEL: I can't remember why we were doing it but we did Fiji. We did a Fiji program. Where else was-- Nepal.


SAMUEL: Just strange things.

WILSON: So were you doing the long two, three months?

SAMUEL: Yes, well yes.

WILSON: So these were countries who were not doing in country training?

SAMUEL: Correct.

WILSON: Because in country training really began late '60s early '70s.

SAMUEL: Well more was happening for that. For example, we had gotten the contract for the Kenya program. We had thirty five or so trainees that we were expecting and we got a phone call saying that there had been some killings in a certain place in Zaire near where the in country training was.

WILSON: Oh, okay.

SAMUEL: Would we be able to gear up in the next two weeks or so for about 100 more?

WILSON: Oh my goodness.

SAMUEL: We did it, we took it. We took the Zaire program. And because 63:00we took the two programs combined, it was the largest state side program since Nixon. So it was a large--

WILSON: What was your role? What were you specifically doing?

SAMUEL: I started out as a cross cultural trainer and ended up being the director of the program. I finally went back to-- I went to Kenya with Peace Corps as the in country director of the language component of the training program in 1981.

WILSON: Wow. Learn some Swahili or?

SAMUEL: No, but I could do the administrative part.

WILSON: No, no but you could do the administrative-- Right, right, so what kinds of materials were you using at that point?

SAMUEL: God, I wish I could remember. For cross cultural stuff?

WILSON: Because now you know, their manual is out as a book that people can use with cross cultural exercises. I've used some of them actually.

SAMUEL: Well I remember Bafa Bafa.

WILSON: You'd used Bafa Bafa.

SAMUEL: Oh yeah, oh yeah. As a matter of fact, when I moved here I found 64:00the high school-- There's a high school social studies teacher, Dave//

WILSON: Noble.

SAMUEL: Noble, using his version of Bafa Bafa with the high school students. Yeah, interesting.

WILSON: Right, right. That's a classic two cultures, yeah, right.

SAMUEL: I always wanted to use it-- You see I want to use it with police officers and social workers but have not gotten around to figuring out how to do that yet in a way--

WILSON: Well there are some other variations of that kind of thing now that are--

SAMUEL: I'm sure there are, I'm sure there are. I just haven't run across them.

WILSON: Right. So you were doing this full time, you were?

SAMUEL: Full time while it-- For each project, I mean more than full time.

WILSON: Right, that's--

SAMUEL: I mean we're talking fourteen hours a day for the six weeks that it ran, or the eight weeks that it ran.

WILSON: Right, yeah, right.

SAMUEL: And then nothing until you were writing the next, responding to the next RFP.

WILSON: Right.

SAMUEL: So I learned a whole lot in terms of how you play the game with Washington.

WILSON: Right.

SAMUEL: And how you solicit the bid and all that good stuff. So then 65:00when we moved--

WILSON: And this was all through Peabody?

SAMUEL: And then Peabody became Vanderbilt and at that point in time we were moving to Memphis and Peabody no longer wanted to do Peace Corps. Or Vanderbilt didn't want to do Peace Corps. So I asked permission to take the program and redo it and adapt it to Memphis State and brought it to Memphis State. And Memphis State had told me--

WILSON: That they were wanted to do it.

SAMUEL: --already that they were interested in doing it. So that's where I was the director was at Memphis State.

WILSON: Okay, so '76 to '80-- What did you say?


WILSON: To '81, that's a, yeah, that's a long, long time.

SAMUEL: Yeah and just pieces, in pieces.

WILSON: And then?

SAMUEL: Nothing, nothing for Peace Corps. That was it.

WILSON: Well but what about social work? Where does social work come in?

SAMUEL: Oh 1981.

WILSON: 1981.

SAMUEL: Starts in 1981. I go back to school in-- We move from Memphis to Nashville and I had never even heard of social-- I didn't even know what a social worker did.


SAMUEL: And wanted to go back for a master's degree that I never got, 66:00that I didn't finish, and decided to do it in social work.

WILSON: Right.

SAMUEL: Because that was available in Nashville because we were going back to Nashville, so anyway that's--

WILSON: And then you were in Nashville until?

SAMUEL: Oh my goodness, three years that time. No, I'm sorry six years there and then here for seventeen.

WILSON: And then came to Kentucky?

SAMUEL: Yeah, yeah, Kentucky.

WILSON: And have been a-- You worked as a social worker for the state first?

SAMUEL: Yes, well not in Nashville.

WILSON: No, no, no but I was--

SAMUEL: But I was director of an agency in Nashville, a child abuse agency in Nashville. And then came here and went on the front line.


SAMUEL: And worked for twelve years, actually eleven years, four months, and twenty two days on the front line. And when you're on the front line you count that time exactly like that as a front line investigative social worker for the state of Kentucky.

WILSON: And then you've been doing consulting since?


SAMUEL: Actually worked for the Attorney General for a while.

WILSON: Oh okay.

SAMUEL: Until the money ran out of that particular program and then worked for mental health, for Bluegrass Mental Health doing quality reviews on the foster care system for a private non-profit mental health agency that contracted with the state to do the quality reviews on the foster care system, again in investigations. I've always been in social work everything for me has been focused on the investigation, yeah.

WILSON: What, has any of that experience related to Peace Corps?

SAMUEL: All of it.

WILSON: I mean can you--

SAMUEL: Absolutely.


SAMUEL: Well first of all, the openness that I think you acquire when you are in a-- I don't know what the buzz word is today. Is it multicultural setting? In a multicultural setting, just simply 68:00transfers, you acquire that as a skill and you continue building those skills as you go through life. And certainly in social work although it may not be a different language or it may be, but in my case it wasn't. Just the different kinds of different folks, different socioeconomic groups, different geographic groups, all those kinds of things played into the openness that you have to have for social work translated very, very well I think from the Peace Corps and the international experience.

WILSON: What about the impact of Peace Corps on your family, on your daughters?

SAMUEL: Oh my gosh, oh my goodness. Yeah, I'm going to tell you that in five minutes two young men are going to walk in that I'm going to have to put to work. So I am so sorry.


WILSON: Okay, alright, that's okay.

SAMUEL: I don't know whether we're going to continue some other time or we're going to-- You tell me what you want to do.

WILSON: Well let's see if we can finish in--


WILSON: I mean I--

SAMUEL: I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry. I just didn't plan to have all this happen at the same time.

WILSON: Well I should have called and reminded you too.

SAMUEL: No, it wouldn't have mattered, wouldn't have mattered. I still have to do this.

WILSON: Yeah, because you've got to move, right.

SAMUEL: The children grew up with Peace Corps. And never--

WILSON: Because of the training stuff that you were doing?

SAMUEL: Well because of the training stuff but because we had an international open door always.

WILSON: Okay, okay.

SAMUEL: Whether that was-- When we were always involved with other Peace Corps groups, groups of returned Peace Corps volunteers; we've always been involved with our PCVs. So those people were in and out of the house. Mom was employed by Peace Corps. Mom went overseas and Dad stayed home and took care of the kids so Mom could do Peace Corps things. Peace Corps was all over the house; artifacts were all over the house; different foods were served that they never touched. But 70:00in fact they disliked the smell of palm oil so much that they would leave the house whenever I was cooking Liberian or West African and somewhat. They, but they grew up with it. No one ever told them they should go to Peace Corps--no one. In fact, we never raised the issue with either of the kids. But they told us later that it was sort of a given. It was, as you grow up, you go to high school, you graduate from high school, you go to college, you graduate from college, you go to Peace Corps, you finish Peace Corps-- It was just in the series, period. Then you come back and you go to graduate school or something like that, some variation of that thing. You just don't do, it's just part of what you do. It's in the ----------(??), you just can't change that. You're a Samuel, you just can't change that.

WILSON: And they did.

SAMUEL: And they did. And part of it, I think part of the reason that 71:00they thought that was such an okay thing to do was that we continued on the international trail. There were time periods when we did nothing. But then Tom got involved here with international programs pretty quickly, and as soon as that happened then the international piece was in the forefront again in our lives.

WILSON: And let's put down in the interview so we have that information, their names and where they were and when they were in Peace Corps.

SAMUEL: Our youngest daughter went first. She's Erica Samuel and she served in Turkmenistan and you know what, I have no idea what the years were. I just don't remember what her years were.

WILSON: Not too long ago?

SAMUEL: No, not too-- Well she was further ago than Jessica who was more recent.

WILSON: Right, right.

SAMUEL: Jessica's been back from Namibia. Jessica Samuel served in Namibia until, I don't know, a year and a half ago or something like that. I just haven't kept track.


WILSON: So until 2002?

SAMUEL: Yeah, they were not in at the same time. The younger one went first and then the older one went.

WILSON: Right, right.

SAMUEL: And they both served two years.

WILSON: And Erica was doing?

SAMUEL: Erica was doing English as a second language for physicians in up country in a city near the Caspian Sea in Turkmenistan.

WILSON: And you both got there to visit?

SAMUEL: Only me.

WILSON: No you only went.

SAMUEL: I'm the only one who went to visit Erica.

WILSON: You went to visit her, right.

SAMUEL: Tom tried to get there and the airplane didn't go at the right time. He was in neighboring Uzbekistan and could not get to-- He was in Tashkent and could not--

WILSON: But you both went to visit--

SAMUEL: Jessica.

WILSON: In Namibia and South Africa.

SAMUEL: In Namibia, right, as did our nephew who is roaming around the house here somewhere.

WILSON: Oh okay, right, right.

SAMUEL: Yes, we certainly made it a point to go visit. And I think that probably the only thing I would want to say there is there's an old Liberian expression that says, "I met it when I came and I'll see 73:00it when I go." And it really means that things stay the same. It's always that way or it will always be that way. And I had a very, very strong sense during both visits that nothing had changed. Nothing had changed. The Peace Corps experience was universal to every member in our family and it was the same, the same frustrations, the same joys, the same things to cry over, the same things to be frustrated--well I said frustrations. All of it was the same even though the place and time had changed, nothing had changed. So we met it when we came and we'll see it when we go. And that may be true for other people. I'd 74:00be interested to hear what other people have to say about how that jumps, whether they experience the same thing.

[End of interview.]

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