By STACY MILLBERG
PLYMOUTH TOWNSHIP - - Tim Kirby is a lot closer to being a man now, than he was when he left for Kazakhstan two years ago, to volunteer with the Peace Corps.
He came back mentally stronger and physically lighter, but with a deep understanding and appreciation of a much different culture. The 24-year-old joined the Peace Corps after graduating from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh. He always expressed an interest in Russian culture and had a desire to travel, he said.
Kirby said he lost a lot of weight and his personality changed in the two years he was gone. He admits his reasons for joining the Peace Corps were a little selfish, in that he sought to improve himself. The personal growth he experienced has taught him a lot and improved his life, he said.
"I feel very balanced and a lot less afraid of life," he said. "I feel so much more true to myself. I dont have to hide anything anymore."
When he arrived in Kazakhstan two years ago, Kirby was taught how to speak Russian and trained on being a Peace Corps volunteer. He was then sent to the village of Fyodorovka where he taught English at a local school.
After some time, Kirby was able to make connections in the city of Uralsk, where he worked on the weekends for a business incubator, providing job training to residents. While working at the incubator, Kirby was able to put his graphics design background to good use, as he worked in an Internet division providing bare minimum cost Web sites, he said.
After living with a host family for a while, Kirby decided he just wanted to move out on his own, so he got an apartment in the village. His little apartment left much to be desired, though, with no running water, no pipes of any kind, not even a toilet, he said.
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