March 21, 2005: Headlines: COS - Albania: Belleville News-Democrat: Andy Morisseau travels to Albania to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Albania: Peace Corps Albania : The Peace Corps in Albania: March 21, 2005: Headlines: COS - Albania: Belleville News-Democrat: Andy Morisseau travels to Albania to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer

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Andy Morisseau travels to Albania to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer

Andy Morisseau travels to Albania to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer

Andy Morisseau travels to Albania to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer

Belleville native will serve in Albania



It's a long way from "hi" to "pershendetje" -- both phonetically and geographically.

Belleville native Andy Morisseau will take that journey today as he travels to Albania to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer.

"I guess I got out of school and I didn't really want to grow up, but I did want to help people and build character and do something positive," Morisseau said.

Morisseau, 23, graduated from Eastern Illinois University last year with a bachelor's degree in history. He is a 1999 graduate of Belleville West High School.

Albania is a small country about the size of New Jersey located in Eastern Europe, bordering Greece. It has a population of about 3.5 million people.

The country came from under communist rule in 1992 and is currently trying to rebuild its mostly industrialized economy.

Morisseau will live with a host family in the city of Elbasan for the first three months, learning the Albanian language and culture. He will receive a $225 monthly stipend to pay student loans and whatever debt he owes and $150 a month for living expenses.

After training, he will receive a permanent assignment as a community health educator.

"From what I've heard from other volunteers, I'm going to be teaching English and serve as a health teacher at a school," Morisseau said.

Morisseau said he will use the skills he gained while working at with developmentally disabled adults at S.A.V.E. in Belleville for a year.

While his job duties may be familiar, Morisseau's lifestyle will be dramatically altered.

Albania has the worst roads in Europe and Peace Corps volunteers are not allowed to drive, according to information Morisseau received from the Peace Corps. Private cars have only been allowed since 1991 and the country does not have the same traffic rules as the United States.

Morisseau also does not expect to be watching cable television, playing video games or chatting on the Internet on a regular basis. Albania's electricity is scheduled and there are often spontaneous blackouts.

He also will have to get used to a diet of mostly vegetables and grains, and lamb and goat. Since there are no cattle in Albania, hamburgers won't be on the menu.

But Morisseau said he expects his biggest challenge will be to master the language and the loneliness.

"I'm worried about the obvious stuff like if I get sick from the water," he said. "And that I don't know the language and I don't know anybody there."

But Morisseau said that he looks forward to what he considers an adventure. The songwriter and short story writer said that one of the reasons he volunteered was because of the excitement of travel.

"I had college professor who went to Moldavia a lot and I remember he always talked about it and it seemed kind of interesting," said Morisseau. "I had another college professor who went to Israel and that sparked my interest."

Morisseau traveled to Honduras earlier this year with a missionary group from General Baptist International. He is a member of Skyline Community Church in O'Fallon.

But for this trip, Morisseau will be going alone.

"I'm terrified but it's OK," he said, half joking. "It will be an adventure and it will strengthen me."

When this story was posted in March 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Belleville News-Democrat

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Albania



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