Ray Myers served in India as a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1966 to 1968, during the first decade of the Peace Corps and only two decades after India gained its independence. During an era defined by the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement, and rock ‘n’ roll in the US, Ray found himself training future teachers, building kitchens, and learning to play the drums with new friends from a very different culture.
On this Episode:
- How Ray made friends and connecting with his community through music
- The satisfaction of building physical things as a Peace Corps Volunteer
- Spending an entire Peace Corps service without being able to speak to your friends and family back home
Photos from Ray’s Story
Ray’s Peace Corps Story
Where and when did you serve? What did you do?
I first worked in India as a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1966 to 1968, and returned to Karnataka State on two subsequent occasions. In December 2006, I spoke at a conference on the use of technology for students with disabilities in Bangalore, India, and for the month of July 2008, I returned to the town where I had worked as a Peace Corps Volunteer forty years earlier. Bangalore may be known to many Americans now, and perhaps some have even spoken to are presentative of an American customer service center there.
The Hubliarea where I worked as a Volunteer is not as internationally renowned as Bangalore, but is that part of India where the Deshpande family originated before coming to the United States and launching a successful technology business venture headquartered in Andover, Massachusetts.T he Deshpandes subsequently established the Deshpande Foundation in1996 which now supports non-governmental development efforts in their hometown half-way around the world. Young Americans and other adventurous world citizens are once again invited to Hubli to contribute their skills to development in a part of the world where technology can now connect us with a “click,” but where many remain unconnected and struggling to survive.
What is one of your favorite Peace Corps memories?
After a few months, the most enjoyable part of the day for me would be meeting with some of the teacher trainees as they sang and played local Karnatic folk tunes. I was fascinated by the rhythm and sounds of the tabla that accompanied the harmonium and singers. Eventually, I became one of the tabla players when they were performing less complicated rhythmic patterns. While these activities were not considered official duties or assignments, they enabled me to become more a part of the training college community and eventually expand my work scope to include some of the work in neighboring villages described below. I was a stranger in a foreign land, yet there was a sense of freedom and acceptance that I did not fully appreciate at the time or would ever have a chance to experience again.
Do you have a favorite quote or local saying?
Hoog bunni (phonetic spelling from Kannada) = “go and come (back)”
For more about Ray Myers:
Ray’s blog: https://raymyers1101.wordpress.com/
Article by Ray Myers about his service: here