The Not-So-Ugly Americans, 1965 (Ecuador)


Thanks for the ‘heads up’ from Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65)

In 1965 Public Television produced a documentary about the Peace Corps in Guayaquil. Marnie Elberson Mueller, Dave Zimmerman, and James Samiljan were chosen as subjects for the project, which was titled THE NOT-SO-UGLY AMERICANS. Jim’s dad managed to get a copy of the film through a friend who worked at WGBH in Boston. It had been sitting in storage until last month when Jim had it digitized. Marnie Mueller thought other RPCVs would enjoy seeing the video after all these years and forwarded it to me to share on this site. (Thank you, Marnie.) Jim had the video uploaded to YouTube. It is about 30 minutes long. The link below should take you directly there:

The Not-So-Ugly Americans, 1965




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  • What an incredible archival document!
    I am making a film on Rachel Cowan who was a
    Peace Corps volunteer at the same time.
    I would love to use a clip of this!!!

    Can you tell me how to get permission??

    All the best,
    Paula Weiman-Kelman

  • Thank you for documenting my father, Dave Zimmerman’s, work in the barrio of El Cisne. He passed away Nov 2017 so it was an awesome gift to see his smiling face among his Ecuadorian neighbors.

    He ended up marrying my mom, Maria Hoppe in 1966 who was from Quayaquil, Ecuador and bringing her mother and almost all of her brothers, their wives and children to the US in the 1970’s and 80’s.

    Thank you for sharing it on Youtube! Now my children can see what their grandfather did in Ecuador.

    Nina Edwards

    • Buenos Dias Nina;
      First of all, I wish to introduce myself. My name is Angel Castro and an RPCV. Ecuador Group VI now living in Panama. This morning as I was searching the internet for information on Ecuador Peace Corps Volunteer Grupo VI (1963-1965) I found a linked the YouTube video “Not So Ugly Americans”.concerning Peace Corps volunteers working at the Barrio El Cisne Guayaquil. What a wonderful historic documentation and storytelling video of the El Cisne community development volunteer work by your father Dave Zimmerman and other PCVs.. At the time I was also working as a US Peace Volunteer in Guayaquil. I was assigned to work as an extension agent the Federacion Nacional de Cooperativas de Ahorro y Credito (FECOAC) Guayaquil Regional Office. My stay in Guayaquil began in April 1964 and ended in early Sept 1965. During this time period, I met with your Dad periodically when we visited the re El Cisne to meet with directors of the community Credit Union for a training session and provide assist in resolving administrative and operational matters. On other occasions we met at the Guayaquil Peace Corps Office and the FECOAC Regional Office. Still, on other occasions, we gathered with other PCV at a cafe/restaurant (Monolo’s) situation on Avenida 9 de Octubre. Indeed, your dad was a kind hearted man devoted to helping Ecuadorian people find ways s to resolve common needs. As portrayed in the video, the El Cisne Barrio community people needed much help in their efforts to improve housing conditions and to resolve other basic living needs. At the time, Michael Coniff, another PCV, was very active PCV in helping the El Cisne barrio community. Michael and I continue to communicate with each other. Presented In the “Not So Ugly Americans” video (timeline 26.oo minutes) are images are of your Dad sitting together with volunteer directors of the Cooperativa de Ahorro y Credito El Cisne, including Manuel Benetiz Contrereas. Manuel appears as the person directing the meeting session. Both Manual and I continued our credit union advocacy work over the next 50 years and beyond both in Ecuador and other Latin American countries. Just some five days ago, I had a conversation via Skype with Manuel Benetiz, who now lives in a town located nearby Quito. A good part of our conversation was reminiscing about the times we worked together in credit union extension activities in Guayaquil. The interaction with leaders of the El Cisne credit unions was a theme of much recollection in our thoughts. Manuel has just finished writing a book on the development of the Ecuadorian Credit Union Movements. He has made an great effort to acknowledge the magnitude and significance and funding and technical support provided by USAID, US Peace Corps and CUNA International (US National Credit Union Association) in promoting the extension of credit unions in Ecuador during the period 1962 to 1980. He asked to come up with the list of the first two Peace Volunteers groups that were specifically trained by CUNA for credit union extension work in Ecuador. This request let to the search of information sources concerning Ecuador PCV during the 1960s. and fortunately found this most illustrative historic video “Not so Ugly Americans” Beyond the aforementioned two groups, there were f other PC groups that also involved in credit union extension work in Ecuador. We all contributed to lay the. foundations of the Ecuadorian national credit union network that provides needed financial services to 10 million members and that has a 30% participation in the national financial sector. . I will be sharing with Manual this most compelling video of Peace Corps action in the barrios of Guayaquil in the 1960s. He will be pleased to see this historic video. I would like to further communicate with you to share information on Peace Corps Ecuador and the evolution of the national credit union movement that your dad contributed to its development. My email is I would appreciate a response confirming you have received this message.

      With best wishes to you and family


      Angel V. Castro

  • Dear Nina, I was very happy to read your comments about seeing your father in the film and having it as a remembrance for your children. He was a wonderful man: quiet, strong, and committed to his work with the people of Guayaquil. He and I shared in one project, building a soccer league of young boys across the city. One of my favorite memories is of your father arriving at the Cerro Santa Ana Community Center in his rattling flatbed truck, to pick up the team from our neighborhood and carry them and me to the next game. I savored those Saturday mornings spent with him. Please communicate my fond regards to Maria and my condolences to your entire family for your loss of great man. My best, Marnie (Elberson) Mueller

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