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Crown Point lawyer leaving for Peace Corps

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On Sept. 19, attorney Connie Postelli will leave legal practice behind and depart for a two-year stint in the Peace Corps. Postelli will be teaching English in Ukraine. But she knows little else about her trip.

“People ask me if I’m scared, and I tell them I don’t have enough information to be scared yet,” she said.

Last year, Postelli met a woman who was in her 60s and had just served with the Peace Corps in Albania for two years. “She had suddenly realized that with her life, she was just collecting stuff.” And Postelli began to think about how she, too, could take her life in a different direction.

“She and I talked for a while, and I thought: wow, this sounds good,” Postelli said.

Postelli began the 15-month application process last year, which included a 27-page application and 14-page health questionnaire. The Peace Corps requires that any health problems or concerns be thoroughly checked out before approving an applicant. Postelli, who turned 56 in April, said a series of medical tests and evaluations – along with a mental health assessment – took about four months to complete. Postelli said a few of her friends “were glad I had my head examined – and were surprised that I passed.”

Initially, Postelli was supposed to be heading to Turkmenistan, so she had been preparing to live in an arid climate where the Muslim culture required modest – yet cool – clothing. But in August, Turkmenistan withdrew its request for Peace Corps volunteers, and Postelli was reassigned to Ukraine.

She will spend 27 months there, the first three of which will be devoted to training, including 4.5 hours of language training every day. After 10 weeks, she’ll have to pass a language test, or she may be sent home. And she will live with a host family who speaks no English and will not have electricity, running water, or Internet access.

At the beginning of this year, Postelli merged her solo practice with another firm, so her clients would be taken care of. Since then, she’s been preparing for her trip and teaching English as a second language at her local library.

Postelli said her friends and family have been supportive of her decision.

“Most of them aren’t even surprised, because I’ve always had this personality that needs to save things,” she said.

Postelli said that until training is complete, she will not be permitted to receive any packages. And she is allowed to bring with her two suitcases, weighing no more than 100 pounds combined.

“I’m going to spend my weekend packing my suitcases and weighing them repeatedly,” she said.

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  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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