WILSON: Side one of interview of Jules Delambre Peace Corps Oral HistoryProject October 20, 2004 interviewed by Jack Wilson. What is your full name?
DELAMBRE: Jules William Delambre.
WILSON: And where and when were you born, Jules?
DELAMBRE: I was actually born in Houston, Texas and at about 6 monthsmy family returned to Louisiana in the area Pointe Coupee Parrish which is about 30 miles north of Baton Rouge. It's one of the earliest areas settled in Louisiana and it led to an interesting growing up 1:00because I lived at False River in Point tope Parish until I was of age to go to school at which time Mother and Dad moved to Baton Rouge and I enrolled in first grade in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. However, because my grandmother was living alone in Pointe Coupee Parish I spent many weekends and many summers in Pointe Coupee Parish. As a result my upbringing is really a mixture of two cultures: the rural ancient plantation area of Pointe Coupee Parish and the working class area of Baton Rouge where I went to school.
WILSON: And you lived there--went to school there--through high school?
DELAMBRE: I went to school in Baton Rouge through high school.2:00
WILSON: And then you went on to college?
DELAMBRE: And then I went on to college in Baton Rouge; I went toLouisiana State University, got my undergraduate degree in '63 with a major in mathematics. I got a second bachelor's in anthropology in '64 and enrolled in graduate school at LSU in a geography/anthropology department for one year before going into Peace Corps.
WILSON: Okay and did you have any jobs in that time frame before youwent into the Peace Corps or--?
DELAMBRE: During my college my mother was in a real estate andcontracting business and I spent a couple of summers as a laborer on the construction crew. I also, because my father's brother was 3:00an account representative with Ethel Corporation in Houston, he was able to get me a job as a lab technician flunky for Ethel Corporation in Detroit in the summer of '61 at which time I learned FORTRAN, computers, how to program in FORTRAN and stuff like that which--
WILSON: And traveled to Detroit.
DELAMBRE: And traveled--and spent the summer in Detroit. I guess itwas-- That summer gave me about $400 profit which I used to buy my first car.
WILSON: Okay. How did you find out about the Peace Corps?
DELAMBRE: My interest in international goes back to the time my fatherspent two years when I was in high school in Venezuela as a welding supervisor where he taught welding to Venezuelans. At the time my 4:00family stayed in Baton Rouge but I read everything I could about Venezuela and became interested in Latin America. When I became a freshman at LSU I had a habit of reading Latin American report and had visions of going down the Pan American highway to the tip of South America and stuff like that. I had been a reader all my life and I had read a lot about--I had read a lot of Edgar Rice Burroughs' books on tourism in Africa and that led me to have an interest in Africa. So throughout my undergraduate I was reading while I was majoring in stuff like math and physics, or thinking of majoring in physics, I was reading--browsing through--magazines on Latin America and reading just 5:00about everything. Then when Kennedy announced Peace Corps in the '60 campaign it caught my imagination but of course at the time I was an undergraduate and I knew you needed a degree and the timing was just inappropriate. Later on when I switched on, got my bachelor's, and went on for my second bachelor's, about the spring of my '64 I said, "Peace Corps would be--this is the time." I said you know, "I've got lots of reasons particularly because one of the reasons is that I was planning on going into anthropology and I knew I needed to understand a different culture." So I put in--I quickly put an application together 6:00in that spring and I picked, I said, "Well thinking about the world. I'm sure I'll know the country that they would invite me to but my choices would be Peru, Nigeria, or Thailand." And didn't hear anything went on and enrolled in graduate school, and about December I get an invitation to go to Cameroon as a teacher. I said, "Cameroon, where's that?" I quickly had to go to my atlas and look it up and I realized it was right next door to Nigeria. And I read a little bit about it and it had an interesting background and being a former German colony and being split into British and French trust territories, so I said sure.
DELAMBRE: For an invitation in December to go training in June.7:00
WILSON: Okay so you didn't really have a choice, you had some ideas. Didyou make those preferences known to the Peace Corps when you applied?
DELAMBRE: In the Peace Corps application there is a place forpreferences and I did put down Peru first choice, Nigeria second choice, Thailand third choice.
WILSON: Do you remember anything else about that application or theprocess of joining?
DELAMBRE: I remember it being a long application and I remember I thinkit was in almost April when I submitted it--sent it in. There was of course an FBI check on me and I know because they talked to friends and neighbors and stuff like that. I don't remember any particular more details about this, remember this was spring and summer of '74.
DELAMBRE: '64 sorry. And there were-- I was caught up in academics. Ithink the summer of '64 got a little strange around the house in the sense that it came out that my mother's real estate and construction firm was not as financially solid as we all believed it was. And it became quite a traumatic family thing with me in the middle of it. So in a sense it made it even more desirable for me to step out for a while even though, you know, my reasons had already been laid out in my mind before when I put in the application. So that when the application--when I did get an invitation--I had the feeling I could have probably negotiated a different location but Cameroon seemed fine 9:00and the timing was good. I was busy in graduate school so I was not in the house very much although I was living at home. And, you know, looking back on the whole thing it is fascinating to me that they trained us in Manhattan at the Teachers College of Columbia.
WILSON: Tell me-- That was what I was going to ask you next: where didyou train and what was that training like?
WILSON: What was included in it?
DELAMBRE: We were-- We spent I think it was about 2 and a half months,maybe it was just 2--2, 2 and a half months--living in Barnard college dorms in Manhattan attending classes on teaching, a language, culture, Cameroon put on by Teachers College Columbia. They were in charge of 10:00the training program. And we had two Cameroonians one from Douala and one I believe from what is now Limbe who taught us Pidgin. We did have French classes.
WILSON: Pidgin being--?
DELAMBRE: Pidgin English which is I think we'll get into that later.
DELAMBRE: I might even throw in a couple of examples. But we were, wedid practice teaching, we did training and teaching and since I was scheduled to teach mathematics based on my graduate--taking honors math in high school and taking honors classes actually in college and getting a bachelor's in math--mathematics seems to be a natural so that was where I was slotted. Math had always been easy for me 11:00or at least algebra and that stuff so it was I think a comfortable fit. We in Manhattan in outside of class we spend a, you know, a few times socializing in a local bar. I've got some pictures that I've taken--that I took when we were there. But it was actually I thought a very, it was challenging but it was a very pleasant training program in a lot of ways. While we were there I also did take a chance to make a scheduled interview with Margaret Meade who was teaching across town and we talked for about an hour and a half, it was fascinating interview. But the training had its other sides because Peace Corps was concerned about psychological fitness and there was always the 12:00fact that we were being observed by psychologists. And although our training program didn't get a lot of individuals selected out, there were several individuals selected out of our program--individuals that I personally feel could have probably done right well in the Peace Corps. That's just part of the other side of Peace Corps I guess. One of the individuals that was selected out I was very--I found very interesting because his parents had been missionaries in the Congo and he spoke the local Congolese language that--language in the Congo. His French was probably pretty good. And I'm sure Peace Corps had its reasons but they never explained them. I was real pleased with the Pidgin English, however, and I thought I learned it pretty well. I was less successful 13:00in French. I still consider French something I would like to learn but still don't--just rudimentary skills in it. I know my Pidgin was pretty good because the first week in Cameroon I was in a local bar and discussing things in Pidgin with some of the Cameroonians that I met there. We just had long conversations in Pidgin which I was real pleased about. And Pidgin is just-- How do you explain the acquiring of a different language that is maybe even just half a language in a way because it is more of a lingua franca than it is a full mature language? But you almost take on a different persona when you speak it because you get into the rhythm of it and it becomes almost a little 14:00bit--a different way of thinking. It becomes an interesting experience to engage in, and we might be able to come back to that in a bit.
WILSON: Okay, so you had trained--language training--in both Pidginand French?
DELAMBRE: Very little training in French because part of the reason forthe rationale is that Cameroon is a bilingual republic. And this was the summer of '65 and in the summer of '65 Cameroon was in the process of integrating of part of the English truss territory with the French trust territory. The French truss territory had become independent in 1960, the English part--the southern part of the English Cameroons 15:00had voted in a plebiscite to join with the French Cameroons in '61. And this was only 4 years later which we'll probably--I'll probably be able to expand on that a little bit. But the capital was in the French speaking area, the largest population was in the French speaking area, so French was a desirable language to have to use if you were traveling in the French area, which when you went to the capitol you had to. However, Pidgin was the lingua franca of the marketplace. It was the-- Because Cameroon has about 200 different native language it's-- And English had been--was only known among the really educated in the English speaking area, and French was known among the--was spoken among 16:00the elites in the French speaking area. Pidgin was useful everywhere. For example, one of the visits I was in we had several meetings in Yaounde and on one of those meetings I had the occasion to meet one of the commentators--female commentators on radio Yaounde. And of course she broadcast in French; we tried to talk in French, my French was totally inadequate. We tried to talk in English and in spite of the fact that she had eight years of English her English was inadequate. But we found we could communicate quite readily in Pidgin and she was I suppose she was a native of Yaounde--Yaounde area. But with Pidgin English I could communicate with almost anybody anywhere.
WILSON: So you went in country. Tell me something about your job and17:00sort of your early adjustment as a Peace Corps volunteer. Where were you stationed and what did you do?
DELAMBRE: I was-- When we reached the country we spent about a week inBuea which is the capitol of the English speaking area and it had a Peace Corps office there and it had a Peace Corps hostel there, so we stayed in the hostel. We were a group of about 29 teachers all aimed for west Cameroon in the English speaking area. We spent a week of orientation in Buea and then we were posted out across West Cameroon which had a population I think of about a million two or something like that scattered across a fairly broad countryside. I was posted 18:00to the Bamenda highlands which is a highland area in the northern part of West Cameroon currently called the Northern Province of Cameroon. And it involved--involves--crater lakes and highland area between 6000 and 8000 feet. I was on what's called a ring road right near a German road that was built by the Germans during World War I. And the ring road sort of circles the highland area with at its base Bamenda which is the main cultural commercial center of the Bamenda highlands. I was posted at a teacher training college 90 miles around the ring road between Kumbo which was 15 miles toward Bamenda and had two hospitals 19:00and several high schools--mission hospitals, mission high schools--and Ndop which was 8 miles the other way which also had school and Peace Corps posted there. When I first was posted there I shared the post with Howard Strickler--a Unitarian from Seattle, Washington--he had been there a year and had got pretty comfortable. We also had the other Cameroonian principal of any school in Cameroon at the time. We also--there was also a British tea estate about 3 miles down the road toward Ndu. The area we were in was grassland; it had a rainy and a 20:00dry season rather than a hot or a cold season. It would start raining scattered rains in March accelerating to almost constant rain in July and August and tapering back off to no rain toward the end of October. Now occasionally they had some rain in December, it was light rain in December, but usually it was dry from November through-- What did I say? Through early March.
WILSON: So you were saying that you had the only Cameroonian principalin the area I assume.
DELAMBRE: In the country.
WILSON: In the country.
DELAMBRE: Well in the West Cameroon that I'm aware of.
WILSON: I assume that means that most of the rest of the principalswere--
DELAMBRE: Primarily British.21:00
WILSON: What about other teachers in the school in which you worked?
DELAMBRE: I was in a Catholic teacher training college: Saint Pius X.And we did have a Catholic church and in the first year I was there, there were several Catholic priests one of whom was a builder. And he had started building, before I arrived, additional dormitories, classrooms, even a house for the principal in rock and mortar. And he was a-- And it was a building period for the college. We, the college was situated on a hill, well sort of on a hill but about level with the ring road which was dirt, the whole length of the ring road when I arrived. The houses for staff were on the hill behind the college, 22:00mostly mud brick. My-- Howard was living it when I arrived in a mud brick house with a concrete floor, white washed walls, tin roof, and sort of a particle board--not particle board--some kind of paper board ceiling. The room was--the building--
WILSON: And that's what you shared with him?
DELAMBRE: When I arrived I was--stayed in there for a few weeks whilethey added a room to it. And the additional room became my room for the first year I was there or until Howard left.
WILSON: And then you shared a sitting room area?
DELAMBRE: We shared a sitting room--
WILSON: Or a kitchen?
DELAMBRE: --dining room area, we had a outside kitchen. And when Iarrived Howard had a cook--a cook and a house boy--who did all the 23:00cooking and cleaning and obtaining, getting, bringing water up from the spring. We had a--
WILSON: What kind of bath facilities?
DELAMBRE: We had a mud brick shower behind the house which at thealtitude we were tended to be kind of cold. We had a bucket that you pull the level and you get a shower, so when we wanted to take a shower we would have the cook or house boy heat up a bucket of water, pour it into the bucket, and pull the string to shower as the cold air blew into. On the other side of the house about 50 ft from the house I'm going to say a mud brick latrine with a stool and a little tin roof on it, and it was of course a daily walk there. Interestingly enough a 24:00lot of the latrines lacked stools. The Cameroonians didn't use stools and after some months I was able to do squatting without using the stool and I felt it was probably good for my leg muscles but it was also a good habit to get into when you're traveling around Cameroon.
WILSON: I'm sure. And so tell me something about your food, what youate.
DELAMBRE: Our food was, again like I said it was prepared by the cook.And it was a lot of rice, fufu which is--could be a number of things. It could be cocoa yam it could be potato it could be cooking bananas it could be a number of things which you would eat it with your hand. 25:00You would roll a little ball of it and put a depression with your thumb and scoop up meat gravy or whatever or the vegetable that would be cooked. And normally I guess looking back on it or during the time I was there I realized that I ended up following Howard a lot which bothered me because I've considered myself quite an independent person. But I found the first 8 months I was there while we shared a post that we tended to go places together and I tended to follow him and learn from his experiences. So it was good to have someone there that already knew the ropes. We also had two vehicles; we had a Honda 50 which in that area sometimes if you were going up where you were going you might have to walk it up, let it carry itself while you walk beside 26:00it depending on the slope. We also a Jeep--4 wheel Jeep--that was assigned to the Kumbo, Taatum, Ndop area that we would use as a sort of to go to Bamenda to get stock up on a few things. And we did stock up on a few things. I think it was Lea and Perrins sauce that I was most, that I was most, that I most wanted to add to my condiments. Normally I just ate whatever was locally available. We were in the grassland area therefore there were--it was a mixture of local tribes and Fulani. The Fulani are a cattle herding people and they would butcher a cow about every, every week in the local market. And my cook would go and buy some--buy a slab of it--and we had a kerosene refrigerator 27:00which I had never heard of before that we would keep the meat in, and I think that's about the only thing I used it for. Life, life was-- I thought life was fairly comfortable. In a lot of ways I felt like I was a guest in the country. No matter where I traveled it was always- -people were always hospitable and I felt comfortable traveling almost everywhere and I put probably about 5000 miles on that Honda 50. But now I'm talking about-- I'm not really talking about my job really.
DELAMBRE: I spent, I spent very little of my time with other volunteersparticularly after Howard left because Howard and I were close with the same post for a while. But after he left his father became ill and he left after 8 months.
WILSON: So do tell me something about your job in terms of what you did,resources available to you as a teacher and so forth. 28:00
DELAMBRE: Mainly I took the book that--the math book--that they wereusing when I got there, and I found out that the previous teacher didn't have any knowledge of algebra. And the book had an awful lot of I'm going to just say terrible word problems. If you didn't use algebra they were very, very challenging and apparently the students were having real problems with them. Once you started applying algebraic rules they simplified pretty well and I had-- I didn't have a real heavy load; I had about 18 to 20 hours a week. I taught math-- I introduced algebra in 3 different classes.
WILSON: How many students would be in a class?29:00
DELAMBRE: Well about let's say I taught all the students in the college.We had three levels and I had classes two days a week with each level with I think we must have had each class put into a couple of levels. But I had two days a week of algebra with every student. I also taught some history and a few other classes in other words to make up what they considered to be a decent load.
WILSON: Were they large classes or?
DELAMBRE: About 30 to a class it seems like, and the students-- I hadsome students that picked up everything I taught as fast as I taught it; I had other students that were not quite so quick. Understand that 30:00there were some odd things going on that need to be explained. This was a grade three teacher training college which was equivalent to 7th, 8th, and 9th grades sort of. Most of my students at least the older- -the highest level--had been teaching for some of them thirty years in elementary school with only an elementary school education. And others had been teaching for less time and it varied. But Cameroon at the time was phasing out teachers with only an elementary school education. So the students that came to the college were motivated to get their grade 3 and possibly even go up to a grade 2 which was equivalent to a high school education in order to stay in teaching. And they varied in age; I think the oldest student was 40 years old and here I was I 31:00think 24 at the time. And like I said I think the 40 year old student had the most trouble with the concepts but I think I was successful in conveying concepts of algebra and getting them started in using algebra and those kinds of concepts.
WILSON: Did they all have access to textbooks and were there otherresources that you had besides this one textbook?
DELAMBRE: I believe we--everybody had a copy of the book. We had alibrary and for a while, and I always had an interest in libraries, so I started developing a card catalog for the library. And I did a little sports coaching but I was never been much of a sports person. And I spent a lot of time with the teachers after hours; we talked 32:00and conversed. But it's interesting with language, language is quite a thing because the most notable example I can give of that is that the previous math teacher who was teaching a lot of English at the time- -Cameroonian--and I and Howard were sitting in our house one day. And the three of us were conversing in English, and Howard and I started talking about Unitarianism. And it was almost like we were--we could almost half read each others mind if you know what I mean and--but we--and we were I guess our English was sped up a little bit to normal English. And we started dropping words; I know that by looking back on the conversation. And then Yam said that when we started talking 33:00to each other like we were doing he no longer was able to follow our conversation and I guess that was a faux pas on our part but it was, looking back on it, it gave an interesting insight into language.
WILSON: Into language itself. Speaking of that, you didn't say. Thelanguage of instruction in the school was?
DELAMBRE: Was English.
WILSON: Was English.
DELAMBRE: In fact we were not supposed to use Pidgin at all in theclassroom. However, there were times when I got real frustrated trying to get an algebraic concept over in English and every now and then I found it necessary to use a Pidgin word and it helped communication considerably. But I did try to avoid Pidgin according to the rules whenever possible.
WILSON: Tell me; tell me what a typical day would have been like for you34:00as a teacher at that school or in your life there.
DELAMBRE: It's hard; it's been a long time. Typically it was coldenough in the evenings usually to use a blanket. We would--there would be breakfast. While Howard was there the cook would serve us breakfast which could be fried--which could involve fried plantains or-- I don't even remember what a typical breakfast was, but a typical meal would involve rice, a little meat, gravy, a local vegetable, and I always liked fried plantains. They tended to be nice and sweet. Also because it was a British tradition there we always sort of had a 35:00desert and avocados was considered dessert. And I developed a craving for avocados. I even remember once in traveling I came across a stand where they were selling avocados and I was able to buy three large avocados about 8 inches long for about American 25 cents, and that to me was a good buy. So you were asking me a typical day.
WILSON: Yeah, when did school start or when did you get up? You got upand had breakfast.
DELAMBRE: Had breakfast, there would be classes scattered across themorning. Like I said it wasn't a heavy load. After the classes might go to the market; the market system was on an 8 day cycles which was at 36:00odds with the 7 day school cycle. So the market place could be anytime during the 7 day week and it was-- It got real complicated because the lorries that were the main area of transportation would come up the day before the top of market on the way to Kumbo and then they would go back down to Bamenda the day of the market. They would bring up the people with their produce to sell in the marketplace and then they would pick them up on the way back down. Then the Kumbo market was a different day of the week; the Ndop market was a different day of the week--the different day of the cycle. So there were three major markets that brought lorries into the area every eight days, which was the main way 37:00once our jeep was turned over and destroyed, it was our main way of getting back and forth from Bamenda. The Honda 50 I used a few times to get to Bamenda but usually we went by lorry. In fact, there were several times when the Honda needed to be repaired. The Honda rode the top of the lorry while I rode inside. So it was you know-- But we still haven't covered a typical day. After class I might go to one of the markets. There was a fellow that over near the German road that was a farmer and I got to know him through the marketplace. And he was interested in ideas and things he could do differently and how to improve himself and improve his life. So and he and the people that in 38:00the marketplace past him had built a little road to that marketplace. The problem was right before his house there was a fairly strong creek served by a spring that tended to wash out any bridges they put across it. Interestingly enough it led right past the bridge was a fairly sizeable waterfall of about 30 ft and he and I and several other people made a little expedition to that waterfall and found a big container of cowrie shells there but that's another story. I spent a lot of time in local markets. I went to some of the local church bazaars where they were raising money; I spent a lot of time with the people really. Every now and then on the rare occasion we had volunteers come up 39:00around the ring road and in that case Howard and I would take them up to the tea estate, and I think that might have occurred once a quarter- -once every couple of months--couple or three months. At the tea estate we would end up, they would show their hospitality, we would play card games and poker and whatever and drink Heinekens. But those were rare, rare occasions. I would go up to the Ndop market fairly frequently and touch base with the volunteers there but I didn't really hang out too much with them. I would go down to the Kumbo market and touch base with the volunteers there and like I said sometimes before we lost the jeep we would take the--several of us would take the jeep down to Bamenda. Now the jeep had an unfortunate accident because--
WILSON: Yes, tell me about that.
DELAMBRE: It was not a time I was on the jeep. The group from Ndop and40:00Nkambe took the jeep to Bamenda--not Nkambe, Ndop and Kumbo--and they took the jeep to Bamenda. And they assumed there was a little bit more edge on the road or off the road than there was, and the jeep turned over and rolled down about 60 ft. Luckily they got banged up a little bit, no one was really hurt. I'm sure it wasn't going very fast at the time but they were trying to make a little room for a lorry that was coming down hill as they were going up. I think it was Subca? hill into Bamenda and it rolled. I noticed I was on the website last night, and on one of the Peace Corps websites in fact it was Peace Corps-- It wasn't direct-- It was one of the RPCV sites and they were talking 41:00about security--safety and security of volunteers. And it leads me to say that I tended to feel, I tend to feel that my two years in Cameroon might have been safer than two years here. But they were of course dangerous. That vehicle turning over someone could have been hurt in that vehicle. And I can remember I spent like I said I put about 5000 miles on the Honda 50 in 2 years and I can remember one time coming up on to Bamenda--into the Bamenda highlands from Ndop plain and hearing this beep. I realized I was in the middle of the road sight seeing and this jeep was coming down. I mean this Landover was coming down the other way, so I moved off and he moved off. But it could have had--it could have been a more serious confrontation. And you know traveling 42:00is dangerous.
WILSON: Expand for me if I can back up a second. Expand for me a biton your statement that you felt safer the two years that you were a volunteer in Cameroon than you might have felt in the United States. What do you mean by that?
DELAMBRE: I mean by that traffic was-- Traveling on the roads was safer.There had been a Communist rebellion in Cameroon starting in '58 that had dropped down to local banditry in the time I was in the Peace Corps. So there was an area in East Cameroon where when you traveled by lorry or even by Honda you didn't travel at night. And that is one time when I was on a lorry from Yaounde which was about 250 miles from 43:00my post; and my post was about 250 miles from the sea. That we got off to a late start from Yaounde because they stopped us at the end of the pavement and to give the road a chance to dry so that it wouldn't get churned up by the wheels. By the time we got near Bafousam which was still in the French speaking area--got near it was dark and we had to pull over into a little village and we spent the night basically on the bus. I got some nice pictures of the dawn the next morning but the public transportation didn't travel at night. But I never really felt threatened when traveling through the East. I think the people appreciated the fact that we were willing to come there and 44:00teach and work and help because I do feel we made a contribution in not only in the teaching in the college but in just communicating with the Cameroonians. I mean I'm thinking about the farmer in our conversations I feel that he as a result of those conversations was much more inclined to consider new vegetables and to grow different vegetables to we talked about fish ponds and we talked about different ways that he and the local people could maybe improve their situation. Might also mention at the same time the area I was in was not one of any great poverty. It was fairly--it was a fairly prosperous but low populated area. The, most of the local farmers grew coffee as a cash 45:00crop and between the--in the two years I was there the number of tin roofs increased by about three fold in the local village; the local village was fairly small.
WILSON: Can you tell me something about what you did for sort ofrecreation? You've talked a little bit about travel and I want to come back to that too but what else did you to after school hours, weekends or something that we would call recreation?
DELAMBRE: I spent most of my time with the Cameroonians. I mean when--
WILSON: You were saying that a good bit of your recreation time wasspent with other Cameroonians and how did you do that? Were you just 46:00sitting around talking or at a local bar or their homes? Did they come to your house?
DELAMBRE: You know we socialized a little bit with the staff but mostlywhen we socialized with the staff we went to the local town, and local town was about ten minutes down the hill but it was--it was a town with only it when we got there had two off license bars. An off license bar is one that has a license to sell beer but not to allow you to drink on the premises. Now beer, keep in mind that beer is always hot. I mean there is no such thing as a-- I had the only refrigerator in the area that I know of and I didn't really put any-- I didn't spend much time entertaining at my house. Beer normally there was well I was 47:00finishing off license bar. In an off license bar you buy your beer but you are allowed to go into the proprietor's home or quarters to drink it. So each off license bar had a bedroom off the bar with plenty of chairs and you could sit on the bed, you could sit on the chairs, and they would have a table that you put your beer on. And then maybe another room off the side of that so in reality you were drinking in the private quarters of the proprietor. And we spent a lot of time in these off license bars. Choices of beer; Cameroon had its own brewery, Brassiere du Cameroon and it produced Beaufort Ordinaire, Beaufort 48:00Special and what people tended to drink for prestige was Heinekens. Got a lot of Heinekens and Star beers--Heinekens from Holland and Star beer from Nigeria. The prices: the Beaufort Ordinaire was about a quarter a bottle, Special was about 50 cents a bottle and Heinekens I think were about 75 cents a bottle. And frequently I drank Ordinaire although the local nickname for Ordinaire was piss water. It was a rather not-- Its flavor left something to be desired but, you know we never drank in excess; it was basically drinking sociable. Also 49:00I might mention in this context, one thing about Cameroonians is that they also I mentioned they were hospitable. Cameroon has a custom of breaking kola nuts. A kola nut is almost like a bark like seed that has a high caffeine content and in some ways it resembles an avocado seed that most people might be familiar with here. But you can break it into three to maybe seven slivers because that's the way the seed breaks up like an avocado seed breaks into two; and you would break it--break it and offer it to whoever you socialize it--meeting on the street or drinking with and you would each take a sliver of kola nut. And it tends to counteract the effect of the beer somewhat plus 50:00the fact that most of the time when you drank beer you blended with an orange squash soft drink or a champagne soft drink. So you were actually feeling the beer at probably to about 50% or if you, you know, drank Guinness same thing you're feeling it at about 50% and it's more- - You're not drinking to get drunk and you're not even really drinking to get particularly high; you're just drinking in good companionship. Now the people in the bars tended to be mostly men. Sometimes that was different. And during the last six months or so I was there I got 51:00to be good friends with a veterinary assistant who had a veterinary post near Fladiankanton (??) about three miles down the road toward Nkambe, I mean toward Kumbo. And he and I would go down to the bar that was there and frequently drink with some of the daughters of the local Fulani chief. He had four wives and a number of daughters of different wives; and there were two of them that happened to be there frequently. Now among the Fulani, girls are married off at puberty and they go and live with their husband's family until they get pregnant at which time they return to their mother's compound to have the baby and learn the ways of a wife and they stay until the child is weaned. 52:00So there were at the time I was there in the last year I was there were two girls--two young women--daughters of the chief that were lets say weaning their babies and they would join us for conversations which became quite interesting because one of them spoke pidgin the local language of Lamso and two dialects of Fulani. The other spoke Lamso and two dialects of Fulani, the veterinary assistant spoke English, pidgin, Lamso, and one dialect of Fulani. I was talking about spending a number of hours in Joe's Bar in Keshung (??) which is near the Fulani encampment and drinking with a veterinary assistant and a couple of daughters of the local Fulani chief. Almost ruined a couple of my 53:00Cajun jokes by translating them into pigeon but we were--we really didn't ever seem to have a problem communicating because I would say something in English or pigeon and it would get translated around and everybody seemed to understand as long as we were all four in the bar we all understood what everybody was saying translated around. Now interesting I've got another story--a Fulani story--and that is that I was attending a church bazaar which leads to two stories, off down the hills. Because remember I was in the highland area and I was on the edge because you go anywhere south of where I was and things go down hill real fast. You get ridges and valleys and the bazaar I was 54:00going to at that time I had been to once before and its about an hour and half walk but about thirty minutes on the Honda 50 but it's up a slope where you have to basically walk the Honda 50. I'm going to tell two stories about that. One is that I was a little wary of anything having to do with witchcraft or anything like that so I tended to stay light in that area including things like "reading in jaws." "Reading in jaw" is almost like reading bones or reading tea leaves or something like that except what you are doing is you are taking the skin off the cola nut, tearing it into pieces, shaking it in your hand like dice, and then reading it. I got tempted at that bar to "read an in jaw" and what I did I thought to myself, you know, what can I predict that 55:00would be harmless--likely but harmless. And I predicted that this guy would lose some money, he'd lose some more, but it would all come back. And I left the bar I promptly forgot about the prediction. On the way back to the college I had scheduled to show some slides from my first year that evening and they had them developed and sent back to me. So I was going to show them at the college and I stopped at Joe's Bar just to see what was happening and I ran into one of the brothers of the girls we had been drinking with and he was drinking alone. So I said, "Whitty now, what's going on?" And he said, "Well I've just stolen a woman." Among the Fulani you are-- If you run off with a man's 56:00wife and you get her back to your compound and you kill a cow in honor that divorces her and remarries her to you and he had brought this woman back to his compound and he was going to kill a cow the next day. But I said I bought him a beer and he bought me a beer and I said, "Make you bring her," so he called her up and nice looking woman. Then I went on back to the college after another beer or so. But it was late and I really drank more than I had intended and I had trouble remembering where the potholes were. The light on my Honda wasn't working. So I misjudged a pothole and cracked up the headlight housing 57:00a little but and scratched my leg a little bit, went on and gave my slide show. And then I tended my leg which was just you know scratched up a little bit. That's one story. The other story is that I was in the local bar one day some months--I'd say a month or so later. And I was sitting on the bed with the door to the bar to my left and the door to the next room to my right. And this fellow comes in, sees me, puts his back against the wall and walks sideways into the back room. I said, "Now wait a minute, what's going on?" And he said, "You 'read my in jaw'," and I said to myself, "Think fast. What'd I say?" And 58:00he said, "Well, you know, you said I was going to lose some money. I lost 80,000 francs and I lost another 100,000 francs," and by that time I remembered my prediction. I said, "Didn't I say it would all come back?" but he went on back in the back room and later on he came back, put his back against the wall, and went back in the front room, went back in the main bar. I don't know the rest of the story.
WILSON: I was going to say, "Do you know whether he ever got his moneyback or not?"
DELAMBRE: Don't know the rest of the story! But it did reinforce myfeeling that one needed to be very cautious about "reading in jaws" and I think I was only tempted one other time and that was before that occurrence.
WILSON: Let me switch a little bit with you topics. You had indicated59:00earlier and several times have referred to traveling locally. Did you do any other longer distance traveling within Cameroon or outside during school vacation times or anything like that?
DELAMBRE: I did have when I was at in Manhattan I got to seeing a girlthat was working on her master's degree in French. She's taught--she was a teacher--and she had come back to Barnard College to do her master's degree. And we wrote, corresponded during my first year and second year, but she took a--she got a scholarship to go to France during the summer of '66 and made a trip to Cameroon. And I took my 60:00Honda and I went down to Douala, met her at the airport, and I took her on the Honda actually up to Bamenda. And we visited, you know, around Bamenda a little bit. And then I took her back to Douala to fly back to Paris. That was about the only visitor I think I had in two years. But I did go during my I guess the first year I ended up having a tooth bother me and I communicated to Peace Corps and they made an appointment at a Baptist mission in Ebolowa, Cameroon and I took my--got on my Honda--and went from I guess I had to go through Bamenda to Bafousam to Yaounde to Emboli (??), to get to Ebolowa. I think it took me about three days. And stayed at basically Peace Corps 61:00places, you know Peace Corps houses along the way and had my tooth worked--pulled. And went back made the rerouted the trip. There was another occasion when I had gone to--a couple of other occasions I went to Yaounde mostly for Peace Corps meetings and then I traveled on the Honda south of Yaounde toward Edea and along the route is a paved road where I went and I noticed two houses--mud brick houses wash white. Instead of white wash they called wash white. It was wash white on the outside and there were two--each one had a photograph painted on the side of the house. The first one appeared to have been the President Amadou Ahidjo of Cameroon and the second house had a picture 62:00of John Kennedy painted on the house and that impressed me. John Kennedy was quite revered in Cameroon and apparently revered around the world but I can speak for Cameroon. The closest thing I ever got into a confrontation with anybody was I was chatting with the manager in Kumbo town the manager, which was fifteen miles down the road, the manager of a little kind of general store. It was an Indian chain but he was Cameroonian. We ended up talking about Kennedy and out of the clear blue sky he said that he was convinced that it was a conspiracy and if I thought about-- If he thought I was part of it he would kill me. Now I didn't feel he thought I was part of it but I was kind of 63:00taken aback by such a strong statement in the middle--in the middle- -250 miles from the capital and the coast, in the middle of a small town. It took me back a bit but you asked me about traveling. Most of traveling was done in Cameroon. I went to a-- There was a place called a Njinikom it was famous for its brass. I did go to a Njinikom once, spent the night in a Njinikom, picked up a little brass, and then came on back. There was a lot of brass made in Bamenda, I picked up a little bit of that. Interesting enough I'm thinking back on that internet thing I was reading last night about peace and security again. And there seems to be always been a little bit of a I'm going to call 64:00it a disconnect between Peace Corps volunteers and Peace Corps staff and Peace Corps Washington. Having been Peace Corps staff yourself I'm sure you're somewhat familiar with that. And I got to thinking last night about why and what the root of that is because it ties into that whole issue of peace and security that's being debated at the national level about Peace Corps. And I think part of it is that the volunteers tend to be have a job at their post, they tend to be integrated into the local community, they tend to be into the local social network, and it's a reality that's really impossible for staff in the capitol city to really understand what's really going on at the local level. 65:00And in Cameroon with 200 different tribal languages, not that many in West Cameroon of course, it's every post is going to be different. The few posts that I had visited while I was there, and I didn't visit a lot, each situation was different. The relationship between the volunteer and the school situation, the job they had was very, very different. And it's really I think impossible for us even a devoted country director and their staff to understand fully what the situation every volunteer is involved in. And sometimes they're going to make judgments that are--the volunteer is going to see as inappropriate. It's interesting and I'm working up to a issue that came up while I was in the Peace Corps and that is that the director that left about 66:00the time I came into Peace Corps left our director some recommendations or some things to think about. Two things in particular: number one allowed the volunteers to buy motorcycles because many had bought motorcycles of different power. Mine was the weakest of any but some of them were bought I forget the-- But three or four times as powerful as mine and they had bought them with the living allowance at the time was only $135 a month. It was generous for West Cameroon at the time. So the second thing the director had suggested they look at was a living allowance. Well he did for about a year and the summer of '66 they came up with a policy the living allowance was too high that they were going to drop it from $135 to $108 and the vehicle policy needed 67:00to be-- You were allowed to buy vehicles. The several things were wrong with those decisions. I know Peace Corps has later considered Hondas being dangerous and even decided volunteers shouldn't have or own Hondas or whatever. But the decision at that point in time in '66 was that we could buy Hondas. However, with a living allowance of $108 dollars a month there wasn't much to buy with. I actually did buy from Peace Corps at a rate of I think $8 a month the Honda 50 that I had for $100 bucks. The Honda 50 that I had use of and then I sold it to the college for the same $100 when I left. But the policy of cutting the living allowance basically cut resources that volunteers had. 68:00Now maybe we had a little bit too much in our $135 but several things were happening in the country at the same time. The French were--the French Cameroons were beginning to equalize the import duties and all of that stuff, those kind of things for both the English speaking and the French speaking area. So the price of imported stuff was going up and basically the cost of living was going up a bit. Plus if you were going to be really allowed to purchase vehicles you needed as much of that $135 as you could get. So it was-- It tended to not endear Peace Corps, the administration, to the volunteers in the field. Plus the during that two years the administration tended--shifted from 69:00Buea to Yaounde and their main headquarters came to be Yaounde. And of course more and more volunteers were being brought into the French speaking area of Cameroon which we-- All separate groups we had some contact with them but not a lot. So in a since Cameroon had almost two separate groups, plus we had agricultural volunteers; and in Ndu I got to know a fellow who was charged with building fish ponds. And he worked with the people in Ndu to build a three acre fish pond around Ndu. He turned out to be a fairly interesting fellow and one of the few I really got to know real well after my second year. He was from Jackson Hole, Wyoming and his father had a dude ranch kind of business and they would take tourists up in the mountains and do roasts of 70:00animal, you know ram roast and stuff like that. And one of the more memorable occasions where I did interact with other volunteers was toward the end of the, toward the beginning of the summer into the spring of '67 he had been fattening a ram for that one year he had been there. And we had a big ram roast. And between the Heinekens and the ram it was one--
WILSON: Good time! Good time huh?
DELAMBRE: But you know like I said normally I didn't interact too muchwith other volunteers. I figured there was plenty of Americans back home and I would see them all later.
WILSON: Later, which is a good transition-- You were in Cameroon from'64--
WILSON: '65 and returned to the United States in--
DELAMBRE: In August of '67 I actually stayed through that summer after I71:00guess overstayed a three several months after my classes--
WILSON: Still teaching or traveling and--?
DELAMBRE: Mostly traveling.
WILSON: Mostly traveling? On your own you've been--
DELAMBRE: I was still based at the college; I stayed at the college andtraveled from the college as a location but.
WILSON: You had terminated in country?
DELAMBRE: No I didn't terminate until about a couple of days intoAugust. I don't know-- That's an interesting discussion you and I can have later but I guess I didn't terminate until about three months after my teaching job was over.
WILSON: But the rest of the group had terminated at that point and--?
DELAMBRE: I don't really know.
DELAMBRE: I don't have any idea.
WILSON: It doesn't really matter.
WILSON: The point is then you left Cameroon and you came back.
DELAMBRE: I left Cameroon; I had not been into any other countries. So72:00I purposely, well I had gotten my readjustment, well I think I got my readjustment allowance. And I scheduled my airplane flight, which of course Peace Corps allowed me to schedule. And I scheduled it so that I would arrive in Lagos in the morning and I would have, I thought I would have the day in Lagos and that would give me an experience in another country. Well it didn't work out quite that way but I got to Lagos and got off the plane, checked my baggage, and took a taxi, I was going to go to the Peace Corps office which I did, got to the Peace Corps office, looked at my watch, and said, "Well take me back to the airport." Because I really didn't have time to stop and socialize or do anything. It was also interesting that that is the time when the Biafan forces were 50 miles from Lagos and that was the furthest extent 73:00they'd ever made during the Biafran war. And I was in Lagos on that day. And I had a little bit of a shock when I got on the airplane because the fellow sitting next to me was a Blue sergeant? from Morgan City, Louisiana, heavy southern accent--south Louisiana accident. He had been in the Midwest when the Biafrans took over Midwest and he and several others got out on a tug boat and were going home.
WILSON: You were talking about coming back to the United States,your trip back and then what you did when you came home and your readjustment to the U.S.
DELAMBRE: It was interesting. In going to Cameroon in the first placeI had been studying anthropology, I was familiar with culture shock concept, and I said to myself in preparation that if they can eat it 74:00I can eat it. That was more or less true. I didn't feel I had any cultural shock going to Cameroon, maybe it was the good Peace Corps training, or maybe it was the being in anthropology or-- That was an easy transition. Coming back to the United States was interesting. I stopped to visit the gal I talked about earlier who lived in Pennsylvania, spent a couple of days up at her place before I went back home to Louisiana. And it was in coming into the United States it was like I had never left. The everything was familiar like I hadn't left but I called home from Pennsylvania and this person answered the 75:00telephone with the thickest southern accent. I had never heard this southern accent before it was so thick. I understood the analogy that you can cut a southern accent like a wooden butter knife and it was my mother. And when I got back down to Louisiana people talked funny for two or three days-- Strange accent then they straightened their accents up. It-- Coming back there was an illusion I guess of normality. I say that because I got reminded fairly frequently over the next year or so that I had missed two years of experience that everybody I knew had 76:00had. And those years of experience were during the some of the more traumatic periods of the Vietnam War. I had while I was in the Peace Corps received Newsweek subscription; I even had Christian Science Monitor which I read. I've always been a newspaper magazine, news magazine reader. But I hadn't, I had completely missed the visceral impact of the Vietnam War on college students and on the country as a whole. So in a sense there was a little bit of cultural adjustment coming back trying to deal with those two years of missed experiences. 77:00So in a sense I can say I had a little bit more trouble readjusting than I did adjusting to Cameroon in the first place. I'm not sure I've explained that quite properly but I think but that's what happened. Now I plunged back into my master's program and it did take me two years to finish the master's program.
WILSON: And you did that in--?
DELAMBRE: In anthropology--
DELAMBRE: At LSU.
DELAMBRE: At which time I met my current wife. She was in the Spanishprogram and we both applied to enter PhD programs at the University of Kentucky after we finished our masters' degrees and that brought us up to Kentucky. And it of course I can easily say that my experience in 78:00the Peace Corps reemphasized my interest in other cultures. It gave me insights into the fact that other people think differently than we do and some insights into other cultures. I think my studying of anthropology reinforced that. Working on my PhD I kept Africa and Latin America as cultural areas. When I was working on my second bachelors at LSU I took a number of courses in South American Indian, North American Indian, in the Indian cultures, and other things the Latin American cultures. One of the first things I did when I got back is that I had a geography professor at LSU that every Christmas would take students to Mexico. And I used part of my readjustment allowance to go 79:00on a trip to Mexico with the Dr. West. And what we did was we went on a 10 days, 11 days we went up and down almost every major ruin down as far as Oaxaca in Mexico and I bought another instamatic camera and took a lot of instamatic pictures and slides and borrowed a slide projector with my readjustment allowance. That was and my readjustment allowance helped my through my two years at LSU. Now I stayed at home of course.
WILSON: And how much was that readjustment allowance? Do you remember?
WILSON: $1800 okay.
WILSON: So $900 a year is what you earned outside of your--
DELAMBRE: Outside of my living allowance, yes.
WILSON: Living allowance in Cameroon.
DELAMBRE: And I understand that it has grown considerably since thenbut you didn't go into the Peace Corps as a reason--as a way of making 80:00money. You went because of whatever your reasons were. And my main reason was to get a deep experience in another country and I think I achieved that.
WILSON: What do you think your impact as your Peace Corps service was onthe country in which you served on Cameroon or locally?
DELAMBRE: I think the students that I taught got introduced to Algebraand got acquainted with an American. The faculty were all Cameroonians, got to know them, they got to know me, I got to know them. In fact 81:00when the principal's daughter got married in Atlanta I went to that wedding and this was seven years ago. Another former volunteer who lived in Tennessee and he paid his way to Tennessee and then I went down to Tennessee and we took him to Mammoth Cave and visited with him, you know, did some visiting with him there. I think I had contact with a lot of people locally because I made a point of going to that little market place in Beami (??) and interacting with local people there.
WILSON: So it was one on one?
DELAMBRE: A lot of one on one with Cameroonians, personal contact. Idon't know what they expected Americans to be like. I say American, 82:00most of the time I was considered a white European which reminds me of another story. When we were in Peace Corps training we had a couple of volunteers that had just come out of Peace Corps, one of whom had taught his second year in the junior college in Bamenda. He was an interesting person; his skin was just a couple of shades darker than mine. I can get good tan--a decent tan sometimes. And it apparently was still disturbing him when he came out of the Peace Corps after two years that they defined him as a white European. I'm not sure he-- That was a traumatic thing for him. Another thing I remember too is I was in Buea on one of my trips and I ran into an American from Kansas 83:00who had met a Cameroonian in graduate--in college--dated, and married him and came back to Cameroon. She was not prepared for Cameroon and at the time she was looking for a job in the Peace Corps--secretary in the Peace Corps office in Buea. She had a couple-- Well I'm not sure about that time but I do know from talking to volunteers that were in Cameroon later that she had a couple of kids, her husband was became, by virtue of his education, became a civil servant. However, her status in the family and her income, her status in the family meant that she was sub par to his mother and their income really didn't allow them to live the style to which most of us in America had become accustomed. And that was and I think that she was really lonely for 84:00an opportunity to talk English and talk to other Americans. And it became compounded later because her husband had been on a plane trip somewhere in Cameroon, the plane had crashed, and he had been killed. And she was left without a husband, with several kids, and she was not really allowed to bring the kids back to the United States. So she was sort of caught in a very awkward difficult situation. And again I don't know the rest of the story. I got part of that story by talking to some volunteers at a meeting of Friends of Cameroon when I was in Washington during the 30th anniversary. But the rest of the story I 85:00don't know whatever happened, whatever followed up on that.
WILSON: So tell me what you think the impact of Peace Corps was on you?You've talked a little bit about them but what about on you?
DELAMBRE: I think it solidified my interest in international and itsolidified a sort of a maybe somewhat bicultural to the extent that I can still speak pidgin and I do look for opportunity to speak pidgin when I run in-- When there's-- With Cameroonians and with Nigerians because eastern Nigerians speak pidgin--well most Nigerians speak pidgin. It led me to when I left the anthropology program at UK after 86:00my committee didn't like my PhD exams I taught at Eastern for a couple of years. I taught research methods in sociology and then--
WILSON: That's Eastern Kentucky University?
DELAMBRE: Eastern Kentucky University, I taught research methods insociology. I was able to get a job as an evaluator with the Ohio Valley Regional Medical Program for about a year and a half and then I went to the state to work--to do evaluation with the Cabinet of Human Resources. And that shifted to policy analysis, budget analysis, number crunching of all kinds, policy analysis. I was in the secretary--well office of policy and budget which is staff to the secretary for almost 20 years.
WILSON: In state government?
DELAMBRE: In state government and then I shifted over to technologyservices and retired. But you asked the impact of Peace Corps. Peace 87:00Corps led me to become involved in United Nations Association back in '80 mainly as a way of continuing to learn about what's going on overseas. And I became the perpetual program chairman which means that my responsibility was to find speakers and line up speakers for our monthly meetings. And I've been doing that for almost 20 years. I've been involved in global study projects, the United Nations Association, I've been involved in returned Peace Corps volunteer activities most of that time. I even got involved in the early establishment of the Friends of Cameroon by trying to get a database together of people that served in Cameroon. And then I realized that there was someone else in D.C. working on it and D.C. had enough RPCVs from Cameroon to form a 88:00nucleus of a Friends of Cameroon and I couldn't do that out of Kentucky.
WILSON: What about impact of your Peace Corps service on your family--your immediate family or your broader family?
DELAMBRE: I would say that when my wife and I raised kids or whenwe were at graduate school at UK we had a small group of returned volunteers that we were in--they were also in anthropology--that we hung around with. Or in Spanish, there were some in Spanish. And we had a small group of friends that were in our returned Peace Corps volunteers. And when we got to Frankfort--the capital of Kentucky--we ended up having including in our social network returned Peace Corps volunteers. And in fact Bill Miller who is a returned volunteer from 89:00the Dominican Republic and I were very heavily involved in the United Nations Association. Then my kids have grown up attending a meeting- -annual meetings--with other kids of other Peace Corps volunteers and I think this has been a very broadening experience for them. I can remember when my son was 9 years old--oldest son--we went out to Camp Andrew Jackson and he got eventually included in some card games with some of the other volunteers and they treated him as a person. And I think this was an eye opening for him because he was treated as a person and even played a few hands in the card games they were playing. This I noticed-- I noticed as he did this that it impressed him and 90:00I had noticed that the other kids of their ages that were of other volunteers tended to be also very open to experiences and seemed to be pretty open minded about things.
WILSON: What about when you first decided to join the Peace Corps? Yourfamily, your parents, or your brothers and sisters: what were their thoughts?
DELAMBRE: I was the oldest of I had three younger sisters and Dad I'mnot sure he understood it, I'm not sure Mother understood it. It was a decision that I came to but they were--they had other things they were dealing with so. Plus I was 24 at the time, it was my decision and my 91:00adventure so to speak.
WILSON: And your father had had his in Latin America?
DELAMBRE: Well yeah but that's involves--that brings up more things thanwe need to go into.
WILSON: I think you talked a little bit about the impact of Peace Corpson your career. What about other international experiences that you've had since then? Have you--?
DELAMBRE: I've not had the opportunity to go overseas which everyreturned volunteer I run into seems to seek them out. Bill Miller and I did go to the African Summit in D.C. which was a three day thing of looking at problems in Africa which was a very interesting experience. We ended up going with the Vice President of Kentucky State University 92:00and a number of faculty at Kentucky State University even though I think we were the first two that had registered to go. It's--
WILSON: But you have had experiences with Africans and otherinternational people here?
DELAMBRE: Yes, I've been-- The United Nations Association had aninternational dinner for a while where we were having the Baha'i and international students, international faculty at Kentucky State University all participating--nice food.
WILSON: Tape two of interview with Jules Delambre Peace Corps OralHistory Project on October 20, 2004.
DELAMBRE: You asked how Peace Corps may have influenced my life in93:00the last few years. I can say that when my son was at my younger son was in day school it turned out that there was a young man just slightly older than him in the same day school when he was I think three years old that was-- His parents are from Bangladesh. And I encouraged them to be friends and we became--I became friends with his parents. In fact it turned out that over the years we are still friends, they are still friends, and I'm still acquainted with his parents. I became sort of an advisor to his parents. They had both worked for the state but every now and then something would come up in terms of their not understanding what was going on in America or how to deal with some issue. And they would contact me and I would go and we would talk it over. And I think in a way it helped bridge 94:00their-- They had other American friends of course but I was able to help them better understand some of the issues that they had to deal with over the years. And we still are friends and I've always enjoyed the food that they served. It frequently comes down to food. And also over the years through schools I have always been interested in students from overseas and being in the Peace Corps has made it I guess reemphasized that and I've known--got to know more international students when I came back to LSU than I had known before. My wife had a colleague that-- Or my girlfriend at the time had a colleague from 95:00Belize and we got to know each other a little bit. At UK I got to know a few international students. Since I'm working with the state there's an awful lot of Indians and some Bangladeshis that are working for the state as well. And Frankfort has become a--with Kentucky State University being a traditionally black university--it's drawn a number of Nigerians and Cameroonians. There's about 13--about 20 Cameroonians in Frankfort now. I understand there's about 50 Ghanaians which I think it's extraordinary. There are a few people from Bangladesh in India. In fact there are probably a number from India; I really don't have a feel for it. But I got to know a number of those over the years and probably more than most Americans do these days.
WILSON: What has the impact of your Peace Corps service been on the way96:00you think about the rest of the world and perhaps what is going on in the world today?
DELAMBRE: I feel that it's an important obligation of our countryto be--do what they can to help the developed world better their circumstances. I am very much concerned that--
WILSON: The developed world?
DELAMBRE: I'm sorry the developing world.
WILSON: Developing world.
DELAMBRE: I'm very much concerned that we have an awful lot of peoplearound the world that are living in unnecessarily harsh circumstances 97:00and I think that the developed world should be due--reaching a handout just as we would not want to have. We reach out to the poor in our own communities. I'm a firm believer in that old proverb of teaching a person how to fish as opposed to just giving them a fish. Somewhere way back in my Sunday school days I got real strongly involved--committed--to that golden rule: do unto others as you would have others do unto you. And I've always tried to apply that to a certain extent any circumstances I was in. And it does seem to me that we're not doing enough to I guess apply something like the Marshall 98:00Plan to the rest of the world. When I went to that African Summit one of the proposals that I was pushing real strongly was the application of a Marshall like plan to Africa. I'm terribly concerned that the AIDS problem in Africa-- I think what is it? 35-- AIDS is devastating Africa. I think it's very important that the United States takes some--makes some efforts--do what it can. And I am appalled by the fact that our foreign aid is 1% instead of--or less than 1% instead of more what we can afford. I am concerned that our government policies are frequently--our government foreign policy is frequently influenced by campaign contributions, major corporations as opposed to being 99:00committed to really trying to make a difference in the world.
WILSON: And do you--do you think that your Peace Corps experienceinfluenced this way of thinking or would you--?
DELAMBRE: I would say that I might have been leaning that way but andI'm going to say it was spending two years in Cameroon interacting with Cameroonians that has led me to be--better appreciate the circumstances they find themselves in. In fact I'm very-- I've been following Cameroon since I've been home and Cameroon had I don't believe there was really any hunger in Cameroon when I was there. 100:00During the intervening years Cameroon was making considerable economic progress through about '86; after '86 the Presidents changed and the new President hasn't been as constructive in his approaches to economic development and political development as the previous President. And my understanding is there is currently hunger in Cameroon that didn't previously exist. There is a little bit more of a discrimination against individuals that are not of the particular tribe of the President that wasn't true of the previous President. And it led me to teach a course in economic development at Kentucky State University just a year and a half ago where I was looking at some of the problems of development and some of the issues that really we should be dealing 101:00with in Afghanistan and Iraq. I realize from some of the reading I did that some of the biggest barriers to development in the third world is the attitude of the people that govern it. Many times you've got many countries of the world who are not putting the interest of their people first. And since they're putting their own selfish interest and the selfish interest of some of their friends first the majority of the people are suffering. And also in putting together a lot of the stuff that I've run into over the years I've realized that it's very difficult to the-- If you want people to change, and the best example of that I can think of is agriculture extension program in this country, we've revolutionized American agriculture through the approach 102:00that the extension program has used in spreading new techniques of agriculture. And one of the keys to the extension office programs is that they demonstrate to early adopters that they have something that works, they convince them, and then they convince other people to adopt whatever the innovation is that's being promoted. But the most important thing is that innovation has to work and the people have to be--the people who are going to adopt it have to be convinced that it does. I think that the power of people to change is enormous but the whole development literature is chock full of failures. And the failures I would attribute primarily to the fact that the people that 103:00came in knew what needed to be done but failed to number one: take into the consideration the realities of the local situation, or number two: failed to communication the what they were proposing to the people that were--that have to live with it and adopt it. To me one of the first things we needed to have done in Iraq for example after Saddam had been toppled was to convince the Iraqis that we had a proposal for them that was in their best interest and we needed to have worked from the grassroots up developing local democracy all the way up to national democracy but explaining it and getting a buy-in from the Iraqis--from 104:00the word get go. I've noticed in everything I've read over the years that you don't force people to do what you think is best for them and I think that I observed that when I was in the Peace Corps, I observed that in my studies in anthropology that partially the Peace Corps contributed to my under--my doing it--understanding it as well as I did. And I've learned it through in state government, I learned it in the studies that the United Nations Association has done.
WILSON: So in sort of a summary of all this, what do you think theimpact of Peace Corps in general has been?
DELAMBRE: I believe that we have--that well I've read a little bitabout the history of the Peace Corps. And it apparently was President 105:00Kennedy's conviction that Peace Corps would have an indelible impact on America, and that that would be one of the biggest benefits of the Peace Corps. And I think that if you take the activities of the 170,000 returned Peace Corps volunteers collectively you have 170,000 individuals that have a meaningful cross cultural experience, they have an idea what it is to live in another country, and what it's like not only for them living there but for the people that live there to live there. And that they bring this insight back to whatever they do. Now I realize that many of them end up in back overseas in one capacity or another. I am very--I am very pleased with the fact that I understand 106:00a large number of state department officials today are returned Peace Corps volunteers, a large number of the AID officers and whatever are Peace Corps-- I have a feeling from what I can tell an awful large number of Americans that serve the UN and serve various international NGOs are former Peace Corps volunteers. And I think this is all to the good. We've got eight returned Peace Corps volunteers right now that are running for Congress in this current election and I'm hoping that as many as in fact seven of those are supposed to be more than likely be elected. Only one of them is running in a tough race. I feel that those insights that they take to Congress are going to be 107:00important to our Congress and understanding how to address issues in the world because I do firmly believe that the United States-- Well our population is only 4.7% of the world's population, our land base is only about 6.7% of the world's land, we are--we have to deal with the world. And I think that the insights of those 170,000 returned volunteers bring to our country and our institutions may be the key to our future dealings with the world.
WILSON: Which is sort of my last question which is: so what should therole of the Peace Corps be today and the future? 108:00
DELAMBRE: I think our country as a whole will benefit from having alarger Peace Corps, having more individuals return from Peace Corps that have cross cultural experiences because I think we desperately need that insight in our government, at every level in our government and in our foreign, in our state department, in our AID, and various other areas. That insight is critical in our decision makers making decisions about how we should interact with the world, and I think we're-- As powerful a nation as we are we have no choice but to interact with other nations and to interact in ways that protect our interest as well as polar (??) them. I am really not too impressed 109:00with some of the assumptions being made by advisors in the current administration. I believe those assumptions are at odds with the realities of the world and will bring us more grief than they will bring us peace and prosperity. And I think that the insights of return Peace Corps volunteers are going to be one of the few things that help us out there.
WILSON: Okay, well thank you. That's basically the major questions thatI have. Is there anything that I have not asked that you would like to comment on or tell from your experience?
DELAMBRE: I might mention-- I didn't mention a couple of things thatdid occur when I was in the Peace Corps that I think were unusual 110:00experiences. Cameroon was doing a youth day every year so they had parades of all their youth from all the schools usually in Kumbo town. And we attended those and it--I was impressed with the attention that Cameroon was giving education. Also had learned in talking to Cameroonians since then that Cameroon pretty much has relatively available education through college that is easily affordable by most individuals--most families that want to send their kids on to education, and I'm impressed with that. Literacy rate in Cameroon I think is relatively high for a third world country. I was there in '66 when the political parties of the West Cameroon joined and became 111:00a single political party, and I was there in the summer in '66 when Cameroon went to a one party system and naively I felt that it was possible for a one party system to be democratic. And it was set up in a way that would have been--that appeared like it would be democratic. Problem was that it lacked adequate checks and balances. With a one party system you have no checks and balances. And that over the years came to mean that the government had no reason to consider opposition positions. It had too strong a hold on all the institutions, which again gives me another insight into the problem of development of the 112:00third world. I guess overall Cameroon was--being two years in Cameroon was kind of a defining experience in my learning and developing my personality to a certain extent. Although, you know, I think I'm the same person I was way, way back, but still it was a galvanizing point you might say, not a turning point but a galvanizing point of interest and opinions and insights.
WILSON: Something you said reminded me of a question I had intended toask you and you touched on it a couple of times but we never addressed directly. And that is have you kept contact with any Cameroonians from your Peace Corps days or other people from your Peace Corps days?
DELAMBRE: The only people I've really been able to keep-- Well the only113:00Cameroonians I've been able to keep in touch with was the principal and I did attend the wedding of his daughter in Atlanta and recently he was in California visiting his daughter and we talked on the phone and-- Now I've gotten to know a number of Cameroonians that have come to Frankfort and we interact every now and then. In fact after a while there I was attending monthly injangi which is a savings club that I was participating as much as just attending enjoying the food. But it had been my intention to go back to Cameroon sometime. I find though the round trip price tag to be somewhat formidable; as I understand it's anywhere from $1200 to $1400 for a round trip ticket to Cameroon these days. And I had intended with a major in anthropology and a PhD 114:00in anthropology to do research in Cameroon--which would have taken me there. But once I got into state government I was unable to wrangle any rationale for state government to send me to Cameroon.
WILSON: Okay, well thank you Jules for your time and your comments aboutyour Peace Corps service.
[End of interview.]