Peace Corps Training for Senegal, 1967

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By Admin1 (admin) on Saturday, July 14, 2001 - 2:24 pm: Edit Post

Peace Corps Training for Senegal, 1967

Peace Corps Training for Senegal, 1967

Peace Corps Training for Senegal, 1967

Training: Miami, Florida

In the 1960s, the Peace Corps actively recruited what were then called "BA generalists," people with Bachelor of Arts degrees with no particular specialized training. The theory was that well-educated people could be trained to do any job. Times have changed and although the Peace Corps still recruits BA generalists, the emphasis now is more on specific skills. At any rate, a group of about forty such BA generalists gathered in Miami in July of 1967 to begin a three-month program of extensive language training and cultural immersion. We were assigned to a social work program in Senegal which involved the establishment of community social centers for the promotion of literacy, good health and hygiene habits, and anything else we could think of.

We were divided into four teams of about ten people per team. Above is a photo of my team. I am posting this picture in the hope that someone may recognize themselves and contact me. I wish I could remember all the names, but time has left me blank on many of them. In the foreground are the two married couples in our group: on the left is Louise (?) and her husband (?), and on the right are Julie and Chris (?). Standing behind Louis and her husband is Lisbeth Eubanks, a remarkable 70-year-old woman who had spent most of her life on a Navaho Indian reservation. Sprawled along the tree (from left to right) are: Linda (?), Birch Tracey, (?), Angie Hoffman,and yours truly (looking considerably younger than she does now!!). . Training for the Peace Corps was done in the United States (now it is done in-country after a brief orientation period). The first phase of our training was based at the University of Miami. The theory behind having us train in Miami was to enable us to get used to a hot climate. However, any resemblance between Miami and Senegal stopped there! We spent eight hours a day in class--first, French, then Wolof. Interspersed with the language immersion classes were sessions on Senegalese history, government, politics, and culture, along with a heavy dose of Peace Corps "etiquette."

Lest you think training was all hard work, let me assure you that there was plenty of tom-foolery going on. At a hat party, four of my cohorts decided to "get in the habit." Don't let the angelic looks on their faces deceive you--they were up to no good!

At the same party, Chris (?) decided to regale us all with his palm leaf "skirt". In between all the French lessons, the Wolof, and the cultural immersion, we still managed to find time to party!

We managed to celebrate a birthday or two during training. This party was held for Angie Hoffman, who turned 21. We enjoyed showing off our newly acquired lingustic ability in Wolof to wish her a happy 21st birthday!

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