'That's what I'm supposed to do': Destin native joining Peace Corps

Annie Blanks
The Destin Log
Striedel pictured at the Wat Mongkolratanaram Buddhist Temple, a Thai-inspired temple, in Fort Walton Beach. The 24-year-old will be setting off for Thailand in January to spend two years with the Peace Corps.

At 24 years old, DJ Striedel was at the cusp of a very successful professional career having been given the opportunity to own his own insurance firm.

But he turned it down, instead opting for a much different path in life: the Peace Corps.

“I just feel like that’s what I’m supposed to do in my life, instead of going into an insurance agency,” he said.

So the Destin native and Fort Walton Beach resident will soon trade in his suit and tie for a passport and head to Thailand in January, where he will spend two years with the Peace Corps teaching English and public health to elementary school children.

“(Going into the Peace Corps) is just something I’ve always wanted to do,” Striedel said. “I’ve always leaned towards public service in a way.”

He volunteers with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and also helps his special needs friend write short stories.

The South Walton High School and University of Central Missouri graduate spent a lot of time traveling while he was growing up in Destin, having been to London, Paris, Amerstam and Belize, among other countries. Thailand, however, will be a first for him.

“I’m excited to explore the Southeast Asian countryside and see what that area has to offer,” he said. “Overall, that experience of working with a developing village and trying to better their education system is going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

During his time in Thailand, Striedel will not only teach basic English to Thai children and public health to village residents, but will start a project that is supposed to last in the village after he’s gone. Striedel, who is an avid Crossfitter, hopes to begin a children’s health and exercise program at the school.

As excited as Striedel is to begin his journey, he said he needs help getting there. He’s asking the community to pitch in to help him financially while he’s in Thailand, and has started a GoFundMe in the hopes of raising $5,500 to cover the costs and expenses of leaving the United States for a foreign country.

“I turned down money to do this,” he said. “And unfortunately, I still need it to be able to go comfortably to avoid coming back to the states with a large amount of debt. It would just really help me follow my dreams and fulfill my mission of helping others, and not have to worry.”

If you would like to donate to Striedel’s fund, you can go to, and follow his blog at