Weimar couple headed to Belize with Peace Corps

By: Gloria Beverage
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By Gloria Beverage Colfax Record Editor Kathy and Clinton Norrell are preparing for a big adventure. The Weimar couple is headed to Belize for a 27-month stint with the Peace Corps. Since their retirement two years ago, the Norrells have been taking lengthy trips across the country using an Airstream travel trailer as their home away from home. “We’ve haven’t gotten bored. We’ve done a lot of traveling, kayaking and hiking,” said the 59-year-old former Kindergarten, first and second grade teacher for the Placer Hills School District. While her 61-year-old husband has a teaching credential, Kathy explained, Clint has worked most of his life as a contractor and a cartoonist. Although they have enjoyed their excursions, the couple wanted to do something more in their retirement years. “I didn’t want to get to age 70 and say I did that and wish I could have done that,” she said. The limited, sometimes cramped, living quarters proved they could live simply, she continued. “The realization that as retirees we could commit greater blocks of time to travel and exploration snowballed into the thought of being gone for years,” she said. “And while we’re at it, why not try to do a good thing for someone?” After nearly a year of meetings, interviews and an extensive application process, the Norrells were accepted. They depart Aug. 19 to begin a three-month training program, while living with a host family and studying the language and culture of Belize. They will then begin two-year assignments working with local primary school teachers and living in the host community. Although they have read extensively about the Peace Corps and Belize, the Norrells know books can not prepare them for the lifestyle of a third world country. In fact, Kathy recognizes that adjusting to the slower pace will be critical if they want to connect with residents of their “adopted” community. “We will be immersed in a new culture in a new community,” Kathy said. “We will be working hard to do our primary jobs and seeking out secondary projects to meet needs within the community we are assigned to. Until we are living with the people and have become part of the community, we will not know what these needs may be.” In preparation for this adventure, the couple has acquired a laptop and camera. They want to maintain a virtual connection with their three children: Christy Rivers, a pediatric resident living in Syracuse, New York, Jim Mather, a farrier working in the area and Steven Norrell, a student at Prescott College. Clint is also looking forward to sharing stories of their experiences with their three grandchildren. “We’re really excited about being immersed in a new culture — being able to have the experience of living in a different culture,” she concluded. “We’re looking forward to experiencing a much simpler lifestyle surrounded by things that matter.” There’s one final dilemma the Norrells must resolve before they leave in August. They need to find a home for their two cats: 9-year-old Brodie and 5-year-old Zero. Both are indoor/outdoor cats, have been neutered/spayed and are current on their vaccinations, she added. As they make final preparations, Kathy and Clint remain focused on what the Peace Corps describes as “the hardest job you will ever love.” The Weimar couple will join 911 California residents currently serving in the Peace Corps, including 13 from Placer County. Peace Corps will soon celebrate 50 years of promoting peace and friendship around the world.