by Samuel Gerard (Ukraine 2018–20)
(pen name of Samuel Gerard Luebbers)


Samuel Gerard

Having had the chance to reflect on my Peace Corps experiences, and knowing how fickle memory can be, I felt the necessity to write them down. What became of this project was a meandering epistolary, one which I both mentally dedicated and fictionally addressed to an old friend, Michelle. We met a lifetime ago on the roof of my college freshmen dorm. We shared a long conversation then, and several others afterwards. We always imagined, to ourselves, that we would be together. I promised her that when I was ready to commit to someone, it would be her.

Life has a way of getting in the way, though. I learned this alongside college’s so many other lessons. In ultimate testament to life’s effect on well-laid plans, soon after Michelle and I began dating, I received my invitation to serve in the Peace Corps in Ukraine.

Knowing me, Michelle encouraged me to accept, and knowing her, I knew it would be the last goodbye to a four-year dance which could not continue. Yet, in my youth, I promised her our relationship would last, that through phone calls, and more importantly, letters, we could give it the lifeblood our relationship needed to survive. We would nurture it with words, written despite the distance.

Dear Michelle, is what I wish I’d sent.

Life got in the way, and we went our separate ways. Though my words themselves are edited for readability and grammatical purposes, they are raw, intimate glimpses of myself which Michelle deserved to see, and never did. This book, a collection of these letters, is the story of my time in Ukraine with the Peace Corps. The story is one of far more emotional resonance because, as I wrote the letters, often at the pace of once/month, I was not telling my story . . . I was telling my story to her.

As such, I hope you see in them something of yourself, whether in the writer, the reader, or Michelle herself. Thank you for considering my work, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Peace Corps letters – fiction

Dear Michelle, Letters from an Old Friend in a New Life
Samuel Gerard [pseudonym of Samuel Gerard Luebbers] (Ukraine 2018-20)
Peace Corps Writers
July 2022
247 pages
$12.99 (paperback), $4.99 (Kindle)

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