Today you can find Chelsea Kovalevskiy at the LaFayette Public Library, where she works as the youth education coordinator, but it wasn't that long ago that Kovalevskiy couldn't even be found in this country, let alone county.
"It's so important to see what's outside of America," said the former Peace Corps member, addressing a group of Girl Scouts in honor of National Peace Corps week. "I'm happy to live in such a great country, but living and being immersed in another country's culture shows you how amazing it is to live here."
Kovalevskiy grew up all over the United States and attended Azuzu Pacific University where she majored in history. At the end of her junior year she began to think, 'What am I going to do?' Since she said she never had the money growing up or opportunity to really travel, she decided to look into programs that pay for the expense of traveling.
She researched Peace Corps one day, applied the next and a month later received her letter of acceptance.
"I chose Peace Corps because it is a government program and has a great reputation," she said. "I wanted to help people with no prerogative other than just helping."
Kovalevskiy was placed in Kazakhstan for two years, which today is not a Peace Corps region since it is no longer under development.
"Peace Corp puts you into a country with no objectives - you find the needs," she said.
She said she was able to gain from new experiences such as being exposed to negative 40-degree weather, becoming fluent in Russian, helping children learn English, building an English library with Better World Books and aiding the development of the community in which she lived.
While there she lived with a host family, which she credits for helping her a great deal. They taught her about the country's customs, the main religions of Islam and Russian Orthodox, native dishes that revolve around horse and lamb and traditions centered around patriotism.
Kovalevskiy brought more than just memories, a new appreciation for culture and ideas back to the United States, she also brought back her husband of two and a half years, Nikita, who was the son of her host family in Kazakhstan.
"I told myself I would never date a native, as Russian men are typically known to be insensitive, but he is nothing like that," she said.
In her work life, the traces of her experience can be seen in the innovative new programs she has brought into the library and the importance she places on education at the library.
Kovalevskiy is working on her masters in Library Information Science at Valdosta State and will complete the program in December.