Interview with Maryum Saifee, October 6, 2020

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

Interview Summary

Maryum Saifee served as a Peace Corps TEFL teacher in Jordan from 2000-2002. As an Indian-American she was one of a few people of color in her largely white female cohort. She discusses issues related to the recruitment and retention of non-majority volunteers. Her cohort had a very high attrition rate, especially among non-majority volunteers. She says that Peace Corps can’t control the environment, but training could have better prepared volunteers for the political context, and cultural issues and biases such as she encountered. She faults Peace Corps staff for negligence in placing her with a family in which the son had committed an honor-killing and their casual reaction to volunteer safety after 9/11. She was thought of as a run-way Sri Lankan maid because of her looks and a CIA spy because she wasn’t a well-trained teacher. She became more resilient, learned a lot about Jordan, changed perceptions about American diversity and joined the Foreign Service.

Interview Accession

2020oh0545_pcrv0055

Interviewee Name

Maryum Saifee

Interviewer Name

Evelyn Ganzglass

Interview Date

2020-10-06

Interview Rights

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Saifee, Maryum Interview by Evelyn Ganzglass. 06 Oct. 2020. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Saifee, M. (2020, October 06). Interview by E. Ganzglass. Peace Corps: The Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Saifee, Maryum, interview by Evelyn Ganzglass. October 06, 2020, 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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