Interview with Rodrigo Diaz, January 5, 2024

Project: Peace Corps: The Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Oral History Project

Interview Summary

Rodrigo Diaz served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic (D.R.) from 1991-1994, as a Community Education Promoter. Rodrigo joined Peace Corps after graduating with a degree in Philosophy from New College of Florida, in Sarasota, Fl. Training was held at Entrena, in Santo Domingo, DR. and covered Spanish language, culture and history of the D.R. and job specific information. Rodrigo lived in a village called Villa Elisa (de Guayubín), in the Province of Monte Cristi. He had two main assignments during his service. The first was with an organization called APRODEVE (Via Elias Pro Development Association) where he worked as a librarian in the public library. Here he supervised, organized and trained local librarians. The second organization was UNIDOS VENCEREMOS, where he assisted the local goat co-op. He extended for 7 months in order to complete a cistern with the local community. He met and married his wife – a Dominican, while in Peace Corps. Memorable moments, successes and challenges/difficulties of service were discussed. Finally, Rodrigo talked about the influence Peace Corps had on his life in terms of his self-identity and ethnicity.

Interview Accession

2024oh0231_pcrv0982

Interviewee Name

Rodrigo Diaz

Interviewer Name

Kristie Peterson

Interview Date

2024-01-05

Interview Keyword

Peace Corps (U.S.) Dominican Republic (Country of Service) Dates of service (1991-1994) Peace Corps Volunteer Job: Education BA of Arts – Philosophy Sarasota, Fl (U.S.) New College of Florida PhD. social responsibility service to others Cuban Mother Mexican American Father PCRV Nepal Librarian paper application to Peace Corps six months volunteer mentor Elementary school Bradenton, Fl. poor Spanish (language) Spanish (language) classes: Manatee Community College Peace Corps (U.S.) training pre-training Miami orientation to Peace Corps Joe Piscopo Peace Corps (U.S.) training Spanish language History of D.R. host family mother and Doña spoke on phone Villa Elias de Guayubín, Monte Cristi development philosophy other Peace Corps Volunteers Dominican People “pleasantly aggressive” joyful, sing and dance solitude Autism spectrum Peace Corps volunteer asked to leave Villa Elisa Haiti transportation APRODEVE Felix past PCV in site Biblioteca APRODEVE Unidos Venceremos goat co-op climate of Villa Elisa Christmas ate goat living situation hut palm roof kitchen electricity aqueduct no water rice growers politically connected person water tanks married Dominican Woman theatrical group – Grupo Vea family and community reaction Tetelito Vargas baseball player Baseball Stadium 39 children Domincan Republic Cuba Columbia Leisure short wave radio ‘BBC North America’ ‘Voice of America’ ‘Monitor’ ‘Radio New Zealand’ ‘Radio Netherlands’ ‘Radio Canada’ ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ ‘Foustus’ read a lot American Literature Charles Dickens Mark Twain ‘Theory of Justice’ by John Rowls” ‘The Glory and the Dream’ by William Manchester taboo about reading library 1000 books childrens librarian for 26 years community school FBI/CIA relationship with school officials scavenger hunt in library skills lacking vacation tourist visa- fiancee US Consulate General Peace Corps Director irregular actions dating a Dominican Marriage family transformed wife assisted mother Spoke Spanish child care extended service complete project married life witness election 1994 APRODEVE Unidos Venceremos USAID relationship with school PTA Anibal teacher built cistern Antonia “Echo por la communida” painted world map two sons INDENOR challenges connections gap between U.S. and D.R. bridge gap failure visit by Dominican State Secretary for Education, Religion and Fine Arts visit by Manager for PC business sector memorable moment wife detention by Dominican Police Officer stadium Peace Corps badge target of assault lessons learned achieve development goals life goals Emory University Masters’ degree in Library and Information Science University of South Florida- Tampa 1997 effect of Peace Corps Service on life letter to sons letter to Officer in Charge of Immigration and Naturalization Services, Tampa English (language) only prejudice translator pain/humiliation life changing cost of being of Cuban Heritage name-calling bigotry discrimination nationality ethnicity white privilege Phyllis abuse learned Spanish Represented U.S. abroad humiliated at home by government official ethnic identity Tampanio use of Peace Corps skills and knowledge librarian sense of self immigrants to United States.

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Diaz, Rodrigo Interview by Kristie Peterson. 05 Jan. 2024. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Diaz, R. (2024, January 05). Interview by K. Peterson. Peace Corps: The Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Diaz, Rodrigo, interview by Kristie Peterson. January 05, 2024, 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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