In this fascinating podcast, Randall Sword, MD, who recently retired to Santa Fe, New Mexico, after a highly successful career as a physician in the Los Angeles metro area, talks about why he joined the Peace Corps back in 1964 and about his experience as a Peace Corps trainee at UCLA that summer and as a teacher at Tafari Makonnen School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from fall 1964 through spring 1966. I shared a house with Randy, as his friends know him, only a couple of blocks from Tafari Makonnen, across from what was then Itege Menen School – along with Garber Davidson our first year in Ethiopia and Dave Karro our second.
In addition to being a great housemate – good humored, easy going, and really fun to spend time with – Randy was an excellent teacher who worked tremendously hard at his new profession and was very popular with the boys in his science classes. We both taught all of the ninth grade classes in the academic section – Randy biology and I ancient history – and no matter how hard I worked to bring those long-ago times to life for my ninth graders, once Randy added a sex ed component to his biology curriculum, I couldn’t hope to compete on the popularity front.
Randy and I spent a thoroughly enjoyable weekend together at my and Barbara’s home in Tampa Bay last February, getting reacquainted and reminiscing about our teaching days at Tafari Makonnen. For the first time I realized what a life changing experience the Peace Corps had been for Randy. As he recounts in this podcast, by the time his two-year tour of duty at TMS was drawing to a close in spring 1966, Randy knew he was meant to be a physician, and the self-confidence he’d acquired as a Peace Corps Volunteer without question stood him in good stead as he went about translating his new vision into reality when he got back to the States.