Page 22 - Marist Magazine Winter 2011-2012

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24
M A R I S T M A G A Z I N E
&
notes
Alumni
news
T
he heat of the day had passed.
A ft of prolonged laughter had
been brought on by my comment,
“Who would think that we would
be here in the jungle and have a
drought? ”My roommate, Ken, and
I sat in the shaded doorway of our
house, reflecting on our in-country
experiences. It was the spring of
1964. We had been in Malaysia for
about three months, overcome our
initial culture shock, and settled in
as Peace Corps volunteers teach-
ing at a secondary school in the
southern part of the country. Our
brief revelry was interrupted by a
loud gunshot-like craaaack in the
jungle thicket beyond the school
grounds. A rubber tree had shot
out one of its seeds, propelling the
sphere-like projectile several yards
distant. Yes, in our short stay in this
exotic country,wehad learnedmany
things, among them that droughts
were possible in a tropical country
and that the progenitive kinematics
of rubber trees were quite dramatic.
In the two years that would ensue,
we would learn many more new
things, obtaining impressions and
experiences that would change our
lives forever.
We were both teachers. Ken,
trained as a mechanical engineer,
taught chemistry. I had also worked
as an engineer but later studied
mathematics and now served as
a sixth form mathematics master,
the department chairman in a post-
secondary school.
Before arriving in Malaysia we
had endured a selection process that
spanned three months of vigorous,
at times exhausting, training. Our
studies focused mainly on learning
the history, culture, and language
of the country we were about to
visit. Sessions on tropical health
precautions—I can still recall the
life cycle of the female
Anopheles
mosquito, the vector for malaria—a
review of the political system and
existing social problems in the
United States; rural development
work (sanitation, the building of fsh
ponds, and animal husbandry); and
the rudiments of teaching English
as a second language were also
included.
Reality immersion included
a week living and working with
migrant Mexican farmworkers. But
the real highlight of training was a
B Y D R . F R A N K S W E T Z ’ 6 2
Dr. Frank Swetz ’62 taught in
Malaysia from 1964 to 1966 as
a member of the Peace Corps.
At left, in 1965, he worked in a
Dayak village in the Malaysian
state of Sarawak, Borneo,
laying out roads as part of a
rural development project.
On the Peace Corps’ 50th Anniversary,
Marist’s First
Volunteer
Looks Back
The year 2011 marked the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps. Since 1961,
59 Marist graduates have served, according to the Peace Corps public affairs
office. The first was Frank Swetz ’62, who was assigned to teach in Malaysia.
To mark the milestone, he recalls his two years of service.