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Centre grad found love in foreign service

Staff writer

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. That seems to have worked to bring Jenna Tajchman and her boyfriend Alex Trofim to decide to tie the knot.

They met when Jenna was a Peace Corp volunteer in Moldova and Alex was a Corp employee. The decision to get married came when Jenna went to the Philippines and Alex discovered he missed her. He visited her, and they decided to set a wedding date.

Jenna joined the Peace Corps in 2007 after graduating from Centre High School and Kansas State University. She met Alex, a Moldovan who worked as a safety and security officer.

“He gave a presentation to us,” Jenna said. “I was impressed with his fluent English and thought, ‘There’s something special about that guy.”’

She found out he played the harmonica and was in a Moldovan blues band that she enjoyed.

In 2009, Jenna returned to the United States and was hired by the United States Agency for International Development to work in agricultural development in the Philippines.

They were married in Moldova in May 2011. Jenna said Alex helped plan the hybrid American/Moldovan wedding. On that morning, Alex’s family visited their apartment, and Jenna’s family asked them questions about Alex while Jenna was in an adjoining room. The parents gave consent to the marriage.

Later, the couple drove around town in a Cadillac convertible. The civil ceremony took place in a special government building set aside for weddings. The ceremony was in Romanian. Alex and Jenna each had one attendant. Jenna’s attendant was a fellow worker from Oklahoma who also married a Moldovan and lives in Moldova.

A dinner and dance were held that evening in a restaurant. Alex joined his blues band, “Still Waters,” in providing the music. Everyone toasted the bride and groom.

Alex and Jenna came to Marion later that year for a wedding reception put on by her parents, Joe and Barbara Tajchman.

After serving in the Philippines a few more months, they went to Tajikistan for two years, where Alex was employed by the U.S. Embassy and Jenna continued to work for USAID in agricultural development. Alex organized events for embassy personnel.

In 2013, Alex became a naturalized citizen of the United States. Last June, he was at the U.S. State Department in Washington, District of Columbia, to receive a prestigious award for his work in Tajikistan.

“I wanted to shake the hand of Secretary of State John Kerry,” Alex said, “but he was out with a broken hip.”

They were assigned to Accra, Ghana, in 2015. Ghana is west of Nigeria on the Atlantic coast.

Jenna manages the future projects under USAID to increase ag production and improve child nutrition in northern Ghana.

Alex continues to work for the U.S. Embassy. He said his job is to inspect residences of embassy staff to make sure their houses are secure.

“I have to make sure they have bars on the windows and alarm systems installed,” he said.

They enjoy the opportunities their jobs have given them to travel and see how people live in other countries.

“I appreciate the challenging experiences,” Jenna said. “Every country is different and has a different environment to adjust to. It’s a constant learning experience. Every time we move, we get better at it.”

Now they have another adjustment to make. They returned to the U.S. in December for the Dec. 24 birth of their baby, Lena. They said the government gave them the option to have the baby in America. They will return to Ghana this week.

“We both are focused on our jobs, and now we have a new focus,” Alex said, looking at baby Lena.

Last modified Feb. 4, 2016

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