By Steve Guntli
Dylan Blake has spent most of his life in Blaine, but now he’s getting ready to spend more than two years in Indonesia for a tour with the Peace Corps.
Blake is leaving for the island nation on Sunday, March 15. Once there, he will spend his tour teaching English at an Indonesian high school.
Blake was born in Bellingham and raised in Blaine and Birch Bay. His mother, Christine, works for the city of Bellingham, and his father, Dave, has done construction work for more than 30 years. Dylan graduated from Blaine High School in 2010, and attended Western Washington University. He graduated last December with a degree in English and a minor in teaching English as a second language.
Blake has always wanted to travel the world.
“I didn’t really want to go to college when I graduated high school, I just wanted to go out into the world,” he said. “Luckily I realized you need a degree for a lot of things you want to do. I didn’t always know I wanted to be a teacher, but over the last few years I’ve found that I really enjoy and am pretty good at it.”
In the last few years, Blake has traveled to Iceland, Scotland, Spain and France, spent a semester abroad in Greece and taught English for a summer in central Mexico. He said he has been thinking about joining the Peace Corps for a long time.
“I’ve been kicking it around since I was about 16,” he said. “I remember being in a class taught by Mike Dahl. He wasn’t in the Peace Corps, but he spent some time teaching in the Congo, and I remember thinking it sounded amazing. Then a little while later my cousin joined the Peace Corps, so that kind of rooted the idea for me.”
Blake will be spending the first three months of his trip in Batu, a city of about 200,000 people in east Indonesia. There, he will undergo more than 140 hours of language training, and learn about the nation’s culture.
“There are more than 17,000 islands in Indonesia, which makes for a lot of diversity,” he said. “The official language is called ‘Bahasa Indonesia,’ but all that means is ‘the language of Indonesia.’ In truth, there are about 700 different dialects. I know maybe a dozen words of Bahasa, so I’m excited to dive in to the language classes.”
After his training in Batu is finished, Blake doesn’t know where he will end up. Despite all the uncertainty, Blake doesn’t feel nervous about being abroad for so long.
“I’m excited to get into this chapter of my life, and I’m excited to see where my friends’ lives will be when I get back,” he said.
Once he returns from his stint with the Peace Corps, Blake wants to put his English degree to good use and write a book about his experience.
“I’d love to write about service learning and travel,” he said. “Living in a Muslim country is going to be very interesting for me, so I’d like to write about that, too. After that, I’d still like to teach abroad for a number of years.”
Despite his worldly ambitions, Blake said Blaine and Birch Bay are very much on his mind.
“I’m really grateful to the educators of the Blaine school district,” he said. “Those teachers work long hours for no thanks, but they cultivate a lot of passion in their students. They’ve made a very positive impact on me.”