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Who - What - Where - When - Why

Those of you reading this probably already know more about me then you care to know.  Thus, I will keep it short.

My name is Eric Schempp.  I am a Peace Corps volunteer serving in Lodeynoe Pole, Russia.  I am 23 years old.  I was born in Boulder, Colorado.  I graduated from the University of Wyoming in May of 1999 and on August 28th I left America for my two years of service.  I will not return to the United States until October 1st, 2001.

I arrived in Russia on August 29th and lived in a city just outside of Moscow called Zelenograd.   I spent two months learning Russian and the role of business in the Russian economy.  On November 4th, I was sworn in as an official Peace Corps volunteer by the United States ambassador to Russia in his house, the Spasso House.  I was then sent to Lodeynoye Pole to start my two years of service.  It is currently my home.

Lodeynoye Pole is a city of about 25,000 people.  It is located 2 hours north of St. Petersburg.  It is quaint little place where very little happens.  When covered in a blanket of snow, it is beautiful.  In the winter it is cold and dark.  A day of more than seven hours of sunlight is rare.  The sun may rise at 10 am and set at 3 PM.  In the summer the opposite will be true.

I live in a one bedroom apartment.  I have no hot water, but a furnace in which I can burn wood to heat the water when a shower is in
order.

I am currently working on many things to benefit the city of Lodeynoye Pole.  I teach English at a local school and hold English clubs for children and soon adults.  I am in the process of implementing a program called Junior Achievement into local schools.  I work with the local business center on projects to enhance the overall welfare of the city.  I visit a nearby orphanage when time is available, and I am hoping to on to make it a self sustained organization independent from government support.

The reason for joining Peace Corps are many and mostly indefinable:
    I would like to have an impact, if just a small one (and hopefully a positive one), on a few people of Russia.  I have always wanted to travel.  I want to push my own personal envelope in terms of challenges.  I want to learn a foreign language, and I want to see the world.  I am intrigued by various cultures and especially those that do not operate in the same fashion I do.  I often look at Russia and ask, "where's the common sense," but then turn around and am thoroughly amazed at how they conquer and overcome seemingly impossible day to day problems.
     I have hated and loved this country.   I have experienced culture shock at its finest.  It results from carrying out everyday responsibilities.  It results from struggling with the language and communicating.  It's laughing and drinking vodka with the locals.  It's watching children learn a foreign language (and a foreign world).  It's answering the question asked by Russians, "Why in God's name would you want to come to this country?" It's getting laughed at at the market.  It's getting taken care of by the locals.  It's eating ridiculous amounts of food at random houses where people don't care who you are, they just want you to eat and be happy.  It's having people take you by the arm to help you across the ice.  It's falling when there's no one there to help you across the ice.  It's seeing people survive through the worst of conditions.  It's getting used to minimal amounts of sunlight on any given day.  It is the undescribable general attitude of the Russians.  It's many things.
    I want to experience a different environment and perception of the world.  I  want to understand this country.  And even though I know I never will, I want to understand the people.
    That is why I joined Peace Corps.

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