Interview with Rachel Glass, August 3, 2022
Project: Peace Corps: The Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Oral History Project
Interview SummaryRachel Glass served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ukraine from 2009 – 2011 working in education and language training. She became interested in the Peace Corps while a student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada after receiving her B.A. degree outside of the United States and wanted to travel abroad again. She had taken Russian as a foreign language in college and chose to serve in Ukraine because of her language background. During her senior year, Rachel also took classes in ESL instruction and Russian History, and after a telephone interview while in Canada, she endured a six-month wait for final clearance while she planned her “travel strategy.” Her cohort of about 100 volunteers met in Philadelphia for two days of orientation before flying into Kiev. She attended a welcome conference on the Belarus/Russian border and then her group was broken into smaller training clusters of about six each and were taken by bus to the town of Obhukhiv where she was met by her host family and Rachel resided with them for three months of language/cultural training. Upon her final swearing-in, she finally was ready to begin working in education along with a Ukrainian counterpart as an English teacher colleague. Her assigned locale was in Melitopol, a moderate-sized town, where she began work in a secondary school as a permanent substitute. With five other colleagues, Rachel taught in a range of grades from fifth to eleventh. She spent much time coordinating lesson plans for the twenty or so students in each of her four to five classes a day schedule. Her day began about 7:45 and lasted through late afternoon. She got along well with both her colleagues and her students while working in a pre-Soviet building which was brightly painted, and each classroom was well decorated and cozy. Students used a cafeteria for lunch, and most teachers brought their own food to work. Her apartment was well appointed, and she lived alone. She washed her own clothes and prepared her own food on a little stovetop unit, and she also had a refrigerator. As a vegetarian, Rachel availed herself of the plentiful lush produce and had meat only occasionally as it was expensive. Most student attended various local summer camps where Rachel assisted in their activities. When she could, Rachel traveled through Ukraine and maintained good health throughout her tour of duty. She experienced cordial Ukrainian/Russian relations with most Ukrainians feeling that life was much improved over the earlier Soviet-era days. Rachel felt that the local populace was extremely friendly and warm towards her and her work. There were occasional travel concerns and protests during election periods. She was asked if she wished to re-enlist for more Peace Corps time, but she said she was ready to go home and prepare for graduate school. Rachel left Ukraine for Seattle, WA after her service was completed and accepted a full graduate scholarship in landscape architecture in schools in Arizona and Michigan, and she chose to pursue her Master’s degree at the University of Arizona in Tucson. After meeting and marrying her husband, they both began work in that field before Rachel left work to become a stay-at-home mom. She recalls that her Peace Corps experience was impacted greatly by her school’s receiving United States aid for a resource program. She was proud of the way she integrated with those she worked with and taught, and the sharing of culture was a top priority for her. Rachel hopes to return to Ukraine when the political strife abates, and she still keeps in contact with a number of people there.
Interview KeywordPeace Corps (US) Country of Service: Ukraine Dates of Service: 2009-2011 Peace Corps Volunteer Job: Education Peace Corps (US): 2000-2010, 2011-2020 Language: Ukrainian, Russian Language Training: University of British Columbia, Kiev, Obukhiv, Melitopol Cultural Training: Kiev, Obukhiv, Melitopol
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Interviews may only be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.
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Glass, Rachel Interview by Donald C. Yates. 03 Aug. 2022. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Glass, R. (2022, August 03). Interview by D. C. Yates. Peace Corps: The Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.
Glass, Rachel, interview by Donald C. Yates. August 03, 2022, 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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