Talas seems to be established as the least known land of an unknown country. Although an unknown part of the republic, the people of Talas claim it as their home with pride. Corey James Hilber, a returned Peace Corps volunteer who lived in Talas for two years did just that. He worked with several agricultural projects in the rayon center, volunteered and conducted trainings for several “at risk” and impoverished youth camps, and generally kept spirits up in this isolated pocket of northwestern Kyrgyzstan.
After returning to America he joined some volunteer friends in Chicago and began sharing his experiences of Kyrgyzstan with a farmers market in the city. On December 15, 2012, Corey passed away unexpectedly. A talented accordionist, many of his friends still remember the Kyrgyz traditional songs he would play to entertain expat friends and surprise locals. It is with these memories that a group of former Peace Corps Volunteers whom where close to Corey decided to start a memorial scholarship in Corey’s honor.
The scholarship, which hopes to raise $21,000, is designed to provide financial assistance for several young children from the outer villages of Talas city, to study in the private Turkish Lyceum in the rayon center. In this way supporters of Corey’s Memorial Scholarship fund will be investing in the future businesses and entrepreneurs in this impoverished part of Kyrgyzstan. It is hoped that Corey’s legacy of contributing to a sustainable future for Talas, Kyrgyzstan will continue from this memorial fund and a place he truly loved will still have his service.
Interested contributors can donate here.