2009.05.16: May 16, 2009: Headlines: COS - Morocco: Third Goal: Monroe News: After traveling more than 4,000 miles on a return visit home, Morocco Peace Corps Volunteer Matthew Heller was the guest of honor during a school assembly that delighted hundreds of students

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Morocco: Peace Corps Morocco : Peace Corps Morocco: Newest Stories: 2009.05.16: May 16, 2009: Headlines: COS - Morocco: Third Goal: Monroe News: After traveling more than 4,000 miles on a return visit home, Morocco Peace Corps Volunteer Matthew Heller was the guest of honor during a school assembly that delighted hundreds of students

By Admin1 (admin) (141.157.40.112) on Saturday, May 23, 2009 - 5:05 pm: Edit Post

After traveling more than 4,000 miles on a return visit home, Morocco Peace Corps Volunteer Matthew Heller was the guest of honor during a school assembly that delighted hundreds of students

After traveling more than 4,000 miles on a return visit home, Morocco Peace Corps Volunteer Matthew Heller was the guest of honor during a school assembly that delighted hundreds of students

During the assembly, Mr. Heller answered many questions including do they have a McDonald’s (yes); what are the houses made of (mud); does it snow (in the mountains mostly); and do the goats really climb the trees (absolutely). Then first-grader Micielo Mendoza-Kohn asked perhaps the most simple, yet intuitive question. "Why are you over there?" she asked. "I wanted to explore," Mr. Heller answered. "I wanted to have an adventure." During his time there, Mr. Heller has learned the Moroccan Arabic language. He said the ancient, walled city he lives in, Tarovdant, is a bit bigger than Monroe and is on the edge of the Sahara. He has about six more months left in Morocco and then when he’s completed his commitment, perhaps he’ll go back to college here in the States. Mr. Heller will travel back to Africa in about a week and said his relationship with those at Hollywood Elementary is part of the plan to teach young students things that he has learned. "I love getting mail from you guys," he told the class. "I enjoy it very much." After he left the room Darrian, the fifth-grader, said he really liked getting to know Mr. Heller and was interested in his willingness to explore other parts of the world. "When I get older," Darrian said, "Maybe I’ll go in the Peace Corps."

After traveling more than 4,000 miles on a return visit home, Morocco Peace Corps Volunteer Matthew Heller was the guest of honor during a school assembly that delighted hundreds of students

Monroe-Morocco link

by Ray Kisonas , last modified May 16. 2009 1:30AM

Caption: Matthew Heller (right), who is stationed in Morocco with the Peace Corps, answers questions from Angie Sneider’s fifth-grade class Friday at Hollywood Elementary School. He has been a pen pal to her class for about two years. His visit was a surprise to the children because they thought they were only going to talk to him in the gym via Webcast, but after “technical difficulties” he walked out in person. Photo: Marvin Malelamien

The students of Hollywood Elementary School in Monroe were preparing to see their Moroccan pen pal through a computer Webcam Friday morning, but a glitch in the system temporarily canceled the show.

So instead Matthew Heller, a 24-year-old Monroe native, walked into the assembly in person. After traveling more than 4,000 miles on a return visit home, he was the guest of honor during a school assembly that delighted hundreds of students.

"I think they were really surprised," said Angie Sneider, a fifth-grade teacher who arranged the event by staging the computer break-down.

Mr. Heller, a 2002 St. Mary Catholic Central High School graduate, has been living in Morocco for the past 1˝ years as a member of the Peace Corps. His mother, Dana Heller, is a teacher’s assistant in Mrs. Sneider’s fifth-grade class.

To teach the students about a vastly different culture, Mrs. Sneider had her students write to Mr. Heller and become pen pals. In November, they set up a Webcam so students and pen pal could see and talk to each other while being a world apart.

"My students have learned so much," Mrs. Sneider said. "It really has opened their eyes."

One example is Darrian Campbell. When asked where Morocco is, the 11-year-old went straight to a globe, spun it until he found Africa and without hesitation pointed to the country where Mr. Heller lives.

"It’s above the Equator," Darrian said. "I want to learn more about it."

After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, Mr. Heller decided to join the Peace Corps and learn about a culture he knew little about. So they sent him to Morocco on the northwest coast of the Dark Continent whose best-known cities are Casablanca and Marrakech. Joining the Peace Corps, he said, was always on his mind.

"I wanted a job to be challenging and exciting," Mr. Heller said. "Islam is so misunderstood. So I wanted to go to a Muslim country and learn about it first-hand."

His job is to help merchants become better businessmen. He helps them to market their wares so they become more profitable. Mr. Heller lives in a cinder block house that has electricity but no flush toilet. He has running cold water and bathes by heating water in a pot.

His mother and father, Kirk, visited while he was overseas and Mrs. Heller said she was asked to wear a traditional robe, but she did not have to cover her face or hair, per Islamic custom. She got curious looks, but nothing rude. More importantly her son, she said, was well-received.

"We didn’t walk 10 feet without someone yelling `Matthew!’" Mrs. Heller said. "They embraced him."

During the assembly, Mr. Heller answered many questions including do they have a McDonald’s (yes); what are the houses made of (mud); does it snow (in the mountains mostly); and do the goats really climb the trees (absolutely).

Then first-grader Micielo Mendoza-Kohn asked perhaps the most simple, yet intuitive question.

"Why are you over there?" she asked.

"I wanted to explore," Mr. Heller answered. "I wanted to have an adventure."

During his time there, Mr. Heller has learned the Moroccan Arabic language. He said the ancient, walled city he lives in, Tarovdant, is a bit bigger than Monroe and is on the edge of the Sahara.

He has about six more months left in Morocco and then when he’s completed his commitment, perhaps he’ll go back to college here in the States. Mr. Heller will travel back to Africa in about a week and said his relationship with those at Hollywood Elementary is part of the plan to teach young students things that he has learned.

"I love getting mail from you guys," he told the class. "I enjoy it very much."

After he left the room Darrian, the fifth-grader, said he really liked getting to know Mr. Heller and was interested in his willingness to explore other parts of the world.

"When I get older," Darrian said, "Maybe I’ll go in the Peace Corps."



Links to Related Topics (Tags):

Headlines: May, 2009; Peace Corps Morocco; Directory of Morocco RPCVs; Messages and Announcements for Morocco RPCVs; The Third Goal





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Story Source: Monroe News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Morocco; Third Goal

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