EDUCATION Viet Nam Visitors at PMSS 1968

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 13: Education
Series 13: EDUCATION
Visitors at PMSS

TAGS: Viet Nam visitors, Pine Mountain Settlement School, Berea College, international exchange, Peace Corps, Dr. Kent Thompson, community training, Louis Reed, community organization, multiculturalism, field trips, underdeveloped communities, educational development, Paul Lynn

EDUCATION Viet Nam Visitors at PMSS 1968

The following correspondence details the efforts of Berea College to provide an educational opportunity for Viet Nam teachers and administrators to experience the educational programs in the rural mountain community at Pine Mountain Settlement School for the purposes of training rural educational workers.  To see the full Berea College records for the training program consult their archival files :  Community Development Training Program for Vietnam and Tibet, 1966-1968 

The Berea College record constitutes the official record of the training program and are complete in 1 BOX located in the Hutchins Library Archive. The collection is described as follows

“This collections contain records of Berea College’s work in developing and providing community development programs for two groups: (1) the Foreign Service Institute of the Department of State as part of a larger specialized, interagency long-term training program, the “Viet-Nam Training Center,” established to prepare civilian personnel for their work in rural areas of Viet-nam, and (2) Tibetan students through the Community Development Counseling Group. Training programs included travel to the off-site location of the Pine Mountain Settlement School.”

Records include correspondence, contracts, itineraries, budgeting information, information about Pine Mountain Settlement School, participant evaluations, field trip reports, and reports

Viet Nam visitor observing in classroom. 53_life_work_children_classes_1714a

In January of 1968 the groundwork was instituted to bring a group of community work trainees  to Berea and then on to Pine Mountain Settlement School for a field trip. The training was part of the development of the Peace Corps programs that were beig initiated throughout underdeveloped areas of the world at that time.

The objective of the field trip to Berea and Pine Mountain was, according to the memorandum from the Federal coordinators …

“…to familiarize the students with some of the theory and concepts of community development, but more important, it was to observe techniques used in order to apply the concepts of community development. Normally, this would encompass the understanding of the various political, economic, social, and cultural factors in a community which influence the thunking of local people, including those in positions of leadership. It  also would include the proper kind of response to these factors (e.g., sensitivity to local values) and the type of action that can be taken in the community development process, when there is an understanding and the proper response.”

At the request of the central Washington training  center Berea College set up a local training program under the guidance of Dr. Kent Thompson, Associate Dean at the college, who was also a member of the Board of Trustees at Pine Mountain.  Further, the President of Berea, Dr. Willis Wetherford led a discussion at Berea with Louis Reed author of a new book, Warning in Appalachia, (1967) which touched on many of the isues found in the Pine Mountain community.  Dr. Wetherford was serving as a member of the Board of Trustees at Pine Mountain Settlement at the time.

The in-depth assessment in the attached report sent to Pine Mountain Settlement suggests that most of the goals of the program were met  and that the field-trip objectives were largely successful at both Berea and at Pine Mountain Settlement. The following documents go into detail about what parts of the training sessions were effective but also flags those which were not, and suggest remediation for the cited problems. The documents continue to be valuable to those seeking to bring similar programs to rural Appalachia.

1803 Visitor from Viet Nam in a PMSS class. 58_Life and Work_Children and Classes_009

Overall the report provides an excellent roadmap for other community organization groups wishing to explore an Appalachian community in-depth and to relate that experience to similar cross cultural contacts at home and abroad. The cross-cultural experience is a concept that Pine Mountain Settlement School founder Uncle William Creech more or less outlined in his vision for a school in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky when he suggested that he hoped that the School woould be usefull at home and abroad — “… to people over the seas.”.

Did the visit make an impact on the community?  On the visitors? Eddie Johnson (below) could probably tell us about that visit. The following photograph speaks volumes 

1804 Eddie Johnson and two visitors from Viet Nam. 58_Life and Work_Children and Classes_010