Group XXII description
Here, courtesy of Nat Ellis, is the Nigeria 22 Training Directory PDF file.
Group 22 trained at Boston University beginning the third week in June, 1966, ending mid-August. A smaller group going to Cameroon trained with us. We were all headed into teaching at Craft Schools, Teacher Training Colleges or Secondary Schools.
The Director of Training was Bill Southworth (see message reference), and the staff included:
The political scientist A A Castagno of BU, (see reference link) who provided an academic view of Africa and a broad political context for our service. He astonished some by predicting that the Soviet Union would have trouble one day with rebellious muslim minorities.
The Hausa culture expert John N Paden, who did his doctoral research in Kano, gave lectures on Hausa culture, including the very useful advice that, to learn proper pronunciation, we should listen to the Hausa kids, since they speak more slowly and clearly. Link for more about John.
Sam Adams, an RPCV who had served in the Western Region.
Language instructors Ralph Fotheringham, Monty and Fran Bessmer, and others
Hausa "informants" Haroun al Rashid Adamu, Zakari Kano, Felix Obinani, Benji Ishyaku and others. Some of what they drilled into us is still bouncing around in there: | Catchy Hausa Phrases
Warren Kantrowitz, MD coordinated the medical stuff: shots, VD lectures, etc. more about Dr. Kantrowitz
In the five years of Peace Corps existence, training seemed to have evolved from an early emphasis on survival skills (what the military nowadays might call "training the snake eaters"), to what was basically an academic program with some field experience in the Boston schools and a week doing community action in the then black ghetto of Roxbury.
A great strength of our training was the Hausa language/culture program. The instructors and informants used the book (then in manuscript form) by Charles and Marguerite Kraft, Introductory Hausa. (Material link) Language classes ran 4 or 6 hours per day, depending on other demands, and included a lot of time in BU's language lab. Most of us were amazed to find we could actually bargain in Hausa with the traders who showed up at the ambassador's residence in Lagos our first night in country.
We were further broken down by subjects we would be teaching - English, Mathematics, History, French, etc. These groups met often and were typically led by a member of the BU Education faculty who aimed to make teachers out of liberal arts majors, in a hurry. There were mini-lessons, videotaped and publicly analyzed (a tech marvel for many of us at the time). The teacher training was capped by several weeks of student teaching in a Boston high school – where the summer population was a mix of students who had to repeat a class and those who wanted to get ahead.
Boston was hot and muggy that summer.
There wasn't a lot of time for diversions, but we were bused to Cape Cod for the Fourth of July, and a few folks took in ballgames at nearby Fenway Park. Training often lasted until 9 or 10 pm, and a place across Commonwealth Ave. called The Dugout provided what little after-hours activity could be had. The Dugout is still there: The Dugout It was not a bad way to train for Star Beer, in fact.
There are more training photos at More Training Photos. You may be able to add to them. If you have trouble, send an email to John at firstname.lastname@example.org
We were frequently hauled out to various medical facilities for shots, but anyone who claims to have forgotten Gamma Globulin Night on Bay State Road needs to visit a member of the helping professions who deals with repressed memories:
Gamma globulin was to prevent hepatitis, or at least make it more less severe. The dose was 1 cc for each 20 lbs of body weight, so for most of us this meant 3-4 cc's per cheek, administered in a one-two punch by a tandem of nurses, one on each side of the cot. To get to the climactic cot moment, we waited in a line stretching out the door and down the sidewalk. The newly inoculated came out by the same door. Seeing them and hearing their accounts acted as a stimulus to the imagination. Mass hysteria also played a part. The needles got bigger. The gamma globulin became like molasses, based on their testimony and the vigorous rubbing they needed to do to make the stuff disperse, all those many cc's, to the rest of the body.
We had been administered a battery of psychological tests in the first week, which provided the staff a number of opportunities. In addition to a private meeting or two, there were ongoing weekly group sessions with a shrink. One, Dr. Globus, had an interesting approach. Sitting in the corner of a room too small to provide comfortable seating for the 8 or 10 of us, he said absolutely nothing, week after week. He looked around a bit, but mostly he held a lit cigar whose ash grew and grew. No ashtray. Just his legal pad, which he never used for writing. This behavior provoked humor, sarcasm, frustration and anxiety, no doubt all part of the Grand Plan. Our group did suffer a high rate of "deselections", but we never knew if it was the input of Dr. Globus, too much Star Beer training at The Dugout, or that dang falling tone in Hausa that was responsible.
For one week we left the dorms on Bay State Road to go to Roxbury for community work. The jobs varied – most of us were attached to social service agencies and lived either in churches, the YWCA, or with local families. It was an eye-opening experience, though did not exactly track with what most of us would find in Northern Nigeria.
Training ended in August and we were given a few days to go home and settle our affairs, reassembling in New York City. The Peace Corps put us up in Manhattan for a night and then next day, put us on a plane. The plane was an Overseas 707 chartered from World Airways, and we were the only ones on board. At the time World Airways World Airways did mostly military charters connected with the Viet Nam war, and the cabin crew seemed to enjoy the change. There was a lot of singing and, after a shortened period of darkness, we were over Africa and coming in to Lagos.
Training Photos by Peggy Gekas
Neal Jacobs disclaiming something in class. Known class members, left to right: Jim Goldsmith, Joel Wingard, Alan Washington, (Neal), Greg Jones. Can anybody else name the others? What was this class + what was Neal doing? Why are we all looking so serious?
Group 22 arrived in Lagos in late August, 1966. Then as now, the airport scene was chaotic, but we were shepherded by embassy people through customs and onto a bus of some kind into the city, ending up in dorms at the University of Lagos. On the way in we were wide-eyed at the streams of people going both ways along the road, carrying and pushing or pulling their loads. The University of Lagos was a complete contrast - large modern buildings. For breakfast they served US style boxed cereals!
At night there was a welcome and reception at Ambassador John McConnell's residence attended by embassy staff - educated Nigerians in colorful dress. Out of nowhere appeared traders who spread their goods out on the lawn - many of whom spoke Hausa and provided us with evidence that we'd been well taught at BU - sometimes it seemed they had learned their Hausa right out of the Krafts' book!
Various people were invited to go into the heart of Lagos' modern night life district after the ambassador's reception. It seemed like Times Square only noisier. It was overwhelming. Some proved better than others at morphing The Twist into West African High Life. The embassy folks who accompanied us were extraordinarily good hosts and, looking back, good at protecting us.
Back at the university dorms, sleep finally came amidst a cacophony of strange bird and animal calls.
Next stop was Kaduna, capital of the North. We were flown there on a DC3. We carried a ladder in the aisle with us to exit the plane in Kaduna, where a welcoming delegation waited on the tarmac. After the serious attention paid in training to Hausa standards of dress and modesty, this ladder, once deployed, created challenges for some of the genders represented in Nigeria XXII.
In Kaduna we stayed at the luxurious Hamdala Hotel for a couple of days. They had a swimming pool and an ostrich on the grounds. We were treated royally and introduced to ministers and PC Staff. First Aid kits were issued, and they contained serious stuff! We were given big bottles of Aralen, the malaria medicine we'd take every Sunday for two years and then for a time even after we came home.
It was in Kaduna that we finally found out where we would be stationed. The assignments were probably complicated by the political pressures of the time. Civil disturbances in May and June had resulted in many teachers leaving their posts or not renewing contracts, and every school seemed to have needs. Having become so close during training, most of us didn't realize that we might not see each other again until two years later at the termination conference - it all depended on where we were sent in that vast area.
People left Kaduna at different times - a group of ten or so might be driven to Kano, spend the night in the Peace Corps Hostel there, then be picked up in a jeep by staff or PCV's from their ultimate destination even farther north (Sokoto, Katsina, Maiduguri). Others found their way to Yola, Numan, Bauchi, Abuja, Ilorin, Birnin Kebbi - names we'd never heard of, and not all of them were in Hausa-speaking areas. These trips also served as an introduction to how rules of the road evolve when the number of travel lanes decreases from 2 to 1 to zero.
It was the end of the rainy season, and the north was green and beautiful.
What was going on.
Life Since Nigeria
[This information was collected as a result of invitations to a reunion at The Dugout Cafe as part of the FON Meeting in Boston on August 14th, 2009. Those who were unable to attend were asked to send information to share with those at the reunion. What follows are the responses.]
I was a "recluse" in group 22 being way down in Ilorin in Yoruba territory. I didn't see many of you guys unless I took a trip North. I visited Billie Karp DeLaria in Kano once. Saw LaVern Majors at that time as well as others.
I am back in Lindsborg, Kansas now. After Peace Corps I worked for a while in Welfare in Jersey City NJ (THAT was an experience for a girl from Kansas, Nigeria included) as a caseworker in Aid to Dependent Children. Then I moved to Ireland where I taught science, attended Trinity College and receiuved an HDip Ed (Higher Diploma in Education) and also from Trinity college of engineering, a Diploma in Computers in Education. I met Krishan Bhatnagar who was a marine science biologist...civil servant with the Irish dept of fisheries...and we were married in 1970.
We stayed in Ireland until 1988. Three children: Anna Sushila, Karl Mohan and Radha Lorena. Krishan took early retirement and we moved to Kansas, to my hometown of Lindsborg. I'm an only child and my parents were getting old, and they needed us. It was great for them in the few years they had us near to enjoy their only three grandchildren. I still have the family farm and we are now in the middle of wheat harvest. My cousin Jim does the farming for me. I have the farmhouse rented out as we live in the village of Lindsborg which is about three miles away, a village of about 2000, founded in the 1860s by Swedish Emigrants. That's another story. I substitute taught for a while, resurrected my teaching certificate, and now am a virtual teacher using a laptop to teach classes. Last year I taught in a homeschool situation as well as two schools in the juvenile justice program (in other words kids who are incarcerated). It's different and fun and it does not restrict our traveling.
We often go to India and Ireland to visit friends and family. Our three kids are now in places which are fun to visit also. Anna is a nurse in Kansas City. Karl is an engineer with Northrop in LA and Radha is a massage therapist in Longmont, Colorado. We have two grandchildren, Jason who is 9 now and Kiera who is 3 who live in Kansas City so that is quite near and we see them often. They are with us now for a week of fun. Jason rode on the combine harvester yesterday for about three hours.
Me, in Ireland last fall with Barbara Pascotto (Peace Corps TESL group) and her husband Eoin Buckley who was in Ilorin with the sugar company. Me in Venice last fall when I was there with Barbara. Our son Karl Mohan Bhatnagar
Our daughter Anna and husband Jeff Krishan and me on our front porch with daughter Radha and husband Dave and granddaughter Kiera (Anna's daughter) In India with Radha and Dave and family members Me as a virtual teacher. In Spain teaching a class in Lindsborg, KS. Crazy!!! Radha's wedding. Anna is at the far left and Jason in front of her. In Longmont with Radha and Dave. (After the wedding in Kansas we all went to Colorado and stayed with Radha and Dave; I was skyping with Barbara Pascotto Buckley (who is living in Ireland) and had put on my 'duds' from Donegal, and she took the picture of me and sent it to me. Isn't that amazing? Kiera, on our deck. Rock Star View from Coronado Heights, a few miles from Lindsborg Jason My cousin Margie and grandson Jason in our wheat field this week. Beautiful wheat this year!!!
John and Debby Losse
John and Debby taught at Government Secondary School in Katsina from August, 1966 to August, 1968. They returned to the US in 1968 to go to graduate schoool at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
In 1973, Debby got a job in French at Arizona State University and they moved to Phoenix. Shortly after, John began teaching math at Scottsdale Community College, so in some ways both found their careers at GSS Katsina. Debby retired as Dean of Humanities at ASU in September, 2010 and continues working in French literature. John is also retired and continues to do odd jobs in the "calculus industry".
They have two children, Kate and Owen.
Upon retirement they moved from Phoenix into a home they purchased in 2006 in Sedona, Arizona, where they are able to spend a lot of time outdoors, trying to keep active.
Here are a few photos, then and now.
I'm Tad McArdle, was stationed in Zaria, taught at Advanced Teachers College, extended a year (1969), then came to NYC and got involved with a local newspaper, learned the craft of typesetting, fell in with a crowd of dancers and musicians and studied Latin and Ghanaian drumming for several years. Left NYC when I was lucky enough to join up with Mary Clifford from NJ; we were married in August 1981, had a son Michael in 1984, and I have had quite a fortunate New Jersey suburban life with a wife and son beyond my dreams.
Chris served at Kano Government Girls College (GGC). He visited Kano in 1974 and monitored an election there in 1998. A full account with 10 pictures is here: Chris Clarkson's 1998 Trip to Nigeria
Alan Frishman is at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York. Kano was the subject of Alan’s doctoral dissertation in economics, and he returns to Kano periodically to continue his research, as seen in the following link: