Friday, May 23, 2014

Fort Collins residents head to chilly Mongolia

Three Fort Collins residents are about to think a Colorado winter is warm.

Heidi Mayer, 23, Noah Peden, 23, and Jimmy Imes, 24, leave May 29 for a two year service with the Peace Corps in Mongolia. The trio will spend at least three months together in pre service training in Mongolia before being sent to their posts within the country.

"It's going to be really cold," Imes said.

"Super cold," added Peden. "But everything about it excites me, to be honest."

For Mayer, it's the chance of a lifetime. She attended her first Peace Corps meeting in junior high school more than a decade ago.

"I can't even remember the first time I told me family I was going to join," she said. "I wanted something as far from the American lifestyle as possible to expand my global perspective. Mongolia is one of the countries that offers that best. They have more livestock than people and roots to a lifestyle that's not in existence in much of our world."

Mayer and Peden will be teaching English as a foreign language. Imes said he is a community youth development volunteer who will work with Mongolian children.

"It all boils down to the fact that I want to do some good in the world," Imes said. "I also just wanted to get of the States for a while and a whole new world is good enough for me."

Peace Corps has sent more than 215,000 individuals to 139 countries since the organization began March 1, 1961. There are currently 65 host countries involved in the program.

Mayer grew up in Fort Collins and graduated from Colorado University in 2012. The school sent 93 undergraduate and alumni volunteers in 2013 and is ranked No. 4 for Peace Corps volunteers among America's large colleges and universities.

Peden and Imes, both CSU graduates, also join a college tradition of volunteerism. Colorado State University sent 72 undergraduate and alumni volunteers through Peace Corps in 2013 and is ranked No. 12 for Peace Corps volunteers among America's large colleges and universities.

"It sounds cliche, but I think we're all just excited to have a chance to serve our country in a non-military fashion," Peden said. "It's something completely different."

Sarah Jane Kyle is the Coloradoan reporter covering volunteerism, nonprofits and philanthropy. Follow her on Twitter @sarahjanekyle or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/reportersarahjane.

Peace Corps volunteers

• There are 7,209 volunteers and trainees involved in Peace Corps today

• 63 percent of Peace Corps volunteers are females

• 90 percent of volunteers are single

• The average age of a Peace Corp volunteer is 28.7, with only 8 percent of volunteers over 50.

Information courtesy of Peace Corps

Video

Visit www.coloradoan.com to watch Heidi Mayer, Noah Peden and Jimmy Imes talk about why they joined the Peace Corps.

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