When? 1966 – I had just finished my 3rd of teaching and was in the 2nd year of marriage to my high school prom date.
What? Inspired by the words of President John F. Kennedy ‘Ask not what your country can do for you ask what you can for your country.’ we applied and accepted an assignment with the PEACE CORPS. Our assignment would be in INDIA.
What next? After 3 months of training as Village Level Food Production workers in a camp outside Julian, California we were off to India. Another month of in country training and the Indian 36 volunteers were given assignments. Dave and I were assigned to Bhopal, Madya Pradesh a city of 300,000 with a land mass the size of Cedar Falls, IA whose population is about 30,000.
Then what happened? Eventually my assignment changed and I worked with village women on gardening and sewing projects. The village we worked with was 15 miles from our home and we biked there almost daily. I also worked in a slum nursery school where we deloused the children weekly and bathed them in the lake water near the nursery.
And? We spent 1 year in India and it was one of the most wonderful learning and growth experiences in my life.
- Living in a city that had on a handful of Americans I learned what it like to be a minority person.
- I learned what it was like when most of the 300,000 residents of Bhopal did not understand English and how poorly my Hindi was even after a crash course of 5+ hours of language for a month.
- I learned what it was like to be different in skin color, religious choice and practices and clothing worn.
- I learned so many things about myself and the world that were to become a part of me for the rest of my life.