WILSON: Peace Corps Oral History Project interview October 15, 2007with David Goodpaster, interviewer Jack Wilson. David, if you would please just give me for starters your full name and where and when you were born.
GOODPASTER: Okay, well my name is David Thomas Goodpaster and I wasborn February 1, 1975 and actually my father was in Columbus in the air force. And so we were, when I was born we were actually stationed up in Columbus, Ohio but soon came back to Kentucky where they both are originally from.
WILSON: Can you tell me something else about your growing up and your1:00family? Say you were born in Dayton--
GOODPASTER: In Columbus.
WILSON: Columbus, okay.
GOODPASTER: But we soon after, my father he had been in Vietnam and heI guess realizing that he now had a son he didn't really want to be deployed anymore and decided to get out of the service and soon after I was born. And so we came back to Kentucky, of course my father was from Lexington and my mother grew up in Danville, Kentucky out on the Perryville Road and so most of my early childhood was spent in Lexington. And so we, I grew up here in Lexington up until about 1985.
WILSON: Do you have brothers or sisters?
GOODPASTER: I have one brother, he's a younger brother. He was born in'78 at Good Samaritan during that really bad winter storm if anybody 2:00remembers that and in January 16, '78. So I guess essentially just for a little background what happened was my father was here in Lexington and he was working for, he got a job with Square D over off of New Circle. And he worked with Square D for a few years and then he got a job with Rockwell, which I think that's out towards Winchester. And it's kind of a funny story. He, I'll make it quick, but he in the back of his mind he had always wanted to be a dentist and one of his good friends was a dentist and this particular friend of his kept encouraging him to go back to school. And so one day he got laid off, he was a manager out there--a line manager--and he got laid off and he decided okay I'm going to do it. And because he had his family and because he was older he decided to go back to school and apply to UK 3:00and that was going to be the one school. And he said, "If I get in, I'm going to do it. If I don't, then I'll take that as a sign." And so he applied and he got in in 1981 and for the next four years he was in dental school at UK, and so my mother was teaching at Sayre School downtown and I was able to go to Sayre, their elementary school because she was teaching down there in the elementary school as well. And my brother and I both, and so in 1985 my father graduated from dental school at UK and he went into some negotiations with a few practices around the area, couldn't work anything out, so he decided to go back into the air force and they allowed him to keep his rank when he left. And we were then stationed, in August of '85 we moved to Fort Walton Beach, Florida at Eglin Air Force Base, which is down there where 4:00Destin and Panama City, that whole area, so the second half of my childhood was spent in the panhandle of Florida.
WILSON: So you actually graduated from high school in Florida?
GOODPASTER: Correct, correct. So--
WILSON: Go ahead.
GOODPASTER: Oh no so I was going to say the interesting thing is myentire family is from here though and I eventually I don't know, there was always something that kind of pulled at my heartstrings about Kentucky. So I after college actually I came back here.
WILSON: Where did you go to college?
GOODPASTER: Well that's a whole 'nother separate story. I was-- Iended up at Birmingham Southern College, which is very similar to like a Centre or a Transy. It's very similar in size and it's a Methodist affiliated liberal arts school down in Birmingham, Alabama. And that's where I met my wife Lauren, and her whole family is from Kentucky as 5:00well. But her father got a job working in insurance and ended up in Franklin, Tennessee just south of Nashville. And somehow she ended up heading south to go to school and I ended up going north just a little bit, and we kind of met in the middle.
WILSON: Is there anything in your growing up that you would point to asa possible influence on your joining the Peace Corps?
GOODPASTER: I, you know come to think of it, when I was younger I neverreally realized this until later but I guess I've always been kind of a restless person maybe is a good way to put it. Sometimes that can be a good thing and other times it can be a bad thing, but I guess my main point is I had absolutely no fear or no problem with the whole prospect 6:00of leaving the country and going abroad for two years. It wasn't even a concern of mine, I mean I did realize that it was a big venture and that it was a big you know investment for my life and all these kinds of things, but in the end just because of the kind of person I am I guess I just, I've always been this way. I can kind of pick it up, uproot on a dime and have you know there's really no problem with that at all. So I think that played a big part, and I've always kind of been a bit idealistic and adventurous and so I yeah I definitely think those were heavy influences on my decision to join Peace Corps.
WILSON: So you graduated from--?
GOODPASTER: Birmingham Southern.
WILSON: Birmingham Southern and then what?7:00
GOODPASTER: And then upon graduation Lauren and I started dating and wespent a few months more in Birmingham and Lauren-- I had told Lauren that I said I really would like to get back to Kentucky because I actually, I graduated with a degree in history and I ended up working at the Kentucky Historical Society.
WILSON: In Frankfort?
GOODPASTER: In Frankfort, and I told her that that's where I was headed.And she had been looking at graduate schools, and of course like I told you before her family is heavily, her whole family is from Kentucky as well originally. And so she had been looking at UK for graduate school and also Alabama I think and Texas. And so I think when I told her I was going to Kentucky that kind of sealed the deal and so we decided to come up here together and she went to school and I 8:00started working, so--
WILSON: How long did you work for the Historical Society?
GOODPASTER: I think it was about three years.
WILSON: Did you live in Frankfort?
GOODPASTER: No, I was in Lexington and just commuted every day. Ijust went 421; I used to love that drive. It was great. A lot of people thought I was crazy, they thought why don't you just take the Versailles Road but I'm not a big fan of traffic and I kind of like going the back ways so--
WILSON: So then what, where did the Peace Corps enter the picture?
GOODPASTER: Well here's the thing. It's quite interesting becauseagain just for background, which is important, is I'm 32 years old and Lauren is also 32 and so Lauren and I are-- And we just got back from the Peace Corps; we got back in June which Lauren was 31 and I was 32. 9:00And the reason that's important is because there's not many volunteers who are our age and who are married and so what to get back to your question. We had already kind of been in our careers for a while when we joined the Peace Corps, and the Peace Corps had always been something that I had thought about doing. And most people I guess or a lot of people do Peace Corps right out of school, and it was something that I had thought about. But I guess with my relationship with Lauren I realized that oh, and I just realized this. I actually applied to Peace Corps out of school and I was going to go teach English.
WILSON: Right when you first graduated?
GOODPASTER: Right, exactly.
WILSON: Oh okay.
GOODPASTER: And I had already started the process and but then my job10:00with the Historical Society came up, and then but I think I still if it hadn't been for Lauren I think I still would have ultimately gone. And I just came to realize that if I went overseas that my relationship with her would end; that was just kind of a reality. And so because of that I decided not to go. And this is a very important point because just because I decided not to go doesn't mean it didn't go away. And so it's always been, it had always been there just this nagging, not nagging but this just this wanting to go really, this I don't know. I can't really explain it, I just had always wanted to join Peace Corps and do something like that. So to make a long story short you know I worked for the society for a few years and then, this is such a long story I'm trying to-- 11:00
WILSON: It's alright. Take your time.
GOODPASTER: Well Lauren ends up, you know she ends up graduating,getting her master's degree, and she gets a job at Transy. So she's working at Transylvania, and all of a sudden one day she gets this phone call from an old professor of hers that's now a dean at Rollins College down in Orlando, Florida with this outstanding job opportunity. And so we go back and forth and we're still dating at this time, and we go back and forth and back and forth. Finally she decides this is just too good an opportunity to you know to let go, and so she decides to take the job. And I just decided you know I'm going to stay in Kentucky. So that lasted a year. She went to Orlando and was working in their service learning. She was basically it started out as a grant position and by the end of her time there it got fully funded 12:00by the college; she did a great job. It was her job to essentially set up a service learning office for Rollins College for the students. And I think this played a big part with Lauren's decision to join the Peace Corps also. But after a year I ended up deciding that I needed to be with Lauren again and so I left Kentucky and went and taught high school down in Orlando. And then we, you know, one thing led to another and we eventually got married. And this was about two years later or so, we're just kind of working towards you know my older age now. And finally when we got married we kind of came up on a career break. I wasn't, I was enjoying teaching but I was in the Orange County public school system, which is a pretty large-- It's a huge county with a lot of students and unfortunately there's a lot of 13:00red tape. And so I was getting kind of discouraged by that and I was enjoying my actual teaching in the classroom but I wasn't enjoying dealing with all the red tape, and Lauren-- Lauren had, she had kind of fulfilled her goals as far as the office of service learning there at Rollins, and she had gotten the office fully funded like I said and so I guess what I'm getting at is we both came upon a career break essentially. This was right after we had gotten married and I'll never forget that we were out to dinner one night and I just came out and asked her and I said, "Lauren, what would you say if we were to just join Peace Corps?" because it was something that, like I told you before, I had always been thinking about. And I just asked her. I said, "Lauren, you know I've always thought about the Peace Corps." I said, "What would you say about us going and doing it now?" because we didn't have any children yet or anything like that and we were married so we could go together. And I knew she was a likeminded person as far as you know with her service learning background and stuff like 14:00that. And I'll be honest, I don't know what she's going to say in her interview but it was a really tough, tough decision for her. And I don't mean that in a bad way or even in a good way. It was just a fact. It was just, and understandably so, it was just being the age that we were at the time just not a lot of people were doing this. And all the people we talked to thought we were crazy. I mean hey just didn't understand it. They were like, "How is it that you know Lauren's doing great and you're doing alright and you're teaching and you know you all should go buy a house and start thinking about having kids and buying a new car or whatever just newlyweds do. Why in the world are you talking about going and joining the Peace Corps?" So I don't know this, it probably lasted a couple months or so and Lauren, I think Lauren realized how much it meant to me and I knew it was 15:00something that she would really like to do as well and so she decided let's go for it. And so we started the application process.
WILSON: When you originally applied back upon your graduation were youaccepted for a program? Did you complete the process at that point or--?
GOODPASTER: I got to the phone interview and that was it, so that'sabout halfway through. I got about halfway through the process and it was just, it was just the realization that Lauren was very supportive at the time but I could tell it was really, it was hurting her that I was going to be leaving her. And I think seeing her not wanting me to, seeing her supporting me but knowing that she really didn't want me to go it just made me realize how much I cared about her and so it kind 16:00of just put the brakes on it right away. I mean it just kind of cut right off.
WILSON: So later when you did apply--
GOODPASTER: Oh I do have something I should add to, no go ahead.
WILSON: No go on.
GOODPASTER: Well one thing that was interesting about Lauren's decisionfor Peace Corps was I'm sure, I don't know how things were earlier with the whole process but they give you the whole like you can put down your preferences for region where you'd like to go. I think it's up to three preferences and Lauren said, "Okay I'm going to do this David, but if we go I'm not going to Europe. I'm not going anywhere cold." And so our whole outlook on it was Lauren was like if we're going to do Peace Corps then I would really like to go where, not to say that people in any area need help or service or whatever you want to call 17:00it, but I guess in the end we just felt like Africa was our number one choice. We just felt like if we're going to do something like this, we're going to go to Africa. So Africa was our number one choice and then the second choice was the Caribbean, so and we didn't put a third choice. But I just remember that Lauren was, she was pretty adamant about that. And later on in the process we got, you know I'm sure you know how the process goes. It's very long and--
WILSON: Tell me something about the process for you.
GOODPASTER: Oh well we ended up having, we waited a little over a yearfor everything to go through. And that was really tough on us because let me try to think back. We, the school year for she and I ended in May of gosh what was it, May of '04. And so at that point Lauren, we 18:00leave our jobs.
WILSON: You've applied?
GOODPASTER: We've applied, we're good to go, and we've been told thatoh what was it? We'd be probably set to go in September, which was great because we were like, "Okay we'll just get a couple summer jobs or something, spend some time--" We decided to move back up to Fort Walton Beach, Florida where my parents were. They had a little like mother-in-law's quarters and so we just moved a lot of our stuff up there and just said alright we'll spend three months there, get to spend some time with friends and family, and then travel a little bit around and see everyone and then go on our way. Well, Peace Corps I guess in a way doesn't, it doesn't really work that way all the time. And so we got-- Oh! And they said you're going to be learning French and you'll be going to West Africa, and so we were like okay. So we start buying all these French books and all this kind of stuff, well then it changes and we-- It's bumped up to around Thanksgiving or was 19:00it November 1 maybe. I can't remember, oh it was November 1, November 1st and at that time they were like, "Okay you won't be learning French but you'll still be going to West Africa," and so we figured it might be like Ghana or something like that. And then of course we get bumped again and this time we didn't hear anything for the longest time. It went through Christmas, it went through January, February, we were really starting to get discouraged, not that we didn't think we were gonna to be going. We thought it would probably work out in the end, but we were just getting discouraged because it was taking so long and you know we just kind of wanted to get a move on things you know. We knew the longer it took to start the later in life we'd be getting back and Lauren did at some point want to get back and get started on 20:00a family and settling down. And so it was especially hard on her, and so finally it was funny because we get a phone call and they're like, "Okay we know you all are really ready to go. What if we send you to--somewhere in Eastern Europe to teach English," which I was really excited about but Lauren-- It was funny because here it is Lauren's having to decide do I want to go someplace where I-- She said, "I don't want to go and just teach English. I'd like to go again to Africa or someplace like that," or do I take the choice to get there sooner or do I wait and take the chance to go where I'd really like to go? And so surprisingly she decided to wait. She said okay let's not take that, and in the end it worked out because we ended up getting Malawi and left at right at the end of May, so that's kind of how that worked out.
WILSON: You said something about getting bumped. What does that mean21:00and what did Peace Corps say to you all at the time?
GOODPASTER: I'm trying to think of how the conversations went. It wasall over the phone and it was just essentially they were, it all came down to like slots. And honestly okay I do remember now, the problem with us was they were, they have to try to set us up with the skills that we have and with the background, and it just makes it much more difficult with two people. And so you're essentially, Peace Corps Washington was trying to find programs that would match us with a program overseas that would take us.
WILSON: You as a history/English teacher and Lauren as what?
GOODPASTER: Well, Lauren got her master's degree in higher ed you knowso it's like, so it's interesting because both of our backgrounds were 22:00in education and we ended up as health, technically, officially we were health volunteers in Malawi. But what ended up, which it sounds funny but it ends up working out fine because what we ended up really being was health education volunteers. So we were able to utilize that education background and we just, we were teaching about health.
WILSON: So you were finally invited to a program in--?
WILSON: In 2005?
GOODPASTER: Oh 2005.
WILSON: And so tell me something about the sort of orientation and thetraining and the group that you went with.
GOODPASTER: Let's see the orientation, well we met up, we flew from-- Wedrove up to Nashville, Tennessee to see her family before we left and 23:00then we flew from Nashville to Philadelphia, and that was one of the staging cities for our group. And staging was for about I can't really remember, maybe four days or something like that. And then we flew out of New York. Our group consisted of around 20, I think 24 people. The interesting thing about our group, which they said was very strange, was there were three married couples in our group of the 24. And of the three married couples they were all young; young meaning like Lauren and I were the oldest married couple of the three. And they just said that that was kind of odd, like that doesn't happen a lot. And just being in Peace Corps and seeing other Peace Corps volunteers and being in other countries with Peace Corps, I can see that. I mean 24:00like I said earlier in the interview you know young married couples are just not as prevalent as younger single folks or maybe retirees. Those seem to be the two main, main groups in Peace Corps today. So that was one thing that was very interesting. Another interesting thing was in the end Lauren and I were the only married couple that made it the whole two years. The other two married couples didn't make it.
WILSON: Didn't make it in country?
GOODPASTER: In country, right. They ended up ETing [Editor's note:early termination].
WILSON: So staging out of Philadelphia and then what?
GOODPASTER: Well, one thing I've always thought was so funny is PeaceCorps if you go to the Africa region, the Africa is the only region 25:00where Peace Corps has an entire day just for shots during your staging. And so no other region has that, and so I thought that was kind of a--
WILSON: Shots for what?
GOODPASTER: Oh gosh for yellow fever I think was one. Oh gosh! We gotshots for every single thing you could imagine. I mean our yellow card was just filled. I can't even remember everything we got shots for. Oh gosh. What were the main things?
WILSON: Was there some discussion of health issues there or was that apart of training later on?
GOODPASTER: It wasn't really discussed a whole lot in staging. I meanwe, when it came to our shots it was through the government and we just kind of went there and took our shots like we were supposed to. And then a lot of the health issues that were discussed came in country. 26:00And the main, I think the main health concern there in country would have to be malaria. That was the main thing. Of course there wasn't a shot for malaria. We took an oral pill for that; we were on gosh now I'm drawing a blank. Not doxycycline but mefloquine, that's what I was on and that's what Lauren was on.
WILSON: So anyway you flew straight to Malawi?
GOODPASTER: We right, well we flew to Malawi via Johannesburg. So westayed one night in Johannesburg just for the transfer.
WILSON: Had you ever been out of the country before?
GOODPASTER: Mmhmm, and Lauren had as well so--
WILSON: Where had you?
GOODPASTER: I had been to Trinidad and Tobago and I had been over to27:00Europe to--
WILSON: When was that?
GOODPASTER: I went to Europe when I was in college for a-- BirminghamSouthern had what was like a Jan term, we had it during January between the two semesters. Jan term was just an opportunity for students to either like intern somewhere for a month or go on some kind of a school sponsored trip, cultural type trip or study abroad or take a class on a single class of interest. And so one particular year I went on a trip to Europe through school, and that was great. And I think that also had a big effect on me because I remember being over there and just having, just loving being abroad so much. And I remember, I'll never forget like going to the airport and being sad about coming home, and 28:00a lot of the other people being so excited. You know people talking about like oh I want my McDonald's and I want my ESPN, and I remember just kind of saying, "I'll eventually see that again," you know, "but I won't be seeing this again." You know and so I was I think looking back on it I think that was a big realization too as far as you know just loving being abroad and I'm sure I'll be, you know I know I'll be abroad again so--
WILSON: And then you went to the Caribbean as well at some point?
GOODPASTER: Mmmhmm, that was just on a like a mission trip through mychurch. We, I helped to kind of organize a trip to go down there to work on an orphanage actually, so that was pretty nice. I enjoyed that a lot. I feel like I'm forgetting a trip.
WILSON: After college or before?
GOODPASTER: It was after college.
WILSON: Okay so back to training, tell me something about that, how that29:00worked, how long it was, what you know sort of what you did in training.
GOODPASTER: Training was, it was essentially two parts. You had likea-- Peace Corps Malawi had like a place set up where trainees would go. It was essentially like a forestry college; it was Malawi's forestry college. And Peace Corps Malawi had leased out a section of it with some hostel type dorm room type things and kind of a few meeting areas and that kind of a thing. And so for the first week or two weeks we 30:00just went there and we kind of got assigned into our groups that we would be with for the remainder of our training. And we got to know the training staff and we had, we started our medical sessions. And then after about that first week or so what Malawi does is they put you out into an actual village, not the village you'll be serving in but just a-- They called it a home stay and so you would be going out to a village and you would be staying with a family, a Malawian, in this case a Malawian family for it was I think six weeks if I remember correctly, six or seven weeks. And you would stay with this family and you would just kind of learn to, you would just get accustomed to being with them and observing the culture. And it was kind of a really nice way to go about things. And then every day we had language classes 31:00in our villages in our home stay villages. And so the training in the villages was essentially made up of language training, technical training, and then cultural experiences. That was kind of the three main, it was like a three pronged approach, so and that was great.
WILSON: And you said the program was for health workers? So what wasyour technical training?
GOODPASTER: Well, technical I use that term loosely because they calledit technical training but what those classes were mainly, they were mainly a-- You would have people from like the Ministry of Health from the Malawian government come in and just kind of give you a background of projects that were going on and how they went about things. And 32:00just different methodologies and different procedures for like you would go and visit health centers and find out about how things were run and I think it was just the idea was just to give you background and just to give you an idea of what to expect when you went into your own village. And so to be quite honest I didn't really get a whole lot out of the technical side of things in the training only because in a country like Malawi you really kind of need to just be on your feet. I mean it really, you really in the end you kind of come up with your own stuff as far as getting things done. And they try to help you along the way a little bit, but in the end it doesn't really matter.
WILSON: And what was your language training? What was the language?33:00
GOODPASTER: Well there's two languages in Malawi. There is-- I was, mywife and I we learned Chichewa and so Chi, C-H-I is like the language of essentially and then Chewa is the tribe. So it's the language of the Chewa, C-H-E-W-A. And the Chewa essentially made up the central and the southern parts of the country. And then in the northern part the volunteers that went north learned what was called Tumbuka, and so those were the two main languages in Malawi. But interestingly enough the two official languages of the Republic of Malawi are English and Chichewa because Malawi was an English colony back in the day up until the early '60s and it just had a real big effect on the country itself. 34:00And you know all the students in secondary schools are required to be taught in English, and I just think that the Malawian government, their whole outlook on things is look if we're going to try to continue to develop we should go about it by teaching our students English.
WILSON: What was the language training like? Was it mostly just livingwith people or did you have formal instruction in language as well?
GOODPASTER: Oh yes, we had class time. I mean it was, I have to give alot of credit to our training staff. The actual language trainers were Malawians who taught in schools that Peace Corps Malawi hired. And so we would spend probably up to five to six hours a day in language class 35:00I mean literally in a room in a house with our language trainer and the classes were small. I mean there were maybe four people in each class, and so you would go through-- And it was every day. It was almost like during those six to seven weeks we were in our home stay what would happen was every day we would get up early, have breakfast with our families, and then we would leave like we were going to work. But instead of going to work you were going to language class and you would spend the majority of the day in language class. And those, you know, those classes sometimes like I said earlier we would have a technical thing thrown in there or a cultural thing thrown in there, but by and far the main focus was the language training. And we would, and then at night we would or late afternoon we would go back to our families and spend the remainder of the day with them. 36:00
WILSON: What was it like to arrive in Malawi?
GOODPASTER: It was exciting. I mean it was, looking back on it Iremember I didn't really know what to expect. So the flight from Johannesburg to Lilongwe, the capital city was not a very, it wasn't a very long flight. It would be like maybe from flying from Lexington to Atlanta maybe, maybe a little further but it's kind of like that you know. So we get on the plane that morning from Johannesburg, we're flying, and I remember landing and looking out the window and it was just very flat, not a lot of trees, kind of a savannah type look to it and I was very, I didn't really know what to think because I knew we'd be landing in you know what I thought was Malawi's second 37:00largest city. But there was nothing to be seen and the airport's not very large. But what it is is a Banda, he was president for life, a dictator essentially. When he built the airport he built it way out because he thought back in the '70s and he thought that you know the city would grow so quickly that it would eventually reach the airport. So the airport was a good distance away from the city, and so that's kind of why it was like that. But I remember landing and just like, "Oh my gosh, where in the heck are we?" But at the same time it was just really exciting because you land and you get off the plane and Peace Corps Malawi, one thing they do is they bring as many of the volunteers in, into town as they can and everybody's there waiting for you when you-- It's one of those airports where you just you know walk off the plane and then you're on the ground, and the plane isn't even 38:00a good distance from the actual airport itself, the actual building. And so you're kind of walking on the concrete there between the plane and the building and everyone's up in the stands, in like a waiting type area and they have banners and everyone's just welcoming you. And it's just, it was great because you're just sitting there and you're thinking to yourself, "I'm in Malawi. I'm in a foreign country. I'm going to be living here for two years." And it just kind of blows your mind you know thinking back about it, but then at the same time it just went so quickly so--
WILSON: So what was your job and where were you located?
GOODPASTER: Like I said officially Lauren and I were what were calledhealth volunteers, and in the end that kind of evolved into what I would call health education volunteers. And so we used what we learned 39:00as far as promoting good health practices, we just you know we were essentially educators and using that information to just kind of also do some community development and that kind of a thing. But that was essentially what we were doing was health education, primarily focusing on HIV/AIDS and then my-- Lauren was focusing a lot on, she kind of got involved a lot with the infant mortality rate and mothers and that kind of thing. Malawi's infant mortality rate I think is like maybe the second worst in the world, so that was something she became very passionate about. And she, her work centered more around the health center. So she would go and help with the under-five clinics and she would teach sessions there for the mothers and she would attend you 40:00know seminars that took place there and lead seminars and then my work centered more around, I taught a lot at the-- There was a secondary school so I taught there and I had a-- I was teaching there pretty much I guess what you would consider full time to their form threes and fours. And their secondary school was essentially like the United States, it's form three and four would be junior and senior here.
WILSON: But you were teaching health?
GOODPASTER: Well Malawi, Peace Corps Malawi a few years back, back inthe mid-90s I think they developed and it's a program that Peace Corps around the world actually uses now, but it was developed in Malawi back then and it was, it's called-- It's a life skills program and it was 41:00something that I really kind of looked into and really I felt like I got pretty good at teaching. And life skills, it's kind of an open- ended name, but it was just to promote a healthy lifestyle in general. It was about decision making skills and it was about communication and it was about relationships, it was about good health practices, and it was just a good program in that it just encompassed all these things and I was able to create an entire class out of it. And the-- It was such an interesting or such a good way of teaching the kids these things that the Malawian government even to this day right now is pushing that every school have a life skills in all of their schools at some point. They're working on training additional life skills 42:00teachers and so that was one of the big things I was doing.
WILSON: And you did this where? Where did you live? I mean what--?
GOODPASTER: We were-- Our village was called Kang'oma, it's K-A-N-G,apostrophe, O-M-A, Kang'oma and it wasn't, actually it was not too far from the capital city. We were probably 20 to 30 kilometers outside, out in the bush, and so it was kind of nice for us because it wasn't as nearly as difficult to get into the city if we needed, which was where the main Peace Corps office is located. And so it wasn't as difficult for us to be able to get in there if we needed to so--
WILSON: What was your living situation like?
GOODPASTER: It was actually not too bad. We-- The government throughout43:00the years they've built health centers throughout the country, and this particular health center that we lived at was built back in the early '90s and each health center--
WILSON: Side two of interview with David Goodpaster October 15, 2007.David you were talking a little bit about what your living situation was and I think discussing the fact that you were assigned to a health center and then you were living there.
GOODPASTER: Correct, there's a-- Each of these health centers that werebuilt or that are built, they also build a certain number of staff housing. And so we were assigned a, one of these small brick, it's a 44:00concrete floor brick house with a tin roof, but fairly well constructed and had two bedrooms and kind of a general room and then a kitchen. What was interesting about our housing situation was we spent the entire two years, we were in Malawi with no water, with no electricity, but our house was wired. It was all wired, it was ready to go, so every night we went to bed we looked at those wires and we saw them up there but they--
WILSON: They provided no light.
GOODPASTER: Right, and the house was completely piped as well. And sothat right there kind of tells you a lot about how Malawi; that sums up a lot about Malawi, to be honest. It's-- I don't know. Like I said 45:00these houses were built in the early '90s and I just left Peace Corps 2007 and the piping of course went in when the house was built; the wiring came later. But it just the fact that we spent our entire time there and it did not get any closer to being the job being completed.
WILSON: So what did you do for light and water?
GOODPASTER: The one thing about Africa is, in general, is you rise withthe sun and you go to bed with the sun. I mean it's-- Things really, once the sun goes down, things you know pretty much end for that day. And we used candles I mean so what we pretty much did was we read a little bit by candlelight or what have you and then we would go to bed. One thing that was really nice and I'm so glad I did this, I bought a 46:00really nice radio right before we left.
WILSON: Short wave radio?
GOODPASTER: Oh yes short wave. Of course I bought a really nice radiolike you said with short wave, but in the end all I ended up needing was it just needed to have the FM capability. Lilongwe had a radio station I remember it was 98.0 and that was the BBC, and again that was that-- I think that's just that strong British connection that Malawi still has. But yeah so I listened to BBC all the time, I mean I just and I actually looked, in retrospect I kind of miss it. It's interesting because the BBC has always been really good about the news on an international scale, and you just you know you learn and you hear about everything that's going on all over the world. And then you kind of come back to the States and it's a little more contained if you 47:00will. They don't really talk a lot about what's going on outside these borders, and that kind of wears on me a bit but I just-- KET has the BBC news broadcast on late at night and sometimes I catch that just for old time's sake.
WILSON: So did you eat local food, you cook for yourself? How did thatwork?
GOODPASTER: We, yeah what happened is we came in on a situation. Weactually replaced a volunteer who had been there before. It was a woman around I think in her mid-40s, single, and we replaced her. She had a woman who was working for her and the woman that was working for her was related to-- How can I explain this? Our MA was our, he 48:00was our what we called him our in charge. He was MA stood for medical assistant, but he wasn't quite a doctor. But in Malawi's terms he would be just above like a nurse. It wasn't a doctor but he was also the one that was knew the most and was in charge of the health center. His niece was the one that used to work for this particular volunteer. And when I say work I just meant like she kind of cleaned and did things around the house and got water and things, and it was nice because we were-- She was provided some income that she wouldn't have otherwise and so essentially she had a job and she was helping out this volunteer immensely. And so we kind of walked in on that and I'll never forget when we first came in there that day, into our 49:00new house that day and there she was. And the volunteer you know she introduced us to her and everything and it was really it just came down to you know are you all going to be able to maybe continue this because otherwise she'll just be out of work. And so her name was Christina, this Malawian woman, and she ended up just becoming like part of our family. And she would just kind of help around the house like I said cleaning and getting water.
WILSON: She cook for you?
GOODPASTER: And she cooked and but we also were very, we felt it wasimportant that we had kind of a set schedule where she didn't feel like she had to be there all the time because if we had told her she probably would have. She probably would have cooked every meal for us and done everything for us, but we didn't want that to happen. And so we got really good at a schedule and she just, she while we were out 50:00teaching or doing our thing she would have lunch for us. And it just turned out to be so nice. I mean like I said it provided her a job and we didn't have a lot of money, but in Malawian terms it was well enough you know and it was great. And she just, she ended up just like I said becoming like part of our family and it just helped us out so much. And so we just kind of all worked together and I had a garden out back and grew vegetables and that kind of thing. And then we cooked at night; we cooked our dinner and everything.
WILSON: What do you think was the most difficult part of adjusting toMalawi or maybe what you weren't prepared for? 51:00
GOODPASTER: Well you really, you need to gosh I'm just trying to thinkof-- I would have to say you know you have to have a lot of patience, a lot of patience because things just do not get done there like they get done here. I mean in the United States when you want to get something done, if you expect someone to get something done for you or if you expect yourself to get something done, most of the time nine out of ten times it gets done and it gets done efficiently and it gets done quickly for the most part. That is not the case in Malawi and it's just really a whole 'nother world and it's just you know I think that was one of the hardest things because when you're dealing with life and death or you know something that you think might truly matter it gets 52:00frustrating when things don't get done and you're dealing with these kinds of issues. And so there would be several times when I'd be going to bed I'd be so angry, but you know in the end you really get used to it and you kind of learn patience. And I feel like ever since I've been back here I'm a much more patient person than I've ever been, and that's kind of nice actually. It's not nearly as stressful so--
WILSON: What would you say you were best prepared for?
GOODPASTER: Oh kind of like what I said earlier in the interview. Inever had any homesick issues. I never, I never had any problems like that whereas a lot of the volunteers did, and that's to be expected I think. I just, I always just have the outlook that not that they're 53:00always going to be there but I just always said to myself well I know I'm going to see them again. I mean I know they're there and they--
WILSON: This is your family?
GOODPASTER: My friends and my family they support me and I know I'llbe back sometime, so I mean my whole outlook was I'm never going to probably ever be here in this particular situation so I want to make the most of it you know. I don't want to sit there and go on about something I've already experienced you know. I know all there is to know about Fort Walton or Lexington or something; I don't know anything about Lilongwe you know. So that's kind of how I went about it.
WILSON: So what would you say a typical day was like for you?
GOODPASTER: Well interestingly enough my day was a lot like it would54:00be here. It was much more convenient because the secondary school was very close to where we lived and so I could just walk to my school, and everything was for the most part was within walking distance except for our food. Well, like I said we had vegetables in our garden but my teaching days I just would get up and have my breakfast and I would go to school and I would teach and or I would come home and have lunch and then I would go back and teach again. And that was most of my days, and then once every other week I had a food run day where Peace Corps Malawi issues you very nice mountain bikes, which by the way I got hooked on mountain biking. I mean I absolutely love it now and I've 55:00been meaning to buy a nice mountain bike here in Lexington and start riding around, which I will definitely do at some point. I've got to buy a house first so-- And then so yeah I rode my mountain bike I mean all over the place. I don't know how many kilometers I put on my mountain bike just exploring and just going to different villages and everything, but anyway I had a food run day where I would have to go to area 23.
WILSON: This was part of your job?
GOODPASTER: That sounds like a testing site. What was that?
WILSON: This was part of the job?
GOODPASTER: No, no this was not part of the job. On my off day I wouldgo and go shopping essentially.
WILSON: Oh I see, that's what you meant by food run.
GOODPASTER: Yes. So area-- Lilongwe like I was telling you earlier wedidn't live too far away from Lilongwe, maybe 20 or 30 kilometers, and Lilongwe is a very spread out city. It's very just very spread out 56:00and it's divided up into these areas. It's very unoriginal and they call it area and then they have a number for it. So this particular, the furthest outskirts to Lilongwe in the direction towards where we lived was known as area 23. So I could ride my bike to area 23 and do a lot of the shopping of the things we couldn't get in the village, like milk powder or I don't know all kinds of different things. But that's where I would, I would do that on my off day. Lauren and I also got very involved in, this was really great for community relations and it was just such a great experience. We got very-- Every Sunday we would go to a Presbyterian church service every Sunday, and Lauren and were both raised Methodist but they didn't really have a Methodist 57:00church there. But they had what was known as CCAP, which was the Church of Central African Presbyterian. And we just said well you know they're Protestants and we were raised Protestants and that's close enough you know. So and it was great because it was really just such an interesting cultural experience and it helped with our language immensely. I mean every Sunday to sit there and listen to a sermon in Chichewa and I mean we were such a spectacle. And I mean at first they just were like holy cow this is the craziest thing. Two mazungus, which is essentially white people, in our church you know and but we, they--
WILSON: This was a village church?
GOODPASTER: Oh yeah, oh yeah. And it was great though, we really thatwas a great thing, a great experience in our village was going to that church so--
WILSON: What did you do for recreation?58:00
GOODPASTER: Mountain biking was a big thing for me. I did a lot ofgardening. I don't know, I tried to kind of use our yard as an example to other people that lived around us. A lot of-- There was a lot of erosion problems and deforestation problems around there, and so like I would plant some trees and I would-- Malawians like to, they like to sweep the dirt. It's kind of hard to explain but they were real big on making sure the grounds around their homes were all cleaned off, but there was no grass and so they were essentially just sweeping away all the, oh what is that called? The top layer of dirt, the--
WILSON: Just the topsoil?
GOODPASTER: Topsoil so nothing would grow, and what happened was59:00when the rains would you come you talk about a mess, I mean just mud everywhere and the runoff and just made the erosion so terrible. So I would try to use-- I was really, it's kind of like I kind of got into the hobby of landscaping essentially. I would plant grass and make brick sidewalks and I was just using my yard as an example of hey look what happens when you kind of you know go about it like this then you won't have these kinds of problems. And that was a lot of fun, but that was you know a few of the things.
WILSON: What kinds of interactions did you have with local Malawians?You're talking about I guess you have the head of the health center and I assume principal of the school. Did you have social interactions otherwise with Malawians?
GOODPASTER: Well yeah I had-- There was like you said the principal of60:00the secondary, the principal of the primary, church members, there were all the staff at the health center. There were a few shops throughout the village. I got to know one of the shop owners. I actually helped him create a business model to try to-- He was very concerned about his you know business was kind of flat-lining and what could I do to help him you know. So I met with him quite often. I guess another thing was Peace Corps Malawi, and I'm sure Peace Corps in other countries did this as well, but they were big on counterparts. I'm sure you've heard about counterparts. And so I had a couple very close counterparts and one of I guess my, the one counterpart that got the most done and as 61:00far as the best relationship with me as well was Geoffrey Sinjani, and it was just this-- He was 21 years old, young kid, but I mean he just had so much enthusiasm. He was so intelligent, just so I mean he was kind of like a little brother and just it was great. I to this day I miss him and I'll probably miss him for the rest of my life. I know I will. And we email every now and then; he can't get to a computer all that often. But right now he went, he's back in school and he's doing great.
WILSON: Secondary school or university?
GOODPASTER: He's back in the secondary school only because he hasto finish up two classes that he didn't get done before to get to university. And then I'm staying in touch with him to keep up with how he's doing and to make sure he's going to get in and if there's anything I can do to help and that kind of stuff. But he's very much into the environment. That was his passion was the environment, but he 62:00helped me on a lot of the health issues we, you know, I kind of taught him a lot about that and he would help me with translations and all kinds of different things. So he was such a help, I mean it was great. And actually one of the programs that we developed while we were there was he and I created a class together where we, we went around and promoted it was called the bridge model and it was just a program that was created by USAID and again it was an HIV/AIDS initiative. We just went around to as many schools, we scheduled as many secondary schools in the area that we could and we-- I think we ended up going to like 35 or 40 schools and taught this class and then at the end of going around to all these schools we invited one, we had each head teacher send one teacher from each of those schools to get trained in that same program 63:00where they could continue the thing. And that was probably one of the biggest, not to say Peace Corps is about accomplishments, it's not, but I mean that was definitely one of the things I'm the most proud of. I mean it just went off without a hitch and it was great. I mean just thinking back about that-- So and Geoffrey my counterpart, it would not have been possible without him. I mean he was just such an essential cog in all that I mean he-- It was great.
WILSON: Did you travel elsewhere within Malawi while you were there?
GOODPASTER: Oh sure. Malawi's not a very large country. It's about thesize of-- Well it's kind of long and thin, long north/south and then it's bordered by Lake Malawi, the most beautiful lake. I mean it's just a gorgeous lake. It's right there in the Great Rift Valley so the lake was created over time by earthquakes and what not and so if you-- 64:00So we spent a lot of time at the lake and it's very Caribbean-esque. I mean you sit there and it has beaches and everything, but it's fresh water. And a little known fact about Lake Malawi is it has the most, what is the fact? It's the most tropical fresh water fish like any of the tropical fresh water fish you buy in any stores, there's a good chance it came from Lake Malawi, very colorful, beautiful fish. And they all-- So it was, that's where we spent a lot of time. But you also have to realize that the lake, it goes along almost the entire east coast of the country, so you could go almost the whole distance and get to the lake, so there were several nice spots to go. Then there were some nice mountains in the north and then the main city in 65:00Malawi is called Blantyre, and Blantyre is the main industrial city and it's also the largest so we would go down there a couple times.
WILSON: Did you do that with other Peace Corps volunteers or--?
GOODPASTER: You could meet up with other, sure you could do it. We'd doit on our own if Lauren and I just wanted to get away or you could meet up with other people because there were Peace Corps volunteers were all over in every region, every district so--
WILSON: Did you travel outside Malawi?
GOODPASTER: We did. My-- Lauren's parents came over to visit around theone year mark and we went to Zambia on a safari when they came and then we took them to the lake. And then let's see when my parents came in 66:00Christmas of '06 and New Years of '07 and we went to South Africa and Victoria Falls. Yeah, that was great. Capetown, I highly recommend it, beautiful, beautiful place.
WILSON: It is a beautiful place, isn't it? Well, tell me are there someparticularly meaningful stories that you'd like to relate? Memories of events or something that has real sort of lasting meaning to you?
GOODPASTER: As far as Peace Corps?
GOODPASTER: Ah man, no I just think it's just something that I'm just67:00really glad I did it I mean really in the end.
WILSON: So what was it like to come back to the United States?
GOODPASTER: I think, I think that it wasn't as bad as it probably couldhave been or as bad as it's been maybe for other volunteers. And I say that because I also forgot to mention Lauren and I came home right before our one year mark for her brother's wedding. He got married so we came home for that and so I believe it was trips like that 68:00around the one year mark and then trips like to South Africa, pretty developed, later on after like you know halfway through the second year. And I think that helped a lot with the readjustment coming back into a developed society like that. And so I don't think the readjustment was too difficult. I will say this one funny story was we get to Fort Walton and we, Fort Walton Beach where my parents are and we had been there maybe a couple days and my mom, my mother was like well we'd like to have a little get-together for you, you know bring some friends over and welcome David and Lauren back. And we were like well that's really nice of you, that sounds great. So they were like well let's run out and get some things, so we ended up at Sam's and I'll never, to this day I'll never forget. Being back at Sam's in the food section, like I said I'd just been home for like two 69:00days and I just, that was when it really nailed me that I was like I am definitely back in the United States. I just stood there in total awe just sitting there thinking where does it all come from and where does it all go? Because surely they don't sell everything that you see you know. I'm talking like vegetables and fruits and it's like there's no way they sell all this in one day, and it's not going to last that long. And it just made me think you know where does this all go, and that's one thing that really sticks in my mind so-- But as far as culture shock, reverse culture shock, it wasn't too bad.
WILSON: You, what do you think the impact of your service was on Malawias a volunteer? 70:00
GOODPASTER: Oh man, I would say minimal and I don't mean that in a badway. But it's just how can I explain it? I think I affected the people who I was around, which obviously probably isn't that high of a number. But that few, that few of a number is better than no number at all is kind of the way I look at it. And I honestly I hope that through some of these programs that you know we promoted through the schools, I mean I hope that helps a lot. But it's hard to say. I mean it's just such a complicated issue when you're dealing with some of the, just some of the things that Malawians deal with on a day to day basis. And even 71:00after living there for two years I don't, it's just so hard to relate to I mean the vast majority of the people that live in that country they wake up every day and they think about, the main thing that's on their mind is how am I going to make it through this day. They don't ever think about tomorrow, they don't think about the future, it's about how am I going to make it through today. And that's just a reality. And when you're dealing with something like that, it's hard to answer a question like that of how much of an effect I actually had because it's just such a grand scale. And I hope I helped a little, I just hope I helped a little bit. And if I did then that's you know, 72:00that's a good thing so--.
WILSON: What about the impact on you?
GOODPASTER: Now that on the other hand is huge, it really is. It'shuge. Like I said I've learned to be a much more patient person, although I do get easily frustrated with some of the trivial things here in the States you know. And it's so funny. Ever since I've been back in the States I've come to realize how much people are concerned with things like insurance and there's like just a lot of numbers. It's the hardest thing to explain and of course I've just been back. I mean let's you know make sure people understand that when they listen to me on this because I've only been home a few months. And it's just it's frustrating sometimes, but as far as positive impacts 73:00it's just I mean I could go back out again. I really could.
WILSON: What kinds of things?
GOODPASTER: What's that?
WILSON: What kinds of things have impacted you? How have you changed?Aside from patience? What else do you think you learned?
GOODPASTER: Oh well I guess I've learned that, I've learned a lot morejust about people in general that it's about more about relationships than anything else. It's about connecting with people, and before you never really thought about things like that. I mean you did but not 74:00in the same way. Like in Malawi it didn't-- Every person you passed on the street would say something to you and five out of ten times you would end up having a conversation with them and if not a conversation then at least an acknowledgement. It would be like, "How are you?" and you would say, "I'm okay, how are you?" But it was every single person and I don't know you just, maybe that's how it used to be here in the United States. I don't know. I'm sure it is but somewhere along the line it was lost and it's not really like that anymore, and that's one thing I definitely miss and that's one thing I try to be like since I've been back. But I just-- hmmm as far as other ways it's impacted me I-- I just feel like I'd like to continue serving in some way and 75:00I know that sounds kind of hokey but I don't know. That's kind of the best way to put it as far as my career goals and that kind of thing I just-- You know teaching and serving are really kind of the two main ways and just being in Malawi has totally reinforced that. I've always kind of had that kind of a background anyway, but you just really kind of learn what's truly important when you have an experience like this.
WILSON: What about the impact on your family?
GOODPASTER: Family, that's tough, that's tough because honestly and Iwould be really interested to hear what other people, how other Peace Corps volunteers would answer this question. I bet they'd all be pretty much the same but family cannot, families cannot relate at all 76:00to this experience and so in a way they're kind of out of the picture. It's such a personal thing because you know really the only thing you can ask for is for your family to be loving and supportive of the decisions you make in life. And fortunately for me and for Lauren our families were definitely that. They didn't want to see us go but they were supportive of what we wanted to do. And then upon our return they were happy to have us back and they wanted to hear about how it was and all that kind of stuff, but in the end talking about it is, you can't really explain it give it full justice you know and so it's-- Family is I don't know if it's even-- 77:00
WILSON: Do you see any, at this point, any impact on your future career?
GOODPASTER: Oh yeah definitely.
WILSON: In what way?
GOODPASTER: Well I mean I'd like to go abroad again. Of course Ican't do that but that right there in itself tells you how much it's impacted me. I would say whatever I-- Right now you know with working on my master's in public administration and like I said before this experience has just kind of reinforced that public sector/nonprofit type of direction I'm heading in slash education, teaching. I can tell you this right now I wouldn't be surprised right now at all if Lauren and I end up going back abroad again in retirement or something 78:00along those lines, whether it's Peace Corps or some other agency or organization, but I mean definitely, definitely.
WILSON: How would you say that your Peace Corps experience hasinfluenced or impacted the way you look at the world?
GOODPASTER: Well, I definitely think the world is a lot smaller placethan people give it credit for. I think most people in the world have a lot more things in common than they have differences. And I mean just in general I definitely believe I have a much more worldly view. 79:00It kind of you know an example being the BBC thing I was talking about you know. It's almost like being back here in the States now I feel like I'm kind of back into a bubble or something. And before I left for Peace Corps I was fine with that because I was used to the bubble, you know that's what I lived in. I lived in the bubble. But being abroad you kind of get exposed that there's this whole other world out there beyond the United States and it's a great place you know and there's all kinds of crazy and interesting things going on, and it just really opened my eyes. And it's a great feeling to have, and I think there's a lot of problems in the world right now because a lot of people in positions of power don't have that outlook on things. And I don't want to get political or anything but I just think that has a lot to do with it. Just having a more worldly outlook on things would help 80:00a lot of the problems we're having right now.
WILSON: What do you think the sort of overall impact is or has been ofPeace Corps?
GOODPASTER: On the world?
WILSON: Well on the world, on the US, on volunteers? I mean what isPeace Corps today? It's approaching 50 years old, should it continue? Should it be put on the shelf of history?
GOODPASTER: I definitely think it's a program that should continue.81:00I'm a little, I am a little discouraged at how under-- it, just the word isn't really out on Peace Corps at all and I don't know what the reasoning behind that is. I'm not saying that you know joining any one of the armed services isn't-- What am I trying to get at? I don't know if I-- I don't know whether or not I should say putting Peace Corps on that same level, but I do think it's a commitment and it's worthwhile and it's just an overall good thing to do, and I just think that Peace Corps doesn't really get enough recognition. And again I don't really 82:00know the reasoning behind that. It, to me Peace Corps has always been a very low profile type of agency and you almost have to kind of go out and seek it out yourself, and I had heard that they had tried to kind of-- They've tried to you know correct that a bit and they're making more incentives for you know I've heard that one of the things they're trying to do now is give more incentives to professional type career minded people and that may help. I'm not really sure, but I've always felt like that was just kind of a concern. I've always felt it was a concern that they just don't really, it just doesn't seem to be out there. I'm kind of rambling now but I don't know if that's making sense or not. I guess a good example is when I went to get my eyes 83:00checked right before I left for Malawi, and this was my eye doctor in Fort Walton Beach. And I told him yeah I'm joining Peace Corps, I'm going to Malawi. And he said, "Peace Corps? I didn't even know they were still in existence." And I guess in a way it kind of was a little punch to the gut you know I kind of felt bad about it, and I guess that really kind of sums it up perfectly right there. It's like you know if we're going to be sending soldiers to Iraq then the least the government can do is we've got to let people know that there's people from all walks of life who are going all over this world serving in other capacities, not just with a gun. You know because Peace Corps is out there so anyway that's just kind of I feel about it but--
WILSON: Okay that's really all of the specific questions I have. Do you84:00have any final thoughts?
GOODPASTER: Well I mean I don't, yeah. I'd just like to say hopefullythat's not a bad way to end. Overall it was just a fantastic experience and like I've said over and over again in this interview I more than likely will end up doing it again or going abroad in some capacity. And I just want to thank you for the opportunity to get this on tape. It's been great so--
[End of interview.]