Quick synopsis: The Great Sickness of 2018 happened, and I didn’t leave for Peace Corps | Madagascar on February 26 as scheduled.
A bit of background: In 2005 I became a pediatric respiratory therapist and have been working in health care ever since. I became a registered nurse in 2015 with the goal of choosing a slightly different career path. I’ve worked in pediatric ER, NICU, PICU, telemetry med-surg, inpatient rehab nursing, and finally psychiatric/addiction nursing either as a nurse or as a respiratory therapist. I’ve been continuously employed with the exception of six months from May 2015-December 2015 due to a broken wrist AND broken ankle which required surgery. I like to travel and explore, and I plan on going to graduate school and working as a RN doesn’t afford a lot of extended length vacation time. Which brings me to…
I had been interested in joining the Peace Corps
since high school, a desire which was magnified during short-term volunteer experiences in Peru, Bolivia, and Brazil. However, I also felt compelled to gain work experience and further my career. Nonetheless, I still felt the pull of Peace Corps and I first applied to the Peace Corps in September 2016 then again in March 2017. In July 2017, I got an invitation to Madagascar for community health. I was super excited as Madagascar is an amazing country and was going to be my home for 2+ years. However, as fate would have it, I got the kind of sick that makes you question whether or not you’ll live 4 days prior to staging. So despite being medically and legally cleared and ready to go, I’m still sitting in the US of A. And this brings me to…
Logistics: I’d had already given notice at my job[s], arranged for my kitties and house to be looked after while I’m gone. I was fortunate to be able to return to one of them so I could continue to make a few dollars while I wait until my fate is decided. So now I’m leaving most likely in April or May, but possibly as late as June. I’ve decided I’m OK with it [do I really have a choice?]. I DO like my job, and having a few more weeks [months?] with my loved ones [and kitty cats], and working on house projects can’t be a bad thing, can it?
As long as I have a few weeks’ notice, I can cancel my YMCA membership, give [another] two weeks’ notice at the job I hope to return to post-Peace Corps, and tie up other loose ends. Which brings me to…
My current status as an applicant: I have spent an enormous amount of time and money going through all the hoops necessary to become a volunteer. I have completed the application, gotten the recommendations, done the interview, visited my doctors and dentist (10+ visits), and packed my bags even. I’m medically and legally cleared; I just have to wait until I know to which program I am being reassigned. I’m hoping to find out by the end of March. So this brings me to…
… a super helpful (but not at all helpful) chart of potential placement sites. [This chart was compiled based on 2017 departures. I think the Burkina Faso one has been shut down, but for the rest of them, I guess any is an option. I’ve just selected departures April-June since that is most likely when I’ll be reassigned].
- 8th – Namibia – Community Health Volunteer, Small Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Development Volunteer
- 13th – Vanuatu – Health Extension Volunteer, Health Extension Specialist Volunteer, Hygiene Education and Water Sanitation Volunteer, Primary Education English Teacher-Trainer
- 23rd – Mozambique – Community Health Services Promoter
- 24th – Mongolia – Public Health Educator, Secondary Education English Co-Teacher, Secondary Education English Teacher Trainer, University English Teacher
- 28th – Ecuador – Health Extension Volunteer, Youth Development and Community Service Volunteer
- 1st – Sierra Leone – Health Extension Volunteer, Secondary Education English Teacher, Secondary Education Math Teacher, Secondary Education Science Teacher
- 3rd – Uganda – Agribusiness Advisor, Business Development Specialist, Community Agribusiness Coordinator, Community Health Educator, Community Health Specialist
- 3rd – Togo – English and Gender Education Teacher, Food Security Educator, Public Health and Malaria Educator
- 3rd – Moldova – Community Development Worker, Health Education Teacher, Secondary Education English Teacher
- 4th – Rwanda – Maternal and Child Health Volunteer
- 5th – Malawi – Health Extension Volunteer, Natural Resources Management Volunteer
- 10th – Burkina Faso – Community Economic Development Volunteer, Community Health Agent, Community Health Specialist, English Teacher – TEFL Certificate, Math Teacher, Science Teacher
- 10th – Guyana – Community Conservation Promoter, Community Health Promoter, Community Health Promotion Specialist, Primary Literacy Promoter, Primary Literacy Specialist
- 11th – Swaziland – Urban Youth Development Volunteer, Health Extension Volunteer
- 24th – Belize – Rural Family Health Educator
If I had my pick, and at this point, I’m quite certain that I do not [although I did have some say in Madagascar] my top picks are: Mozambique [late April], Belize [late June], Mongolia or Ecuador [both late May]. I have Spanish language skills; I think Portuguese would be fairly easy to acquire. English/Creole is spoken in Belize, and Mongolian is so foreign that I don’t think my Spanish background would impede learning it. I think Moldova, Rwanda, and Guyana [early-middle June] are in the second-tier, with most of continental West Africa being third tier as far as my preference goes.
This is a long post, but for those of you who I haven’t been able to speak with about this at length, I felt that it was important to share the background and current status of my plans. Those of you who know me well will probably not be surprised by my desire to join the Peace Corps, even though I’m a bit sad to leave SC and my friends and family in SC and other parts of the US. I am hoping for everyone’s support and understanding as I (hopefully) launch into a new journey in my life.