Small World

An excerpt from my work in progress memoir, Morgantown to San Francisco

After the Peace Corps, when I was just getting started at WVU as Foreign Student Advisor, I learned that John Maxwell was teaching history. We had met as freshmen at WVU in 1954. I went to see him. We talked all night and finished off a fifth of bourbon.

While I was telling John about Africa, he suddenly said, “About the time you were in Africa, I had a buddy who went to Africa. When he got discharged from our Army Intelligence unit in Germany, I took him down to Gibraltar and saw him off on a hitchhiking trip. His goal was to hitchhike around the perimeter of Africa.”

When I was in the Peace Corps in Nigeria, my wife and I went to the Cameroon. While there, we met an American hitchhiker. He had been discharged from an Army intelligence unit in Germany and a friend drove him to Gibraltar where he began hitchhiking around the perimeter of Africa.

[1] The only country named for shrimp.

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (, and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation ( I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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