Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with John R. Ratigan
Q: How long was the training at Columbia?
RATIGAN: Three months. We took off I think right after Christmas on a plane to I think maybe London. We both had friends come down to JFK to see us off. It seemed like a very normal thing somehow to be heading off to Africa. I am not sure why.. Q: And then you were in Dar Es Salaam for more training.
RATIGAN: We were. There was sort of a boy scout camp outside of Dar Es Salaam, and we all went out there, kind of a very appropriate place for us to be, and got oriented and met with Tanzanian officials, by now a fully Africanized ministry of education. Our Peace Corps mentors were a little unhappy with us because when we got assigned to Musoma or Bukoba or Mwanza or whatever, the first thing everybody would say is where is that? It didn't make the trainers look good, so the Peace Corps people immediately decided that from now on the training was going to include map study.
Q: A little geography. And you went to Bukoba.
RATIGAN: We went to Bukoba, a little town of about 5,000 people on the western shore of Lake Victoria. Bukoba later gained some degree of fame by being one of the jumping off points when the Tanzanian forces went into Uganda to try and liberate Uganda from Idi Amin. Idi Amin retaliated by bombing Bukoba. The story we later read in the western press was they bombed the market place that you know was full of oranges, vegetables, nothing strategic there.
Q: Bukoba as you said is 800 miles from the coast, kind of remote. Were you the only Peace Corps volunteers in the school together?
RATIGAN: No, actually there was another member of our Tanzania 7 class who was also there. Bruce Jones was a chemistry teacher, chemistry and physics I guess. We had trained with him in New York. And then there were other Peace Corps programs in the area. We had three guy, two engineers and a hydrologist, you know a water management guy, who lived in the town. Our school was located about five miles outside of town. We had various Peace Corps primary school teachers, probably three or four of them who were out in more rural areas and who came into town fairly regularly. So we were a sort of hard core group of about six or seven people. Two of the volunteers ultimately ended up getting married, one of the primary school teachers and on e of the engineers, and you know, we are still in touch with them. They went back actually a year or two ago.