EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - From Vail, Colo., to Piura, Peru. The Rocky Mountains to dry deserts and sandy beaches. College graduate to Peace Corps volunteer. Over the past five years, a lot has changed for Kaeli Hosler. Something that hasn't changed is her contagious smile and inspiring determination to make a difference in people's life.
Hosler, a 2007 graduate of Battle Mountain High School, was a standout student, basketball, soccer and softball player while growing up in the mountains of Vail. After graduating from Battle Mountain, she moved to Grand Junction to study at Colorado Mesa University. In May 2011, she graduated with a bachelor's degree in psychology and criminal justice.
During Hosler's senior year at Colorado Mesa University, she decided to apply for the Peace Corps. Ever since the sixth grade, this organization stood out to Hosler due to their marketing and public relations efforts. After graduation from CMU, Hosler moved back to Vail, worked at Battle Mountain in the special education department and coached the Battle Mountain Girls JV basketball team for a season. Throughout the next 10 months, Hosler went through multiple interviews and endless red tape while applying for the Peace Corps.
In February of 2011, she received word she was nominated to teach English in a Latin American country. After about a year, getting medically, legally and financially cleared, she was selected to go to Peru as a youth development volunteer in the area of special education.
Helping teachers, students
Hosler arrived in Lima in June 2012 and spent her first three months training - cross cultural, language and safety and security training. Once she had completed her training, she was sworn in as a volunteer at the ambassador's mansion in Lima and was placed in Piura City, Peru, where she will continue to work for the next two years.
Hosler works with Peruvians in special education schools and inclusion schools on a daily basis. Hosler's aspiration is to help the teachers better support and understand the special education population in the inclusion schools so the students can have successful futures. Hosler's knowledge and training has allowed her to provide effective techniques and skills to share with the teachers to make the learning more effective for the students.
Hosler is completely immersed in the Peruvian culture, living with a Peruvian family (one host mother and five siblings) and speaking Spanish as her primary language. Hosler now appreciates her four years of Spanish with Don Hohmann at Battle Mountain.
Hosler's experience will be a gratifying one for the rest of her life; these opportunities and challenges will give her an appreciation for the life she enjoyed growing up in Vail. Besides working with children with disabilities in inclusion schools and CEBEs (special education schools), she also works and does therapy sessions in the CEBE multi-sensory rooms for her early stimulation project for children ages 3-6. This still wasn't enough for Hosler - she will also in her second year be teaching sexual education to at-risk youth, along with activities on the importance of self-esteem.
Coming from a small resort town of Vail to Piura City, Piura, with a population of over 500,000 people, was a little overwhelming, to say the least. The snowtops of the Rocky Mountains were missed this year for Hosler during the holiday season. Instead, she is trading her down jacket for a swimsuit. As the Vail Valley experienced an influx of visitors to our resort town, Hosler was preparing for a series of projects for her summer endeavors. A Peruvian counterpart and herself will undertake a variety of challenging activities that she hopes will open up more doors of success for the students, parents and teachers of Piura. Their first project they have planned, starting in January, will entail working with the special education population 1-10 years old in the multi-sensory rooms at her CEBEs, where they will be doing occupational, physical and stimulation therapy. Based on the success of the first project, they plan to work with their older students by cultivating their cooking skills and preparing them for the world of work.
'Poco a poco'
In the short time she has spent in Peru, Hosler has learned to appreciate this opportunity of living in such a beautiful and diverse country. She is extremely grateful to be able to work with such a diverse group of parents, students and teachers. She learns something new every day, and is always keeping in mind how blessed she is.
Hosler definitely has her difficult days of missing home, family, especially her mother, friends, her summer camp kids, the Battle Mountain Girls basketball team and the climate. However, she always finds a way to laugh and smile, which has helped her get through this challenging yet rewarding experience.
I admire her positive attitude and strength during this journey. One example that stands out to me is when Hosler had to have her appendix removed, going through emergency surgery in a foreign country with no family around shows her perseverance right there. I asked her if she has thought about any plans after the Peace Corps, and she answered "Oh boy, I can't even plan next month yet. ... Poco a poco, one day at a time."
I can see her smile now. Keep up the hard work, Kaeli. You're doing great, and we are all very proud of you.
The statements above are Kaeli Hosler's personal opinions, and do not in any way reflect the United State Peace Corps or the United States government.
Britney Brown is a current resident in Lindesberg, Sweden, as she pursues her professional volleyball career overseas. Brown grew up in Edwards and graduated in 2007 from Battle Mountain High School. She was on the 2006 state championship volleyball team and earned a full-ride scholarship to Northeastern University to play for the Huskies in Boston. In May of 2010, Brown graduated from Northeastern with a bachelor's degree in business marketing. Brown will be sending stories about Vail Valley young adults exploring the world.-