My name is Michael Pelehach, and I’m a 26 year-old currently living in Minneapolis, MN. After almost 4 years working in various capacities at Target Headquarters, I’ve decided to leave my job to teach English in Bulgaria as part of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) program. While it was a tough decision to make, I am incredibly excited to pursue this opportunity, as it combines my interests in travel, culture, education, and helping other people.
I grew up in Oak Ridge, a small suburb of Greensboro, North Carolina. While the majority of my childhood was spent playing outside, working hard in school, and hustling to and from various sports practices, I also had several life-changing opportunities that helped me develop a more global perspective. Trips to Slovakia, Poland, the Czech Republic and China opened my eyes to the tough conditions that so many people endure on a daily basis. These experiences impacted me greatly at a very impressionable age, and have stuck with me ever since.
In August of 2006, I moved to Durham, NC to attend Duke University. One of the main reasons I chose Duke was because of its diverse student body. After spending 4 years at a predominately Caucasian high school, I was eager to surround myself with people from different backgrounds. Duke exceeded my expectations in this regard, and by the end of freshman year, 3 of my best friends were Russian, Belorussian, and Iranian.
Ironically, my best experiences in college occurred hundreds of miles away from campus. As part of the Duke Engage program, I spent the summer after my sophomore year living with a home stay family in Urubamba, Peru. My day job consisted of installing ventilated chimney stoves in people’s houses to improve their lung capacities. Seeing the gratitude from families that had previously suffered unhealthy levels of smoke inhalation was motivating and fulfilling. My interactions with locals outside of work were every bit as invigorating as the ones I had during work. I chatted with taxi drivers about the unfair wages that led to nation-wide transportation strike, taught English to a middle school class, celebrated birthdays with my home stay family’s relatives by eating a “cuy” (guinea pig) feast, played soccer with locals, and even performed in a traditional Peruvian dance exhibition. These experiences were stimulating, and are what make me so excited to immerse myself in Bulgarian culture this year.
After graduation, I moved to Minneapolis where I started working full-time for Target Corporation. My time in the Twin Cities has been rewarding both professionally and personally. My work in merchandising and supply chain has taught me a tremendous amount about accountability, collaboration, and leadership. At the same time, my experiences outside of work mentoring elementary school youth, helping kindergartners learn to read, and teaching adult immigrants English as a Second Language have been gratifying, and reinforced my passion for education.
I am very fortunate to have a wonderful family, girlfriend, and group of friends. I have an older brother (Andrew) and two younger sisters (Lisa and Emily). My AWESOME parents still live in my hometown of Oak Ridge, NC, while my extended family and friends are spread out all over the country. Last but not least, my lovely girlfriend Lindsey is living and working in Minneapolis!
My other interests include microfinance, sustainable development, social enterprise, languages, current events, and technology.
- I’m red-green colorblind…this makes me pretty much 100% dependent on my mom, sisters, or girlfriend to pick out my clothes.
- I love puns…even if I’m the only one in the room amused by them.
- My love for travel has led me to 5 of 7 continents. Watch out Antarctica and Australia!
- I’m a HUGE Duke basketball fan. I grew up imitating my childhood favorites (Trajan Langdon, Jay Williams, and Shane Battier, just to name a few) out on my driveway hoop, and spent literally months living in a tent in college for front row seats to Duke/Carolina basketball games.
- I have an unhealthy obsession with Buffalo Wild Wings…Asian Zing and Mango Habanero flavors are my favorites!
- I enjoy brewing my own beer.
- My voice cracks more than I’d like to admit…can’t wait to see how that plays out in the classroom.
- Lovefool by the Cardigans is my guilty pleasure song.
Friends and family…any fun facts I’m forgetting? Post them in the comments section below! This is your chance to embarrass me!
Follow me on Twitter @MikeyP3121
Michael Pelehach on LinkedIn