(Training pics are full size; some more recent pictures -- with a bluish outline -- can be clicked to enlarge)


John Smith
Clear Lake, WA
1967 Training Biography

John Myron Smith
Although a native of Seattle, John received a B.A. in political science from the University of The Americas in Mexico City, 1966. He is fluent in Spanish. He has tutored high-school algebra and chemistry in New York and looks forward to a teaching-coaching career. Interested in all sports, John has won high-school letters in track, field, and football. He counts reading and music as his hobbies. John is 23.

More Recent

click photo to enlarge

Here I am in my office at the Housing Authority
and Work

Telemayu (July 1967-July 1968)
As BA generalists (many of us, anyway), you’ll recall we were trained in nothing in particular, other than Spanish and cross-cultural issues.

A while ago I was talking to a friend here, who I found out had been in Peace Corps Africa. I asked if he had been specifically trained for a program or if he had just been in a regular program. “Regular program,” he answered, without hesitation.

Telamayu was a company town of COMIBOL, Companía Minera Boliviana, the nationalized mining company. In Telamayu I taught some English classes to adults and a few to the very unruly children’s classes; coached some basketball; tried to interest people in starting a credit union (no one showed up to the meeting); played chess with friends (badly); drank beer.

Chapare (July 1968-July 1969)

I worked with Dick McGuire, who was attempting to bring in Tilapia (a fish of African origin, but one that was found in the Santa Cruz area) to have people raise in ponds on their fincas as a protein source. We got a few going, but he terminated and the project really never got off the ground.

Chicharias were ubiquitous in the Chapare on weekends.
I never liked chicha, but the Cerveza Cochabambina was just fine


After we terminated, Jeff Fletcher and I traveled through South America (I was detained twice on the way north, once with Jeff and once all by myself) to Panama, where I found out I was I-A. I flew home to face the draft board and managed to postpone my induction until I became 26 and got a first lottery number of something like 320.  

I traveled in Europe for 3 months then ended up in the Bay area working for a Community Action Agency, till the Black Panthers took over and this honkey was out of work. I hung around Berkeley for about 5 years, drank espresso while reading "War and Peace," before Starbucks existed, painted houses, proof-read a couple of books; repaired a boat; did landscaping and worked as a white-water river guide for 3 years in California till the 1973-75 drought put us out of business.

I moved back to the NW in 1977 and settled in the Skagit Valley with my partner, wife of 33 years, where I have been the Director of the Housing Authority of Skagit County for more than 25 years. Cheryl and I have two sons, 27 and 23 who both graduated from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA.  I plan to retire from the Housing Authority June 30, 2007. I have to find a replacement before I can leave, however.

I play tennis, ride a road bicycle and stay as active as possible. Cheryl is a potter, photographer, water colorist and also works at the Skagit Valley Food Co-op as the mercantile buyer and head of the department. We live in a very beautiful area and are planning to stay here, but also travel a bit to Europe (which we love, especially Italy) and Central America: Nicaragua and Costa Rica, where our younger son has spent time working and studying and will be returning soon.

I have been politically engaged here in the Skagit and have worked to defeat a planned nuclear plant in the 1970s; have been a Town Councilman in the very small town of Hamilton and have been an active Democrat - on the very left end.

I have been appalled by the actions of G.W. Bush in nearly everything he has done. I am very concerned that our civil liberties are being eroded; that our image in the world has been severely tarnished and that we no longer have a tax structure and national budget that supports anything but military contractors and the war machine.

We have traveled in Europe, Mexico and Central America, but have not been back to Bolivia yet.

PC In Your Life

The Peace Corps experience has been a huge factor in my life. The Spanish language facility has been a great asset. My job selection would likely have been very different had I not had the experience in Bolivia. The Peace Corps has apparently changed its focus toward specific projects and that is probably a good thing; but the experience I had trying to figure out what to do was good for me personally, as I look back on it. I haven't been much of a "joiner," but I will be joining the Friends of Bolivia and Peru.

My younger son has been involved with Witness for Peace, which does a lot of good work in Nicaragua (and elsewhere in Latin America) bringing US citizens to the country to see what really is happening and explaining how our foreign and trade policies affect the people.

Best/Worst PC Experience

The best things were the special friendships I made with some of our group members, some of which continued afterward. I count Jeff Fletcher and Martin Zone (who I met in California again after he had served in Guatemala) as special friends.

The worst part of the experience was having the specter of Viet Nam hanging over me and also missing a lot of the political and social changes happening in the States.

RPCV Groups

In the Future
Favorites to Share

Movies: European film, but all good ones.
Music: "World music," especially Latin music, Putamayo records are great.
Books: I plan on reading more, soon.
Quote: "There is nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos." Jim Hightower.
Websites: Check out: Democracy Now!