Interview with James Ramstack, August 17, 2021
Project: Peace Corps: The Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Oral History Project
Interview SummaryJames Ramstack’s college roommate’s enthusiasm for the Peace Corps convinced James to apply. Following staging in Philadelphia, he trained in “Rural Animation” (i.e., local languages, agriculture, forestry, and cultural studies) for 4 months in Thies, Senegal. After training, James moved to Veligara, a small Muslim village near Kedougou, Senegal. Since French was not widely spoken, James immersed himself in Pulaar. Although he loved the village and villagers, rival political factions made critical decision-making for several projects very difficult. During his second year, he relocated to Ziguinchor in Casamance, Senegal to work for a USAID-sponsored, small business project teaching accounting and business management in small tailor-shops. Other PC volunteers in Casamance were removed due to a secessionist uprising but James was allowed to stay. He describes “humbling experiences” and numerous fond anecdotes. In the end, James articulates his desire for a more tolerant world emphasizing the commonalities of human existence rather than differences.
Interview KeywordPeace Corps (U.S.) Senegal 1989-1991 Agriculture Animation Community Economic Development Peace Corps staff--country director Peace Corps 1989-1991 Wolof (language) French (language) Pulaar (language) Regional conflict: secessionist movement History major Philadelphia, PA-- staging Thies-- Senegal training center Kedougoa city Volunteer village--Velingara Lamenia region Casamance--region Medical issues--tse tse flies Medical issues--heat stroke dysentery Country history--Muslim Volunteer's name--Ibrahima given name, same as chief's Country history--Semitic people sons of Abraham Volunteer city--Ziquinchor Country capital--Dakar peanut grinder vegetable garden U.S.AID project--Taught accounting concepts Tailor small shops Pulaar (language)--not meaning to buy Toubab (Pulaar word)--white person Newsweek--paper airplanes Orion constellation--united the world tic tac toe--Senegalese intelligence Future Peace Corps projects--income growth, mango monopolies, need distribution Senegal grain--fonio, need marketing, distribution Fongolimbe--market Senegalese culture--time with others vs. my time
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Ramstack, James Interview by John Croes. 17 Aug. 2021. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Ramstack, J. (2021, August 17). Interview by J. Croes. Peace Corps: The Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.
Ramstack, James, interview by John Croes. August 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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