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.