Norbert and Carol Hoffmann's Peace Corps Journal


Because of the many cross-cultural experiences throughout my life, I was able to develop a strong sensitivity to cultural differences.

I immigrated to the United States from Germany in 1961 with my former wife and a 10-week-old baby. At that time it was not required to have a job in order to qualify for an immigrant visa. It took me a few weeks before I found a position with a major airline in Pittsburgh, Pa. Although it was not always easy, I believe I adapted to the new environment and culture very quickly and effectively as is evident from my various accomplishments and involvement. I became U.S. citizen in 1968.

From 1968 to1973, during my work toward undergraduate and graduate degrees at U.S. universities, I had to adapt to academic environments which were quite different from the one I was used to in Europe. Cultural differences must have been foremost on my mind: During my studies I wrote essays on cross-cultural experiences and completed a research paper on inter-cultural communication.

In 1973, I accepted a job at Shaw University, a liberal arts college, in Raleigh, NC. It had a student body that was about 98% African-American. Staff and faculty were about 80% African-American, while the rest was white-American, from the Middle East and Asia. My immediate supervisor was from India. I was able to effectively meet the challenge of adapting to another American and to people from foreign cultures through daily interactions with students, staff and faculty. I believe that I was very successful during that time making significant contributions to Shaw University. I stayed there for five years.

I closely worked with two staff members from other cultures at my current position at St. Olaf College for several years. Tai (Jim) was from Taiwan, and Saleem, whom I hired myself, was from Pakistan.

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