Interview with Gerard "Gerry" Krzic, June 18, 2021
Project: Peace Corps: The Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Oral History Project
Interview SummaryGerard “Gerry” Krzic served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in South Korea from 1977 – 1980 working in a middle school setting as an English teacher in the rural town of Yecheon for two years and in a community service project in Daegu for one year. His service was interrupted by the illness and eventual death of his father necessitating a six-month leave of absence which he made up upon his return to Korea. Gerard learned of the Peace Corps through a high school biology teacher who influenced him greatly. He applied for Peace Corps during his senior year at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, where he majored in Education with an emphasis in secondary school English. Upon graduation, he worked in a steel factory while waiting for a potential offer from Peace Corps. During this time, he was contacted by Peace Corps about a position teaching English in Kenya. However, while considering that position, he was informed that opening was filled. Soon after he was offered a similar position in Korea, and quickly accepted. He and 28 other trainees gathered briefly in San Francisco for three days of Peace Corps “staging” and then flew to the Peace Corps headquarters in Seoul, South Korea before going to the city of Cheongju for three-months of pre-service training in culture, language, and Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) instruction. While in Cheongju, he stayed in a small room in a boarding house (approx. 7 feet by 5 feet) before moving to Yecheon, where he lived with the Kim family, who operated the Jae Il Yoegwan (Number One Inn). In Yecheon, he co-taught English in Grades 7 and 8 at Dae Chang Middle School with a Korean teacher using a pre-set curriculum provided by the Peace Corps. Gerard also found time to conduct an English conversation club for the other English teachers in the school. In his second year, Gerard moved his residence to a boarding house where many of the Dae Chang School teachers, who oftentimes came from urban area, lived during the weekdays. On a typical day, Gerard arose by 6:00 am to the sound of the New Community Song, ate a breakfast of rice, eggs, vegetables and fish, walked about 20 minutes to school, and congregated with other faculty in the teachers’ room in the school before attending a morning convocation at the school’s playground where the principal announced the day’s agenda. He taught five or six class sessions per day, as a co-teacher using a one-hour-on/one-hour-off schedule. Gerard was very proud of the “English Room” he set up in an unused room at the school as a project to fulfill a Peace Corps recommendation, and he decorated the room as a library complete with library books, magazines, and posters from the United States contributed by friends in the Cleveland area. During his free time, Gerard traveled throughout the neighboring areas and enjoyed seeing countryside temples. After returning from his leave at home, Gerard returned to Yecheon for six months before relocating to Daegu to conduct a community service with two other Peace Corps Volunteers. The project “Hour for an Hour” featured tutoring area college students in English. For each hour of English instruction received, the college students had to spend one hour of their week teaching at a school for orphans or serve at homes for the elderly. Gerard is proudest of his “Engage the World” philosophy for Koreans and his exemplary cross-culture contact. He married Joung Hee Jo, a Korean language colleague at his middle school in his final year of service. Upon his return from Korea, Gerard became a faculty member and administrator at Ohio University where Joung Hee also works. He currently (2021-2022) serves as President of the “Friends of Korea” organization (friendsofkorea.net).
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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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Krzic, Gerard Interview by Donald C. Yates. 18 Jun. 2021. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.
Krzic, G. (2021, June 18). 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.
Krzic, Gerard, interview by Donald C. Yates. June 18, 2021, 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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