Saturday, April 2, 2011


So, quite a bit has happened since I last updated. About three weeks ago, I was issued an invitation to Lesotho working under the Community Health (CHED) program set to leave in May. Deciding to decline proved to be the most difficult decision of my life. Many factors influenced my decision including a serendipitous offer to volunteer in Peru with a PCV at a community center at her site. Beginning May 1st, I will officially be moving to Peru and working the next year at the Comedor located in Grocio Prado, about two hours south of Lima.  I'm hoping to get some sort of domestic violence support group off the ground as well as expand their youth group, help with after school tutoring programs and apprentice with their social worker. To be clear, I will be volunteering directly for this center and in that sense, will not be a PCV in any capacity. I've attached their website below if anyone is interested in volunteering there in the future. The perks are incomparable to the Peace Corps but they do provide free board and ten hot meals a week.

I wish everyone still waiting for invites the best of luck ...and those of you in country: thank you for serving. I believe being a PCV may be the single most heroic act anyone can set out to accomplish in our modern world. You are a true inspiration. I will continue to stalk all of your blogs as I've learned more from some of them than any book I've ever read. May your selflessness be returned ten-fold.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

placement interview: a cautionary tale

these last couple of days have been a complete whirlwind. i was getting ready for work on tues morning when i noticed that i had missed a call from my PC nurse...ive been medically cleared for months so my heart literally sank. what could it be now?...i checked my voicemail and realized that it wasn't my nurse at all but my placement officer, Stephanie!!! i guess any number calling from PC headquarters comes up as the same extension on your phone. i never noticed until now. so that being said, i hopped into my car and called the number she left on my voicemail. i ended up contacting the PC bursars office or something of the like. no Stephanie to be heard of at the community development placement desk to their knowledge. after a good twenty minutes of being transferred from department to department, i hesitantly left a voicemail on the machine of a Stephanie, not sure if i had reached the right person or not. i rechecked my own voicemail to see if perhaps i had inverted the numbers and the voicemail was nowhere to be found! by the time i got to work, i was seriously considering the possibility that this was a placement mirage.

ill skip ahead to the good part. 3:30pm: I call the mysterious number yet again and Stephanie picks up. she doesnt call herself my placement specialist but just states that she has some questions for me. right off the bat she asks about my commitment to join the peace corps, what i foresaw as the major challenges of my service, how i would deal with frustration on site,  my preference for a spanish-speaking country and general geographic preference. i answered each swiftly,or so i thought. in terms of spanish-speaking preference i thought i made it clear that id go where i am needed most, i just feel i could do the most good serving in a spanish-speaking country, as i already know the language. she thanked me for my time and told me i was qualified for service!

i drove home feeling elated that i had done all i could do and now it was time to just sit and wait. when i got home that evening an email was in my inbox. it was quite long but essentially stated that she doubted my commitment to the peace corps especially with regard to Core expectation #3 which reads that as a trainer and Volunteer, you are expected to serve where the Peace Corps asks you to go, under conditions of hardship, if necessary, and with the flexibility needed for effective service. essentially, i was being tested. she asked for two essays, one on my general commitment to the peace corps and another on how i would fulfill expectation #3. i wrote them the next morning and called around noon DC time to follow up. she thanked me for my thoughtfulness and promptness and then proceeded to tell me that she had a proposition for me. i could leave for french speaking africa in june to do youth development, however id have to have a proficiency to 2semesters of college level french by that time. i'm not good with languages to begin with. it took years of dedication for me to learn spanish hence my apprehension for a non-spanish speaking post. in this case, id have to learn french in about 12 weeks and then a local language when i arrived. she told me to sleep on it as she could sense my apprehension. i took it under serious consideration and concluded that it is the wrong decision for me. id be floundering to learn french with my current schedule and resources and then to add a third language on top of that during training would be disaster. again, i wrote a well-crafted email explaining my reservations thinking this may be enough to disqualify me altogether. i literally dont think i took a deep breath for two hours while i waited for a response. finally, around 530pm east coast time, when i had given up all hope of hearing today, she responded: 

Thanks for your phone call and follow-up email.  Thanks for taking the time to consider the options.  It seems that the best way forward is to not consider you for a program requiring RL (Romance language + commitment to French).  I’ll continue to look for programs for you that match your skills that either a) don’t have a language requirement (which doesn’t imply that it is an English speaking program, but rather that language training occurs in country) or b) has a Spanish language requirement.   Once a program is found, we will issue an invitation.

I cant say im not relieved. but at the same time i am a bit deflated that its back to the waiting game. no end in sight...i just hope the right opportunity presents itself soon...i really hope that email was not a polite way of saying, "were now putting your file at the bottom of the pile. talk to you in a few months." i dont know if i can make it that long...

Monday, January 31, 2011

hello there placement...

so i decided to email my placement assessment assistant last night to see if there was any new information she could give me on the status of my file. it's only been two weeks since they asked for an updated resume so i knew this was a long shot... in essence, i told her the predicament i am currently in, having just been offered an awesome job but unsure whether to accept it or not being that i could be leaving as early as april (but as late as ...). her response is what you might expect: 

Congratulations on your job offer!  I hope all is well otherwise.  I am very sorry but I cannot offer much guidance for you at this point.  We are doing our best to contact everyone, and I will note your predicament in your file.  If you would like to, I could potentially move your availability date back to past June, and then you might be able to pursue both this opportunity, and Peace Corps.  However, if your preference is to get started with PC as soon as possible, I hate to say that I cannot give you any idea of what is in store for you at this point.  If you did want to change your availability, let me know as soon as you can, and I will update your file.  Keep in mind that if you say June 15, 2011, that means that we will consider you for any programs AFTER that date, and that will not mean you will leave in June, but may leave a few months after that.  Thanks for your enthusiasm for Peace Corps and best of luck in making this difficult decision.  Let me know if you have any other questions!

"ahhh. no i don't want to change my availability!!!", i responded (in a much more refined manner) just a few minutes later...bleh. i understand she wasn't going to tell me some new, earth-shattering information on my status, but nothing at all?? not even a clue? i'm just a little deflated. i know some people have had luck contacting placement and getting at least a morsel of information. i was not as lucky... this process would just be so much easier if i had the slightest idea of an end date to this perpetual waiting...i sense a bad bout of RAS coming on...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

application timeline

below is a vague timeline of my application process thus far. ive read through a ton of these over the past year and its given me hope/perspective when RAS was out of control. hope mine can do the same for one of you. 

end of feb 2010 - submit application
end of march - interview with recruiter and nomination> c/sa community development feb.2011
mid april - receive medical paperwok
june-sept.- complete medical and dental paperwork
last week of sept.- submit medical
first week of oct.- dental clearance and a medical hold goes on my file (under review)
second week of oct- call from my nurse explaning additional paperwork that needs to be filled out
last week of oct- fax back the last of additional paperwork
mid nov- mid dec- series of pc nurse requesting paperwork and me submitting it promptly.

dec 22nd- deadline for medical clearance comes and goes. i email placement to see what the status is and find out my program has been filled

dec 23rd- i call to see what the hold up is but my nurse is already gone until the first of the year
jan 9th- i call again. she requests yet MORE paperwork which i submit later that day. she verbally clears me
jan 12th- toolkit update: medical clearance
jan 19th- placement requests updated resume and final transcript. i submit 2hours later and call to make sure it was received. my placement and assessment assistant informs me they will  "let me know when they are ready to work with my file."


very first post

it only seems fitting that after months of adamently stalking all of your blogs, i should finally give in and join the dialogue. i just want to apologize in advance for how much i'm bound to repete myself in this blog, which i assume will mostly consist of two themes: how tired i am of waiting and how much i desperately want to be a PCV.
...RAS has its peaks and valleys and, for me, it changes every day. sometimes every hour. the most trying hurtle for me lately has been the 20/20 special. i was unassumingly watching tv with both my parents when it came on. and after that kind of sensational blitz it is really hard to find the words to articulate why you still want this so badly. for me, peace corps has always been something ive had a difficult time articulating. i want it so badly on so many levels that, yes, i am willing to put myself at risk. im not naive. i comprehend that moving, alone to a third world country is not as safe as living in scottsdale with my parents. but i dont want to ever let fear hold me back from experiencing something phenomenon. it seems most RPCVs i talk to say their experience was nothing like what they envisioned it to be. i want to know what they know, see what they've seen. i'm so sick of living in a culture dominated by mediated experiences. i want to go somewhere and experience it for myself...and yes i'm well aware that that can be done anywhere...but i want the sensation of total immersion in something so utterly foreign that i can't even fathom it from where i stand right now, in my cozy house, with my cup of tea and it romantic. call it ridiculous. i want it. and always have wanted it. and won't be satisfied until i get it...