Almost every time I do an interview with a Peace Corps volunteer, I end up wanting to travel to their country of service. Corey Jacobson’s interview was one of those interviews. We talk about the general sense of adventure that Peace Corps offers, the climate and culture of Azerbaijan, about his numerous projects, and much more. Sevindirir!
Photos from Corey’s Service
Corey Jacobson’s Peace Corps Story
Where and when did you serve? What did you do?
I served from September 2012 to November 2014 in Qiraq Kesemen, Azerbaijan. I was a TEFL volunteer, but spent the majority of my time developing youth programs in my village. I conducted a few conversation clubs every week, created a softball team, ultimate frisbee team, and constructed a basketball court with the help of a US based NGO. My village was remote, and resources were scarce, but I managed to stay busy.
What is one of your favorite Peace Corps memories?
My village was nestled between the Lesser Caucasus and the Kur River. The villagers lived life outdoors and exploration was common place. I spent a lot of time outdoors hiking and camping with my local friends. One of my favorite memories was learning to fish the “Azeri” way. It was a complete disaster. I accidentally released all the fish we had caught from a large net, and ruined the afternoon. We laughed about it for years.
What is one of your least favorite Peace Corps memories?
My least favorite memory was witnessing my host mother’s cancer diagnosis. Life expectancy is much lower in Azerbaijan, like much of the developing world. Preventative treatments and routine check ups rarely take place. Diets are poor, unbalanced, and other aspects of life are more dangerous there than they are here in the US.
What do you miss about Peace Corps?
THE ADVENTURE. Something happened everyday in Azerbaijan that blew my mind. I lived in the country for two years and never fully grasped all of the settle nuances and cultural norms. I miss being surprised about what my day would entail. Also, the weddings. Weddings in Azerbaijan were as spectacular as they were bizarre. I attended about 30 in several different regions during my service. Great events.
What is something you learned in the Peace Corps?
The Peace Corps expanded my horizons like no other experience I’ve ever had. I matured a lot during my service. I gained a great deal of patience and respect for other cultures. I had traveled internationally a few times before my service, but the Peace Corps instilled a sense of adventure in me that will never dissipate.
Do you have a favorite quote or local saying that you’d like to share?
Ot Koku Uste Biter – The direct translation is grass grows on it’s roots. It was a very common saying in my region. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, basically. I liked it so much I got it tattooed on my arm.