Peace Corps is a life-defining leadership experience. Volunteers live, learn, and work with a community overseas for 27 months, providing assistance in a variety of program areas, including youth and community development. Peace Corps volunteers act as catalysts for change in a wide variety of locally sustainable projects, working with students, parents, and other community members. From experienced educators and social workers to recent college graduates, volunteers bring diverse experience and educational backgrounds to their assignments. Peace Corps is special because volunteers get to work firsthand with community members. We build personal relationships. We’re in the homes, we are in the community centers, we are in the organizations, we are just amongst the people, making decisions with them, interacting with them on a daily basis. Peace Corps is a very different type of work than any other work I can even imagine. Bridge to the Future has one primary project going on right now that has to do with youth employment in the community, and that occupies a lot of their time, and also a lot of the people who come to our office are coming regarding the services that that project provides, which are things like job placement services, vocational training courses, and job-seeking skills trainings. I help them whenever they’re planning new projects. I help them with the project design, writing project proposals, trying to get grants. As we have ongoing projects I just get involved in whatever aspect of them I can help out in. Well the first thing I did was accompany the social worker that does some of the different areas, and through that I got to see the poverty and the condition of the families. Well since I have a background in business I decided that I would focus on small business projects. The baking program was started as a workshop. The workshop lasted for three months, and then we converted it into a income-generation project where we sold the bread, and I shared the money to buy more materials and giving money to the kids. The baking projects taught a lot about responsibility, working in teams, sharing. A lot of these children are from some of the poorest areas in Ecuador. They don’t really know about sharing or working in teams so that was something that I try to implement in their daily lives. So for me it’s a good opportunity for them to be involved in activities and not out stealing or joining gangs. My primary projects are art-foucused. In Azerbaijan young people don’t have the opportunity to really express themselves artistically and allowing youth to find their artistic self is very important to me. It provides youth with critical thinking skills, with self-expression, with stress management, with all the things that I think are very important for a young person to develop so they could become a better adult. I believe in education. People grow through education. You learn, you empower. That’s what it’s all about here. It is about change. Changing of yourself, changing of your mind, and changing of your soul. Finding that gap between who you are and what you really stand for. To find out more about serving overseas as a Peace Corps volunteer, please visit peacecorps.gov.