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Stafford man on a mission to Bulgaria page 2
Stafford resident travels to Bulgaria on a Peace Corps mission


Date published: 8/25/2004

By KATHLEEN LEWIS

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"I will learn whatever I can from my Bulgarian peers. If they want me to make coffee, I'll make coffee. I'll try to help out any way I can."

Johnston explained that being a Peace Corps volunteer is more than just filling a slot for a job. And, acceptance of an applicant depends on more than just employable skills.

"We're looking at the whole person and how they can interact and relate within a whole community. We're looking at their ability and willingness to learn a language and culture from others and be effective in it."

For the past eight years, Mayers has worked for the Marine Corps at Quantico as a civilian engineer. He received the Superior Civilian Service award for 2002-03. Prior to his service at Quantico, he worked for the Navy in Arlington and Norfolk.

Mayers earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Old Dominion University in 1991. In 1989, he had earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Longwood University in Farmville.

Mayers compared joining the organization to volunteering for military service.

The type of work is really the only aspect of the assignment that is certain, he said. Other aspects such as place and time fluctuate.

"It's a good little test run to check your patience," he said about the process.

The idea, Johnston explained, is that volunteers join to serve countries.

"You can show a preference, but you are placed where you are needed," she said.

More than two months ago, Mayers received an invitation to Bulgaria. More paperwork followed. He received information about the country and language skills material.

Volunteers receive a stipend for living expenses. From this, Mayers will have to acquire an apartment, purchase food and supplies and make arrangements for his transportation. He will also receive about $6,000 at the end of his service.

"I'm going to miss my car," he said. "It's just the idea of getting in a car and driving wherever I want."

In some of the earlier paperwork, Mayers was asked how this assignment tied into his life goals. Mayers admits that he enjoys meeting people of different cultures. He also mentioned an interest quirk: He daydreams about problem-solving. He is always wondering how something can be improved.

"Sometimes I can't turn it off," said Mayers.

Since he can't stop it, he may as well use it to benefit a country.

To reach KATHLEEN LEWIS: 540/374-5000 ext. 5749 klewis@freelancestar.com


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