Peace Corps Writers
Talking with . . .
Jason Boog

An interview by John Coyne

DANCING TREES and Crocodile Dreams: My Life in a West African Village, has thePrinter friendly version subtitle: “Journals from Two Years As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali.” The book was published in 2004 by the small California Press Poppy Lane Publishing. It was written by Marcy L. Spaulding (Mali 2000–02).
We have had Marcy’s book listed on our site since it was published, but I did not have it reviewed. I remember it coming to me, and seeing that is was “just” journal entries, decided to let it pass. Then a few months back, Bonnie Black (Gabon 1996–98) emailed me that she had read the book and found it to be extraordinarily good. Bonnie’s opinion was enough for me. I got in touch with her, asked her to review the book — and it is reviewed in this issue — and then got in touch with Marcy for this interview. Marcy today lives in San Francisco and I emailed her a few questions.

Marcy, tell us something about yourself.

I was born and raised in Fresno, California, where I lived until I left for Vassar College when I was 17. I am the youngest of 4 children. I have 2 brothers, 1 sister, 2 nephews, and 2 nieces. My parents are both in California, but the rest of my family is all over the world, from Canada to Sweden.

What have you been doing since you left the Peace Corps?
I have lived in San Francisco for the past 5 years, almost since I returned from Peace Corps. I have been a registered nurse since 2006, and I work part time as an obstetric nurse. My primary occupation at the moment is as a master’s student at the University of California, San Francisco where I am studying Advanced Community Health and International Nursing.
Editors note: When I was the manager of the PC/NY office, we would recruit at Vassar, a lovely campus near the Hudson River. Vassar women are famous for being bright, articulate and political. When we did an Information Session on campus, a question that was always asked was: is the Peace Corps part of the CIA? The recruiters made bets on how fast that question would be asked in the Q & A.
Let’s go back to Vassar. When you finished college, why did you head off to the Peace Corps?
When I went back east to Vassar, I knew for sure that I wanted to study abroad for a semester, and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to Cameroon. I fell in love with that part of the world. I was interested in people and cultures and new experiences. I was also interested in health, particularly the influence of culture on health. I had thought about the Peace Corps since I was in high school, and there was nothing I wanted to do more after graduating. So, I applied and became a health Volunteer in Mali.
You studied Anthropology and Sociology at Vassar. How did that academic background influence your Peace Corps experience?
Well, my choice of major was of course influenced by my interest in people and cultures, and that interest also led me to the Peace Corps. But I do think my studies helped me to gain a deeper appreciation for what I saw and experienced when I was in Mali, and led me to much of the reflection that you see in the book. I studied cultural influences on health, and in Mali I had the chance to experience that first hand. People joke that you can’t do much with a degree in anthropology, but I felt (and still feel in my present career) that it was just the right background to have!
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