Richard Orb at age 75

Name: Richard Orb
U-M Affiliation: Alumni

Where do you work?

Retired Chicago high school teacher and former college professor

When did you serve in the Peace Corps?

1988-89 in Papua New Guinea; 1991-96 as a UN Volunteer in China (administered by the Peace Corps)

Where did you serve (which country/countries)?

Sogeri National High School in Papua New Guinea; in China at schools in Tianjin, Xi'an, and Hefei

What were your main responsibilities as a volunteer?

Sogeri National High School history and political science teacher and library consultant (PNG); English language Foreign Expert (China)

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

Michael Somare, Tony Siagura, and Pamela Swadling in PNG; biographies of Nankai University's founders Zhang Bolin and Yan Fansun and of young Zhou Enlai in China

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

Sighting of a Bird of Paradise and jogging with a Hornbill in PNG; reading my paper on the young Zhou Enlai at the Nankai University Conference on Premier Zhou Enlai

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

Utilized my knowledge and experience studying in Japan and studying East Asian history and language at Yale and U-M as a graduate student, and subsequent employment as chair of social studies department at Chicago’s Walter Payton College Prep

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

My graduate study at Yale and U-M was central to my living and teaching, especially as a UN Volunteer in China

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

Read widely in history; study languages; be open and inquiring; and temper the ethnocentric bias of most Americans

What is the value gained from the Peace Corps experience?

Knowledge of one of the smallest of nations and of the largest and oldest of living civilizations

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

In the midst of human diversity we should strive for international understanding and peace

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Would be willing to join in the Ann Arbor celebrations. My daughter, Alena Anne Stocking, is employed by the U-M Health Services. My former wife, Elsie Lister Orb, is retired as a U-M research associate. My daughter and son, Alan, are both alumni of the U-M. I am also considering applying to the Peace Corps again at age 75, possibly to China or Central Asia.

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