A quiet place at the Ramakrishna Mission, Kolkata, India

A not so quiet place, with my seventh-grade students playing the role of tormentors. It was all in good fun.

I never did master the full lotus.

Name: Mike Maidenberg
U-M Affiliation: Alumni

Where do you work?

The Collins Center for Public Policy, Miami. Prior to that, a newspaper career and a stint in foundations.

When did you serve in the Peace Corps?


Where did you serve (which country/countries)?

India. I was in India VIII, the eighth group to serve in the country.

What were your main responsibilities as a volunteer?

The primary responsibility was to train Indian teachers of English how to use modern "spoken" techniques rather than learning from Victorian era grammar books.

Is there a specific person (or persons) who made a strong impression on you during that time?

I taught at a Ramakrishna Mission School near Kolkata (then Calcutta). The dedication of the monks to education was inspirational.

What was one of the most memorable moments you had as a volunteer?

Helping to convince the parents of my Indian roommate that a marriage based on love could work as well as a traditional arranged marriage. My roommate has been happily married for 40 years now.

In what ways did your Peace Corps experience affect your life and/or career decisions?

In almost all ways. I met my wife indirectly through the Peace Corps. I studied journalism and had a career in newspapers as a result of my time in India. India VIII has remained an intact group with deep bonds to each other.

In what ways did your U-M education, both inside and outside the classroom, prepare you for your Peace Corps experience?

I lived in Reeves House, South Quad, as a freshman. I remember being on the steps of the Union that cold night when JFK announced the Peace Corps. However, it was the inaugural speech with the phrase, "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country" that impelled me to join.

What advice would you give to others who are contemplating going into the Peace Corps?

You will never regret it. You will learn lessons for a lifetime.

What is the value gained from the Peace Corps experience?

The full immersion in another culture, which allows one to appreciate his own more fully.

What lessons did you learn in the Peace Corps that you carry with you today?

Be flexible. Be creative. Be optimistic.

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