Interview with Roberta Robinson Nutt, May 17, 2021
Project: Peace Corps: The Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Oral History Project
Interview SummaryRoberta Robinson Nutt served as a Peace Corps Volunteer, along with her then-husband, in Malaysia from 1966-1968 working in schools as a high school math teacher in the town of Kuantan on the country’s eastern coast. She learned of the Peace Corps while at Rice University in Texas (where she attended Kennedy’s “space speech”) studying Psychology and thought of it as a fine way to give service to our country as well as to experience some adventure. Her training was conducted in Hilo, Hawaii, where she had language training in Malay and trained for teaching in mathematics. Her town had two high schools, and she was assigned to a Methodist all-girls school for her two years of service. She and her husband rented a flat in town, and she used a bicycle to commute. During a mid-term vacation, she traveled throughout the Southeastern Asian area and got to enjoy Asian cuisine, especially Malaysian food. She learned many Muslim customs and traditions, took Malaysian and Indian dance and cooking classes, and joined a local community theater group, as well. Roberta saw much diversity among Malaysians, Chinese, and Indians throughout her experience and witnessed some stresses among the groups regarding national politics. She also related visiting aboriginal tribes in the jungle and bartering for carved wooden statues that the aborigines believed cured illnesses by drawing out evil spirits. She stated that students were eager to learn and genuinely cared for each other and for their teachers. Roberta reported that the most difficult part of her tour was isolation from stateside communication, except for an occasional letter from home. Regarding her overall impression of her work, she mentioned that she felt she was a good emissary for America and was pleased with the levels of teaching she felt she had attained and that her assignment fit well with her personality. Her only disappointment was that the Peace Corps did not prepare her for re-entry back in the United States. Upon returning from Malaysia, Roberta earned a Ph. D. in psychology and started a counseling psychology career both in teaching and in private practice. Her work in Malaysia gave her many insights into the practical use of psychology that she uses on a daily basis. She has even formed a special interest group in psychology who are returned volunteers called PSYRPCV/SIG. Basically retired, Roberta resides in a suburb of Houston, Texas.
Interview KeywordPeace Corps (U.S.) Malaysia (Country of service) 1966-1968 (Dates of service) Peace Corps Volunteer Job: Education Peace Corps (U.S.): 1960-1970 Malay (Language) Language Training: Hilo, Hawaii Training/Cultural Training: Hilo, Hawaii Diversity in the Peace Corps: Malaysian, Chinese, Indian cultures mixed in Kuantan, Malaysia Diversity
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All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.
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Nutt, Roberta Robinson Interview by Donald C. Yates. 17 May. 2021. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Nutt, R.R. (2021, May 17). Interview by D. C. Yates. Peace Corps: The Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.
Nutt, Roberta Robinson, interview by Donald C. Yates. May 17, 2021, Peace Corps: The Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
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