This is the real true story of seven strangers who attended UC Irvine as undergrads, met and became friends, are all graduating in June and beginning a new stage in their lives in the real world. This week, meet a guy who no one would ever guess, from his tough exterior and even-tougher-to-reach interior, would be on his way to becoming a Peace Corps volunteer in the fall. Introducing Roberto (Robert to most)…
Tall, dark and handsome is how Robert would most likely describe himself if given the chance. He is 6’2′ so one out of three isn’t too shabby… OK, in truth, Robert is all three. However, to those who know him, the ‘dark’ aspect is irrelevant when describing his physical appearance and is a more suitable discussion when commenting on some of Robert’s more mysterious personality traits.
Although Robert is a friendly and fun 22-year-old double major in political science and economics, for quite a while he was like many of his male counterparts when it came to really getting down to the core of his emotions and his past. Despite his sarcastic and guarded nature, he is a person who deeply cares about people although he might not always show it. So maybe it isn’t so surprisingly, even to him anymore, that he would volunteer for an organization that helps countless individuals create better lives for themselves, their children and their community.
The Peace Corps emerged in 1960 when then Sen. John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan ‘to serve their country in the cause of peace by living and working in developing countries.’
Kennedy founded the Peace Corps in 1961. Since then more that 187,000 volunteers have been invited and worked in 139 countries, on a variety of issues from Youth Outreach and Education to Environmental Preservation and Business Development.
In September, Robert will ship out for Ukraine, where he will be volunteering as a business advisor. He will mostly be advising ‘mom and pop or agricultural businesses’ in a country that first achieved its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Since then, Ukraine has taken valuable steps toward a representative democracy, political pluralism and a free-market economy. Robert will join the 371 current Peace Corps volunteers working toward a better future in the country.
Robert will be the first person in his immediate family to graduate from college and he mainly has himself to thank for this achievement.
‘My parents are extremely proud of me because they know they didn’t give me the same advantages as kids whose parents went to college,’ Robert said. ‘They didn’t know the same things so they are happy that I was active in my learning.’
Although Robert says that he does not fit the typical profile of a Peace Corps volunteer, he knows that it will be putting him on another good path for his future. While living in Ukraine he will be gaining valuable work experience, foreign language skills and, upon his return, he will be in a position to be a candidate for jobs within in the federal government. He says this time next year he will ‘be freezing his butt off in Ukraine’ and that five years from now he hopes to be married, consulting for an international business and living in his favorite city, Miami. He also says that he is a little afraid of living and working in a foreign country for 27 months but fear won’t stop him.
Luckily for Robert, he knows exactly what he will be doing after summer 2007 ends. Of all the seven strangers, his story is the one that will be the least unpredictable as the weeks roll on towards June. For that he can be glad, just as he says he is glad that he met the seven strangers in the first place and he hopes that he won’t be forgotten after being on the other side of the world for more than two years. And now, although he remains calm and sure, hopefully he won’t forget his fortune amongst the chaos and uncertainty of his fellow classmates.