St. Augustine resident Mike Dixon has a clock in his kitchen that’s established to Ukraine time.
It helps him strategy his e-mail to people he achieved even though serving in the Peace Corps.
Dixon, 72, is a historic preservation architect who applied his history to serve in the business from 2011 to 2016 in Ukraine, Kosovo and Armenia.
The Peace Corps recently acknowledged him as one of the top 10 volunteers in the region by being nominated for the 2021 Lillian Carter Award, “which honors outstanding folks who volunteered at age 50 or previously mentioned,” in accordance to a news launch from the Peace Corps.
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The award was established to honor Lillian Carter, President Jimmy Carter’s mom, who served in the Peace Corps in India as a health and fitness volunteer when she was 68.
The winner of the 2021 award was Carole Anne “Aziza” Reid, of New York, who served as a local community organizational advancement Volunteer in Moldova from 2016 to 2018 and as a youth schooling volunteer in Eswatini from 2018 to 2020.
The Peace Corps obtained extra than 70 nominations for the 2021 award.
“This is very good news for more mature folks to know that you can join afterwards in everyday living and share your everyday living experiences,” Dixon mentioned.
Dressed in a vyshyvanka, an embroidered common shirt worn in Ukraine, Dixon invited a couple of people into his property on Thursday.
A need to serve
Shots, taken by Dixon, artwork and other objects from Dixon’s travels adorn the walls and cabinets of his property.
Dixon had been wanting to serve in the Peace Corps after college, but his desires took a backseat in the beginning due to the fact he was drafted into the Illinois Military National Guard as a beat medic all through the Vietnam era ― he served at VA hospitals in the U.S.
It was not until later in life, soon after numerous yrs in architecture, that he was equipped to provide.
Recognized in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, the Peace Corps “sends Individuals with a passion for company overseas on behalf of the United States to perform with communities and generate long lasting alter,” according to a news release. “Volunteers establish sustainable remedies to address difficulties in education, wellbeing, group economic improvement, agriculture, the natural environment and youth progress.
“By their Peace Corps practical experience, volunteers obtain a exceptional cultural comprehension and a lifelong dedication to company that positions them to be successful in modern world wide economic system.”
Peace Corps volunteers endorse being familiar with of the American people with other nations and enable Us residents far better comprehend individuals from other nations around the world.
When persons believe of the Peace Corps, they typically believe of volunteers who are fresh new out of school, Dixon explained.
But about 14,000 “older Us citizens” have served in the Peace Corps and assisted even more its “mission of advertising entire world peace and friendship,” Performing Peace Corps Director Carol Spahn reported.
“The Lillian Carter Award is specified to just one superb senior volunteer who demonstrates that service–both at household and abroad–can be impactful at any age,” she reported.
Building connections, sharing history
By the time he went into the Peace Corps, Dixon had a good deal of encounter to share.
He set up his architecture follow in St. Charles, Illinois, and experienced the business for a lot more than 30 several years.
Whilst his “150 %” Irish grandmother needed him to be a priest, Dixon made a decision as a kid to turn out to be an architect, he said.
In 9th grade as portion of a vocation examine of the job, he wrote to architect Minoru Yamasaki, designer of the World Trade Centre. Dixon received a reaction from Yamasaki encouraging him to develop both the inventive and logical sides of his head.
“If you are fantastic at both equally of those and seriously focused, I feel there is a fine chance that you will grow to be a very good architect,” the letter says.
Dixon’s job features a broad wide variety of jobs, these kinds of as serving as historic preservation consultant and on-site architect for restoration of the capitol creating in Cheyenne, Wyoming historic preservation marketing consultant for the restoration of Lodge Baker in St. Charles, Illinois, which is on the Countrywide Sign up of Historic Places and style growth and design management of the Sandwich City Hall and Opera Dwelling in Illinois, he said.
All through his time in the Peace Corps, Dixon did a lot of operate as an architect. He targeted in aspect on sharing and preserving heritage.
His first assignment was to Ukraine as a community enhancement professional, and he served there for three several years. In 2015 and 2016, he was a response volunteer in Armenia and Kosovo.
Dixon stated he was disappointed in Ukraine to see that historical past wasn’t taught really properly.
Dixon took a team of young children and academics on a tour of a park in Ukraine that he was involved in redesigning. The park incorporated a headstone recognizing a mass grave of victims of the Holodomer, a male-created famine engineered by the previous Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin that led to mass starvation in Ukraine.
The individuals on the tour were not familiar with the headstone it was concealed at the rear of trees.
“So when I did the redesign, I desired to convey it out … so you could see that,” he explained.
Dixon also designed restoration drawings and specs for a 15th century open air mosque in Prizren, Kosovo.
“This project and others, like two parks, were formulated whilst performing toward the preservation and restoration of the society in Kosovo,” he wrote in a list of his things to do.
In Lutsk, Ukraine, Dixon designed masonry repair service and restoration drawings for the Lubart Castle, a mid-14th century construction.
“This task and many others, together with the design and style and design of two out of doors theaters and the restoration of a historic gardener’s cottage (1812), had been made while operating toward the preservation and restoration of the society in Ukraine,” according to Dixon.
Amid many routines Dixon took component in for the duration of his travels, he established guides to places he visited, these as a walking tour of Vinnytsia, Ukraine, highlighting historically exciting buildings such as spiritual buildings, a memorial, museums and Maxim Gorky Park.
Through just one of his strolling excursions, Dixon hosted the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine John Tefft and his team, and the group appeared on the front web site of a Vinnytsia newspaper.
Dixon also held English golf equipment in Vinnytsia Kerch, Crimea Gyumri, Armenia and Pizren.
Soon after his return from the Peace Corps, Dixon labored at the capitol making in Cheyenne in advance of relocating to St. Augustine in 2019. He visited his grandmother in the region growing up.
“I often needed to occur back again to my roots,” he mentioned.
He is nonetheless applying his abilities. He is aspect of the city of St. Augustine’s Corridor Assessment Committee, which watches for compliance with style standards along San Marco Avenue, King Road and Anastasia Boulevard. He is also leading a grant venture to update the Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center developing.
Creating long lasting bonds
As the “Ukraine time” clock on his kitchen wall signifies, Dixon has created lasting connections from his journeys.
Among them is an artist whose perform is on Dixon’s partitions, Besim Danjolli, whom he fulfilled in Kosovo.
“There is some fantastic pals you make together the way, and which is what it truly is about is generating good friends around the environment,” Dixon mentioned.
Dixon ideas to give a converse about his Peace Corps journey at the Saint Augustine Camera Club assembly at 6 p.m. Aug. 19 at the Guy Harvey Resort in St. Augustine Seashore. Website visitors are welcome.
“I imagine I obtained a lot more out of it than it’s feasible to give for the reason that, properly, you study about tolerance. You find out about other cultures. I would inspire young people today to vacation,” he explained, including that men and women ought to take a look at other international locations.
“It opens up your brain and makes you fully grasp that it’s a person earth, and it is really a little entire world,” he mentioned.
— Brian J. Tumulty of USA Today contributed to this report.