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Josh Reed heading to Fiji in Peace Corps
Josh Reed heading to Fiji in Peace Corps
NKC High School graduate joins Peace Corps, meets with mentor
By: Kellie Houx, Assistant Editor October 09, 2003
Caption: OVER TEA AND COFFEE, educator Dr. Dan Kahler and Josh Reed, a 1996 North Kansas City High School graduate, talk about Reed's next couple years in the Peace Corps. Reed will be stationed in the Fiji Islands.
Kansas City, Missouri - Josh Reed, a 1996 North Kansas City High School graduate, is heading for the Fiji Islands with the Peace Corps.
Before he left, Reed sat with his former high school principal and mentor, Dr. Dan Kahler, at the Gladstone Starbuck's.
The two men reminisced about Reed's interest in serving the community and what he gained from Kahler.
Reed said he participated in high school football, wrestled, sang in Harmonaires and served on student council.
"But it was my work in various organizations that helped my peers and the community that meant the most," he said. "I worked with school resource coordinator Linda Satter on Students Against Destructive Decisions and Community 2000."
At the University of Missouri-Columbia, Reed continued his dedication to his peers, serving in several organizations then he joined the Points of Light Foundation and became a Youth Engaged in Service ambassador.
He went back to school at Columbia College and received a bachelor's in psychology with honors.
Reed has also been part of Americorps as a Promise Fellow, serving as a coach and mentor as young people sought jobs.
"I then became a professional speaker," he said. "I talked about high school and college success."
Kahler said he and Reed would exchange e-mails as Reed sought Kahler's help with public speaking.
"DK and Gus Leimkuhler, long-time North Kansas City High School teacher and librarian, are my mentors," Reed said. "I appreciate their differences."
Last October, Reed applied for the Peace Corps.
"I really believe it is one of the best things that ever came out of this country," he said.
The Peace Corps started when John F. Kennedy challenged university students to serve their country and the cause of peace by living and working in the developing world. Since 1961, more than 168,000 Americans have served in the Peace Corps.
Reed said 20 people are going to Fiji.
"The newness is gone," Kahler said. "It takes a special person to dedicate more than two years of their life to a developing country and its people."
Reed said the idea to join the Peace Corps started in middle school.
"When I got a citizenship certificate during a middle school assembly, my mother told me that she was most proud of me for that kind of thing," he said. "Much of my activities have been in line with what my mother is proud of."
Reed said Peace Corps applicants must be diligent in signing up to travel abroad. He said the medical exam and the Peace Corps selection committee process are difficult.
"Most people either serve in the Peace Corps as a youth development or agricultural education worker," Reed said.
Reed learned he would be a youth development worker in July.
"It seems a little odd to think of community service as a need in a tropical paradise," he said.
Reed will spend three months in Fiji's capital, Suva, learning the language before heading to his post.
"We are the first group to go back to the Fiji Islands after some political upheaval that closed the Peace Corps offices in 1998," Reed said. "That is exciting to me.
"When I applied, I had no idea I would be heading for the South Pacific."
Kahler said he estimated he has taught or served as principal for more than 20,000 students.
"Only a handful of students have ever had the adventurous, romantic nature like Josh," he said. "I was not surprised when Josh told me he was joining the Peace Corps. He has the maturation and experience to make a difference.
"Josh has empathy that most people don't even think about."
Reed said his parents have encouraged education through travel.
"I have been researching but I know I will be surprised by so much," he said. "Fiji is going to be my classroom where I will build relationships and share what I know. I don't think you can forget where you come from. The Peace Corps is not about converting people, but learning where they are, providing education and helping them utilize their resources."
Kahler said he is proud of Reed.
"Service is noble," he said. "It makes the world more unified."
Reed said he understands the risks to his health including several tropical illnesses.
"I am contented," he said. "I am taking pictures of Missouri and sports shirts such as the Chiefs and Royals to give as gifts. Then I am taking my personal scrapbooks of friends and family to share. I am happy to be going."
©Sun-News of the Northland 2003