A LaGrange couple has been preparing the spend the next two years in Azerbaijan since they were accepted in the Peace Corps.
Glenn and April Gantner decided to embark on the journey together shortly after marrying in December 2011.
“I was eating outside one night and Glenn came home and said ‘What do you think about joining the Peace Corps?’ I said ‘What?!” recalled April Gantner. “I was so excited that I started crying because it was something I always wanted to do. When I met Glenn he was interested in business things, so i thought it was never gonna happen.”
Glenn Gantner said the decision had been long on his mind as well.
“I’ve always wanted to do something like this and whenever I got married, it was something I thought we’d do later in life,” said Glenn Gantner. “But we got to talking and said we should probably do this now because who knows what’s going to happen.”
Graduating from LaGrange College, has helped shape his decision, he said, because of the school’s focus on service oriented projects, as well as his involvement with his fraternity, service projects at the school, tutoring and working as the school’s Presidential Student Ambassador.
“Doing all those activities for four years really got me prepared and thinking ‘Why not spend another two years solely dedicated to things like that?’” he said.
April Gantner said she’s always had a passion for service, and has volunteered with various organizations including Boys & Girls Club and First Steps, and is currently a member of Rotary.
“I’ve always wanted to do something service oriented and Peace Corps is a really neat organization because it allows you to be really engaged in the community like you’re a part of that community,” she said. “And we’re not just coming in as an outside source or anything because you learn the language you live in their home as apart of the culture.”
There are currently 108 volunteers in Azerbaijan working in the areas of education and youth and community development. More than 500 Peace Corps volunteers have served in the country since the program was established in 2003.
The pair will be teaching English to the Azerbaijani speaking children. Teaching styles in the country are different from those of the United States, April Gantner said.
“While ours is a little more engaging, doing activities and games like interactive learning, they would prefer just reading a book out loud,” she said. “So we’ll be teaching them how we teach, our teaching style. And learning about their culture and values will be exciting.”
Though their mission to help Azerbaijan through their service, Glenn Gantner said he and his wife will be gaining as well.
“Everyone says - from what we’ve read from the mentors that are currently serving there- ‘As much as as you may give, you always receive more,’ and from that I think that’s in reference to the fact that you’re learning another language and culture and to actually be able to help them you have to know those two things to figure out what they need.”
The pair departs on April 2 where they will undergo training for three months, then live with a host family for two years while they are doing their service.
About the Peace Corps
Peace Corps is an international service organization of the United States that sends Americans abroad to tackle the most pressing needs with local government, schools, communities, small business while developing sustainable solutions to that address challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development.
The mission is to promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals:
-To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women
- To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the people served
- To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans