Senior Spotlight: Max Joseph Recalls Lesotho and Looks Forward to Peace Corps

Grandview native Max Joseph has a service-driven future ahead of him after his four years at Wittenberg.

The senior political science major has immersed himself in more than just politics during his college career, and his passion for service and traveling has led him to the Peace Corps. He will be leaving in just three short months.

During his time at Wittenberg, Joseph has been involved in Greek life as Delta Tau Delta head of recruitment during the fall of his junior year, and on Student Senate as the Green Senator. Joseph was also an Inter Fraternal Council delegate.

But perhaps his most influential involvement was the Lesotho Trip, a big reason as to why he is going into the Peace Corps. The service trip led by history professor Scott Rosenberg, which took place over winter break during his junior year.

The Lesotho trip allows students to help “improve the quality of life for orphans and other vulnerable children. Students hoped to provide sustainable projects while putting their work in perspective of larger issues faced by the country,” according to the Wittenberg website.

Lesotho is one of the poorest countries in the world. It has the third highest AIDS rate in the world, the highest per capita AIDS mortality rate and has more than 220,000 orphans in a country of less than 2 million people. This experience in Africa was enlightening and played a large role in Joseph’s application to the Peace Corps.

Joseph shared some information about the application process.

“It was incredibly nerve racking. Two weeks went by and I got an hour long Skype interview, followed by another cut, and the final part of the application process being references,” Joseph said.

Around Thanksgiving, Joseph found out that he had been accepted.

“It was a hard concept to grasp, differentiating reality now from a few short months from now, I’ll be at Station celebrating graduation, then on a plane two weeks later to Mongolia,” Joseph said.

After graduation, Joseph will be placed in Mongolia to teach English in the community along with 30 doctors, community developers and agricultural workers.

He hopes to put himself in this “uncomfortable situation” to learn about himself and try to grow and help people.

“It’s not about going into a country and Americanizing it, or saying I’m white and better than you,” Joseph said. “You learn about the people there and they teach you about yourself.”

As for leaving his family and loved ones for 27 months, Joseph says that he is lucky to have a supportive family, and they all embrace the motto, “Don’t live in fear.” Joseph says he had a small-town mentality growing up and realized he didn’t like “living in this small box.”

“I wouldn’t leave my town,” Joseph said. “Traveling to India and Honduras during high school was crazy, and helped shape me into who I am today.”

After being in Mongolia for 27 months, Joseph will be 25 years old. He shared some thoughts about what could change during that time period.

“Talk about scary, that’s scary,” Joseph said. “Some of my friends will get married before that. Everyone’s living at a different pace, but I’ll be in Europe reading books and teaching English.”

Before leaving, he plans to focus on building the relationships he has, making those friendships seem more important. His relationship with senior Ellen Martin is also on his mind.

“She’s going to Boise for Teach for America,” Joseph said. “Timing is a weird thing, but I’m in it for the long haul.”

He said that he doesn’t want to take away from the experience she’s having or what Joseph will be experiencing as well. After Joseph gets back from Mongolia, he plans to pursue graduate school or go into the military, most likely the Coast Guard.

Reflecting on his time at Wittenberg, Joseph said that his favorite moments at Wittenberg was the fall of his junior year and the Lesotho trip.

“It was my favorite time,” Joseph said. “I finally felt like I had it figured out. I was hanging out with my friends, it was just a good time for me.”

The Lesotho trip was also a favorite time because of his sense that he was getting close with fellow students and Rosenberg.

“If I ended up like Dr. Rosenberg, this great dad, I’d be okay – and by okay, I mean ecstatic,” Joseph said.

When asked what he will miss most about Wittenberg, Joseph says, “freedom — the irresponsibility — but there’s a moment to grow up and that time is now.”

 

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