2008.03.10: March 10, 2008: Headlines: COS - Romania: Michigan Live: Alex Kuch went to Romania a year ago with the Peace Corps, teaching English two hours a week to students in grades five through eight

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Romania: Peace Corps Romania : Peace Corps Romania: Newest Stories: 2008.03.10: March 10, 2008: Headlines: COS - Romania: Michigan Live: Alex Kuch went to Romania a year ago with the Peace Corps, teaching English two hours a week to students in grades five through eight

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Alex Kuch went to Romania a year ago with the Peace Corps, teaching English two hours a week to students in grades five through eight

Alex Kuch  went to Romania a year ago with the Peace Corps, teaching English two hours a week to students in grades five through eight

Kuch lives in the village of Poienile Izei in north central Romania, hours away from the famed Transylvania home of Count Dracula lore. All the people in Poienile Izei, population about 1,000, grow their own food and raise animals. Kuch said the simple life is what he's wanted all along. "When I decided to join the Peace Corps, I had a vision of living without all the amenities that I was used to in the states," Kuch said. "I did not want to be placed in a large city where there would be a lot of English speakers and modern amenities, I wanted to rough it, so to speak."

Alex Kuch went to Romania a year ago with the Peace Corps, teaching English two hours a week to students in grades five through eight

Volunteer passionate about role in Romania

GRAND BLANC

THE FLINT JOURNAL FIRST EDITION

Monday, March 10, 2008

By RoNeisha Mullen
rmullen@flintjournal.com 810.766.6365

Alex Kuch grew up in Grand Blanc and was headed for life as a lawyer when he had a change of heart.

Now, he lives in a small village in Romania where the mayor is the only person in town with a car and with Internet access. Oh, there's also a Web hookup at the local school.

The Grand Blanc High School graduate loves it.

"I wanted to do something I was passionate about, experience something completely different and make a difference ... not just talk about it," Kuch said in an e-mail to The Flint Journal.

"I was at a bit of a crossroads and I was not sold on the idea of working a nine to five in a cubicle or doing something I was not really interested in."

Kuch, 26, certainly doesn't have anything resembling a boring life now.

He went to Romania a year ago with the Peace Corps, teaching English two hours a week to students in grades five through eight.

Kuch lives in the village of Poienile Izei in north central Romania, hours away from the famed Transylvania home of Count Dracula lore. All the people in Poienile Izei, population about 1,000, grow their own food and raise animals.

Kuch said the simple life is what he's wanted all along.

"When I decided to join the Peace Corps, I had a vision of living without all the amenities that I was used to in the states," Kuch said. "I did not want to be placed in a large city where there would be a lot of English speakers and modern amenities, I wanted to rough it, so to speak."

Kuch's parents, Bob and Jean, say they're proud of their son. They still live in Grand Blanc with Alex's brother, Jeff, and sister, Katy.

"We're really thrilled that he decided to go into the Peace Corps. He's always been interested in seeing other parts of the world," Bob Kuch said. "It's been a success for him."

After he graduated from high school, Alex Kuch spent one year at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and worked for a wine distributor.

He now lives in a small cabin next to the one of his host family, a married couple and their children. In the summer, the husband works construction in larger cities, leaving his family behind for months at a time.

Bob Kuch said his son is "amazed at how they get by."

In Romania, Alex Kuch said he spends a lot of time dismantling media-driven perceptions about Americans and trying to fit in as one of the locals.

"When I am not in school or tutoring, I am helping the villagers make hay, chop wood, work construction, lumberjack, put shingles on roofs, dig up potatoes, pick apples, pretty much help with whatever needs to be done," he said.

Kuch, the only American and English speaker in his village, said his American manners are rubbing off on the locals.

"Little things like saying 'please' and 'thank you' or 'you're welcome' are being picked up by a lot of the community," he said.

Before he was sent to the village, Kuch spent 12 weeks working on his language and teaching skills in Ploiesti, a large industrial city just north of Bucharest, the capital of Romania. He said his service trip is a learning experience for him and for the villagers.

"I am actually living, working, eating, drinking, breathing with this community hand in hand, helping integrate two cultures as best as I can," Kuch said.

"I think the community as a whole is benefiting from having me there, not only as an English teacher or an extra set of arms and legs to help bring in the crops, but as someone who brings with them a lot of experience as well as a different point of view."

His service trip will end in July 2009. Kuch doesn't have any definite plans afterward and hopes to stay in Europe.

"After my time here in Romania, learning a new culture and language, I am hooked and want to keep on learning."




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Story Source: Michigan Live

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