A Wheaton homecoming for Dan Appel

 Dan Appel, 21st Century Community Learning Center

Through the Peace Corps, Daniel Appel taught math to teenagers in a rural Namibian village, then embarked on months of adventure in Africa—whitewater rafting, mountain climbing, scuba diving and more.

Eventually, he made his way back to his childhood home in western Minnesota—Wheaton, in Traverse County—in time to view the beautiful fall colors. He found work as program coordinator for the 21st Century Community Learning Center Grant, a program that helps students meet academic standards.

“I am trying to use the skills that I have developed and the perspectives that I have gained to improve the lives of youth and give back to the community that gave so much to me,” he said.

He had been away from Wheaton for years, living in Grand Forks for six years while earning a bachelor’s degree in investments and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of North Dakota.  It was there that he discovered a passion for teaching, which led him to the Peace Corps. It was a good match, as he also loves new experiences.

He treasures the familiar, too. In Wheaton, he’s surrounded by family and lifelong friends. He plays board games in the winter and enjoys lake life in the summer. He works on home improvement projects with his dad, cooks with his mom and sisters and brings his nephew to play hockey.

“I live wide open by seizing new opportunities with no regret or fear while cherishing the people and places that I have grown to love,” he said. “I enjoy trying new things, visiting new places, tasting new foods, and meeting new people. I enjoy good company and reminiscing with friends and family. I live wide open by telling stories with excitement and passion. I live wide open by listening intently and caring deeply about others.”

Dan’s position as a program coordinator expires on July 31, 2017 when the learning center grant funding ends.

“I do not know how long I will be living here in Wheaton but I do know that it will always be home,” he said.

Steve Henning