WILSON: This is the University of Kentucky's Peace Corps Oral Historyrecording for the University of Kentucky Oral History Program October 1, 2004. Interviewer: Jack Wilson. Please state your full name.
MCFARLAND: Cecil Duncan McFarland.
WILSON: And Cecil, where are when were you born?
MCFARLAND: I was born October 22, 1948 in Somerset. My parents wereliving in Monticello at the time.
WILSON: And that's in Kentucky.
MCFARLAND: That's in Kentucky.
WILSON: Tell me something about your family and your growing up so weget a flavor of your background.
MCFARLAND: Okay in 1954 my father and mother and I have an older sister1:00moved from Monticello to Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. The farm he was living on and working with his grandfather was taken over by the Corps of Engineers and made into Lake Cumberland. So he shipped up with the family and we moved up to Lawrenceburg to join my mother's brother-- Warren Duncan--and my father went into business into a farm/feed store in Lawrenceburg. And my mother still lives in Lawrenceburg, my father is dead, and I grew up in Lawrenceburg. So that's home.
WILSON: Okay so where you initially were is under water.
MCFARLAND: Under water--it was a little old community called Rowenawhich it actually shows up on the map but it is under the lake just down below the Lake Cumberland State Park.
WILSON: Okay, anything else about your growing up in the Lawrenceburg2:00area?
MCFARLAND: For me a typical small rural community in central Kentucky--agriculture based, small high school, graduating class of 99 kids in 1966, nothing out of the ordinary I wouldn't think from any other small town high school or life.
WILSON: And then you went off to college someplace?
MCFARLAND: In 1966 I went to Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond,Kentucky, studied agriculture because that was kind of something I knew. And I got a degree in dairy science with a minor in business management in 1970 I graduated.
WILSON: And when you graduated in 1970, what came next?
MCFARLAND: Like so many of my other classmates we went to work for theKentucky Department of Highways. I like to say as a glorified gardener 3:00I was an agronomist in the Department of Road Sign Development in the Department of Highways. I did that for two years until 1972 and my wife graduated from Eastern in 1972. And the day she graduated I submitted my resignation; that was quite enough of being a glorified gardener.
WILSON: So you were married when?
MCFARLAND: I got married in 1969.
MCFARLAND: To Sheila Smith--she has no middle name--so now she is SheilaSmith McFarland.
WILSON: She continued at Eastern while you were working for theDepartment of Highways?
MCFARLAND: Correct. She went and finished her schooling at Easternwhile I worked for the Department of Highways.
WILSON: You were saying that you submitted your resignation from the4:00Department of Highways and then what?
MCFARLAND: We went off to Peace Corps. It was interesting kind of howwe got to that point. But my wife commuted--we were living in Frankfort at that time--she commuted to Richmond and one of the fellow students she went back and forth with had been a former Peace Corps volunteer. And they talked about it and she brought home the stories and kind of got us quite interested in doing similar type of stuff. So in 1971 we actually applied for--to become Peace Corps volunteers. They wanted me to go in 1971; they offered me an assignment in Zaire and because my wife hadn't graduated yet we asked not to go and to put it off. So in the spring of 1972 they came back and said, "Well Zaire is still open or you can go to Iran, or here is this little place called Micronesia- 5:00-Pohnpei--you can go there." I had never heard of the place. When we opened up the atlas and saw it was island in the Pacific the choices were made. So in June 1972 we headed out to Pohnpei, Micronesia.
WILSON: What do you remember about your thought process or whatmotivated you at that time to join the Peace Corps?
MCFARLAND: I don't remember the positive parts. I remember I wasn'texactly happy with the job I had and we wanted to do something entirely different and move around and the Peace Corps seemed to be the perfect opportunity to do both. That's about all that I remember about why we joined the Peace Corps. It was just--
WILSON: And the Pacific islands sounded pretty good?
MCFARLAND: Sounded pretty good. You had this vision of sandy beachesand you know warm climates and salt water and such. Which were a 6:00little bit-- That was a bit naive but we learned later.
WILSON: Where did you train?
MCFARLAND: We first did our-- We gathered together in San Jose,California just as a pre-staging site where all the volunteers-- Let me back up, you were not volunteers at that moment--you were trainees. The Peace Corps is quite strict on calling volunteers, volunteers only after you finish training and been sworn in. So we were only trainees. We staged in San Jose, California for about three or four days where they started their de-selection process, haircuts and indoctrination into the foods that we may or may not have in Micronesia. And then each group who were going to Micronesia--each group went to their own islands for training. They were doing in country training at that point which was a fairly new thing in 1972 for Peace Corps to go 7:00straight to the site and do the training. Previously they trained I think in southern Puerto Rico, southern Hawaii but never on the islands themselves. So I think our group was the first group in 1972 to train on site in Micronesia. So we flew out as one big group but initially after landing in Guam we split up and everybody went out to 7 or 10 different islands on different planes. It was June 1972.
WILSON: And what did the training consist of?
MCFARLAND: Language, culture were the principal two things we spent timein. We also spent time living with families. I was an agriculturalist both by background in education and of course I was going to be working in agriculture there. There was an agriculture and trade school called PATS--Pohnpei Agriculture and Trade School and we were assigned 8:00there following the training. But there was no training for me in the technical field. If one didn't have a technical background of some sort then they would have technical training also with the language and the culture. Because I already had my technology background I just had language and culture training. And that went on for 12 weeks.
WILSON: And at the end of that 12 weeks based on what you said earlierthere was some sort of determination as to whether you stayed and were assigned or--?
MCFARLAND: If you finished the 12 weeks you got sworn in as a volunteerand at that point in time you were a volunteer. That also meant you were an official U.S. government employee at that moment. Up until then you were just a trainee and that was it. There was no de- selection per say at that time in Peace Corps--again one of the things they had changed in the late 1960s/early 1970s about de-selection 9:00process. There were a lot of people who self de-selected out of the training program for various reasons. We had one individual who lasted 3 days and some lasted 2 weeks, some lasted until the end of training. We went in with I don't know maybe 30 volunteers--trainees--and I think we finished with about 25 out of training. The other five left early and came back to the States.
WILSON: And then you were assigned where?
MCFARLAND: Went to the site of the school. On the island of Pohnpeithere were no roads around it so we had to take boats from the capital which was Kolonia with a K to the site of the trade school. It took about an hour and a half boat ride to get to the school. It's a Jesuit school, it had an American Jesuit priest, it offered trade and 10:00agriculture curriculum, mechanics, construction agriculture, four year high school, boarding school made up of students made up of all the Micronesian islands--about 125 students there I think. And my job was to teach agriculture in the morning about various types of agriculture depending on the semester and then we had a farm and I managed the farm in the afternoons. We had pigs and chickens and vegetables and sweet potatoes and yams and cassava. So it was a full day work schedule.
WILSON: And your wife was with you and she was doing what?
MCFARLAND: She also was a teacher. They used her in English and Math.She actually had a teaching degree where I did not, so she was much more qualified to be a teacher than I was. So we both taught in the morning and in the afternoons she would wash clothes by hand and I don't 11:00know what else she did. I'll tell you what -- there wasn't much to do.
WILSON: Well that was the next thing I was going to ask you, what didone do beyond the job or for recreation on Pohnpei?
MCFARLAND: There was-- Because we lived right on the ocean there waslots to do in and around the ocean. We could fish mostly, we could shell hunt. I learned to fish many different ways: you could fish at night with spears, you could hand line fish, you could use nets and go fishing, we would go hand--fishing with our bare hands--and try to catch fish, and we would hunt sharks with spears and stingrays with spears. I had a good friend there who had a double out rigger canoe with a little 6 horsepower Suzuki engine on the back of it. It was wonderful for chasing sharks and going out to what we called the outer islands. The main island of Pohnpei was actually a mangrove swamp, 12:00had no beaches on it at all but the barrier reef around the island had lots of little sandy islands. And you would go off the main island to these little barrier reef islands for dates--picnics or outings--we would fish and shell on those little islands. That was pretty much the recreation. We were isolated; you had of course no TV, no movies, no grocery stores, there was nothing in the little school site other than the students and the teachers who taught there.
WILSON: So how were you supplied?
MCFARLAND: They would put together orders of food usually from Japan andship in case lots of Spam, case lots of Dinty Moore corned beef hash, 13:00Jell-O, Kool-Aid, things like that all in the cans. Plus we would fish and catch a lot of fish. Occasionally you could buy pork from some of the local farmers but pork was pretty tough and pretty rangy and you usually wouldn't buy much. So we pretty much just lived off the things we caught or the things out of cans. There wasn't much agriculture on a rural island like that anyway unless you like grapefruit and yams. After a few meals of that starch that was about all you wanted.
WILSON: And what about the other teachers in the schools? You mentioneda number of those.
MCFARLAND: There were maybe two other Peace Corps volunteers wholived at the school and taught and then the Jesuit society had some volunteers themselves who would come out and stay quite a long period of time. And there were four or five Jesuit priests who were teachers 14:00and then they had hired a few other teachers under contract. They had specialties, one was a mechanic who could teach mechanics and keep the boats and motors running at the school. And the other guy was a development specialist--agriculture and small scale business development specialist--and so they hired him under contract.
WILSON: And your living conditions?
MCFARLAND: We had a two room concrete block house that we lived inthat was probably 30 feet by 30 feet. The water supply came from a catchments system off the room; we had a 55 gallon drum. We had enough rain on this island that you never really had to worry about water. We had an average of 400 inches of rain a year and so with a 55 gallon drum hooked up to a gutter you had all the water you usually would 15:00want. So that was the primary source of water but then the school itself had a dam up in the mountains and they piped in water to the houses from this dam pressurized just by the head of the dam.
MCFARLAND: For Peace Corps volunteers it was actually goodaccommodations. Some of the other volunteers on the island who weren't at the school had the typical thatch roof shacks and bamboo floors so we felt quite lucky to have our two rooms. We had a little kerosene refrigerator that was about 2 cubic feet and used a gallon of kerosene a week. I could make one tray of ice a day out of this little kerosene refrigerator. And our cooking stoves were little kerosene stoves that used a fairly large wick--about a 3 inch, 4 inch wick--and that was our cooking. We had two of those. Lights, we had a generator at the school that ran from 7 to 9 so students could study, 16:00so we had electricity from 7 to 9. The rest of the time there was no electricity. We didn't need it, we went to bed early and got up early. If you needed any light after that you had kerosene lanterns and hurricane lanterns for light.
WILSON: In terms of you acclimation what was the most difficult thing toadjust to?
MCFARLAND: Probably the food. Looking back I had a very simpleconsumption life. I had corn, green beans, potatoes and that was it. The vegetable side and mother always had her fried chicken or roast beef, occasionally pork. And when we got to Micronesia the starch was rice. I don't think I had ever eaten rice in my life--maybe as a dessert rice pudding. And the meat source was primarily ocean based. 17:00Again I can't even remember having ever eaten any kind of ocean fish at all growing up. And then the delicacy food they had were turkey tails and the islanders loved them. They would buy them by the 5 lbs. just a big old fat turkey tail and they would fry it up, and that was considered a delicacy.
WILSON: And they came from?
MCFARLAND: They I think probably came from Japan or it might have comefrom the States. I'm not sure, they were shipped in. But that was a real delicacy. We did not stock that in the house obviously. But the most interesting thing we ate there was dog. I like to tell the story; as Peace Corps volunteers get together you always share stories on food and stuff and try to outdo the other volunteers. And our story went that my wife and I walked over the mountains to another village. And being strangers you were kind of honored and got to be the first one in 18:00the food line when they were having a little festival. You had a banana leaf and as you walked down the line you would open up the red fruit baskets and other type of baskets and you would get your yam, get your fish, and you get your rice and stuff like that. But the last basket was all closed up, and when I got to it they opened it up and there was this burnt to a crisp dog. And it was a test. Looking back on it was a test to see if I could do something with this animal and it got real quiet and they handed me a knife. And I reached down and whacked off a leg, put it on my banana leaf and walked off. That was my favorite--
WILSON: How did it taste?
MCFARLAND: It didn't taste like chicken! After that we always say, "I'venever met a dog I didn't like."
WILSON: What were you prepared for and what weren't you prepared forwhen you went there? 19:00
MCFARLAND: I guess I was prepared technically for the challenges ofagriculture because I had grown up with it and I found that both interesting and very easy to-- Isolation was the thing you cannot predict how you are going to behave. Most people say, "Oh yeah I can handle isolation," but when you think about it our site was an hour and half boat ride from the nearest town. You can only take the boat ride when it was high tide; no other time could you get to town. Once you got to town the airplane came three times a week and then you could catch it and one of the flights would go from our island to Kwajalein to Majuro and on into Honolulu. And the other time it came through it would go from our island to Chuuk, on to Guam. You're still a long ways from anywhere. You're either sitting on Guam or sitting on Honolulu. So isolation I think was one of the more challenging 20:00things. I think we were lucky that we went as a couple and not single. Singles struggled. Of the thirty five or so volunteers that went in with us only fifteen finished the two year program. And they terminated at all times of the two years even up until-- There was one couple that was probably into the twentieth month and left, they were on an outer island to our island. So that was a real challenge. Again you just don't know how you're going to react to it until you're there and find that there's nothing to do. There's not a library for books, we had a short wave radio but there is a limit to what you can do with a short wave radio.
WILSON: And you had some books that you took in with you or not?
MCFARLAND: No, as most Peace Corps offices world wide have a librarywhere they recycle books and stuff. I'm not a heavy reader, my wife 21:00was a heavy reader and she would stock up there. I would listen to the short wave and one of the good friends we met there--another teacher- -and I developed a passion for playing board games and things like stratego and checkers and spend hours and hours at these strategy board games. And that probably helped the boredom--that and fishing.
WILSON: In terms of the isolation, how did that play out in termsof physical health or emergency or situations? How was your medical situation?
MCFARLAND: The hospital on the island of Pohnpei had been a libraryduring the Japanese administration in the 1930s and 40s so it wasn't really a very adequate hospital. They probably had decent staff but they wouldn't have had any equipment--or very much equipment--or very 22:00much medication. If anything happened to you of a serious nature you were medevaced to Guam. Sheila had a toothache one time--or a tooth problem--and she was medevaced to Guam to have her tooth worked on. I never got sick--funguses and giardia and dysentery--but that's not being sick if you're a Peace Corps volunteer. That's just normal stuff. The Peace Corps was great at giving you kits of medicine to take care of that so you popped your worming pills whether you need them or not and apply the anti-fungal medicine to your face to keep the fungus off, and never really had any bad stuff. They gave us lots of shots with gamma globulin for hepatitis, rabies series, rabies, we had no malaria--thank goodness there. But I guess we were lucky, we were fairly healthy then and had no medical problems there.
WILSON: Could you describe for me what a typical day was like?23:00
MCFARLAND: A typical day: we would get up at the sunrise. Being on anisland that is very close to the equator your longest day was 12 hours and 15 minutes and your shortest day was 11 hours and 45 minutes so you didn't have much variation in sunlight. It might be a little darker if it was cloudy and the rains came in. We would get up with the sun, we would be at school-- Classes started at 7:30 but that took every bit of two stone throws from our house to the school so we didn't have far to go. We would teach in the morning--usually three classes in the morning--I would teach probably two agriculture classes and then I had another class maybe math or English. And then the lunchtime all the teachers ate together. The head father there of the, Costigan--he's dead now--we all went down to eat with him. He would usually have rice 24:00and something. Let's see there could be fish, could be tuna--fresh tuna--which was always wonderful could be in the front. And then afternoons we would go to the farm and manage the student labor to both teach and earn funds for the school. We raised chickens and sold the eggs and we raised pigs--had some good quality pigs, the vegetables we would try to raise--and cabbage and peanuts and things like that we would sell on the marketplace. Students got to go back at about 5 or 5:30, we would head back to the house, have a supper of rice and Dinty Moore beef stew and start our board games with our neighbors. And 9:00 the lights would go out and we would probably get to bed at 9:00 because it was just too dark to read after the lights went out.
WILSON: Sounds like at some point you learned to eat rice?
MCFARLAND: I actually like rice now better than the potatoes but it a25:00real trick that it was so sticky. I remember trying to figure out the best way to eat this stuff. They made sticky rice. Now I know there is lots of different types of rice varieties and you can you know cook them in the variety and you get different textures. But then it was just a glob of glop and lying on your plate. And I started it out with tying to eat it by itself--it was hard--it stuck to the roof of your mouth. I tried putting butter on it--that was hard. I tried to-- If it had some type of gravies or something it would be okay, but settled on soy sauce. They had some excellent Japanese soy sauce. And our neighbors also--she was Filipino--she would make a soy sauce that had chili peppers and onions and garlic in it and you would put that on your rice. Now you're talking about a decent rice. Rice you realize is just a carrier of flavors in and of itself--it's like a potato--it's tasteless. Throw something on it, it's pretty good. So--soy sauce.
WILSON: You mentioned the students raising vegetables and fruits to sell26:00locally. How big was the community or the town? Where did they sell these things?
MCFARLAND: We would ship them into town because town again was an hourand half away by boat.
WILSON: Hour and a half away, right.
MCFARLAND: So we would box up the potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams,cassava, things like that and crate them up and ship them to town and sell them in town. Cabbage ----------(??), papayas, the market was very small in and around the school. We used them to feed the students as much as you could. But when you are producing-- cassava we could produce almost 100 tons to the acre--that's a whole lot of cassava--and you're not going to feed the students very much cassava. The yams we probably-- There's a great big tuber of yam and it wasn't the yellow yam we're used to, it was a white/grayish white yam. We would get 50 tons an acre of yams and so we would send them to town and sell them.
WILSON: You mentioned being an hour and half by boat to town and some27:00of the other areas. Were you able to travel elsewhere within the Micronesian group or did you travel beyond that during your service?
MCFARLAND: Well Micronesia was the only-- I think at that time the onlyPeace Corps country that had R&R--had a rest and recuperation built into the two year program. So after a year they would fly you out to Guam to get out and get a McDonald's, watch a movie and something like that. So we took that opportunity and went to Japan, got a ticket in Guam and flew out to Japan which was real easy. We spent about 3 weeks in Japan. I think we took one other short trip; I went to a conference in Saipan. I didn't get to any other islands. It was just difficult 28:00to get around because you had to either go back to Guam and then go back down to the other islands or go to Hawaii and come back to the other islands. So it was really a challenge to go anywhere else, so we didn't. Some volunteers tried and succeeded. I remember a sailboat came through one time and talked about 4 or 5 volunteers into riding with him to the next island. It was only a day trip; a week later they found them floating around lost in the ocean! So I'm glad I didn't get on that boat.
WILSON: What were your interactions with host country nationals like?
MCFARLAND: Well the school was all host country nationals but it wasmade up of about 4 different cultures because it wasn't just Pohnpeians going to school. There were Chuukese, the Yappese, the Palauans, the Chimorans from Guam, the Marshallese from the Marshall Islands, Kosrae- 29:00-what do they call people from Kosrae? Kosraeans, I guess. So I had a-- It was nice to have an exposure to more than just the Pohnpei culture and language, exposure to all the different cultures of Micronesia. Where there was some similarities to say in culture between Pohnpeians and Chuukese there was an extreme difference in the Palauans, the Yappese from the Pohnpeians. It was nice and that was a nice way of--
WILSON: Now are these Polynesian?
MCFARLAND: Most of them were Polynesian except when you got over towardPalau then they were Melanesian. So I guess that the trade winds and the currents came out of New Guinea because the-- Palau is actually closer to the Philippines if anything. And so they were settled and 30:00they looked different. They had a different look to them--a different hair quality, different skin tones. Most Micronesians--Pohnpeians, Chuukese--the eastern part of Micronesia they had straight black hair. Then you get to the western side they had curly black hair more like the Melanesians with the exception of the Yappese and they would have curly red hair. Nobody has ever explained that one to me--where the red came from--and it was curly. So one group-- One side would be more influenced by the Polynesian and the other side Melanesian.
WILSON: Did you have a specific counterpart--host country counterpart?
MCFARLAND: In the afternoon I did. When I did the farm work I had aPohnepian I worked with in terms of managing the pigs and chickens 31:00and the farming. They were counterparts; in teaching there were no counterparts no. But the work program, yeah there were counterparts, both students and adults that would pass on some skill hopefully.
WILSON: And how did that work? Were you supposed to be training thisperson or--?
MCFARLAND: Not per say. That wasn't really one of our objectives was totrain them. But I think as you work together you exchange techniques and information, he taught me things along the way too obviously. As I think all Peace Corps volunteers say you end up learning as much as you teach. But I would share with him things and he would share with me ways he had learned. He had been trained--the one I work with now--he had been trained in Japanese. He was a bit older and picked up a lot of Japanese techniques on rice production and farming which was interesting because Japanese had much smaller plots. And the techniques 32:00being a little bit different in small plot agriculture and large plot-- Because we had so much rainfall we had to learn how to control water. Farming in Kentucky we are just happy when you get water, you don't really plan it. They want you to plant, you know, terraces and contour planting but it was the Kentucky Department of Agriculture. There you had to or else your feed would wash away in about ten minutes, so that was one of the things I picked up from that guy.
WILSON: That reminds me of another question. What was the topography?
MCFARLAND: We were on a high island. Pohnpei itself was about 1400 fthigh, about 15 miles across, heavily jungled because of the rainfall, deep soils--deep red volcanic clay soils--anything would grow. You would stick a stick in the ground and it would start growing in no time with that rainfall. You could-- We hiked across the mountain to 33:00town one time, it should have taken three hours, it took two and half days--got lost. But it was really thick jungle. Even though you had the 400 inches of rain a year it didn't flood because you just-- Out in the ocean it went very quickly.
WILSON: Did you have considerable interaction with other Americans orPeace Corps volunteers or not?
MCFARLAND: Quite a bit there at the school, yeah, we had a lot ofinteraction with other both professional teachers--other teachers there. And then one family that actually I still keep up with, one of the teachers--the one I played the board games with--his name is Dan Graham. We named our son after him, named him Graham. He's living in North Carolina, I just saw him about 2 months ago. So we keep up with him 34 years later.
WILSON: You mentioned early something about stories and you told me34:00one specific one about eating dog but are there other particularly meaningful stories?
MCFARLAND: There's a couple about these-- One of the other uniquethings they had was a drink. There's a local drink and as Peace Corps volunteers we like to get into the local groove as we call it. There was a drink they called sikayo and the-- What they would do they had a big basalt stone that was probably half as big as a dining room table. And they would sit around this basalt stone with stones in their hands and mash up a root. There is a ritual to it and they would rhythm the sound on the stone and on the root and each group, each person had a rhythm and there was almost a song/chant type of stuff. Then they would take that mashed up root and wrap it up in hibiscus bark--the 35:00inner bark of a hibiscus--and squeeze it to squeeze the juice out and catch it in a half a coconut shell. It had the consistency of egg whites, it was gray and lumpy. And when you drank it you keep your teeth closed to keep the sticks and stones and things out of it. And it was bitter and it was polite to throw up if it was too bitter. But it was narcotic! If you could keep it down you got this wonderful buzz- on, it was quite legal. But it was guaranteed to give you all kinds of parasites, but you really didn't care. So I didn't do it but another volunteer would go out of his house at night and we start listening for the rhythm of the stones in the jungles and he would head off. And he would come back in the next morning. It was a unique thing. I guess 36:00Fiji has a drink that is somewhat similar called kava--I think it was kava. I don't know it was narcotic or not but Pohnpei was the only other place I have heard of with this particular type of drink. And it was a tuber, you would go up in the jungle and dig it up, shake the dirt off. You could not wash it, that was impolite, you shake the dirt off of it and then start pounding. So that was one of the unique things of-- The other unique thing it was a topless-- The women went topless there, they wore skirts and that was all. And the Jesuit priest had taught them all that the white man did not like to see breasts. So as we go into the village, and my wife was always behind me--as you walk down the paths the woman is always behind you. So if the girl was unmarried she would take her two fingers and cover each of her nipples and laugh as she would walk by. And then she would get to my wife she would drop her hands if she was single, if she was married she wouldn't cover at all. Good old Jesuit priests said, "Oh I don't 37:00like that at all. I don't like to see breasts."
WILSON: What was it like coming back to the United States?
MCFARLAND: Readjustment was challenging. And that was one of the thingswe have learned over the years as you come back and forth. You're always prepared for adjusting going to a country; most people are not prepared for the readjustment when you come back here. Things are different--they really aren't--you just see them differently. You've experienced things and also your vision is entirely different and people don't understand why you view things differently than you did before you left. So the readjustment was challenging, very, very challenging. We only were back here, after the two years, we were back about 4 weeks and we went back. We spent four years in Peace Corps so we re-upped for 2 more years. So we didn't have to worry about that readjustment that time, it was just a short one. 38:00
WILSON: And did you back to Micronesia?
MCFARLAND: No we went to the Philippines. At the end of the first twoyears my wife and I--neither one had anything we wanted to do--didn't have any children, so we just decided to re-up for another two years but in a different country. And we chose the Philippines and after two years I understood how Peace Corps works and how to get myself assigned where I wanted to be assigned and got myself assigned to the Philippines. And we came back on home leave and they picked us up and flew us back to the Philippines after about 5 or 6 weeks back in Kentucky, back home.
WILSON: And so you just made a circle of family and so forth?
MCFARLAND: Yeah, you knew everybody, you tried to eat up all the greasyfoods you had missed, and try to see some movies and music. I mean you had been out of the loop for two years so you didn't know any of the music, didn't know any of the movies, the TV shows were all different. 39:00And that was the interesting, challenging thing. We were flying back from Honolulu after Micronesia and hearing a song on the airplane I thought it was a commercial. "Put your camel to bed," I still remember that song. I thought it was a commercial, it was a song.
WILSON: And why did you pick the Philippines?
MCFARLAND: Our best friend there had spent about 20 years in thePhilippines and his wife was Filipino and they spoke highly of the country and the--
WILSON: Your best friend in--
MCFARLAND: In Pohnpei.
MCFARLAND: And this is Dan Graham who we named our son after, his wifewas Filipino. He spent like 20, 25 years in the Philippines. It's not far away in terms of Asia, so we went there for our second tour.
WILSON: And what did you do there?
MCFARLAND: I was an extension agent which was getting closer to myreal skill level. And I worked for the Bureau of Livestock in the 40:00Philippines and traveled around chickens and pigs again and a few cattle and worked as an extension agent. Small credit facilities were- - Small credit banks and loan programs for small farmers and stuff-- And my wife worked as a-- She worked at the Land Reform Institute for the first year, or less than a year, and then we had our first child was born in the Philippines. Peace Corps baby--Peace Corps paid for it, and they didn't send us home. That was one of the times where you could stay on and our son was born there in Manila.
WILSON: And so you probably had access to pretty good medical facilitiesthere?
MCFARLAND: Good medical facilities in Manila, good doctors, and wewere about two hours north of Manila by bus and we could get to Manila fairly easy. Peace Corps had a good doctor there, plenty of medicines, yeah. I did go through the birth of our son and was the first person 41:00to go through with the wife--with the mother--to give birth. That was a shock to the Filipinos that I wanted to do that. And I had to have special permission from the president of the hospital to go through the birth. And in the delivery room there were three people assigned to watch me--more than watching my wife--because they weren't sure what I would do. They predicted what a Filipino would do: grab the wife or grab the baby or pass out and faint or whatever. That was kind of funny. I remember walking in and there was a letter from the president of the hospital up on the delivery room wall authorizing me to be there and tend to the birth.
WILSON: And this was after you had been there some time?
MCFARLAND: Yeah a year, year and a half I think, yeah.
WILSON: Backing up just slightly, did you have to go through some sortof specialized training again?
MCFARLAND: Language again, back to language and culture training again,and motorcycle training. We were going to be riding motorcycles in 42:00the Philippines and they wanted to make sure you knew how to operate a motorcycle. Even if you knew how to operate one you had to learn how to drive in a third world country. That was the challenge. So we did it in I think it was a 10 week programming country then. They had shortened it by that time. Language studying took that long and the culture which language was not that important because everybody I know in the Philippines spoke English. With American occupation from what 1945 until-- When did we close the military bases there? About 10 years ago.
MCFARLAND: Yeah when Mount Pinatubo blew up. They closed Clark andSubic at Illongopo. So it was a large American influence and everybody spoke English. Everybody wanted to immigrate to the US, they still do though.
WILSON: Did you have a host national counterpart there as a part of your43:00job or--?
MCFARLAND: I had several depending on what type of-- I worked with about20 something small credit banks and in each bank I had counterparts I worked with--both the owner/president of the bank and their extension agents. And then I worked directly with farmers and you know teaching them things about chickens and pigs and feed. I set up a feed analysis laboratory there and helped train a woman on how to analyze animal feeds for nutrients and stuff. We lived in a swamp--Kataba swamp--and every time it rained our house would flood, the water would come. But they made it so the bedroom was always out of the water, but the living room would always flood.
WILSON: And what kind of structure was it there?
MCFARLAND: This was probably an adobe structure--kind of a dried brick.44:00It had three rooms in it--two small bedrooms and then a combination living/dining room/bath/kitchen all were together. You could take a shower and carry on a conversation in the living room at the same time. It was kind of almost like a duplex, there were two sides to it and another Filipino family lived in the other side. It was about the same size as the one in Pohnpei but not as well built. It had a lot of critters in it from snakes to monkeys, lizards--
WILSON: So do you have any good snake stories?
MCFARLAND: Oh I have lots of snake stories. Everywhere I go I havea snake story. The snake story there was-- My wife was petrified of snakes, I don't mind snakes. I used to catch them and skin them and so it was dead so I have no fear. But the Philippines had bad snakes; we had cobras and some other things. And my wife came running out of the bathroom with her pants down around her ankles screaming there was a snake in the bathroom. Out the front door she went pulling up her 45:00pants and I went into the bathroom and could not find a snake. But I knew if I didn't come out with a snake she would not come back into the house. So I had a little insect spray pump--those little containers that kind of--what one cup container that will plunger type of spray pump. It had melethion on it they used to spray for mosquitoes, and I filled that up with probably straight melethion and went in that bathroom and started spraying in every crack and milking behind the toilet and everything. And sure enough out came the snake and I--
WILSON: We talked about training you told me a snake story or two butyou indicated the first time that the hardest adjustment item was food. What about adjustment to the Philippines? What was difficult or easy 46:00there?
MCFARLAND: It was considerably easier. It was a larger economy, larger,more things to do, it had movies, it had busses, it had restaurants, and you had KFC. You could get to it if you wanted to; the food variety was a lot greater. They had beer! San Miguel. Adjustment was quite easy there. Telecommunications worked; we didn't have a phone but had a bigger refrigerator, had electricity 24 hours a day usually--except when the typhoons came through. It was much easier to adjust. Actually you could get back to Manila fairly quickly on a bus. Things like Cassius Clay, Muhammad Ali came out to fight there with-- Was it Frazier I think he fought in Manila? The thrilla in Manila! We were there; we were in Manila at the time. We didn't go. It was hot 47:00and sticky, it's always hot and sticky there. It was much easier to adjust. It's generally easier to get out and go places. We did more traveling in the Philippines because of the interior airplanes all over the country. My program director-- Every Peace Corps office has program directors based on your specialty so I was in agriculture so we had an agriculture program director. He didn't like to travel much so he would send me out to do his work in the field because again I was older and had more experience and I became what they called a Peace Corps rep. at that time. So I got to travel all over the country visiting other volunteers seeing how they were doing, not being too bureaucratic. I would never write up anything on any of them. You know if they were really in trouble I would tell him, but I wouldn't ever write anything so nothing was ever final. So we got to travel a lot--went to Hong Kong a couple of times--3 times because it was only 48:00an hour and half ride to Hong Kong, inexpensive. So it was really-- For us there was no real cultural adjustment or hardship adjustment like Micronesia had been.
WILSON: And then you came back to the States in what year?
MCFARLAND: In-- We finished up there in 1976. By that time I think wepretty much knew we wanted to stay international and do some type of international work. And we looked around at what the qualifications were required, and everything I looked at needed a masters. So I applied and was accepted to the University of Hawaii. I had some contacts at the School of Agriculture there; I had been communicating with them over the years just on tropical agriculture issues, and was accepted there. And so started in 1976 at the University of Hawaii in 49:00the School of Agriculture to get my masters, and we had a second child born there.
WILSON: That's the question I really didn't ask and I should haveearlier. Were there any particular difficulties or adjustments you had to make having the child in the Philippines and did that affect your service in any particular way?
MCFARLAND: No, in a positive sense. The Peace Corps had an interestingpolicy that if you had a child, you had a refrigerator allowance. And they would help you buy a refrigerator if you had children. So as soon as my wife found out she was pregnant she went marching into the program director and said, "I need to drink milk! Give me my refrigerator allowance." And they did, so we got a refrigerator. So that was a real positive thing. Filipinos love children and they really couldn't understand if they didn't have children. So life was 50:00easier actually and got much more attention because you had a child with you. And they loved to babysit; they loved to pinch the cheeks and things like that, so it wasn't difficult. Traveling with them was quite easy. He was our son and he went to sleep every time we got on a bus or got on a train or got on a plane, he would just sleep his way through it. So it was not very difficult at all with one child.
WILSON: But then you had a second child.
MCFARLAND: And a third child! Yeah but that was after Peace Corps. Yeahwe had a second one born there. Another one of these typical stories that-- I was due to graduate in December of 1978 and the child was due to be born in November. And getting out of Hawaii at Christmastime 51:00you had to get your reservations a year in advance--just everybody flew out of course to the mainland as they say. So we had reservations I think the second or third week of December, and by the first week of December we had no child. We were beginning to worry. And the doctors said, "Well if you haven't come along by the 8th, we'll induce." And it didn't come along by the 8th so she went to the hospital and they induced her. And they actually had induced the first one so that wasn't unexpected. And I remember going into the delivery room and the anesthesiologist asked the doctor, "Now what's the purpose for inducement?" And the doctor said, "They have a plane to catch." Which has some truth to it. We keep reminding our daughter we had to induce her so we could catch a plane. But it was a great champagne life on 52:00a beer budget--living in Hawaii, going to school, no money, sleeping on the floor of a wonderful condominium. We lived on Waikiki, had a motorcycle; it was great to live the champagne life on a beer budget.
WILSON: And so you finished your masters there and then what?
MCFARLAND: Before I graduated I went ahead and applied to the UnitedStates Agency for International Development which still does manage the foreign aid program for the US Government and was a direct entry into overseas--continued overseas work. I was selected, passed all the interviews, and was due to come in January after I graduated in December. Which was so typical of the US government, they had budget problems that year, had to cut some programs, and the program I was supposed to come in got cancelled in January. So we moved back to 53:00Kentucky, moved into Sheila's brother's basement for a couple of weeks, lasted seven months. They finally found the money and joined AID in August of 1978 and that was-- We finally moved out of the basement then.
WILSON: And that then became your career?
MCFARLAND: That was my career until December 2003 when I retired fromAID.
WILSON: And so what other countries have you lived in and worked insince?
MCFARLAND: With AID we started out in Washington and went through atraining program like everything else. Our first country assignment was Guyana, South America, spent two years there. Then we were transferred to Guatemala in 1982 and spent 5 years there from 1982 to 1987. The nice thing about the agency was they would send you to 54:00language school so I spent 20 weeks in Spanish language school, still have decent Spanish I think. And so spent 5 years there and in 1987 they transferred me to Kenya. So we were in Kenya for a four year program, nice assignment, kids loved it. They had a good school there, good high school, and they really were good-- In that stage when they started making friends and it was tough for them. We thought it was important to get our kids back to US education system. They will tell us now that it wasn't an important choice and they wish we probably hadn't. But I tell them they met their spouses by going back so they-- So we stayed there until 1991 and then moved back to Washington to do a tour in Washington D.C. and got our son into high school when he was a junior, our daughter into freshman year, and the youngest one 55:00into the seventh grade. We spent four years there; that's probably the worst assignment we've ever had. It was difficult, challenging, expensive commute. Got out of there and set free in 1995 and went to Egypt, spent two years in Egypt. Then transferred to Rwanda, spent two years in Rwanda, and then transferred to Malawi and spent four years in Malawi. Along the way did other work assignments in some lovely spots like Chad, Lagos, Tanzania, Kampala in Uganda, Costa Rica, Panama, that's about all that were work places.
WILSON: So what would you say would be the impact of the Peace Corps56:00experience has been on your family?
MCFARLAND: On my family-- The Peace Corps is what got us into overseasdesires to work and live overseas. So that had a direct impact on our kids because they grew up learning languages. I have a daughter that speaks Arabic and Spanish; I have a son that speaks Spanish, another daughter that speaks Spanish, a son now living in Spain, a daughter going to graduate school at Tulane in the international development program. It has directly impacted on their lives. My son met his wife to be in high school in the Washington area when we went through there. It's affected-- They like to travel and they understand how to travel and get around. Their political views are a bit broader and probably a bit more liberal because of that. 57:00
WILSON: What about the impact on your families here in Kentucky?
MCFARLAND: Well that would be an interesting question for them becauseI think my mother never thought we would really get on that plane in 1972. I think she thought we would just go down there and look at it, turn around and get back in the car. She didn't realize that once we got on the plane we would never get off. And we are actually living with her right now as they build our house.
WILSON: So she was un-approving?
MCFARLAND: Yeah I think the typical family wanted their kids around andclose by. And they really only got to see their grandkids once a year when we came in. And then both parents being in the same small town you would have to eat two Thanksgiving dinners when you were going up for Thanksgiving or two Christmas days. It was a real challenge. But 58:00they got-- Both sets of parents visited us in a number of countries so that kind of broadened their knowledge first hand as well as just knowing where we're going and what we did. Although I'm not sure very many people still could tell anybody what I had done for the last 25 years other than work for this agency.
WILSON: Which I guess the other question, what would you say is theimpact on your career having joined the Peace Corps?
MCFARLAND: I would not have had a career in AID without Peace Corps.I went in to the interviews having had four years overseas work, two languages, and a master's degree. I was competitive then, that was 25, 26 years ago. That is difficult to be competitive even with that 59:00level now. People have PhDs; they've got 8 years overseas experience, so it is your door to start down the road of international work if that's really what you want to do. It's the best door to use to get to it. It's not enough; you need more than Peace Corps anymore to get into the international field at AID level. Now there are other entry ways you can go into like a stepping stone from Peace Corps to some of the smaller NGOs, PVOs. Even the large ones: CARE, Catholic Relief, Opportunity International, a number of different ways and then they will usually jump from that to the State Department to AID.
WILSON: What do you think the impact of the Peace Corps service was onthe way you looked at the rest of the world? 60:00
MCFARLAND: It gave you an intro to the rest of the world. I can'timagine how one could sit back here and use the Lexington Herald and CNN as your window to the world--it's impossible. I mean it's so limiting. Even having traveled and lived overseas for that many years I still think I've only touched on it--the cultures, the languages, the countries. It's provided entries to understand things like the serious impact of HIV-AIDS in the world now which you cannot pick up anymore in the press. It's just not covered at all. The impact of high child mortality, the impact of women's rights--the lack there of, the influences of religions and cultures on people and how it-- It's 61:00a little bit easier to understand why some ethnic groups do certain things now that we don't understand as Americans. You can appreciate having been around them, lived around them. You may not agree with it but you understand a little bit better why they do what they do. That was all started in the Peace Corps. I couldn't even have gone down that street at all without it.
WILSON: But you have retired and how did you decide to come back toKentucky and retire here?
MCFARLAND: I've always planned on coming back. This is still thenicest place in the world. Lawrenceburg is anyway, I can't speak for Lexington. Twenty years ago we bought a farm in Anderson County--about 70 acres. First for to give me something to do when we came back in the summer times on leave, we usually take 6-8 week leave over two 62:00years and I would go nuts if I didn't have something to do. So with my 70 acres and a chain saw I could stay busy and keep my wife sane from me going nuts. So we always pretty much planned on coming back to the same town, same county we always lived in, grown up in. And never have regretted that, it's still the best place to be from and to come back to for sure.
WILSON: And do you see yourself utilizing the Peace Corps experience andyour extended overseas experience in any particular way as you resettle into Lawrenceburg?
MCFARLAND: Trying. One of the things I have been has been actuallytrying to get out and get with groups of similar interest. I joined the United Nations Association for the Frankfort chapter, going to all 63:00those meetings, tried to go to as many lectures and things around, met with the staff at the-- What's the diplomacy school at the University of Kentucky? Offered myself as a resource person-- That fell flat on its face, I was surprised but hey. I have been called by the Louisville chapter of the UN Association to come down and give them some talks on various subject matters. It-- I am probably impatient, I would like to get busier but it has only been less than a year since I've retired. There's still more doors out there to knock on. There's plenty to do, most of it is not around Lawrenceburg on the social side but I expected that. I did-- I got a grant to convert my 70 acres back into native habitat to take it out of pasture land and plant trees and 64:00grasses and flowers for the animals and I filed for another grant to create some water habitat. That's always fun things to do out there, build a house--building as of this talk, hopefully get finished. And then take short term assignments. Like I mentioned earlier I am getting ready to head off for 2-3 months in Djibouti.
WILSON: So you're going back overseas?
MCFARLAND: I'm going back overseas. I had always planned to takeshort term assignments just both to keep the mind active and keep the traveling going. Because you know you like to travel especially when somebody else pays you to travel. And I had applied for a couple of short term things that when the US government funding comes in you never know if it's going to come through or not. And I had applied for one in Namibia and another one in Abuja, Nigeria. At least 65:00with Djibouti it's someplace I haven't been and that's kind of again excitement of going someplace I haven't been. I don't relish living in a hotel for that long but we will see.
WILSON: In the various overseas assignments you had did you continue tohave any contact with Peace Corps or Peace Corps volunteers?
MCFARLAND: As much as we could and it varied by country. And it usuallythe tone was either set by the Peace Corps country director or by the ambassador at the post. For example, in Kenya the Peace Corps directors were active in getting volunteers to spend Thanksgiving at other expat houses. They come in from the field and we always hosted from 4 to 7 and you let them and you usually kept up with them throughout the time you were there. In Malawi it was unfortunately 66:00it was harder. The ambassador hosted Thanksgiving which was-- And he brought them all in--or she. So you just had a harder time getting to know them in Malawi. By the last 2 or 3 years we did meet a number of- - Usually if you meet one, you'll meet two and then meet three but it was more challenging in that sense. We got to meet a lot of the staff- -directors and some of the program staff and that sort of staff--and another few of the volunteers in Malawi but I think Kenya was the best at bringing those two groups together: the expat official community with the volunteers. They did quite a good job at it.
WILSON: Do you have any problematic interaction with AID support of anyvolunteer programs or--?
MCFARLAND: Again depending on the country. AID does provide funding for67:00a number of volunteer programs but its money is now managed by Peace Corps. In the earlier days AID managed it so you did have some direct contact with volunteers in AID and funding. Any more you donate it's just usually the ambassadors fund and it goes straight to volunteers or the Peace Corps manages itself. Typical Peace Corps volunteer, they wouldn't come to AID and ask for technical assistance. I can't say I blame them. There was always we--they. You know when you're a volunteer we were the "we" and the AID staff and embassy were they, and I became a they.
WILSON: We're going to wrap up here. What do you think the overallimpact of Peace Corps has been?
MCFARLAND: It's an individual thing I think mostly, that's what I would68:00say. It has broadened I don't know how many thousands of returned volunteers there are--you know the number--but a bunch. It has had an incredible impact on those individuals. I haven't ever gone back to any of my sites so I don't know what impact I may have left or had at the sites where I worked so it's hard to say. It's a real-- It's not intended to be a technical exchange program; it's mostly a cultural exchange program which has a long term impact on the volunteer for sure. I would assume it has a similar long term impact of some type on the country nationals. It's probably similar to say that I like these American volunteers but I don't like the US government, and so they see a different view when they see volunteers. They see us as individuals 69:00but it doesn't change their opinion--which is usually negative--of the US government.
WILSON: What do you think the role of the Peace Corps ought to be todaynow 40 some years after its beginning?
MCFARLAND: I wouldn't monkey with it. I think it has been a fairly goodorganization, it's had its ups and downs politically and managerially and funding and stuff. It should be kept as an independent agency as it is, keep it out of the politics of the State Department. Don't try to make it too technical, use the good old B.A. graduates and train them to be foresters in 4 weeks or whatever they did. I don't think 70:00it's changed that much, maybe it has. The challenges for the volunteer have changed. I know in Malawi that Crisis Corps volunteers because the heavy stress on volunteers now with AIDs and the death in the villages and stuff. They've had to manage the volunteers a little bit differently, more challenging I think in that sense. With the US not being as popular a country as we used to be I think that is going to be more challenging for volunteers. I know it was for my daughter, she lives in Jordan.
WILSON: So your daughter was a volunteer as well?
WILSON: Oh okay. And when was she in Jordan?
MCFARLAND: Let's see she got out 2 and half years ago.71:00
WILSON: So one of your three children joined Peace Corps?
MCFARLAND: Yeah, she went to Transylvania, graduated from Transylvania,and then joined Peace Corps in Jordan, spent two years there--tough assignment for a female--isolated, very isolated out in the Dead Sea area way down the valley. She has good Arabic now but she was stoned by kids there. They always thought she was an Israeli, couldn't understand why anybody else would be around there, very hard.
WILSON: How did her experience differ from hers other than that culturalkind of setting?
MCFARLAND: She was by herself; she didn't have the support mechanism ofthe spouse. She was in a village by herself. The closest volunteer was 30 or 40 miles away. So it was considerably different in that sense. She liked it well enough she's in an international development 72:00graduate program now and wants to work international programs and get her masters degree, she's got her two languages, she's got her two years overseas. I kept telling her with Spanish and Arabic there's only one agency who can really employ her skills and that's the CIA. And all she says is, "Dad, I'm not ready to sell my soul to the devil--yet."
WILSON: Okay well is there any final story? Anything I have missed thatyou would like to have recorded?
MCFARLAND: I'll be going on stories all day long, if you give me asubject I will give you a story. That's the bad part about it because you end up with-- You could have a story no matter what it is and-- It's hard in some ways to have to pick up and move, and I think a lot of Americans don't like that thought of moving every 2-4 years or 73:00something like that. But if we hadn't have done it there are several hundred friends we wouldn't have right now, and every time you move countries you make more friends. And you always usually had a life friend out of every place you went--somebody there.
WILSON: That may be a question that I didn't ask and should have. Youmentioned the one individual that you have kept touch with who was an American married I believe to a Filipino and that led you to the Philippines later.
MCFARLAND: Yes, correct.
WILSON: Are there other people? Are there host nationals either in fromthe Philippines or from Micronesia that you--?
MCFARLAND: We keep up with somebody in every place we've ever lived. Ikeep up with host nationals from Guyana, from Guatemala, from Kenya, 74:00the Philippines, I think that's all of the host nationals. But at some-- another expat from every place we've ever, and some repeated. I mean like for example this morning's email I had email from Uganda--a German, an email from the Congo--an American, an email from Washington D.C. from an individual who was in the Nairobi Embassy during the bombings, and was on the cover of Time magazine having wounded out of Kenya embassy. So every day I've got some contact somewhere. Earlier in the week I had one from Germany--a German, South Africans. In my 75:00communication with him, going to Djibouti with the contracting and negotiation was done out of Kenya, everybody I emailed I knew back then. And as soon as I hit the AID office in Nairobi in another week I will make my rounds and speak to all my old friends I knew, my old secretaries and the old drivers and everything. That's the first think I like to do, pick up on those guys. So Kenya I have been back to, it's the only country I've been back to after I've served in. And it's easy just to hit the ball right again, just grab up with the locals and head out to a beer joint and, "What's been going on since the last time I was here?"
WILSON: Okay, anything else you can think of?
WILSON: Okay well thank you very much.76:00
[End of interview.]