Columbus, Ind., native departs for Peace Corps Ecuador

The world is Tim Hofmeister’s classroom and for 27 months there are no boundaries that he will not cross. The Columbus, Ind., native will depart on Jan. 26 for Ecuador to begin training as a secondary education English teacher and will train the local English teachers on new instruction methodologies to implement in the classroom. He will also work with community groups to create need-based development projects for his community and facilitate youth life-skills classes and professional development workshops. A graduate of the Grand Valley State University of Allendale, Mich., he shares below how he was inspired to serve.

What motivated you to join the Peace Corps?

The intercultural exchange between two people. I get to learn from Ecuadorians and they get to learn from me. Does it get any better than that? I want to improve the lives of others, as well as my own, by engaging with new people and communities. Joining the Peace Corps gives me the chance to teach Ecuadorian teachers and students English, as well as an incredible opportunity for me to improve my teaching and Spanish-speaking abilities. It’s a real win-win situation.

How did GVSU prepare you for your Peace Corps service?

I realized my true leadership potential, as well as the importance of making a difference in any community I am fortunate enough to be a part of. I would not have the opportunity to be in the Peace Corps without GVSU, my friends, family and role models.

What kinds of activities were you involved in at GVSU that will directly translate into your service in Ecuador?

At GVSU I got many leadership opportunities, from participating on the cross country and track teams, to being president of the Spanish Club, all the way to being part of organizations who better their communities in both the Dominican Republic and Peru. These opportunities not only gave me leadership experience, but also furthered my education with real-world applications in a Spanish-speaking environment.

What aspect of your service are you most excited about?

Although I did not specifically apply to Ecuador or have a favorite place or position, I couldn’t be more excited to go to a country with some of the world’s greatest biodiversity, culture and people. The informal education is what I’m most excited about. It’s truly amazing how much someone can learn outside the formal classroom. Frankly, the world is a classroom.

What are you hoping to gain from this experience?

From this experience I hope to become a better, savvier and mentally tougher person. The experience requires volunteers to be flexible, open-minded and to be problem solvers, and I am so excited to get the chance to use and improve these skills.

What professional goals do you hope to achieve during your service?

I hope to improve my Spanish speaking abilities, as well as my teaching skills. I’m also hoping to help the learners and the community somehow, someway. Although I am not sure how exactly I can accomplish that, it is definitely an aspiration of mine. I know I have a long way to go, but I am really excited for the next couple years!

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