2/11/13 Update: The memorial patch design has been finished and is available here: http://screencast.com/t/0GgjJPpj
Corey James Hilber and the Meaning of Talawesome
Corey James Hilber was magnetic, generous, caring, funny, and deeply kind. No one who met him came away unchanged. He was many things to many people--an educator, a volunteer, a summer-camp leader, an accordion master--but most of all, he was a friend.
On Saturday, December 15, 2012, Corey died.
This scholarship fund for children in Talas City, Kyrgyzstan, where Corey lived and served as a United States Peace Corps Volunteer, will ensure that his legacy lives on. Our words here cannot possibly do Corey justice, but we hope that they will provide an opportunity to honor his life in the way he would have wanted most: by helping other people, and paying our own opportunities forward into the world.
This project will create approximately 10 1-year scholarships to the prestigious Talas City Turkish Lyceum, to be delivered to bright and deserving students who cannot afford the tuition. At a cost of $2,000 per year, the Lyceum is normally out of reach for all but the most affluent Kyrgyz families. However, when underprivileged children are given the opportunity to attend private school, they are inducted into a world that is often transformative; they enter a path that leads toward professionalization, success, and a better life for themselves and their communities.
This project is being administered by Brett Jones and Miles Rinehart, two Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who served with Corey. Miles, who still lives and works in Kyrgyzstan, will oversee the ground operations of the scholarship in Talas City. Its name--"Talawesome"--is a word coined by Corey himself in 2010. Emblematic of his wit and spirit, "Talawesome" describes Corey's work, his world, and his attitude better than any other word could.
What We Need & What You Get
The peculiar number we have set has not been pulled out of thin air. $21,276.60 represents exactly 1,000,000 Kyrgyz som. By raising a million som, we will be posthumously putting Corey in the "Manas Million" club, a fundraising goal for many Peace Corps Volunteers who have served, or who are serving, in Kyrgyzstan. As a Manas Millionaire, Corey's impact on the Kyrgyz community will live on.
"Perks" are coming as this project develops. If you donated before a perk was added, please leave a comment here and your perk will be sent.
Anyone who donates $50 or more to this scholarship fund will receive a full report of the project's progress and impact by July, 2013.
All donors who donate at or above the $212.76 level will receive a custom made Peace Corps patch with Corey's name embroidered on it--details about this to come later.
Impact & Implementation
Because the average Kyrgyz family earns somewhere between $600 and $800 per year, there is a significant pool of highly intelligent and powerfully motivated Talas students who believe that a good education is a luxury rather than something they deserve.
A donation of any amount to this scholarship will put a dent in this pervasive inequality, and will go towards ensuring that more children have a fighting chance in this tough country. Anyone who has ever served in Kyrgyzstan, or who has even heard about Kyrgyzstan, knows about the adversity faced by Kyrgyz children; it is impossible to know these communities without being inspired by their unrelenting tenacity, and being convicted, for a lifetime, by how far a dollar can go towards making their lives better.
When this project is funded, Miles will issue a call for scholarship essays in the Talas City area. Miles, Brett, and anyone else interested in helping will judge the essays and select award recipients.
Other Ways You Can Help
If you cannot donate, share this with someone you care about.
If you would like to help edit this page, join the ad-hoc committee to oversee the administration of this project including its finances, create a memorial video that actually does Corey justice, or simply send your photos and stories, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, or 801-395-4447.
Thank you for your donation.