Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Finally got the phone call I have been waiting for from my Peace Corps recruiter and he gave me great news. He is going to nominate me for EASTERN EUROPE where I would be teaching English and my estimated leave date is June 2011. Needless to say, I was ecstatic and couldn't stop smiling for nearly an hour. Being nominated is not the end of the process by a long shot so before I go any further I'll review the application process for those that may not be familiar with it, or if you like you can skip the application process and proceed to the bolded paragraph at the end.

First step in the process is sending in the application, which might seem fairly easy, however, the document is about 10 web pages full of information that needs to be filled out. Some of it is easy and only requires you to fill in personal information, while some of the questions are more in depth seeking longer answers or more exhaustive lists, such as work history, volunteer experience, and skill experiences. The end of the application is two essays which are relatively tiny by college standards but provide the first and only real chance to put down into your own words why you want to join the Peace Corps and how you feel you are qualified.

After the application has been reviewed and accepted as complete you are scheduled for an interview. During the interview the recruiter tried to get to know me as best he could and made sure to inform me of the application process where I stood in the process and how I ranked as an applicant compared to others. Some of the basic questions that he asked were to name experiences I have had working in an unstructured environment, my experiences working with people who had differences from me and how I handled that situation, my preferences for my assignment, geographically and skill area. Lastly the questions were aimed to establish my suitability as a candidate from my personal life issues, such as relationship status, financial and legal obligations, and any food allergies or preferences.

Nomination is the next step and is usually a general geographic area, such as Eastern Europe in my case, a general field of work, English teaching, and a estimated date of departure, which for me is June 2011. The nomination is not set in stone and even if I pass all of the other steps in the process I could still end up with an assignment which does not match up the one I was first nominated for. This is because of the of the....

Evaluation. After being nominated another Peace Corps worker other than my Peace Corps recruiter reviews my file with my application, my recruiters notes and the assignment I was nominated for. Using this information they establish whether or not I am acceptable for the position I was nominated to and if they decide I am not they can either decide to decline my application or give me another assignment which they believe I am better suited for. All of this occurs while I undergo the next step...

Legal and medical review. The legal review is basically a background check and also a financial check ensuring that I do not have any outstanding warrants or the like, and neither am I trying to evade debt by applying to the Peace Corps. So for me this part of the process is virtually nonexistent. The medical review, however, is not nearly as easy, involving a thorough medical checkup with a large amount of paperwork to be signed and completed by my doctor and dentist insuring my present health before volunteer service. Any medical complications that come to light from the review will not necessarily disqualify me, just limit my options of where I would be placed to accommodate my specific disabilities. Luckily for me I dont expect any surprises so hopefully this step will be soon be just as forgotten as the legal review.

After enduring all of the hardship described above the only thing left is to agonizingly wait for the Peace Corps to send the official invitation. The invitation will be specific to the region within the country I will be serving, the exact date of departure, an in depth description of the job I will be asked to perform and various other necessary information to keep me well informed and to prepare thoroughly for staging, which is the last step before boarding the plane and occurs in an American city with other Peace Corps Volunteers who are assigned to the same country and allows for all of us to get to know each other before leaving our American culture behind to train for three months in the assigned country...but I'll describe all of that (fingers crossed) when I receive a formal invitation.

Ok. Now that that is out of the way, back to what I was saying, nominated for Eastern Europe sets me up for six possible countries: Albania, Moldova, Macedonia, Ukraine, Romania, and Bulgaria. Even though there is always a possibility that the assignment I was nominated for might not be the one I am invited to, I am very excited. Mostly because Eastern Europe was my preference, English teaching was my preference and June 2011 was my preference. So basically, at the present moment, I have the best assignment I could have asked for and I am very excited.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Peace Corps Interview!!!

I had my Peace Corps interview today and my recruiter told me that he was going to nominate me! I have been waiting for this point for about four years or more since I first heard about the Peace Corps in my Eleventh grade History class and decided right then that the Peace Corps was something I wanted to do. I have been working toward my Peace Corps goal ever since and today I reached a major milestone. During the interview the recruiter reviewed the process and went into depth on the steps to come, which are still very extensive, and up to that point I was under the impression that the interview was near the end of the process. Boy was I wrong. lol.

My day started early with me donning formal clothes, including a tie which is always an accessory I could live my entire life without, and driving down to the Red Line terminus of the Washington Metro system. Before I made my way to downtown Arlington for my interview I made a quick stop at Arlington National Cemetery and paid my respects to John F. Kennedy, founder by executive order of the Peace Corps almost fifty years ago. I was also surprised to finally see the Iwo Jima Marine memorial and was completely amazed by its size. When I saw pictures of it or saw it in a movie I always imagined it as a life size memorial. But no, the men in the memorial were at least 30 feet and the pedestal was taller than me (which at six foot is sometimes hard to do).

The actual interview went perfectly. My recruiter and I had a great conversation throughout the experience with both of us sharing personal stories and getting to know each other really well. I can also say that after his explanation and guidance that I am completely aware of the steps that I have to undertake to continue the path to my goal and I am even more sure now then ever that I will leaving for a foreign country in a years times. As for the actual interview, I was not surprised by any of his questions because they were almost exactly the same as those listed at this website, which I was lucky to stumble upon yesterday and prepare my thoughts for today.

Next step in the process is formal nomination which I should receive on June first, which coincidentally is my 21st birthday. So that will most definitely be a day to remember for many reasons.