June 3, 2005: Headlines: COS - Mongolia: Battle Creek Enquirer: Chris Roecker heads to Mongolia in Peace Corps

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Mongolia: Peace Corps Mongolia : The Peace Corps in Mongolia: June 3, 2005: Headlines: COS - Mongolia: Battle Creek Enquirer: Chris Roecker heads to Mongolia in Peace Corps

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Chris Roecker heads to Mongolia in Peace Corps

Chris Roecker heads to Mongolia in Peace Corps

Chris Roecker heads to Mongolia in Peace Corps

Lakeview teacher embarks on journey to change the world

Christine Iwan
The Enquirer

Caption: Chris Roecker is leaving his short career as a teacher at Lakeview High School to teach as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mongolia. He´s standing in front of a note he left for his students. It´s the title of an album from the Punk band NOFX. Caption: John Grap/The Enquirer

Lakeview High School teacher Chris Roecker finished the school year Thursday.

He said goodbye to his students and friends. He gave away his personal possessions. He became debt free.

Nothing left to do but go to Mongolia.

The 25-year-old English and creative writing teacher, who also is a 1999 graduate of the Lakeview school system, will be getting on a plane this morning to begin a two-year term with the Peace Corps to teach in Northern Asia.

"If you really want to change the world, you have to go out and do something," Roecker said.

That was the idea behind the Peace Corps application he submitted last fall. He's leaving behind his job, friends, family and even a girlfriend, to volunteer in a country 13 time zones away.

The Peace Corps is a government agency started in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy when he challenged students at the University of Michigan to promote peace by living and working in developing countries. Since that time, more than 178,000 volunteers have served as teachers, farmers and health care workers. The agency currently has volunteers in 138 countries.

Carrie Hindenach, who taught U.S. history to Roecker at Lakeview his sophomore year and later welcomed him as a colleague and friend, said she always knew he was destined to do something cool, something different.

"It's almost maybe something that he's supposed to do," she said. "I don't know if he's supposed to do it for himself or for the people of Mongolia."

In his empty classroom, remnants of his personality have been left on the desk, the walls and the chalkboard.

"So long & thanks for all the shoes. Peace," is written neatly on the chalkboard. It's the album title from the punk band NOFX.

"They're kind of used to my randomness," he said of his students.

For his trip, Roecker will take some of his favorite books, a portable CD player, some punk CDs along with some standard rock like the Beatles. Roecker said he won't be the one to introduce the Mongolians to Britney Spears or American boy bands. He packed thermal underwear and wool socks, but will buy a coat when he gets there to deal with the frigid climate.

Roecker will take his orange "Life is Good" Frisbee that includes life lessons such as "brush your teeth" and "radiate good vibes."

On his leg, he has a tattoo of a Kurt Vonnegut quote "Everything was beautiful and nothing hurts."

"Everything I look back on, it has a beautiful perspective even if it hurt at the time," he said. "I know I'll look back on the first struggles and think, 'That was pretty cool.'"

Christine Iwan covers regional news. She can be reached at 966-0684 or ciwan@battlecr.gannett.com

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Story Source: Battle Creek Enquirer

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