After graduating BHS in 2006 and Mankato State University in 2010, 23-year-old Kathleen Rosso begins a new journey, joining the Peace Corps and being placed in Kazakhstan.
When did you decide you wanted to join the Peace Corps. And what motivated you to do so?
I decided to join the Peace Corps as a freshman in college. I saw myself headed down the following path: Go to college, get a degree, find a job, earn money, buy things. I didn’t like the final destination. I wanted to dedicate my learning and my knowledge to the betterment of people (human-kind), not to the purpose of buying things. I needed something big. Something that would make an impact. I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. Peace Corps was the largest organization I could think of that would help me in achieving my goal. I decided as a freshman in college that after I fulfilled my four year commitment to my education and my hockey team, I would apply to the Peace Corps.
Where in Kazahkstan will you be staying and what will you be doing?
I’m in a tiny village called Birlik right now. It’s about 30 min outside of the commercial capital, Almaty. I’m still in training which is 3 months of intense language, cultural, and technical training. I find out where I will be living in two weeks. Ultimately I will be teaching English in a Southern village for two years starting in August.
What are you looking forward to most and least?
Looking forward to becoming part of a community in Kazakhstan.
Not looking forward to the first night I cry myself to sleep because I miss home so much. I’ve been assured it will happen.
(I used to “not look forward to” the squat toilets here, but actually, there’s something very peaceful, natural, almost liberating about into a hole in the ground. I may install one when I return to the states.)
What do they reccomend you bring and did you bring anything other than that?
They recommended that I bring a lot of things. Among these things was shoe polish. I did not bring shoe polish (Medina Golf and Country has scarred me for life). They didn’t mention anything about Mace. I did bring Mace. It’s actually a giant red 3-in-1 mechanism my dad found at a police surplus store complete with mace, tear gas, and ultra-violet detector spray. It has not left my suitcase.
What was your reaction when you found out Kazahkstan was your option?
I would always joke, “Watch, I’ll probably end up in a Urt in Mongolia.” Kazakhstan is about as close as I could have gotten at this time. So in a way, I was somewhat prepared for it. Still cried for a day and a half when I got the official invitation, though. Not quite sure why. I’ll just chalk it up to being a girl.