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Rosemount native gives back in Romania

Kyle Hayes poses with a homemade sign in Romania. He has been there since last May working with the Peace Corps.

For six days earlier this month Kyle Hayes turned into a construction worker for a good cause.

The Rosemount native has never been particularly handy but for nearly a week he threw himself into the job, hammering nails, spackling and cementing. He did whatever work he could do to provide a home for a Romanian family of four that had been living in a single, mold-filled room.

The project was part of Peace Corps' 50th anniversary. Hayes has been in Romania since May of 2010 as a Peace Corps volunteer. The 29-year-old teaches English to third- through eighth grade students in a small community. He learned about the home building project through email and signed up.

"The Internet has made being a Peace Corps volunteer incomparably easier," Hayes said.

Hayes and the other Peace Corps volunteers built a new, two-bedroom home for Alina and Marcel Petrus. The couple had fallen on difficult times when Marcel suffered a stroke that left him partially paralyzed. The couple's old home was just 230 square feet and had no heat.

Hayes said it was satisfying to know he was providing the family with better living conditions.

"It's extremely rewarding to see the progression of the house and to know that I had a part in its construction," he said.

Hayes graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was working in sales before he signed up for the Peace Corps. He said he wanted to do something to make a difference.

"I enjoy helping people, and I wanted the opportunity to live in a foreign country," Hayes said. "As a Peace Corps volunteer, you have an opportunity to spend time overseas and truly learn what it means to be a resident of that country. You also get to have that experience with an organization that provides support and encourages you to continually expand your cultural horizons."

The experience hasn't always been easy. Hayes is far from his family and his friends, and there are times he misses home. That's been the hardest part of his service, he said. But there are benefits, too.

"The experience has been amazing," he said. "I think that the best part of this is that you're continually surprised by what you experience every day."