May 4, 2012

Steve Solloway: Finding peace in the Peace Corps

A former Portland High and UMaine baseball player is helping make a difference in the turbulent Ukraine.

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Simon Williams, fourth from right, walked away from minor league baseball to join the Peace Corps, and has connected with students in a school in the Ukraine.

Courtesy Simon Williams

He is the American with the infectious smile who has become son and brother to many. He sawed off a broom handle, got a tennis ball, found rocks to use as bases and introduced stickball to the school. He shows students the fundamentals of baseball but too often the game becomes more like keep-away. "You've got to start somewhere," he says.

Through the Peace Corps Partnership Grant Program (go.usa.gov/mzm) money is being raised for a sports field, which the village does not have.

He doesn't keep up with the daily drama that is the Red Sox. He's grateful he wasn't back in Maine to watch the collapse last September when the Red Sox missed going to the playoffs.

He will leave this village in June 2013. That will be difficult. "Just like in America, people here struggle to pay their bills and provide for their families. I've gotten to work side-by-side with some of the kindest and strongest people I have ever known. I literally get choked up thinking about how everyone here has made me feel like part of their families.

"Do I miss playing baseball? I miss competing. I miss being part of a team."

He found a different team.

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

ssolloway@pressherald.com

Twitter: SteveSolloway/PPH

 

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