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Author Topic: Member Profile - Shawn  (Read 3365 times)

Offline Admin

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Member Profile - Shawn
« on: November 09, 2013, 01:13:05 PM »
On the Peace Corps Forum one of our users goes by the username of shawn.  Here is a little bit about him...


Tell us about yourself: My name is Shawn.  I am from Prior Lake, Minnesota.  I graduated from the University of Minnesota at Duluth in 2010 with a Bachelors of Arts in Communication and worked on and off as an Audio Technician and Live Sound Engineer in the greater Twin Cities prior to joining Peace Corps in late 2010

How did you became interested in the Peace Corps? Iíve always been into serving communities and people. The idea of the Peace Corps to me sounded awesome because I could help people who really need it in my own ways. Plus, the idea of gaining a better understanding of the world is a huge plus.

Tell us about your Peace Corps Service: I am currently a Peace Corps Volunteer Leader (PCVL) in Rwanda.  I arrived here in October of 2010 as an Education Volunteer for Math and Sciences. I served in Cyahinda, a village in southern Rwanda on the Burundi border. Primarily, I taught 8th grade Math and 11th/12th grade Computer Literacy, but my second year I focused mainly on ICT and technology education. I extended in November of 2012 to serve as the Peace Corps Volunteer Leader (PCVL) for Rwanda. Now, in my third year of service, I mostly work with Volunteer support, training logistics, and fostering technology integration. I also coordinate Volunteerism for kLab (Knowledge Lab) here in Rwanda, a hackerspace designed to incubate and foster local companies and IT solutions.

Tell us about your most memorable moment in your service:  My most memorable moment so far has to be working with all my 11th grade students to create email addresses. After two weeks of explaining the concepts behind electronic mail and acquiring enough USB modems and phone credit to get online, it took my counterpart and me two full days to get all of the students through the process, but it was worth it watching them send small emails to each other. I still receive emails from many of them on a regular basis. What was really memorable was having to explain to the students in the local language that there was absolutely no magic involved whatsoever!

What are some of your hobbies and interests?  I play a lot of Ultimate Frisbee with Rwandans and Ex-patriots. I've also been spending my spare time this past year learning on how speed-solve a Rubik's Cube (my record is 40 seconds). I'm also really into outdoor adventure: backpacking, sea kayaking, long-distance hiking, that sort of thing. I'm really looking forward to getting to do more of that after COS.

What do your family and friends think of all this? My family has always been supportive of my service and desire to join the Peace Corps. At first my father thought that I was a little crazy, choosing to move halfway around the world to Rwanda instead of getting into a career, but he tells me now that I'm doing what I should be doing.They're ready to have me back after 3 years, though. It's a constant struggle trying to stay in touch with my good friends from outside Peace Corps and even harder trying to get them to understand a small bit of what service is like. Some of them think I'm a little crazy for joining and most of them think I'm even more crazy for extending, but I know the unemployed ones are secretly jealous! But in all seriousness, my non-Peace Corps friends (...and my Peace Corps friends, I suppose) tell me frequently that the kinds of things I do as a Volunteer and incredible and how they wish they'd have had the experiences as well.

What are your plans for the future?   Iíll finish my service in January of 2014 and will travel the world a bit before heading back to the good olí USA. Iím looking at getting into tech consulting and possibly pursuing a Masters in Technology or Applied Sciences.

What are your thoughts about the Forum? I think this is a great tool that fills a need for Invitees, PCVs, and RPCVs. The way we interact as a community is changing and we as an organization need to change with it. A forum like this provides a great place to ask the questions your Peace Corps Recruiter might not know the answers to. It allows Volunteers all across the globe to interact, share ideas, and pick each othersí brains for project ideas, best practices, and coping strategies. The Forum provides a neat way to connect the larger Peace Corps community across the Volunteer continuum, allowing Invitees, PCVs, and RPCVs to ask, share, and learn from each other. Once we have been at it for a while, the forum will also act as a unique repository of answers and information about applying, serving, integrating, adjusting, and returning. All in all, I think the Peace Corps Forum stands to be the greatest Internet-based addition to a PCVs service.

Shawn's Blog address:  http://shawngrund.blogspot.com/
...Administrator  (RPCV, Botswana 2011-2013)

Offline the boss

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Re: Our first Member Profile - Shawn
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2013, 09:33:09 PM »
Loved your story Shawn.  It sounds like you have had an awesome Peace Corps service. 

If I ever go to Rwanda, what should I definitely see?  Have you traveled to many other countries in Africa?  Was it a hard decision to go for the third year? 

Regarding your Rubik's cube personal best of 40 seconds...  Pretty impressive, but it looks like you need to shave 35 seconds off your personal best to beat the world record holder...    http://www.recordholders.org/en/list/rubik.html

Offline shawn

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Re: Our first Member Profile - Shawn
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2013, 01:21:18 AM »
Hey boss.

If you ever come to the RW, there's a lot of cool things to do. some of them are standard tourist fare (gorillas in the Virunga Volcanoes NP, Safari in Akagera NP, etc). But I would also recommend doing either Golden Monkey tracking or the Canopy Walk in Nyungwe NP. Also, DO check out the various memorials and designated sites from the Genocide (especially Gisozi in Kigali). It may not be very uplifting, but it's worth it for a better understanding of the conflict. If you've got time to burn, hiking, biking, or driving the Congo-Nile Trail from Rubavu/Gisenyi to Kamembe/Cyangugu is a wonderful way to see Rwanda like a PCV.

I've traveled to most of our neighbors; Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania as well as South Africa. I'm actually setting up my COS trip for January and plan on spending 2 months in SE Asia.

Extending for a third year was equally the easiest and hardest decision I've ever had to make. It was a no brainer; I love what I do and the Post was giving me a chance to help improve our system. At the same time, choosing to stay for a third year when I could easily be back in the States doing everything I dreamed of for the past 27 months was hard to swallow. I have to say it was worth it, and I would definitely make the same decision again.

Re: the Rubik's cube. I found one at our old transit house just after I extended and had 3 weeks of downtime before going on home leave, so I started working on it. my goal was a sub one-minute average solve (I'm at about 1:03 right now), but every now and then I get lucky and can skip some steps. I couldn't imagine solving it in 5 seconds!
PCVL - Rwanda 2010-2013
NPCA Serving Volunteer Advisory Council

Offline Admin

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Re: Member Profile - Shawn
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2013, 03:24:30 PM »
I know you are leaving Rwanda soon.   Thanks for your three years of service.  Have a blast during your post-COS travels, and best of luck in the future.  I know you will do great things. 

If you are ever near Denver... stop by.
...Administrator  (RPCV, Botswana 2011-2013)

Offline RetiredFed

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Re: Member Profile - Shawn
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2014, 05:15:10 AM »
there's gonna be alot of people stopping by your place Marion.

Offline Admin

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Re: Member Profile - Shawn
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2014, 05:26:09 AM »
I hope so...I can't think of a better guest than an RPCV.  We all have a great story or two.
...Administrator  (RPCV, Botswana 2011-2013)