Sorry it took me so long to write, but hearing
from you (Ernie) was mind-boggling. Since you seem to remember me
as a wordy, opinionated, political, feminist (before feminism was
a “movement”), you will understand that trying to sum
up 35 years in brief is really difficult for me, never mind what
memories were dredged up by hearing from you . . .
So, here’s my scoop: In the late 60’s,
I was really affected by things that were happening in the US, including
freedom rides and the ’68 convention (the whole world is watching;
and now watching again, as there was recently a conviction for the
murder of the 3 civil rights workers in Mississippi). I was so disillusioned
by what I had been taught as opposed to what I saw – total
disconnect. I wanted to leave the country to find out what the country
was really about. Having no money, joining the Peace Corps was one
way to do this.
Skip a whole lot of stuff (wow, this is hard for
me, because that “stuff” included how we were vetted,
what we were told to read and not to read, etc): when I left the
training (and many Thai teachers said come anyway, we will find
you a job), I still had those same feelings.
When my lover deserted from the Marines (drafted
even though he was the sole support of his family, his mother dying
6 days after he was drafted, certified by the doctor because he
was drafted), I found information about Canada for him, and moved
to Montreal shortly after he did.
Wow: I then had a totally different cross-cultural experience from
you-all guys in Thailand: knowing basically nothing about Quebec,
I learned (quickly!) about franco vs anglo, class distinctions based
on language and quasi-racism, colonialism (US v Canada v Quebec).
It was the political eye-opener I was hoping for in spades. I say
that I “grew up” in Montreal. Fascinating and difficult:
as foreign to me as Thailand might have been, and I made it my own.
During these ten years, I lived in communes, alone,
with roommates, with lovers. I supported myself (and us) by doing
odd jobs, including temp secretary crap (where I was often the only
person who spoke French in a province of 85% French-speakers but
with English control of the $$), while working with deserters (many
of whom had been to Vietnam).
I did practical stuff like setting up housing and immigration (not
so easy when people left with 25 cents and some parents sent the
documents they needed ripped in shreds in an envelope); I also did
much counseling for lost souls who could not understand what they
were sent to die for. I’ll spare you my long history lectures
about Quebec politics and American ones.
Eventually, I was able to find jobs with my first love: working
with young children. When I moved back to the States because life
had changed and become too difficult in Montreal (for many reasons,
none of which was about the politics – nevermind the weather),
I continued to work as a teacher, taking annoying courses which
would enable me to continue what is my vocation. Although I have
had many opportunities to “advance” in administration,
I really love working with and teaching 3-5 year olds and their
families. Originally I worked in co-ops, two of which I helped to
found and fund;
now I live in Somerville, Mass.and work at Head
Start the last existing project of LBJ’s “war on
poverty”. Republicans have been trying to dismantle this wonderful
program for years, but have not yet been able to do so because “statistics”
prove its worth. Bush’s administration will probably succeed
by his back-door and totally misguided (not to say malevolent) “no
child left behind” hypocritical nonsense. I make about $22,000
a year working very hard full time to give poor kids a decent future.
Perhaps you could write your congressperson.
Rats. I was hoping to make this under a page. What
a trip this is.