‘But I Have Also Been In the Peace’

Glendora Press  October 26, 1969

‘But I Have Also Been In the Peace’

(Editor’s Note: Glendora High School teacher Dwayne Hunn continues his series of articles describing his Peace Corps experiences. He now turns in his impression of life in America which he feels lead the young Into Peace Corps service.)

 By DWAYNE HUNN

Often high school classes are boring, subjects seem irrel­evant, and life then seems more exciting in excursions with friends. Consequently, when high school finishes the graduate often seems to have learned or remembered more from what his peers have done than from what his teachers have said.

College is sometimes less boring. One is freer to chose classes, is being treated more as an audit, is closer to a career and this degree is relevant to a successful career. Even then, however, it often seems that one remembered and learned more from experience with friends than from what professors said. By the end of college one may wonder just how 500 tests were to measure one’s growth in knowledge or test one’s moral fiber, classical goals of education.

Most collegians were served from cafeteria lines, had a structured schedule of courses to follow, participated in or­ganized extra-curricular activities, dated, had friends, read, etc., and the time flew-by. Many professors did the thinking for the students and the students ingested as much of their thinking as they could — often just to cough it back and hopefully boost their grade point average. Often the profes­sors’ thoughts had been crammed, as some students were now ingesting, from someone else’s thoughts under a similar, but earlier system.

Most colleges are a testing grounds to see how well you can grind out a certain amount of mental work under a sys­tem. If you are smart enough to get into college, you only need to set yourself to the grindstone to complete it. It is a testing ground because the next phase of your life may be just as much, or more, of a grind.

For some it may mean an IBM kind of job that gives plenty of training in manipulating machines, to the point where the personality of the overseer is deadened. It may be an advertising executive’s job, where one may have to learn how to manipulate consumer desires. It may be a job in a phase of engineering where one learns how planned obsolesc­ence makes the economy go. Or one’s next phase may be the army where one knows when to shower and when to sleep and one’s day is filled with simple, uncreative, at the least, tasks.

One could he obstinate and search for a more satisfying job. There are many of these jobs still existing in America, though one may be penalized in the salary by taking one. Or one may just listen to the right FM station and hear its recent ad.

The Peace Corps won’t keep you out of the army. But when people ask, “Been in the war?” You can at least say, “Yes, but I have also been in the peace!”

The Peace Corps gives no grades, hands out no PCV of the Year awards, offers no pay incentives, delegates no ranks, often supplies no structure to work through, and es­tablishes no commissary or barracks. The Peace Corps often forces you to rely on yourself, instills a certain esprit de corps, allows you to be responsible to no one but yourself, and may mean one must learn to be one’s own best compan­ion.

Sargent Shriver, the Peace Corps’ first director, wrote his philosophy of the Corps in “Point of the Lance.” He hoped the Corps would point the way for economic growth, help people know people as people, and cut the path for better things to come between the have and have-nots, the haves and haves.

As director he initiated the policy of keeping staff-to-volunteer ratios high. The Corps was not to be a babysitting or a keep-em-busy-keep-em-out-of-trouble educational agency.

Volunteers were to be put on their own initiative. Staff would seldom oversee, advise, etc. Staff was to check on vol­unteers’ physical and mental health, and, if approached, provide what help it could for major projects. For the few staffers we had in India’s western region to cover about 500 volunteers, this was a full time job.

A critical analysis of American society may return the diagnosis that she is maligned with materialism, hypocrisy, narrowmindedness among sections and groups, and a break­down of communication between not only groups but families as well… The young sense this weakening of fiber and express their frustration about it.

Jack Kerouac, spokesman of the beat generation whose books ushered in the Hippie era, died a few days ago. His original intention regarding the term “beat” had to do with the idea of “beatific,” a termini used for the concept of a people rejecting the materialism of the United States in the 50’s and turning instead to a frank enjoyment of life. Well. I did not dig the Beatniks or Hippies too much because I doubted the sincerity of most of them. With time, however, I came to respect some of their criticisms of some American ways.

The Beatnik or Hippie who criticized the shriveling of individuality, the growth of materialism, the accepted spread of hypocrisy but protested by dropping out was worthless. For the sincere Beatnik or Hippie who doesn’t want to be programmed through the IBM world, the advertising game, the consumer-planned obsolescence-profit syndrome America still offers him the opportunities, and the Peace Corps is one, to be his own man.

If in one’s Peace Corps application the recommendations present you as an honest, hard-working individual, if you do not reveal a different side in training, then you are sent over-seas. Once overseas if you decide to be a Buddhist monk, a playboy, or one dedicated to some kind of social action — the program will have room for you. This variety of people, goals, and experiences enriches the program and allows individualism to grow.

It does not cost the government much to have volunteers spend years getting to know other people, teaching them something new, and learning something old from them. In fact, it is probably much less expensive than the ammunition costs of keeping a GI alive in Vietnam for one month.

Large military contingents stationed abroad usually mean the native girls turn to prostituting. The native males feel emasculated by the dash of the American, and their uni­forms. An inflated economy often adds heat to the boil. A bad foreign policy move adds more heat and sometimes you have demonstrations of “Yankee Go Home!”

I can remember only one demonstration launched to get rid of the Peace Corps. Within three years the Indonesians launched a counter-demonstration to call them back.

 

 

 

 

 

Off to India, Sensing the Travail of Life

Glendora Press — Oct. 22, 1969

 Off to India, Sensing the Travail of Life

(Editor’s Note: For several issues the Glendora Press has carried articles by Glendora High School teacher Dwayne Hunn, in which he describes his impressions as a Peace Corps worker in India. He continues with aspects of his Peace Corps experience and training while in New York.)

By DWAYNE HUNN

There was another startling, more personal, experience dur­ing Peace Corps training in New York. Rio and his family filled this niche.

In our field work we tried to find more job opportunities for the returnees from the Big House. We tried to take Negro and Puerto Rican mothers to the welfare center to apply for funds, a place whose imperson­alness intimidated them, and, in youthful idealism, I tried to solicit funds for the Christian Damascus Church Of Christ (oUp up up ut of which we worked)  from philanthropic organizations.

We were not very successful. Jobs for men of their skills were scarce. The New York Port Authority had a waiting list of between 10-30 months for school janitors, street cleaners, and refrigerator and air condi­tioner repairmen. These were not even jobs, but the waiting period to enter into training, after which there was usually another, perhaps longer, wait for employment.

We took a mother or two to the welfare center, and I could understand their intimidation. The welfare officials were rushed by poor, illiterate people all day long. They were tired of seeing this mob day-in-and-day-out, year-in-and-year-out and consequently were irritable and impersonal.

We were successful in getting a few tenants, who were afraid of their landlords, to complain about the lack of proper trash and garbage facilities and failing ceilings. In Rao’s case we had to go almost to the Landlord Commission before the landlord fixed the broken ceiling.

Rao hid been a good friend of the reverend, and had fallen into alcoholism, and then, since it started as a cheaper habit; took to drugs. The reverend, certain that Rao was sincere in his desire to clean up, sent him to the big house. Now the reverend was down on him, for Rao had returned from the house n a month rather than after six, the period the church wanted all addicts to stay.

Rao had reasons for returning. He had a wife and three children, had been out of work for two months, had few savings — as their furnishings and steady diet of spaghetti and beans reflected, and his wile had not been able to qualify for welfare.

His street was filled with old, bricked or cemented four story apartment houses. The street was fairly clean, but drab. There was little color other than that supplied by cement slabs, cement sidewalks, asphalted streets, Up up up up up up  and what seemed to be when we visited, cloudy days.

Their hallway was about 10 feet long and extended by a bathroom on the left and entered into a bed-living room combination of about 10’x 20’ and then into a long, narrow kitchen. Rao and his family, though a little ill-at-ease, were pleasant to us on our first visit. While we talked, we noticed the fallen ceiling over the sink. They explained that when it fell it almost hit one of their children.

Earlier they had complained to the landlord, but he had refused to act. About six square feet of lath was now showing, and it looked like more plaster would soon adorn the sink below. We were lucky on this one.  Before we left New York, this ceiling would be fixed.

Four days before we left for Bombay, we said goodbye to Rao and his family for the last time.  We left hoping that Rao, still earnestly searching, would soon find a job.  We had a few parties before departing from the golden shores.  One was especially enjoyable.  It started with a dinner between Bill, myself, and a Jesuit priest who had taught me in high school.  During his 30 some years he had been a wild, swinging hillbilly, a war veteran, and now a Jesuit.  It was our last night in the city, and he treated us to our last American steak and some beautiful talk.

We asked if he would come with us to our bon-voyage party.  He said he would, under one condition…  So we did not tell anyone he was a priest, and with his collar removed, his good looks, and his personality, he had a crowd around him all night.  He had been so wrapped up in studying for his doctorate that he was fearful that he was losing touch with what the young were feeling.  This was an opportunity for him to touch some of their feelings.  He was a rich individual to bow out of America with.

That thrill and excitement of jetting across the ocean to a new, and what we felt was a great adventure, buried many impressions of training.  The spirited, frank, often critical discussion groups…  The probing, self-reflective talks with my roomy, who was not sure if his motives were the correct ones for joining the corps…  The crowded subways to and from our work site — the man in the crowd acting sexually against Doris’ thigh on one of the few occasions Frank and I were not around her on the subway…  The look of at leased disdain, and maybe malice, from the older Negro basketball players I’ve worked with in the ghetto gym…  The bland looks from the younger Negroes…  The happy smile, or perhaps contemptuous chuckle, from the youngest Negroes when they beat me at table tennis or checkers…  The dimly lit, trash littered ghetto street with the barred drug store windows and two Negro kids squared off against each other with one viciously waiving a broken bottle in his hand…  The dates with pretty girls and walks down cold, windy New York streets…  The weekend visits to the special Vermont girl and the rupture of our parting…  The experiences and general impressions of intensive training…  NYC from the ghetto to Columbia to Broadway…  The quick Christmas with the family I love dearly—these were all fading to the back as the hopes and expectations of a new adventure flooded our thoughts.

We all entered the plane buoyed with a hope and a certain sense of accomplishment.  Little do I remember thinking of Rao and his family.  Yet Rao’s attempt to break from his past into a better life did not end with our departure.  First, it ended with word that reached us the day of our departure… Rao had been searching for a job.  His wife was washing the baby in a few inches of bathtub water.  She left for a few minutes to check on the boiling spaghetti.  She returned to a drowned baby.

We may have been better people because of our experiences and training.  We may have been better merely because we “experienced” the realization that many of the people we left behind were merely “sadder, poorer people” while we had the opportunity of beings some kind of “better, richer people.”

Slums of New York – Training

Glendora Press – Oct. 19, 1969

 Slums of New York—Training

(Editor’s Note: For several issues the Glendora Press has carried articles by Glendora High School teacher Dwayne Hunn in which he describes his impressions as a Peace Corps worker in India. He continues with other aspects of his Peace Corps experience and training.)

By DWAYNE HUNN

My placement in this Peace Corps training group was partially a bureaucratic blunder.

As a teenager, I had helped my uncle make a drawer or two and thus had written carpentry as one of my hobbies on the application. Consequently, I was placed in this Rural Community Construction group bound for Pakistan.

Though I loved the group and was starting to learn plan drawing and a few fundamentals of building and road laying, I decided that I would transfer to a group in education or community development and left with no little remorse.

In a month I had my choice of Thailand, Malaysia or India in the desired fields. I chose India because it was to be the first Urban Community Development group sent to Asia, and it seemed the bigger challenge.

UCDers often had no “real” job at their work sites. You were not there to specifically teach school, increase agricultural production, nurse the sick – but to develop a community. So the hope was that you would find an area that needed work and work into it. While you were, hopefully, doing this, you felt by living close to the general population and simultaneously observing the life styles of the city’s rich – who usually were interested in making whites acquaintances – much frustrated.

Though you may have come from a lower middle class background your old life style was still closer to that of the rich than that of the masses. Your attempts at quickly finding a relatively rewarding job generally failed. If you accepted wining and dining invitations from the rich westerners or natives, and they asked what you were doing, and even if you were doing something they thought it was a terrible waste of time on your part; your frustrations continued to mount.

If you did not find that job, your American sense of speedy accomplishment and your exalted Peace Corps image of yourself plus the typical cultural differences, homesickness, physical sickness, etc., grated on you until you gave up. For these and other reasons UCD had the Peace Corps’ highest dropout rate.

Training started in October at Columbia School of Social Work in New York. Our language training was inferior in the Pakistan group’s trainin; we spent too much time studying Hindu philosophy and history and not enough on learning Hindi. Our instructors, from the school of social work conducted great discussion groups, but their jobs were made easier due to our field work experience.

The worst slum in Asia is Calcutta and because of this and its violent Bengali temper the Peace Corps was leery about sending a group there. As a second choice they settled on Bombay. Peace Corps was then faced with the problem of how to train us for an Asian slum.

Rather than choose the coastal slums of Bombay for field training, they chose the coastal slums of Harlem, South Bronx, etc. From our 40 odd experiences in these areas, the 21/2 hour discussion groups were hardly enough to complain about the bureaucracy, argue job approaches, and relate experiences.

Some were humorous experiences. Fran, Jim, Dan, and two girls acted out one of these.  (Not their true names.)

While walking through Central Park on the way to a meeting two Negroes came up behind them. With trench coats curled up and their hands sunk deeply into their pockets, the Negroes demanded that the five “Give all the money you got.”

Jim was a six-footer and a good athlete. Dan was short, stocky, and quick tempered. Frank was roly-poly and liked to talk a lot. The girls were just girls. Four of these acted scared. Frank didn’t. Frank told them to get lost and led the group on their walking way. The Negroes followed and raised their voices in repeating their demand. Frank led on.

This time one of the Negroes grabbed one of the group and stopped them in their tracks. With this the roly-poly one bounded forward, oblivious to the threats that the concealed hands were curled around guns. He threw up his hands and sprang into a stance to announce that he knew Karate and would they please step forward to take the money. The Negroes looked stunned. Frank turned the group to continue their trek. The Negroes remained.

The story was the talk of International House for weeks, and Frank, most of all, liked to tell it. Frank probably could punch his way out of a paper bag but not by, the unknown to him, art of Karate.

Some experiences, like the Christian Damascus Church of Christ, were startling. Doreen, a sweet and simple girl, Frank, and myself found the church down a back street, flanked by a Black Muslim organization and many barred windows, in South Bronx. Worn, musty, and crickey stairs led to a hall that passed a large room in which derelicts were sitting on some old basic steel frame beds. I had seen derelicts on Skid Row in Cleveland, and though I had never seen a Salvation Army rest room during the depression, this is how I imagined it might be.

About 10 feet past this room we entered a 15’ x 25’ office. Seated in the middle of the room was a pathetic figure, sobbing and heaving. He was saying something, but not making much sense. Most of his effort was going into his sobs and heaves. Sharing the room was a teenage Mexican girl and the Rev. Jerry Kaufman. We inquired into the man’s condition and the reverend said he was coming off of a high.

The whole scene, this church, this neighborhood, this guy was too much for me to swallow at once. The reverend was ignoring the man, going about his paper work, counseling visitors, and wondering, we later found out, what to do with us. While he was doing this, I stood back to study the situation.

The next five hours were spent watching the pathos of the man sitting in the chair. I became a believer. I believed that dope addicts frequented the church, that the reverend had been an addict for 13 years, and that there were more pathetic looking people walking through the doors of that church than I had seen in 9,000 school days.

I did not believe that the church had saved hundreds, was more effective than Synanon or New York City Hospital, and that they were saved through Christ and the Bible alone. The young, part-time Mexican girl was their only clerical help and that, plus the lack of funds, accounted for their lack of records to substantiate the reverend’s statistical claim. It would take the trip to their home, 60 miles north of New York, to make us consider those claims.

About four weeks into our work the reverend, a Catholic priest, an old, partially deranged ex-addict who acted as assistant around the church, and we three volunteers drove to the house. Talk was cordial and easy as we drove the open roads and passed through the tunnels of northern New York. The church, had, I believe particularly through a donation, acquired this house and made it part of their rehabilitation program. If an addict expressed sincerity in trying to break the habit, and ex-addicts acting as judges of sincerity agreed, the church sent him to the home for six months of spiritual rebirth.

The fresh air, the countryside, and the escape from the city crowd were purgative themselves. But the real purgative, as had been propagandized into our heads by now, though I still had not bought the story, was the Good Book.

It was brisk as we left the car and entered the 2½ story house. It was almost as brisk inside. Everyone wore jackets. The front room was one large wall to wall room, probably 50’-60’” long though not as deep. Total furnishings consisted of fold-away chairs and a lectern. We passed into the dining area. The ceiling joists connected to the posts so that the outside winter was clearly visible and coming inside. The cement and car­pentry work was rough, yet they were proud of it. It. It was their own work.

Things were, stark, cold, gray — few amenities, little furniture, and no color. The residents didn’t try to cover this fact. They may not have even noticed it. The only extra they made a comment on was the Bi­ble. “One’s in every room,” a resident  beamed.                                                                                                                                                                                                           We returned to the front room to listen to the Catholic priest talk. The three of us sat in the back as the priest started slow­ly and then used our trip to convey his point.

He described our ride as easy, engulfed with free talk, pleasant scenery, and a radio which kept us in tune with the world. Then, he said, we came to a tunnel. We could no longer see the landscape roll by, nor clearly see what was ahead, nor be in touch with the world.

At this point Father was winding into high gear. He was talking to illiterate men, mostly Puerto Ricans and Negroes, and he knew from experience than evangelism, simplicity backed by flaming oratory, meant communication. His voice was loud, strong, and clear.

“You,” he bellowed, “were like us.” You were going down the road of life and things were, all right. Then you lost touch with the world! Couldn’t see clearly the path ahead and couldn’t hear what to do. Well, when we entered that tunnel we had to turn on our lights to help us see. It we wanted to hear what was happening we had to raise our antenna, listen closely, and continue moving forward! This is what you must do!”

They followed his analogy. Father was hot.

“You must raise your antennas to Christ! Listen to him and He will show you the way! See His word! Hear His word! And He will guide you through your dark tunnel and back into the stream of life!”

I sat more and more erect. My eyeballs craved from their corners.

Four or five were shouting,“Jesus save me!”

“Christ have mercy on me!” from the left and right.

“Help me God! I’m a sinner,” echoed from the room.

Everywhere the men were falling to their knees, holding their heads in their hands, some were crying, most were issuing supplications to the Saviour. I wanted to hit Doris and Frank and say, “Do you see what I see?” I didn’t bother. I guess I knew I might never see anything like this again. So I took in as much as I could.

Afterwards there was no embarrassment over the display that had just occurred. A few laments and moans were still heard by those still sitting or kneeling. Those standing that we talked with were even more free in discussing their alcoholic or narcotic past.

They invited us for dinner, bread and potato soup, but we had to return to the city. In a handful of hours, we had made an acquaintance with many worn and misery etched faces, an acquaintance hard to forget.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He Kept His Eyes Open, and Ended Up in the Peace Corps

October 15, 1969 Glendora Press

 He Kept His Eyes Open, and Ended Up in the Peace Corps

(Editors Note: For several issues the Glendora Press has carried articles by Glendora High School teacher Dwayne Hunn in which he describes his impressions as a Peace Corps worker in India. He now turns to other aspects of his Peace Corps experience, starting with his entrance and training.)

By DWAYNE HUNN

“Keep your eyes and ears open. Maybe you’ll learn something.”

Those words beam over my Peace Corps experience like a spotlight. They were given to me by a friend of the family that I once met and haven’t seen since. The more of the Peace Corps I experienced, the brighter and more often that thought lit my path.

During my sophomore year in college, due in part in the charisma President Kennedy conveyed, I decided I would like to apply and be ready for the Peace Corps upon graduation.

The years flew by, and I was faced with stepping outside of the gilded world of academia. By then I was toying with the idea of attending graduate school. Since I was in the studying mood, I feared leaving school might make it tough to return to. But I was also tired of vicariously learning things from books and wanted to taste some real life. It did not take much to convince me to follow the more exciting path. It might be said that it only took a pretty girl.

During my senior year in college one of my duties was to set up a schedule and guide the Peace Corps recruiter around campus. It happened that the recruiter was coming during the week of mid-term exams and that the recruiter was a she. I had received an 8xl0 photo along with some background information by the Peace Corps about her.

She, in her picture, was no raving beauty. So with some smooth talking, and on a predominantly male campus one does not need to be too smooth. I was able to gather a contingent of males to guide her through her two and one-half days on campus. I was relieved. Now I could catch up on some studying.

The morning she arrived I was in my grubby face and clothes — male campuses specialized in this attire — and happy to be going to an office to study. Happy, that is, until I saw what I had scheduled my first escort to escort. With poise to burn and looks that would have about 400 of our 1100 males take application blanks, she introduced herself.

Such a schedule I had ‘hustled’ to arrange! From that morning on I had nothing but volunteers to show her around, when I would have gladly handled the job myself.

She had two tremendous years in the Corps, and for my interest in government, teaching, and experiences she highly recommended it for me. Later I found out that part of her experience included engagement to the son at a Philippine Air Force general. Pressure from the general broke the engagement.

About 10 days after receiving my college diploma I found myself aboard a humid DC-3, then sitting through a winding, hour-long car drive into the hills of Vermont, and then looking on what was to be my new home, which consisted of three cabins, a barn and a house, for the next three months.

I bunked with six guys in a large room of one of the cab­ins, four were engineers, one was an economics major, and one had been a construction foreman. The foreman had a vocabulary as relevant to the construction industry as our college educations were to the dictionary industry. Big Red, otherwise known as sandpaper mouth, was a good man to have around — as long as beer was within walking distance.

Within six weeks we had about 175 hours of language training, and Bengali had replaced French as my second most communicable language. We had not done much practical building during the first six weeks but I and a few others had learned, for the others it was like a refresher course, theories of building with primitive materials and labor.

Excuse me, we did build one edifice during those weeks and that was a rock bridge to span the river below the hill we lived on. We built this not as a training project but for a very American reason. Without the bridge it was a 21/2 mile walk to the only beer joint in a 10 mile radius. Our finished effort would not have done the most underdeveloped nation in the world any credit.

Every minute of training seemed to be filled. When the last lecture-discussion group broke-up around 10 p.m. we had only 81/2 hours before Toby would welcome us to a new day. He would, to the clang if a triangle bell, beckon us out into the cold Vermont mornings.

Toby Tobias was quite a character. He was a Negro married to a white girl. Each morning he would greet us, with his muscles pooping on top of other muscles – all of which were majestic, in a different athletic outfit. He had sweat suits from the universities of Hawaii, West Virginia, Ohio State, Southern California, etc. Judging from his wardrobe you figured he had three trunks just to store his muscle out­fits.

One day before our language table started I asked, “Toby, where are you from?” His answer was something like, “I started for West Virginia in football in 60, 61, 62; played guard on the basketball team in 61, 62; was All-Amer­ican football in 61, 62; made the AAU team in wrestling and table tennis in 63.” I did not have the heart or the courage to repeat my question, and, anyway, it was a neat answer, Toby was a neat guy.

During our intensive training there was a great deal of comradeship developing, and the learning atmosphere seemed so much stronger than college. We felt we were a lit­tle special yet not so special that we thought we knew more of what he had to learn than our trainers, lecturers, returned volunteers. They openly admitted they couldn’t prepare us for what we might encounter, and we eagerly tried to soak in as much as we could for what we might encounter. They were open and frank with us, and we were likewise with them. If we wanted to probe a certain subject, they would pursue it with as much knowledge as they had or until we thought we understood.

Many of the foreign affairs and Asian experts ended their talks to us by expressing their envy. Most of what they spoke was hand-me-down knowledge. They envied, though some said they were not sure they could do it, us and our generation for having the opportunity to learn first-hand about some of the world.

The cold mornings and cold showers, Toby and his runs through the forest, the guys, the volleyball tournament, the give-and-take of discussion groups, the insights into a foreign culture, the top-notch lecturers, the experiences returned vol­unteers conveyed to us, the search for girls in the sleepy town of Brattleboro—it was a rich experience and my first taste of the Peace Corps.

 

And Where’s India’s Future Leadership?

Glendora Press  October 12, 1969

And Where’s India’s Future Leadership?

(Editor’s Note: For two years prior to joining the faculty of Glendora High School, Dwayne Hunn served the U.S. Government as a member of the Peace Corps. For the next sev­eral issues the Glendora Press will carry articles by Mr. Hunn in which he vividly describes the stark reality of teeming India and some of his experiences there during his Peace Corps duty.)

         By DWAYNE HUNN

For division’s sake we could make four qualitative divisions of the Indian school system. In ascending order, the lowest is the village school. This is not based on experience, but merely on reasoned comparisons at the low quality mu­nicipal school, and their teacher attraction over that at of village school.

The second rung is filled by the municipal schools and Catholic orphanages. Then follows the semi-private and Catholic schools. The pinnacle is possessed by completely private schools and especially well-endowed Catholic schools.

Months ago the government was talking of replacing these pinnacle schools with neighborhood schools. The lan­guage teaching medium, the student quality difference, and the exodus of teachers were some of the problems this would cause.

But it is to these schools that the upper class elite sends their sons and daughters. Chauffeured to and from school, brought warm lunches from home by one of their many serv­ants, placated by most of the teachers due to the power their parents possess — school to these students usually contrib­utes to their spoiled, spineless, undirected qualities.

When they are chauffeured through the poverty surround­ing then they never think of it as their future responsibility. At this pinnacle only a rare Indian teacher will teach them to be observant, thoughtful and critical. Rote memory, para­phrasing of the textbook and unimaginative homework are the standard methods of education. Athletics provide little in the way of character formation through discipline, sweat and grime. Lack of fields and unaggressive coaching are a major part of the reason.

Their vacations, weekends, etc., are spent in air-conditioned homes, restaurants, parties and country clubs. Part-time work they do not think of, probably even if there was a labor market need, which of course there is not.

High school graduation, after their keen pursuit of grades for grades sake, will find all seeking studies abroad. Some already with the intent of staying abroad, most unwilling to say but ready and willing to sway in that philosophy. Most feel little patriotism in their country, feel they owe it little and feel it offers them little compared to what is offered else­where.

This is the class that is being trained to take over the chairs of its society’s leadership. They can get by with shallow education — as their success in foreign universities proves. But can their societies of tomorrow get by without feeling the pulse of the masses’ needs below them?

Without them feeling responsibility toward those needs? Can they feel that pulse without now becoming more in­volved, in some small way, by volunteering their time and effort in teaching, building and experiencing the life of the 95 per cent below them?

Are our affluent, middle class students different enough, when the worthy passions of our time seem to be misplaced from constructive civil rights work, headstart programs, etc., to constant good-time parties, uncivil demonstrations, etc?

Those being educated at the pinnacle will inherit the few spots of authority that exist in the political-economic infras­tructure of their developing economies. Those in the lower di­visions of schools are inferiorly educated, partly due to the environment they live in. They are groomed to fill the dreary, routine jobs. From these jobs, which comprise the bulk of their societies system, an outsider experiences just what their environmental life and rote memory learning situation results in.

Almost all of the civil servant employees, firm managers, indigenous engineers, teachers, etc., have been groomed on being told an answer, or on finding it in a book. When situations, which you unfortunately may be the instigator of, present themselves and call for a self-imitated course of action – you are in trouble. You may be left waiting for hours, days or weeks over what by our standards, would be considered an inconsequential act.

During this time one of the above mentioned being dealt with will search policy manuals for the patented answer. Or seek higher authority so as to dodge personal responsibility.

It is considered culture when things do not move fast in many Latin American and Asian countries. But today it is part of the weak system of low quality education and thought which seems to be institutionalizing this type of action in those places. Due to the surplus of problems and dearth of resources to deal effectively with this low quality education system, it becomes more institutionalized and less susceptible to future change.

The upper class student can thwart the low quality educational system because they have the means to remain near the scientific-technical revolution. They have access to radio, books, travel (though exchange restrictions are forcing many more Indians to remain provincial in their outlooks), etc., with which to stay abreast of the world. In fact due to the low economic position of the teacher the students are often more abreast of the modern world than are they. The teaching profession does not attract the better qualified and upper class people. This scale will give an idea why

Rs. 7.5 — one dollar.

Starting Salary

Teacher- (municipal) Rs. 64-month

Teacher- (private) 180-month

Stenographer- 250-month

Stewardess- 400-month

Businessman- 1000-up

Thus if you are especially qualified, you must be very dedicated to pursue this profession.

I could go on. But perhaps enough known problems of In­dia along with a few more complexities, hopefully revealed here, has served a purpose. As most media viewers know, In­dia for the past few years has been in a position of strain. Due to this her political structure is also being strained to reduce the other social strain. The Congress party is no long­er monolithic. She is bitingly chastised by the middle class, business dominated Swatantra party, by the wings of the Communist party, by the conservative and often chauvinistic Jan Sang party.

The strains and criticisms have focalized many inadequacies and corruptions in India’s means of development. Hopefully this atmosphere will mean a more efficient path to change. But, at this possibly crucial stage, a major change in our foreign policy could be a catastrophe.

I can look back to a personal level for enforcement here. Orphans in India go unclaimed for life. Catholic institutions care for them. Yet the price of administration determines the amount of care available. Were it not for the free aid of pow­dered milk and wheat supplied by the U.S., rice supplied by Spain and canned goods (produced by the U.S.) supplied by Holland; the 150 orphans I worked with would be a smaller and physically weaker number.

This goes on through the system, right down to the grains we supply the masses. Granted, much of this is pil­fered by men with connections, amazing amounts are eaten by rats (some figures claim 20-25 per cent of the gross sup­ply); but without that amount that trickles down to the right­ful, needy sources what would happen?

An Indian stare commissioner once told me. “If America was really our friend she would cut all foreign aid, leave us to flounder, suffer and face up to our problems alone in our own way.”

Their own way would possibly mean a shaking out of their lethargic, apathetic frame at mind. But it would also possibly mean revolution, bloodshed, mass starvation, dis­ease, etc. The experience, if our Western, Christian mentality could sit through the bloody coliseum, would be ugly and in­humane. A consequently ugly, inhumane government could be the result.

The walk through the chawls was ugly. But without our understanding of its life and its causes, our aid and patience in changing these — it could he much uglier. One of my favorite quotes concludes and applies just as well to India and our relation to it. It concludes and applies just as well to our affluent society’s responsibility to the development of quality at home. Albert Schweitzer once said:

And for those who have more,

Those who need not struggle for existence,

It is for them to set the example.

 

 

India: Some Economic and Human Points

Glendora Press – Oct. 12, 1969

India: Some Economic and Human Points

(Editor’s Note: For two years prior to joining the faculty of Glendora High School, Dwayne Hunn served the U.S. government as a member of the Peace Corps. For the next sev­eral issues the Glendora Press will carry articles by Mr. Hunn in which he vividly describes the stark reality of life in teeming India and some of his experiences there during his Peace Corps duty).

By DWAYNE HUNN

Patience has not been a particularly American virtue. Perhaps, due to this, some of our successes have come.

Yet many of the underdeveloped nations have developed a culture premised on an abundance of patience. To many Westerners this patience seems better defined as indifference or apathy. But they have also had certain bases for this fea­ture which we have not.

Many of these nations have had civilizations running into the thousands of years. Perhaps human nature drifts from conservatism, to patience, to indifference through such a span. Many are located in energy sapping climates. Due to such factors they have been left behind in science and tech­nology; and population, in the meantime, has aggravated the human economic situation.

Foreign aid and patience returns this thesis to India. A few facts and figures gives some credence to the belief that perhaps the amount of foreign aid and patience should he tied together.

U.S. Economic Assistance Expenditures, 1945-65

Per Capita            Per Capita Rank

India                                          $11.16                 19

Korea                                      $136.88                   5

Taiwan                                    $182.07                   5

Philippines                              $ 39.20                  10

For Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines, the U.S. has al­most phased out its economic assistance program. These na­tions are approaching the point where their economic infrastructure should allow them to self-propel their economies. Yet the amount of per capita assistance given them as compared to the world’s largest struggling democracy is strikingly ob­vious.

The reason for the difference is not solely our policy. In 1945 we were engrossed with containing communism and gen­erous amounts of foreign aid was one of our weapons. India was engrossed with the neutralist ideal directed by the char­ismatic shadow of a Ghandi. Therefore the discrepancies in relative aid receipts to various nations, and possibly a signif­icant reason for difference in economic development 20 years later.

Money means capital investment, this means more facto­ries, which means more jobs, which means that kid in the chawls may land a job rather than idle in his family’s one room or on the street corner. In India, one facet of America’s aid is to pump money creating investment into the hands of the frustrated middle class father and  by doing so aid the chawl kids’ needs also.

The program works something like this. America has supplied India with tremendous amounts of grain in the last few years (11 billion tons last year). Due to India’s preca­rious foreign exchange condition she has allowed her to re­pay in rupees. America can not use the rupees anywhere but in India. So she lends 80 per cent of it back to private entre­preneurs in India. The other 20 per cent is used for the admin­istrative costs of our governmental personnel in India.

Nevertheless the amount of rupees owed the U.S. is stag­gering. Thus Indian government officials often criticize this “Public Law 480” program as “foreign domination of our economy.”

A similar view would probably be espoused by intellectuals here at home who see exploitive motives in most of our giving. In India, the criticism comes from those who feel that either complete centralized planning and/or complete Indian government control over all economic aid allotments is the answer.

The Agency for International Development (AID) position is that private entrepreneurs and their initiative and profit motives are a needed part of the answer, not merely centralized planning. They also feel that over this double loan — which America never really expects to collect – they should have some authority. They also point out that the Indian government has control over the distribution of this money by their process of licensing, which the capital seeker must pass through to gain AID grants.

Indian criticism of this PL 480 process, for some of her above reasons, may be part of the answer as to why the rupee repayment is presently being phased out. The U.S. government, by 1971, may demand that all repayment be in dollars.

Bombay is India’s most booming city. Industry and construction is going on constantly and everywhere. Calcutta used to be in this position. But she has reached her physical limit. Also detracting from investment is the Bengali labor mentality of “gheraos” (strikes — sometimes violent), and general disrespect towards — or self-pride if you interpret it on the Bengal side — toward the Berah Sabh (Big Boss). There two areas are the only really commercial, finan­cial, and industrial centers in India. Therefore they are also the two major tax sources, supplying over 60 per cent of the tax revenue. (An 80 per cent peasant population averaging only 75 rupees a year is not a tax source). India’s progressive tax system, depending on whose stats you use, is either the highest or one of the highest in the world. So businessmen in either of these cities constantly gripe about the chunk the gov­ernment takes from them. Chunks which presumably could go for reinvestment. Even so, the tax system is not leveling the station of the very rich businessmen. Evasion and inefficient collection keeps these men living in the splendor of contem­porary maharajas.

There is a movement afoot in India which some feel is the answer to India’s problems — alas the world’s!  It is called Moral Rearmament and its title is self explanatory. If they were serious, these MRAs would concentrate their efforts on that rich class of businessmen from which many of their parents come. From among these select few there are not enough truly socially responsible individuals. Mr. Tata, the owner of Indian Airlines, Tata Oil and Steel and others, seems to he one of the few, as his wealth is seen spread in institutions to better the lot of those below; especially the Parsee community of which he is one. This lack of social re­sponsibility, which in many ways seems applicable to our af­fluent, middle class society, will lead into my last comments on a facet of human resource development.

 

India’s People Chained to ‘Structure’

Glendora Press – Oct. 5, 1969

India’s People Chained to  ‘Structure’

(Editor’s Note: For two years prior to joining the faculty of Glendora High School, Dwayne Hunn served the U.S. Government as a member of the Peace Corps. For the next sev­eral issues the Glendora Press will carry articles by Mr. Hunn in which he vividly describes the stark reality of life in teeming India and some of his experiences there during his Peace Corps duty.)

By DWAYNE HUNN

‘Seek to imitate… our Master, who when he sees a poor man does not wait for him to beg for alms.”

—Khin Boron

Stay with me for some of my next few words as they walk down a street for you. After walking down this street I will attempt to become, in some way, analytical about our world’s relation to it. Both worlds are very important, although and because, their way of thought and motivation are different.

Try to imagine that you and I are on the corner of that street. Trust me to guide you down it and view it to you as I feel you would. Trust me, because I lived on that street for ten months and viewed it many times as you probably would in this paper.

The corner is a busy intersection jerkily flowing with small cars, an occasional rich man’s Chevrolet, two-tired and dilapidated red buses, bicycles, and carts of all sizes — all laboriously pulled by thinly strewed, dark skinned legs. The restaurant on the corner, with the walls opened to the street, makes edible curry. Edible, once you have gone through the initial stages of dysentery due to the initial eatings of it. The overhead fans do little to keep flies off your food.

The etiquette of the waiters, who carry six glasses of water at once by inserting their fingers into the innards of the glasses, leaves a little to be desired. Carrying the water glasses as such is not too bad, but when the waiter cleans leftovers from the dishes, blows his nose in his fingers and then brings the glasses — then, more than etiquette enters in.

Passing the restaurant we edge around the queue (line of people) which winds down the sidewalk. They have queued­ up to receive their vegetable oil allotment. The third little shack dispenses it. The short squat man lying in the shack on a raised portion of wood is the proprietor. He lies there with his white clothes and contented smile almost daily. He does not seem to do much else. Others do it for him. We have passed the last of the little shops. They were selling articles from soap and materials, to flashlights and lamps. All domestically made articles – this is the poorer area of the city.

Perhaps along with our visual conceptions a little socio-economic background would aid our journey. The housing area we are now entering is one of the areas commonly termed the chawls. The chawls are India’s slum-tenements. Here, a few hundred thousand of Bombay’s one to three million chawl dwellers reside.

Continuing down the street our senses take in the new and unexpected. But the sense mechanism is so flooded – shocked may be a better word – that initially it is impossible to express. But we do notice the obvious. The air of the street is filled with dirt, vehicle exhaust and the stench of dirty humans, garbage and excrement. But that is merely the air.

Breathing this, we proceed down the street. We proceed slowly, being jostled and stepping between all the little peo­ple on the sidewalk makes our movement such. We become Impatient with the overflow crowd of the sidewall and move to the street. There with part of the overflow crowd, we compete with vehicles for movement.

On the curb of the sidewalk we have just left art little, weary Indian women commonly called “vegetable wallahs.” They sit on a little hemp sack with their income for the day or week beside them. That income may consist of 40-50 small potatoes stacked, ready for sale, in piles of four.

Moving in the street through the foul air and crowd our ears soon become attuned to the honks and screeches of passing vehicles, the call of vegetable wallahs, the clatter-chatter at the crowd, the walls of children and the blare of Hindi music.

Looking through the crowd we can see into the room of a dirty grey, four-storied chawl. Through the barred window we can see that pots, rags, pictures of holy men and very often a picture of President Kennedy adorn the meager wail space. The room we have looked into has that one barred window, one door and no fan. It is 15’x12’ and it is home for usually 5-12 joint family members.

Outside the barred window lies a 20’ separation before the next chawl begins. That space is littered with dirt, rocks glass, red Indian spittle, excrement and garbage. Around numerous large piles of garbage, dining cows and/or pigeons will be found at any time of the day. At night rats in large numbers will be found. Rats in Bombay are estimated at be­tween 5-12 per person.

Returning to the curb our view focuses on a 10 month old child of one of the vegetable wallahs, The mother keeps the child wih her since the rest of her family is out trying to earn a few paises (like a penny). The child adjusts to the environment, she must. The naked child crawls oft the hemp mat and as it does so you notice the large sores around the pelvic area. Medicare? No, not even Johnson’s Baby Powder is available.

One observant walk down such a street is unforgettable. Many walks — and especially living there — brings home the vicious circle of the meager life, education, and experience these people are forced through. The crowded and dirty liv­ing conditions put health, privacy and enjoyment at a bare minimum. Their food staples, rice and dahl, are severely ra­tioned and spreading it to a joint family keeps that family frail and weak.

During the school year the children get out of this envi­ronment six times a week — to be educated. They go to half-day classes that average between 35-50. Teachers are not well paid or well trained, and the environment background speaks for itself. With this classroom setting, rote memory, with next to no creative formation is the method.

At birth those children were as cute as, and their eyes sparkled, as much as any American counterpart. But soon enough their eyes assumed a hollow, weak look. A middle class American baby gets, and soon enough learns to expect, much different treatment.

Incidentally, what we just walked through is how the up­per lower class lives, the class which borders on the middle class. The one-and-a-half to three million who live in clusters of disgusting hutments and under the skies an the streets are lower.

That was a bit of the grass roots description of a RPCV. The Peace Corps is meant to try to effect development on this grass roots level. Sometimes it can, sometimes it must work otherwise. Such was the case with our group. But out of this all of us learned something about the problems which blocked success at this level. At the same time one of ourmost important educations was one of appreciation for the “so much” we have at home.

As an Urban Community Development group some of us came to India believing we should act as proteges of Saul Al­insky. That we should organize the lower classes, have them petition and/or fight for their rightful, human deserts to the government bureaucracy above them.

Yes, the beautifully pyramidal, governmental welfare structure exists — on paper. But to expect redress of life’s grievances from that structure is foolish, and the lower class­es have never bothered to feel otherwise.

Being an American in the city also offers opportunities to get to know the upper and middle classes. The middle class has its own environmental hang-ups. They are aware of how the rich live, desire same of their possessions and experiences. Their teenage children are not like the chawl or hut­ment children — many of which have never been to the downtown, financial, entertainment center of the city.

The middle class teenager has seen it, experienced some of it and adds to the family pressure to enjoy more of it. But that costs money. Money comes from position. Appointment does not depend axiomatically on position, but class position plays a very important role in attaining these appointments. For those below the upper class it is usually a hindering role. The economic structure of developing nations adds to the hindrance.

The middle class father would like to have money for a business venture, would like to have connections to aid this and would like to use both to put his children through the good private schools and then through a foreign university. With these status symbols his children’s aspirations will be more attainable than they presently are to him.

Father has learned a little through life and has been stuck beneath the bureaucracy long enough to realize the impediments thwarting improvement of his position. He can talk continuously of these problems. He has not yet tired of talking, but has tired of believing — if he ever believed such that he or anyone can meaningfully change the structure. He is frustrated, but seems to have accepted his position —beat by the structure.

India’s political structure offers few immediate, effective changes. Such a structure based on a 75-80 percent illiterate and peasant populace, supported by ensuing traditional beliefs and continued by a moderate (for Asia — except when imputed on its base) two point four percent population in­crease; offers few clear spots in the smog.

This is but a sketch of the problems of the world’s larg­est democracy. How does the rest of the free world, and par­ticularly America, aid India with these problems? Propo­nents of aid would generally agree that it should be directed to developing human and economic resources. Opponents would point out that for 20 years we have aided nations like this yet they have not “taken off.” Their answer is — “there­fore taper off.”

They Want to Live, but it’s All So Futile (

Glendora Press, Oct. 1, 1969

They Want to Live, but it’s All So Futile

  (Editor’s Note: For two years prior to joining the faculty of Glendora High School, Dwayne Hunn served the U.S. Government as a member of the Peace Corps. For the next several issues the Glendora Press will carry articles by Mr. Hunn in which he vividly describes the stark reality of life in teeming India and some of his experiences there during his Peace Corps duty.)

 By DWAYNE HUNN

 American kids can roller or surf skate down driveways into quiet streets. There (India), they skate in congested streets, There, they skate to stopped taxis, grab onto their doors, and ask for “bukshis.”

Few of them stand and lean on their boards as American kids so often do on their boards or skates. They cannot, for they are often without feet. Chopped off at the knees or hips, they use roller boards to make their begging trips.

I drowsed in a few Peace Corps training sessions, and in two of them I was jolted awake by the remarks of the speak­er. One speaker’s subject of masturbation jolted my Catholic conscience upright. The other jolt from slumber came via a statement that, “Fifty per cent of India’s beggars are pur­posefully maimed.”

“How can you make a statement like that and back it up?” I querried. I can’t remember his exact answer, but I think it had something to do with a state government survey. I found such a statement hard to swallow then.

One of the nights that I was escaping from my Worli living experience found me exchanging gory experiences with a fellow volunteer at the Bombay Peace Corps Hostel. He and his wife warmed up by telling of how they observed a baby deficate diarrhea, scoop it up in her fingers, and eat it. Her mother didn’t stop this until she noticed the intense stares of the couple.  {The above story happened to me and I wrote it as such but got published as happening to a mother.}

*       *       *

They then related a story they had heard from another friend. The friend had been on a crowded train. A woman on the train was holding a howling baby who had bandaged eyes. After more than an hour of crying, and after the moth­er had refused three offers by a man interested in looking at the baby’s eyes, the man took the baby and unwrapped the bandages to find a cockroach gnawing on each eye. I too find this hard to swallow. But after having been there, the lectur­er’s statement is less hard to swallow.

There the game of life is played close to the bone, so closely that it sometimes cuts into the marrow. They are not eating each other, but they may be modifying some of their own lines to ensure money to feed other family members. Those children who have been fated to beg to help support the rest of the family feel the pain of inflicted ugliness, less a gouged eye, a chopped arm, a hand-made-paw. The Hindu re­ligious-philosophical concept of dharma, meaning one’s fate could be a trick of India’s earlier elites to ensure their com­fortable position and the poor’s defeat.

Life magazine spoke of a saintly Sister Theresa of India. I also knew a Sister Theresa, a different, but similar one. She was also Spanish, and her happiness and resolve also seemed unconquerable. She and three other Spanish nuns di­rected the Cheshire Home for 50 paraplegics.

The 50 would never be able to live on their own, some couldn’t urinate on their own, some would soon die, come couldn’t utter an understandable word, a few were spastic. One could do nothing more than squirm across the floor, clutch a space with a paralayzed hand, and utter grunts and groans while showing one of his two faces—a smile or a lost frown.

Here the nuns lived, prayed, smiled and sang. Sister Theresa, it was said, was from one of Spain’s richest families. When she couldn’t raise funds for the home’s needs, she wrote to her other family. Sister, and some others like her, would spend their lives with the sick and dying in a parched and barren land.

After two years, I’d see my parents, America, affluence. Many of the 150 orphans I worked with never saw a parent or…Showing them a new game, wrestling with them, scold­ing them—seemed to make their eyes shine brighter. They had beautiful eyes and smiles, even if there wasn’t much which stood out on their bodies.

Easter calls for a big feast in most American homes. At the orphanage it was no different. The kids gathered their tin plates and looked forward to the Easter breakfast of a plantin, mush—meant, I guess to be oatmeal, and a roll with a touch of jam inside. For lunch they gobbled the dahl (high in protein), curry with their hard roll.

Around 3:30 p.m. they’d have their daily snack of pow­dered milk. (Thrice daily Uncle Sam supplied the powdered milk, and most of the other food.) Dinner was also a treat for the curry sauce had meat in it and it rested on rice. Dessert was a piece of candy for every kid, with even a few pieces left over. The candy was a gift of a tourist.

Three hunks of bread, a small mound of rice, gravy with a few chunks of meat in it, three cups of powdered milk, a banana, and a piece of candy—filled. Their bodies couldn’t stand out, but the smile and love reflected from their eyes and teeth could, and they were as bright as any kid’s I had ever seen.

Zubair Shaik, about 11 when we came, could not under­stand our American humor, our jibes at the rote memorization he brought home from school, our desire to see thing work, our dissatisfaction with the way of life of the general population. Zubair looked up to us, like most Indians did, but it wasn’t just because he was small, like most Indians. He followed us around, and we took him around. When 1t was time for us to leave, he could reply to our jokes with his own snide, American-like wit; he could laugh heartily, and we loved him. And Zubair loved us. But it was Bill, his neighbor for 20 months, that Zubair loved most.

*       *       *

Bill left two days before I did. A large crowd of those who loved him gathered to bid farewell. It was a dear and trying situation for Bill and Zubair. In his last hour at the airport, Bill tried to stay out of Zubair’s range.

It was I who had to hold Zubair, first in my arms, then on my shoulders as Bill boarded and the plane taxied. It was a tragic departure, and yet it was beautiful. Much of what I saw in India was tragic, and yet it could excite a feeling of beauty.

Hollywood can make dollars produce beauty. It can produce “Sound of Music” and “My Fair Lady” and the world marvels at their beauty. In India, the masses, the rich, and the PCVs use these produced beauties to escape the tragedy, ugliness, and their own weaknesses that they so often see around them.

I loved to escape to an air-conditioned movie and its solitude and excitement. I hated to leave them because it was a harsh return to heat, smell, crowd, and filth outside; and there wasn’t the hamburger or icebox to return to enroute to a comfortable bed. When you consider the number of losing battles you fought with bedbugs and mosquitoes, you didn’t even have a comfortable bed.

It was late when “My Fair Lady” ended. The streets were nearly deserted, relatively clean; stars were bright, and the air brisk and fresh. I whistled as I followed a guy and girl walking hand-in-hand.

I rounded the corner across from the Bombay Rugby Club, still watching the couple, still feeling content. I hardly noticed the stench from the garbage pile. (The city’s garbage is stacked at night in sheds, or when the sheds are filled, on the sidewalk.) There were about five piles, each two to three feet high, spread on the sidewalk to my left. The normal con­tingent of rats, dogs, and a cow or two engaged in snacking. I didn’t see any birds; normally they eat with the others.

I did, instead, notice a man. On a back pile, partially hid­den by darkness, squatted a frail, ragged man. I walked next to him, unnoticed by him. In silence, I watched him for about a minute. From his full squat, his hand moved over the pile; feeling a bone he pulled it, shook and brushed some other garbage loose from it, put it to his mouth, and chewed its remains.

In Hindi, I asked, “What are you doing?”

He replied, “Food, Shab.”

With that he weakly returned his face and hand to the pile. No beckoning for money was made, but I reached into my pocket for change.

“Thank you, Shab,” he said.

From bus windows, I had seen full grown men, robed in only a loin cloth, scavenge from daytime garbage piles. Walking the sidewalks, I had seen little kids recover broken egg shells from the same, dip their fingers into them, and suck the eggs’ remains. Then they’d find other shells which they’d run home to their hutments, or tenements with, I sup­pose for mother to perform her culinary magic on.

Next to these experiences I can remember the parties thrown by the movie stars, the rich businessmen, and their sons and daughters. I can remember the quantities of good food, when the law said no parties of more than five persons shall serve food.

I can remember the rich’s infatuations with drink, sleek clothes, Beatle albums, and sex. I could go to these parties and escape the experiences of the masses which I knew better and cared more about changing than the party-givers.

But I haven’t learned to forget that too many rich enjoy living on a hill while condoning the life of the masses in an earthly hell.


 

Teacher Tells Peace Corps Experiences

Glendora Press — Sunday, September 28, 1969

 Teacher Tells Peace Corps Experiences

Stark Reality of Life In India Told by Hunn

(Editor’s Note: For two years prior to joining the faculty of Glendora High School, Dwayne Hunn served the US. Government as a member of the Peace Corps. For the next several issues the Glendora Press will carry articles by Mr. Hunn in which he vividly describes the stark reality of life in teeming India and some of his experiences there during his Peace Corps duty.)

By DWAYNE HUNN

Rich escape the raw guts of life

To wine, dine, and be nice.

Poor survive on raw guts in life

To mind,
Perpetuate a crime

And await divine’s sublime?

Words

I don’t know if they can convey

Only in silence

Is the naked strength of poverty retained.

But in remaining silent

Will those tragic and beautiful chains

always remain? ….

Should they be ripped away?

(This year I am trying to be a teacher in mud-riddled California. When I started teaching, I felt I should, felt I’d like to convey some of the feelings and thoughts some of the following experiences ignited. Perhaps I wanted to do so be­cause they might make me stand out. I hope it is not for this reason, but rather because it is my little experience with a reality of life, a reality different, and not necessarily holier, than experiences many go through. It was a reality which was enriching for me, and which, even if only vicariously, I hope can be enriching to, or appreciated by others.)

*

It took about forty hours. To Beirut it had been all right, but from there I began to feel more and more like a sardine-­in-can.

On the ride from the airport to the hotel, I yelled to the bus driver to watch out for the car he was about to force into the middle ditch. Ira Kaye, our director, said, “Dwayne, if you can’t get used to that, you won’t be here long.”

I shut-up. With the rest of the group, I just stared from the windows at the hutments, pools of water, and masses of skinny brown people.

We settled into our rooms and then went down for lunch. Lunch was to the music of a rock group In the Beatle tradition. Not one of the band members spoke anything but Eng­lish.

I slept for awhile and then went out for a walk. The side­walk was filled with flitting sandals, white shirts, and little brown people. I towered above most of the crowd.

When a hand tugged at mine, I was aware of the pres­ence of children. I looked down and quickly turned away.

I felt—not embarrassed—bit that I shouldn’t look, I shouldn’t gawk, though I wanted to. I looked enough to know that the hole in the side of his mouth was the size of a half dollar. I saw the blackened gums, the rotted teeth—those that were, the ugliness of the hole.

He didn’t stay long. I don’t think I gave him any money; I had decided that I wouldn’t give to beggars. His friends stayed with me for about an hour and on later trips through that part of the city I would see them again.

*

Two days later, I hoarded a municipal bus for my work site. I served as a parade for the small brown people, for as I walked to the rear they all turned to stare.

Hadn’t they ever seen a white person ride a bus? Proba­bly not, I answered myself. The British had chauffeurs for the buses were too dirty, noisy, and crowded.

I had difficulty adjusting to their constant and intent ob­servance so I started staring back at them to while away the uncomfortable minutes. I did this for many months. Until, it seems, the city’s millions became accustomed to seeing young Americans on crowded buses, crowded trains, and bi­cycles—transportation that bad always been their domain.

I got off at Worli Chawis. It was a tenement area, but other than a feeling of the city’s ugliness that had been with me since deplaning, I noticed little more than some strewn garbage and many dirty, gray buildings with bars on the windows. Only later would I learn that each of the ten rooms (13’x l0’) on each of the four floors of each tenement housed between five and twelve people, that water ran for slightly more than an hour each day, that neighbor wouldn’t talk to neighbor because of class or religion. That was later.

*

Now I wanted to see where I was to live. I found the Ma­harashtra Labor Welfare Center, and on its second floor I found two or three Indians gesticulating in a bright, yellow painted, chair, new bed, table and sink. They were proud of what they had done to this once-tile closet. They had a spout bucket sitting on a shelf above it. They explained that a bucket of water would be brought to me each morning by the night watchman. Then they showed me my washroom.

It was down the stairs, around the front of the building, through an open passageway along the side of the building, and into the back of a small building which housed the public urinal, the stench from which was stifling. It was a 40-yard dash that I would sprint often in the next nine months. They had even bought a few piece of furniture for the washroom.

The sweeper and his family, who used the stall adjacent to mine, would squat for their relief. I had a throne to sit upon. They showed me the throne with a special zest, glee, pride, or something. They entered and beckoned me to fol­low for a close-hand look at the two toilets and one erratic functioning shower stall, all of which filled a space of less than 40 square feet. I didn’t immediately move in. I was trying to bolster myself.

Over the walls hundreds of large, healthy, brownish-red cockroaches were twitching their feelers and scampering around. My guides didn’t seem to notice them. Humans, I was quickly learning, didn’t constitute this nation’s only pop­ulation problem.

During the next nine months,  after much use of my sandals, the cockroaches, with their twitching feelers, would still rule the roost. As with people, cows, rats, flies, mosqui­toes, and bed bugs, I’d painfully accustom myself to crowds, even in my most private minutes.

During the first six months, there were many days and nights that I’d average 15-20 trips to my throne. Due to the distance, and the crucial seconds it would take to unlock the door, I sometimes was not in time.

*

Working at an orphanage, trying to establish a chawl library, a kitchen garden, a milk feeding program, teaching at a school for the elite, establishing a work camp for those stu­dents. playing and popularizing basketball, and trying to see and learn, kept me moving around the city. More than any period of my life, I was looking, listening, and trying to learn and understand.

I’d see the blind trodding through crowded trains singing their religious songs and asking for alms. I’d see the blind with their gouged eyes, the blind and the seeing with their pock-marked faces; I’d hear their wail, and I’d try to think.

I’d get of at a train station and move with the crowd through the exit. I’d pass under the bridge and see the beg­gar in his familiar spot. He could see, and so could I. I could see that all the fingers on his left hand were chopped off at the first knuckle. His right hand had three fingers. His right foot had a dirty, perhaps at one time, white, wrap around it. It had a big toe and a little toe. His other foot had only a big toe. Lacerations covered his shins and forearms. His tin cup lay at his side.

*

Others, like the woman with her two children, sometimes took advantage of the shade of the bridge. She was relatively healthy. Her children, probably both under 2 years, were even clothed, even had a few sheets to lie on. Many babies in Worli, and throughout the city, had no sheets to lie on. They crawled on the pavement as their mothers sold vegetables from burlap sacks to the throngs of passersby. Instead of clothes, their babies had their legs, pelvic areas, and bloated stomachs covered with sores.

Even now, as I write, I question the validity of what I put down. I question the validity when I pass the stories on to interested listeners. Did I really see those things? I have some pictures to remind me. Yet, pictures don’t make it what it was; people respond to them with a “They’re great.”

Pictures can’t tell it like it was, or express how it felt; nor, when I slow down long enough to remember, do I really recall all it was, or how it felt.

 

 

 

 

 

Proposed 27th Amendment

proposed *27th amendment

  national initiative

THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA RESERVE TO THEMSELVES THE POWER OF THE INITIATIVE. THE INITIATIVE IS THE POWER OF THE ELECTORS TO PROPOSE LAWS AND TO ADOPT OR REJECT THEM. AN INITIATIVE MEASURE MAY NOT BE SUBMITTED TO ALTER OR AMEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES.

vote of confidence (recall)

EVERY ELECTED OFFICER OF THE UNITED STATES MAY BE REMOVED FROM OFFICE AT ANY TIME BY THE ELECTORS MEETING THE QUALIFICATION TO VOTE IN HIS STATE THROUGH THE PROCEDURE AND IN THE MANNER HEREIN PROVIDED FOR, WHICH PROCE­DURE SHALL BE KNOWN AS A VOTE OF CONFIDENCE, AND IS IN ADDITION TO ANY OTHER METHOD OF REMOVAL PROVIDED BY LAW.

"Take the initiative."