Mom and dad taught by Volunteers in Ghana 1

Mom and dad taught by Volunteers in Ghana 1
By Peace Corps
Aug. 30, 2013

The 1961 class of Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) in Ghana is known affectionately as Ghana 1. Jones and Anice Kumi (above), the parents of Peace Corps Response Placement and Recruitment Specialist Nanayaa Kumi, were taught science and English in their secondary school in Ghana by a Volunteer from Ghana 1. We asked Nanayaa to do a Q&A with her parents to learn what it was like to engage with Volunteers 52 years ago, when Americans – not to mention Peace Corps – were more of an unknown quantity.

Question: Before you met a Peace Corps Volunteer, what were your beliefs about Americans?

Dad: In general, when I was growing up most people didn’t trust American education degrees as much, but after PCVs came to Ghana to teach the opinions of the education system in America changed.

Mom: I knew very little about America since Ghana was under the British system and I didn’t know any Americans personally before Peace Corps.

Q: Who was the first Peace Corps Volunteer you met, and what were your initial reactions?

Dad: The first Volunteer was my physics teacher, Mr. Stone (nickname: Koo Booh), and my reaction was that the accent was quite different from the British accent we were used to and took time to understand.

Mom: We eventually became used to the accent and I even remember playing with the PCV’s daughter, Amy (at the time you were able to take children with you as a PCV).

Q: How well did the Volunteer(s) you knew integrate into your community?

Dad: The community was a boarding school, so they were in a much more authoritative position.

Mom: The PCVs were always available during evening studies and would come around to help students with their homework.

Q: Did your perception of Americans change after you got to know a Volunteer?

Mom & Dad: Didn’t know much about Americans then, but found the teachers to be very friendly and personable.

Q: What kind of difference do you think PCVs make for host communities?

Mom & Dad: They are very helpful in educating the students, especially in the 60’s. When secondary schools were starting to expand and when Ghana needed more teachers, PCVs stepped in. You can’t go anywhere in Ghana without meeting someone who has been taught by a Peace Corps Volunteer, or at least heard of Peace Corps.

Q: What’s one piece of advice you would give to a Volunteer in a host community today?

Dad: Ghanaians are much more educated and sophisticated than they used to be, so Volunteers should expect to be treated as equals when they come to Ghana. Treat people with respect no matter who it is, and you will discover true Ghanaian hospitality.

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