Friends, family, and people of the internet:
Hello. I’ve decided to start a blog to keep you all up to date during my time in the Peace Corps. Barring delays due to a government shutdown, natural disasters or other such nonsense I’ll be heading for Africa in June.EDIT: I’m headed to Ghana on June 6.
I don’t know exactly where yet but based on a little googling and the information at peacecorpswiki.org I think I’ll be assigned to Tanzania or Malawi. I’ll have much more information once I receive the official invitation packet.
I’ll try to update this blog regularly over the next two months and then whenever I can once I am in country. As you probably know, Peace Corps Volunteers live a spartan lifestyle. I will likely be assigned to a rural community and live in a house with no electricity or running water. More importantly, I don’t know if I’ll have internet access more than once or twice a month.
Since I started telling people I applied for the Peace Corps, I started getting a lot of questions about the service, what I’ll be doing, etc. Here are a few basics:
When will you be leaving?
June 6, 2011
Hopefully, June. I don’t know if the government shutdown will delay my departure. I’m crossing my fingers that it won’t.
How long will you be gone?
From June 6,2011 until August 30,2013
I do get some vacation days so I may be able to come back to the US briefly during my service.
What will you be doing?
I was nominated for the Education – Secondary Math program. I’ll be teaching middle school mathematics in English. In addition to that, I’ll likely work on secondary projects in my community (things like AIDS/HIV awareness programs, teaching or tutoring students learning English, etc)
Why the Peace Corps?
I’m going to tackle this question in excruciating detail in a later post. For now I’ll say the more I learned about the program, the more it appealed to me. I’m excited for the opportunity to travel abroad and I think I can be a real asset to the community in which I am assigned.
Why is the Peace Corps application process so ridiculously long?
The Peace Corps folks say that it weeds out those so who aren’t serious. I think the program is just understaffed and underfunded (but doing their best).
Just for your reference here is my application timeline so far:
- Summer, 2010 – Started working on the online application
- October 4, 2010 – Submitted the application complete with references, essays
- Mid-October, 2010 -Submitted fingerprints and paperwork for a background check, more application paperwork
- November 12, 2010 – Interview with a Peace Corps Recruiter at MSU
- November 30, 2010 – Nominated for service in Sub-Saharan Africa leaving in Q3 2011
- December 7, 2010 – Received the Medical paperwork
- December 2010, January, February 2011 – a physical, dental and eye exam, a couple of shots, a TB test, more paperwork.
- March 9, 2011 – Medically cleared for service
- March 2011 – Several emails with the Placement Office for some last final (for real) questions and to update my resume
- April 6, 2011 – I get an email from my Placement Officer telling me I’ve been ‘cleared for placement’ and that my invitation is in the mail.
- April 12,2011 – Invitation came! Ghana, West Africa
- June 6, 2011 – Depart for Staging
- June 8,2011 – Arrive in Ghana
Compared to the horror stories I’ve read, I’ve made pretty good time.
That’s all I’ve got. Let me know if you have any more questions in the comments.