Applying to the Peace Corps is an arduous process even with the ‘new’ system rolled out in 2014. My guess is they make the application process so difficult because serving is so difficult. If filling out the required paperwork makes you break into hives, then there’s no way you will be a successful volunteer. I’ve had a lot of questions about what the application process is like and what my specific timeline was so I thought I would write it down as best as I can remember according to my own memories and my “real’ memory, courtesy of gmail, which records every important incident in my life. Fair warning. This is long… and there’s no pictures.
The Very Beginning
- September 24, 2016: While watching a football game one Saturday, I randomly click over to the Peace Corps site just to check it out. Peace Corps was something my 11 year old self wanted to do, my 21 year old self almost did, and 31 year old self came up with a bunch of reasons not to do. Randomly decide to apply to Peace Corps while watching football. I choose the ‘go anywhere, do anything’ option.
- September 29, 2016: Placed ‘under consideration‘ for Healthy Youth Program in Lesotho. Undecided about if I want to work with ‘healthy youth in Lesotho’ but decide to continue on with the application process.
- Nothing happens for three months and I essentially decide Peace Corps is not for me
- December 27, 2016: Get a request for an interview with the Lesotho placement officer. Looks at remaining slot and notice only one available that could possibly fit my schedule. 8A, January 3, 2017, after a 24 hour post-call shift.
- January 3, 2017: Interview with placement officer for Lesotho position coming off a 24 hour on call shift where I’d worked 16 hours and been awake for 36 hours. Don’t remember anything about said interview other than in lasted 30 minutes [They said to prepare for 1-1.5 hours]
- Feb 28, 2017: Received news that I’m not going to Lesotho [not surprised; not sad]. Decide I would reapply.
The beginning: part 2
- March 1, 2017: Re-submit PC application. This time I chose HEALTH and Madagascar, Guyana, and Mozambique. I was also open to Central Asia/Eastern Europe and South America. North/West Africa was a no-go.
- March 3, 2017: Placed under consideration for Community Health Volunteer in Madagascar. Excited, like I wasn’t about Lesotho.
- May 5, 2017: Interview with placement officer for Madagascar. Interview last 1.75 hours. I was reminded to dress and act professionally even though it is a Skype interview. Wear pants even if the other person can’t tell because what if this one time, I have to get up to answer the door or the cat starts acting like an idiot and I need to throw him outside. The only thing I am told is get some recent ‘health’ volunteer experience. I reply that I am a currently a RN, and have been working in health care for 10 years. If I’m going to do any volunteer work, it won’t be in the ‘health’ sector since I’m already in it 48+ hours a week. I was told that was acceptable.
- July 29, 2017: Receive invitation for Madagascar pending legal and medical clearance, and I only have three days to accept. Mind you the invitation was sent on the 27th and it’s about 2a on a Sunday morning. Have no one except my much older coworker to talk it over with, and decide ‘what the hell?’ I push the ‘i accept button’ and sent a return email.
- DO.ALL.THE.THINGS [Physical, mental and physical health, get a PAP Smear, have dental probings done. Have about a gallon of blood drawn because they keep adding tests]
- November 16, 2017 Receive MEDICAL CLEARANCE
- November 26, 2017: Quit one job in preparation for leaving for Madagascar.
- January 2, 2018: Receive LEGAL CLEARANCE; get excited in earnest about leaving for Madagascar on February 25 [right after my birthday!]
- February 15, 2018: Pack.All.the.bags... Begin the process of saying good-bye
- February 23, 2018: diagnosed with influenza [1st time ever!]
- February 25, 2015: Madagascar staging happened without me there. [total sadness]
- March 11, 2018: Offered Maternal-Child Health Position in Rwanda leaving June 4; either accept or begin the entire application process from scratch. Think that pretty much anywhere other than West Africa would be better than Rwanda.
- June 04, 2018: I got on that plane to Philadelphia. It was one of the harder decisions I’ve ever made.
- June 06, 2018: Arrived in Kigali
- August 14, 2018: Sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer
I spent 1 year, 8 months trying to get in the Peace Corps and as of today, I have 1 year, 10 months remaining to serve… Barring natural disasters, or any other as of now unforeseen legitimate reason to leave Rwanda.
I’m under no illusion that my Peace Corps service will Change the World, but Eric Clapton’s song might.