It has been a long time since my last blog entry -- that does not bode all that well for the future. Of course, during the application process things don't change all that fast, so for a good long while there has been nothing to report. Now, however, I can officially say I am a Peace Corps nominee. I was nominated on August 3rd. My Recruiter, from the Atlanta office, got hold of me last week with some bad news. She cleared all my secondary application information and went into the system to nominate me for the teacher-trainer position in the Pacific, only to discover the position was filled. Awe! So she called me up and told me the good-slash-bad news. Together we went over what positions were left -- a whole lot of them were in "Asia." I don't think I could do Asia, for the same reasons I couldn't do Eastern Europe: because anything too far north would mess me up (I have Seasonal Affective Disorder). After spending a few minutes going through a bunch of dead leads, or live leads that didn't leave until next year, she got an idea: she would call the Pacific Desk (the department that is in charge of Peace Corps positions in the Pacific) and ask them to open up a new, identical assignment for me.
A few days went by. Then, she called me to say they had AGREED and that I was now officially nominated into the job we were originally looking at: teacher-trainer in the Pacific. I still don't know where in the Pacific, exactly, but that knowledge would't do my much good right now anyway, because A) they might switch it on me at any time, and B) because if I don't get the medical/dental/eye package back to them soon, I'll miss it anyway.
A little explanation on how that works: After you get officially nominated, the Peace Corps medical desk in Washington, DC, sends you a thick-ass packet that contains forms to be filled out by a doctor, who must perform a physical on you. It also contains similar forms for a dentist and an opthomologist. This packet comes via snail-mail (the U.S. Post), and once you get it you need to arrange doctor visits, etc., fill out the forms, then send them back. In my case, my departure date is "early November," which is about 3 months from now (!). According to Peace Corps literature, it can take the Medical desk up to eight weeks to clear you, and they cannot send an invitation less than six weeks before the departure date. Do the math: that means about a week to receive the packet, six weeks for them to review my medical information, then receive and accept an invitation more than six weeks before the departure date. I have 3 months until "early November," so considering two of those stages take a month and a half each, I will have ONE OR TWO DAYS to get all the medical/dental/eye information finished and sent back. That's cutting it damn close. If the medical people want to follow up on anything in my physical, that will basically mean I miss my departure date.
Anyway, enough of that. I'm very excited and hope hidden snags do not lie between me and my desired assignment. I love the Pacific, and would be more than happy to be assigned there.
Secretly, I do have a couple of preferences, though: I hope my assignment is in Samoa or Tonga, maybe Fiji, and islands like Yap or Chuk or Palau would be lower down that list. The Phillipines, while having some of the world's hottest women, would be acceptable but not desirable. Frankly, depending on the assignment, I would rather just be sent back to the Eastern Caribbean -- I mean, I would MUCH rather have an urban assignment over a rural one. I've read some blogs out there in cyberspace-land about people assigned to remote, rural settings in the Pacific, and it doesn't sound pleasant. Scratch that -- it sounds pleasant in some ways, but no power, spotty water from a well, and an unbalanced diet would be a killer for me. I mean, I'm going to bring a laptop and digital camera, so I would want power at least a few hours a day. Fortunately, if I get the job I'm gunning for, I'll probably be in an urban setting, because that's where the greatest concentration of teachers to train would be.
This blog entry is now starting to run a wee long, so I'll end it here. Iin the future, I'll try to fill in some of the missing information. One of my goals with this blog is to give prospective Peace Corps applicants an idea of what to expect, step by step -- something that might have helped a lot when I was first applying years ago.