SHSU Education Alumna Serves Peace Corps

By: Mikah Boyd
| Published 01/30/2020

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HUNSTVILLE, TX -- Students and alumni from Sam Houston State University strive to live out the university motto, “The measure of a Life is its Service” during and after their college career. A prime example of this dedication to service is alumna Barbi Stimac (’15), a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. During her senior year of college, she was awarded the Excellence in Service Award at the Sammy’s, paving the way for her life of serving others.

Stimac has recently returned from serving as a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Peace Corps Volunteer in Bitola, North Macedonia. She used the skills that she learned at SHSU to collaborate with teachers in her host country in order to provide the best possible education for her students.

“The quality of education I received from SHSU’s teaching program effectively prepared me to be a highly qualified educator by equipping me with the hands-on experience, skills, knowledge, and methodologies to work with educators in North Macedonia and train upcoming TEFL volunteers,” Stimac said. “I truly believe I wouldn’t have been as effective as a volunteer had I not studied education at SHSU. I learned the value of service and found my passion for education that I will continue to model and live out every day.”

During her two years in North Macedonia, Stimac worked with her counterparts to implement changes to make the learning experience more engaging for students through programs that matched students to their education level and provided them a voice in the classroom. They received a Small Project Assistance grant that enabled them to strengthen their special education resource room with support and training for teachers. The grant also funded a Student Teacher Resource Room which is equipped with technology to help teachers improve their instruction. The new resources gave Stimac the ability to hold workshops for sixth to ninth grade students in order to prepare them to be successful members of the community.

Along with her work at the school, Stimac was able to work on other projects to serve the community of Bitola. She was a counselor at the local YMCA and lead counselor of Girls Leading Our World. GLOW is a week-long leadership summer camp that uses a series of workshops and service acts to empower high school-age girls across North Macedonia. She had a hand in the organization and implementation of many events, such as the Bitola regional spelling bee for students from fifth grade through high school.

“At my school, I organized and implemented the first ever Fall Festival in which students of all ages and their families could come together for a day of fun and games in honor of the season all ran by local volunteers and youth,” Stimac said. “In the community, I hosted a World Read Aloud Open Mic Night for community members young and old to come share their love for literature by reading their favorite literary excerpt or original writings at a local café.”

Since returning home, Stimac is recuperating after her time in North Macedonia and reconnecting with her family and friends, but she already has big plans for her future.

“I look forward to pursuing a Master’s Degree in Education to continue my passion for education and teacher preparation/ training. I’d eventually like to earn a doctorate degree down the road, but for now I plan to continue to find ways to serve,” Stimac said.

Although her service is over in North Macedonia, Stimac says that the people and traditions will forever hold a place in her heart.

“There is just so much beauty to be found there that I think it is easily over looked at first glance. I can’t wait to return for a visit to my second home in the future. Until then, I will miss the warmth and slower pace of life that stole my heart,” Stimac said.

About volunteers in North Macedonia: Currently there are 140 volunteers working their communities on education projects and community economic development. During their service in Macedonia, volunteers learn to speak local languages, including Albanian and Macedonian. Since the program’s establishment in 1996, there have been more than 791 Peace Corps volunteers to work in North Macedonia.

About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends Americans with a passion for service abroad on behalf of the United States to work with communities and create lasting change. Volunteers develop sustainable solutions to address challenges in education, health, community economic development, agriculture, the environment and youth development.

For more information, visit peacecorps.gov.

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