Raleigh man leaves his hometown to join the Peace Corps, teach ESL in Mongolia

Lauren Johnson Image
Saturday, March 23, 2024
Raleigh man leaves his hometown to join the Peace Corps
Raleigh man Daniel Barlow gave up his job to join the Peace Corps and teach English as a second language in Mongolia.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- For some people volunteering is a love language, so much so - they pack their bags and suit up for service.

In fact, the Peace Corps, an international service group, said North Carolina ranks among the top states producing volunteers.

In 2023, 71 volunteers left our state to start their mission.

ABC11 caught up with one volunteer and Carolina graduate who now lives in East Asia.

Karen Barlow is bursting with pride, and so is her husband, Todd. The Barlows are reliving their son's younger days through pictures.

"I try not to be too proud, but I'm proud of him, you know?" Todd said.

We visited the couple's Raleigh home to learn more about their son, Daniel Barlow.

His father told us Dan's first love was soccer, but eventually, it fizzled out. And, what came next sparked a lifelong love affair: a day of volunteering at Camp Grace turned into a 2-year job.

"So, I don't know if you're aware, at Camp Grace is...it's a camp for kids with special needs," Todd said.

"It's emotionally and physically draining work," Karen added.

Fast forward many years later, and Daniel is still helping kids. Now, he's on the other side of the world in Mongolia.

He arrived in the Eastern Asian nation last June after two days of travel that took him through Philadelphia and Seoul, South Korea.

We asked him what he missed most about Raleigh, and he quickly answered "Eastern-style BBQ."

While he's craving a taste of home, his appetite to help is much larger.

"I do like giving back more than I think. And I do a lot like helping those that aren't as fortunate as I am," Daniel said.

The decision to help this time meant leaving a salaried job in Raleigh to volunteer with the Peace Corps. When the organization asked him where he wanted to serve, Daniel told them to send him anywhere. Now, he's more than 6,000 miles from home.

His mother, was not at all surprised by his decision, saying "he is definitely energized by being with people and peers in groups and he does have a thread of wanderlust."

Daniel decided to teach English as a second language which is a far cry from the statistics degree he earned from the University of Chapel Hill in 2020.

He said

ABC11's Lauren Johnson asked Daniel "What has been the most rewarding part of this experience for you so far?"

"We're in March now. So seeing my students since September speak in English to me. We go from no English to a little bit of a conversation," he said.

For Daniel, words, phrases, and sentences are a love language of giving back.

"Treating people well, making sure you care about your surroundings, and how other people are doing, that was just the way I was raised," he said

Nine months into service, Daniel said he has zero regrets and offers up these wise words for anyone thinking of doing something in their own lives.

"You should at least try it, trying and failing, in my opinion, is a lot better than regret," Daniel said.