Matt Karr

Teaching in Ecuador
Though Matt Karr was born and raised in LaGrange, his heart is in South America.

He left it there during a recent mission trip to Ecuador, a both perfect place for him to minister to the people there because of his intense interest in Spanish culture.  And after he graduates with an early childhood education degree May 19, he will return to Ecuador for a year to pursue his passion for teaching.

Matt became interested in the language and culture of Central and South America after taking Spanish in high school.  Two years ago, he went on a mission trip to El Salvador where he ministered in a school located in a church.

“When I was surrounded by El Salvadoran children, I thought, ‘This is where I’m supposed to be,” he says. “I came to the conclusion that I’d rather be overseas teaching kids that may never have the chance to learn otherwise or had to drop out of school because of certain family situations.

 “It became a mission and passion for me, to really give children there a chance to better themselves. They’re in circumstances you can’t imagine. I would see 9-year-olds taking care of three or four kids all under the age of 4, both in El Salvador and in Ecuador.”

Matt knew he loved teaching young people and also felt called to help the South American people in underprivileged areas. He considered teaching in the United States but first wanted to take a year off to live in another country to immerse himself in the language and culture.

Through his research, he found the WorldTeach Organization, which provides training for young college graduates to live with host families for a year while teaching English in third world countries. While there, he also will actively pursue finding a church or missions organization to partner with.

He’ll leave LaGrange for training in September and will be in Ecuador from October until August 2013. Because WorldTeach is a volunteer organization, he also is raising the funds needed for his trip.

Before he leaves for Ecuador, Matt still has one more missions stop to make between graduation and his yearlong teaching opportunity: He’s heading to Haiti with a local church this summer to help the people there.

Matt is not sure what the future will hold in say, two years. He may be overseas, he may be in another state, or even back in LaGrange.

But wherever life takes him, he knows he will be teaching.

“I love to be able to really impact a child’s life. You never know the situation a kid is coming from; you’re that 8-hour break from home for so many of them,” he says. “Being able to be a stable person for that small amount of time is very rewarding.

“I love being able to impact them, encourage them, comfort them, support them and be a role model and leader … everything they need.”