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Peace Corps, August 5, 1997

Are You Crazy? Call Matt

A man, a plan, Toglatti

Always time for a smoke My first memory of him was the day we were to fly to Russia from Washington DC.

Two busloads of PCV's pulled up at National Airport, and yours truly was one of the first ones off and getting his bags. I saw Matt standing there, calmly smoking a cigarette while I scrambled for my gear, and I was a bit taken aback. Didn't this guy realize the chaos we were in and that he needed to get his act in gear to get on the plane in time? Being a friendly guy, I shared my observations with him, but he waved me away saying he'd wait for a porter to come and get his stuff.

While I was one of the first people checked on the plane, allowing me to be so distracted in JFK Airport by a pretty young thing that I almost missed the connecting flight to Moscow, Matt never made the first flight. He and three other volunteers missed the DC flight, and spent the next 36 hours (or 48 with time change), touring Europe's airports trying to catch up with us. When they finally made it to Moscow, I tagged along to meet these vagabonds, and who was to wander off the plane, but the guy who decided to wait for the porter.

That's Matt, a man who moves at his own speed. After three months of training, where he and I raised hell, he spent the next two years in Toglatti, Russia, and by the looks of it, he's done a few good things finally. He founded a chapter of Big Brothers-Big Sisters while teaching Business full time at the local University. As I wander around the town with him, I see that Matt has also made friends with the entire adult population and a majority of the kids in Toglatti.

Unfortunately for the city, 18 July 1999, Matt will be leaving to go on a tour of Europe (no airports this time), and then head back to the States for a Master's in Psychology. I'm happy for him, for his Peace Corps experience actually worked out to his liking and he's leaving Russia with a smile.

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