Thursday, March 12, 2009

White Bear Lake Area High School graduate Dan Dutcher serves in Morocco

Dan Dutcher, a 2004 White Bear Lake Area High School (WBLAHS) graduate flew to Morocco on Tuesday to volunteer two years with the Peace Corps. Although he has anticipated the trip for nearly a year, he hasn’t been able to grasp how much it would impact him, and others, until now.

Dutcher signed up for the Peace Corps last summer and found out soon after that he’d be placed in Morocco; however, information packets sent to volunteers only detailed the first week of his trip, leaving 21 months unknown.

With less than 24 hours left in the U.S., Dutcher said he finally was able to realize the reality of how selfless going into the Peace Corps really is. “I’m really excited for this adventure, but really sad at the same time,” Dutcher said. “I have to find a new life in a foreign part of the world.”

The Peace Corps has been sending volunteers around the world for nearly five decades to areas where their skills and life experiences are needed most. There have been over 195,000 volunteers and trainees stationed throughout 139 countries. In collaboration with community members, volunteers and trainees not only work to make a difference in lives and bring peace, but to promote a better understanding of Americans as well.

Dutcher graduated from the University of Minnesota-Morris in 2008 with a degree in Biology and is looking forward to sharing his knowledge and experiences with people who may not be as advanced or are impoverished. “I’m tired of studying books. I want to get out there and just help people,” he said.

Country Director David Lillie said in a letter to the volunteers, “Remember to bring lots of patience, innovativeness, adaptability and flexibility, creativity, lots of curiosity, and a very good sense of humor. Peace Corps is a human-resource driven development agency which means that these qualities, plus your tremendous skills and experiences, will be essential for a successful and productive two years.”

No stranger to the medical field Dutcher is a certified emergency medical technician (EMT) and has volunteered much of his time to job shadowing professionals in emergency rooms and hospitals.

Upon arriving in Casablanca, Morocco, he will travel to Beni-Mellal where he will participate in a four-day “in country” orientation. Staff will work to identify the skills and interests of volunteers and provide an introduction to Morocco and its culture.

Leaving home, everything and everyone Dutcher has known for 22 years of his life has been harder than he originally thought. “I know I can handle it, but it’s tougher than I thought it would be.”

After orientation, volunteers are sent to a “Community-based Training (CBT) Site” where they will be placed in a small language learning group and stay with a Moroccan host family for about eight weeks. Volunteers do not know what CBT site they will be going to, or where their final destination is.

Dutcher will be maintaining a blog of his adventures in Morocco at

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