Many recent college graduates feel they can make a difference in the world.

Many recent college graduates feel they can make a difference in the world.

Brian Levine of Bexley is no exception.

As a member of the Peace Corps, he left in July for a 26-month stay in Zambia, a landlocked country in southern Africa that is home to the famous Victoria Falls.

Levine teamed up with the Peace Corps after graduating in May from North Carolina State University with a degree in environmental technologies and a minor in environmental sciences.

At N.C. State, he worked and won an award in phytoremediation -- the act of using specifically bred plants to remove toxins from soil.

A 2004 Bexley High School graduate, Levine said he joined the government volunteer corps for many reasons, including his lust for adventure and a challenge.

"I have considered joining the Peace Corps for a long time, knowing it would be a chance to help people in more difficult living situations that I have ever been subjected to," Levine said in an e-mail, which he can access about once a month.

While in Zambia, Levine will help teach locals how to build and manage man-made ponds and fisheries to sustain both their living conditions and their economy.

"I chose the Rural Aquaculture program because I am very interested in gaining experience and knowledge in subsistence farming and would like to offer guidance to those living a lifestyle I am very interested in," he said.

Levine said he is looking to go on to graduate school in restoration ecology and policy writing after he returns home.

Right now, he is living with a host family in a village outside the town of Chongwe.

His host father, who speaks conversational English, is a retired police officer with four children, two of whom are successful businessmen. The family is considered well off in Zambia, Levine said.

Soon, after learning the local language of Bemba and getting acclimated to the culture, Levine will move out on his own to the northern territories of the country to help with its fisheries.

Levine said he is having a great experience with his host family.

One evening, his host mother, Bamaayo, asked him to make spaghetti and handed him a bottle of ketchup.

"Luckily fresh vegetables are readily available from the garden and I was able to improvise a sauce quickly," he said. "During the meal, Bataata (his host father) kept repeating, 'Ah, we in Colorado now, we in America,' even though I never mentioned the state of Colorado, but it was a little taste of home."

While excited for her son, Karen Levine said she is just beginning to get used to the idea that he is living in Africa.

Karen Levine, an aide in the Cassingham Elementary and Bexley Middle School library, said she was shocked and in awe when she found out her son had been accepted to the Peace Corps program of his choice.

"I think my husband is still getting over it," she said. "I'm excited about it. I have family that has been traveling to Zambia to work on an orphanage there for years. I was a little more used to it."

Karen Levine said it helps that she and Brian's father, Mark, have purchased an international phone card and that Brian has an international cell phone.

When he is able, Brian Levine sends out mass e-mails to his friends and family members.

After working in Zambia for a year, he said he has the opportunity to travel home to visit his family.

"I don't plan on doing so," he said. "I have heard it is quite difficult to get back on the plane to Africa."

Karen Levine said her son will carry these experiences with him throughout his life.

"I hope that whatever he learns there will be continued in his studies so he can have an impact in the Corps that can help clean up our world and our soils," she said. "I'm glad my son is part of this."

gmartineau@thisweeknews.com

Brian Levine