“To be on a quest is nothing more or less than to become an asker of questions.” -Sam Keen

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Virgin Entry

Mission Statement: With this blog, I hope to record the process of becoming a Peace Corps volunteer, from start to finish. I invite you to follow my journey.

As of yesterday, I was nominated to work in Central/South America as a TEFL volunteer. Now, the Peace Corps repeatedly tells you that your nomination information is not a done deal; any number of factors could lead to a different region or work assignment. However, I can’t help but feel excited about the possibility of serving in the region I requested. I was praying that I’d be selected to work in a Spanish speaking country--it makes the most sense for my language background and personal interest. There were only seven nomination slots available at the time my recruiter called me, a fact I consider extremely fortuitous. Now it’s a waiting game for my medical paperwork--from what I’ve heard and read, I should expect a veritable shit ton of forms. I’m trying to brace myself and make all the necessary appts NOW.

My nomination is the third step in a five step application process. The first step was the written application, which includes a lengthy list of personal and professional questions. They ask for a resume, two essays, and three references. I think they make the initial application so grueling to weed out people who aren’t really serious about joining. It’s not so bad, but it does take a while to fill out. There’s also an initial medical questionnaire you have to complete before your application can move forward. For me, the process took between a week and ten days--I turned everything in on Feb. 21. This step can be done online.

After your completed application (including references) is submitted, you’ll receive a packet that asks for a copy of your fingerprints, a National Agency Check Questionnaire for Peace Corps Volunteer Background Investigation, information concerning your student loans (if you have any), and possible work area assignments. Once you mail in these completed forms, you’ll receive a letter with login information for My Toolkit, an online taskmaster/checklist. Then it’s on to step two.

The Interview. It took about two months from the submission of my initial application to my actual interview at the Peace Corps office in NYC. I interviewed on April 20th, which turned out to be truly a great experience. I can only speak for myself, but my recruitment officer was warm and open. She asked me a standard set of interview questions, typed my responses into a laptop, and told me on the spot that she’d be moving my application forward. Although some of the interview questions were a little personal, I never felt uncomfortable or like I was being grilled. The Peace Corps Wiki is a great place to find practice questions and information about the interview process.

Then, three days later (April 23) I moved on the step three: the nomination. :) Actually, she offered me two choices: either the Caribbean or Central/South America, both for TEFL. I picked the latter because I have a stronger interest in that region, and because it offers a wider range of placement opportunities. The program is charted to leave in February, but I’d like to get my medical stuff out of the way ASAP (over the summer). I was told that it would be a good idea to strengthen my application my working as a health volunteer, so I’m looking for work in the area. I know that the upcoming months will prove to be frustrating, but right now I’m on a nomination high. So excited!!

So, this blog will pick up with a record of steps four and five: medical/legal clearance and invitation. I’ll keep you posted once my medical stuff comes in. For right now, I must savor the anticipation.

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