May 1, 2004: Headlines: COS - Kazakstan: Dallas Morning News: Shane Pettit's adventurous spirit isn't what led him to devote the next 27 months to Peace Corps service in Kazakhstan

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Kazakstan : Peace Corps Kazakhstan : The Peace Corps in Kazakstan: May 1, 2004: Headlines: COS - Kazakstan: Dallas Morning News: Shane Pettit's adventurous spirit isn't what led him to devote the next 27 months to Peace Corps service in Kazakhstan

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Shane Pettit's adventurous spirit isn't what led him to devote the next 27 months to Peace Corps service in Kazakhstan

Shane Pettit's adventurous spirit isn't what led him to devote the next 27 months to Peace Corps service in Kazakhstan

Shane Pettit's adventurous spirit isn't what led him to devote the next 27 months to Peace Corps service in Kazakhstan

Desire to give back leads popular substitute to Peace Corps

24-year-old will continue teaching while serving in Kazakhstan

06:28 PM CDT on Saturday, May 1, 2004

By JULIE ELLIOTT / The Dallas Morning News

Shane Pettit's adventurous spirit isn't what led him to devote the next 27 months to Peace Corps service.

The 24-year-old says he is called to perform community service.

"I consider my life pretty good, so I consider this like a tithe on my life," said Mr. Pettit, who graduated from Lewisville High School in 1998 and is a substitute teacher at Old Settlers Elementary School. "I want to be able to give back. I realize the Peace Corps won't be an easy experience.

"I'm naturally scared about going, but I'm really excited about going, too."

Mr. Pettit, whose Peace Corps service will begin June 9, will leave behind the Flower Mound campus to teach English as a second language to secondary students in Kazakhstan, which used to be part of the Soviet Union.

Currently, 7,533 Peace Corps volunteers serve in 71 countries. More than 170,000 people have served in 137 countries since the program's inception in 1961.

Mr. Pettit's decision to join the Peace Corps comes as no surprise to those who know him. In addition to his adventurous spirit, they cite his humor and ease at making friends.

"Shane is always very supportive," said Kasey Foreman, a graduate student at Texas Tech University and a classmate from Lewisville High's Class of '98. "He seeks to do the best that he can for people, and I think that is what led him to the Peace Corps."

Mr. Pettit began substitute teaching in the Lewisville school district last fall and finished up a two-month assignment in a third-grade class at Old Settlers on Friday. Teachers there said students loved his quirky personality he wore a zip-up leisure suit on his last day in honor of his so-called retirement. He'll continue to fill in at the Flower Mound campus as needed until the end of the school year.

"He is a wonderful, warm gentleman who has just bonded with these children and made a difference in their lives for the past six weeks," said Julie Myers, a third-grade teacher at Old Settlers.

First-grade teacher Kris O'Neil agreed. "It was interesting to see him come into the situation at Old Settlers, and he has taken to it beautifully," said Mrs. O'Neil, whose 24-year-old son Michael has been friends with Mr. Pettit since first grade. "The third-grade team adores him. The kids really enjoyed him."

Mr. Pettit's stint in the Peace Corps won't be his first overseas. Last year, he spent several months backpacking across Europe. And as an exchange student, he studied at the University of Helsinki in Finland in 2001-02, when he was earning his bachelor's degree in history from Texas Tech.

Mr. Pettit hopes his experiences will help him make world events and history more interesting for students.

Most recently, he drew on his experiences in Finland to create a language arts unit for the Old Settlers third-graders. They read Finnish literature such as Mauri Kunnas' Dog's Olympics. He even created a home video with his younger brother, Brady Pettit, to teach the students about the Finnish culture.

"I try to make the lessons interesting by showing them things and talking about my experiences," he said. "When we learn about the world in the United States, we concentrate on about five major countries and don't really teach about others. But we can learn from all of them."

The results have been good, he said.

"Some of the students are interested in learning more about other countries now," said Mr. Pettit, who plans to return to teaching when his Peace Corps service ends in 2006. "They are interested in looking at the atlases. Some of them are even going and looking up information about other countries on their own."

E-mail jelliott@dallasnews.com

or call 972-436-5551, ext. 2005




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Story Source: Dallas Morning News

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