Thursday, April 1, 2010

Volunteer Adventure

Deciding to become a volunteer in the Peace Corps is a big decision. It takes dedication, sacrifice, and much of your precious time. For most folks it's just not that easy to pack a few belongs, and jump on a plane to some foreign land. You leave behind so much, your family, friends, favorite foods, comfortable living quarters, and in some cases running water. Becoming a part of the Peace Corps takes a special person. A person with a sense of adventure, and a desire to build a better world, and the belief that one person can and does make a difference. I want you to meet one such person. Mr. Allen Mazan 28 year old a Peace Corps volunteer from Ohio. Allen is stationed in Cameroon, Africa. He is wrapping up his work there, and will be returning to his family and friends come June. He has spent the better part of the past two years teaching overseas for the Peace Corps, and gaining a whole new outlook on life. Allen was kind enough to answer some of my questions about his experiences in Cameroon. He also let us in on a little of his future plans when he returns to the States. I hope you enjoy this little peek into the life of this talented young man.


Q: What made you join the Peace Corps?

A: I joined PC because it was an opportunity to gain 2 years teaching experience abroad in a field I was going into anyways, plus you learn a foreign language, and have health benefits, grad school opportunities as well. It's a chance to live in Africa for 2 years and I knew that I'd be under the governments wing.

Q: What exactly do you do?

A: I teach English as a second language to the equivalent of 8th or 9th grade students. my first year I organized and opened the school library, and the second year I trained Cameroonians to do that so I it would remain in use.

Q: Has anything surprising or unexpected happen to you during your 2 year stay?

A: Many, many things have happened to me that have surprised me. So much that it's hard to go into detail about it because I just see it as the normal way of life now. I imagine that if you look at my early blog posts you might find somethings that I wrote of when i had soft eyes. but somethings are obvious like road conditions, lack of school resources, eating grilled fish heads, regular train derailments. Also, I didn't expect to be such a "celebrity", if you will. because I look different from everyone I'm always watched and talked about in the community. the return to anonimuosness will be nice.

Q: What has been the one thing you just can't be without while away from home?

A: There was nothing that I thought that I would never be able to live without when I left, so I was prepared to have less than the basic necessities. But I think i would say that having Internet access at my house helped me deal with life here a lot, along with consistent electricity and indoor plumbing.

Q: What has being away made you appreciate most about home?

A: I think that I really miss having a life outside of my job. Time to go out with family and friends, see live music, plays, eat at restaurants that don't run out of food. I also have really missed NFL games. Carol and I went to 3 different restaurants for lunch today and 2 of them only had one food option, really frustrating.

Q: I hear you have a K-9 companion named Buddy. Why name him Buddy? and What does he mean to you?

A: I do have a dog, 2 actually, one is mine and the other is Carol's. My dog is Buddy Reperton, he got that name because we didn't know what to call him and so we just kept calling him, "hey, what's going on buddy", "it's ok buddy", lol. then I remember buddy Reperton from the movie Christine and that was his name. The same thing happened with Honey too, I bought her for Carol for her bday and had her at my house for 3 days ahead of time and just kept calling her honey. Now her name is Honey Elizabeth Iversen, but we only say all that when she gets in trouble. They do mean a lot to both of us. It's nice to have a pet waiting at home for you and then they're always happy when they see you. They'll both be coming home with us on June 4.

Q: Do you feel you have had impacted on the peoples lives?

A: I feel like I may have made some difference in the lives of a few people. looking back I think that there was a lot more I could have done and probably should have. Peace Corps work is like planting a seed or a tree, you can plant it, but you may not see results for a long time. I think a lot of pcv's leave feeling that nothing got accomplished or nothing changed, I am not excluded from that group.

Q: Have the People of Cameroon has and impacted on you?

A: The people here have had an impact on me as well. Just seeing how they live their daily lives will change you. They have to make the best out of what the little that they have and they do a lot with that. So, when you don't have Internet, water, electricity for a few days, you can just think about those who never have it and it makes it a little easier to cope with.

Q: So you are returning to the States June 4, 2010 are you excited?

A: very

Q: Do you feel you have changed in any way since leaving the States?

A: I think so, all though I'm not sure of what I have changed about myself.

Q: Will you miss Cameroon way of life?

A: I'll miss the leisurely pace of life here, I haven't had to really rush anything for a long long time.

Q: What is the first Ohio meal you want to have?

A: I'm not sure, but I plan on going to eat Barberton Chicken, rockne's, sushi, and just grilling out.

Q: Whats next on the list of The Allen Mazan Life's Adventure story?

A: Next step is grad school, hopefully at George Mason University in Northern VA. But that is still pending. If i finish that program I'll have to stay in N. VA for 2 years and teach there. Then I may try and teach internationally for the Department of Defense. There's still a lot of flexibility in that, so cross your fingers that things will work out alright.

During all of this, Carol will be there with me, honey, and buddy. We came here in the same group and started dating early on and things have been going very well, so we're going to continue being with each other when this is over.


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