Local Peace Corps worker makes a difference half a world away

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Merillan, Wis. (WEAU) - Have you ever wanted to make a difference in the lives of people you barely know?

It’s something an area woman set out to do after she graduated college.

Emily Johnson’s journey all starts with a geography lesson that she and her parents learned when she was assigned by the Peace Corps to work the country of Kyrgyzstan to help kids in one of the poorest schools in her area learn English.

“I immediately we had to pull out an atlas and we've never even heard of Kyrgyzstan,” Emily’s mom, Lorri Johnson said.

For Lorri and her husband Ed, the journey their daughter Emily wanted to take after college came as quite a shock.

“When she first brought up the subject I didn't want to seem too surprised I wanted to play more of a supportive role,” Emily’s dad Ed said.

Two and a half years later Emily is back from serving overseas and changing countless lives.

“The Peace Corps has this saying that it's the toughest job you’ll ever love and it really is it’s so difficult but it's an amazing experience,” Emily said.

Now that she's back stateside, Emily is reflecting on the work she did teaching kids English.

“The kids were never shy and timid these kids were always really accepting and wanting to know very personal details about my life,” Emily Johnson said.

Going over there wasn't easy at first. Emily says the biggest challenge was realizing just how much we take for granted.

“It was really different, it was a huge shock for me at first it’s like going back in time. Toilets are all outdoors,” Johnson said.

But looking back, Johnson says she wouldn’t change a thing.

“Absolutely do it! Everyone’s experience is different but it is life changing and you learn so much about yourself and learn tons about yourself and other people,” Johnson said.

As for the future, Emily's experience abroad doesn't stop here. She has plans to return to Kyrgyzstan at the end of August for another four month trip.

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