I drove to Fayetteville (UNC-Pembroke) to attend an information session to find out more about the Peace Corps. No one attended except for me so I got to talk individually with the regional representative. He was pretty up front about how difficult being a PC Volunteer is and encouraging about it at the same time. On the drive home and over the following month I thought long and hard about it and decided it was not the time to pursue the PC.
March 30, 2014
Two years later and it's time for me to move forward with my Peace Corps Dreams. I started my application about 3 weeks ago and hit the submit button today! I had been in touch with the regional representative again and he looked over my resume and encouraged me to make the leap. It feels right this time. Within about an hour, I received an email from the PC asking me to fill out the preliminary medical questionnaire.
April 21, 2014
I got an email from an Assessment Specialist, Peace Corps Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Office saying....
Thank you for your application to the Peace Corps, and we apologize for the delay in reaching out to you.
I am able to move your application forward at this time, and your recruiter will contact you within two weeks to schedule a formal interview.
If you have any questions in the interim, please let me know.
Woohoo!!!! I am so excited!!!
May 5, 2014
Today I received the following email...
“ Dear Allison,
I am the Peace Corps Recruiter at NCSU. I would first like to congratulate you for making it to the next step towards becoming a Peace Corps Volunteer! I am contacting you in order to schedule your formal interview.
I am available on the NCSU campus on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm. The interview typically lasts 1-2 hours. Please send me THREE different meeting times within this time frame in order to schedule your interview.
Thank you, and I look forward to meeting with you!"
Since I was in the middle of administering AP exams, I had to give her dates that were 2+ weeks in the future. I provided dates and heard back from her immediately. We set up my interview for Wednesday, May 21st, on the campus of NCSU.
May 21, 2014
I met with the recruiter in her office and was taken aback by her youth but she was extremely kind and welcoming from the minute I walked in the door. She started the interview off saying “I just finished re-reading your application and I’ve had tears in my eyes from your essays, I hope you know I am going to nominate you.” I immediately felt more at ease and relaxed. We had a 2 hour interview/conversation that was extremely helpful and informative. She volunteered in Peru and is now a PC employee. I felt really good about the interview.
June 4, 2014
Today I received the following email from my recruiter...
I hope you are doing well. I have attached your options for nomination. I have noted that you prefer Youth Development, so I only attached these options. You qualify for Community Development as well (they are very similar). If you do not see an assignment that you prefer in these options, I can attach your Community Development options as well.
Call or email me back with your preferences, or with any questions you may have!
The countries I had to choose from were: Namibia, Moldova, Swaziland, South Africa, Mongolia, Lesotho, Cameroon & Thailand. The recruiter had told me I could just choose the one I was most interested in so after doing some research and looking at the jobs and living conditions, I decided to tell her I wanted to go to Namibia. We communicated via email for several weeks because Andrew and Amber have gotten engaged and I wanted to be assured that if I go before their wedding that I could come back home for the wedding. The Namibia start date is April 13, 2015. Andrew and Amber are getting married at Bald Head Island on Sept. 19, 2015.
In thinking about this opportunity, I continue to return to my thoughts of “What a great adventure this will be.” I’m really excited about the possibility and can’t wait to see what the future holds.
June 25, 2015 (two days before my 56th birthday)
Today I got an email from the regional representative telling me that I have been nominated for the Health Sector (this includes Youth Development) to leave around the middle of April, 2015. I'm thinking this must be the Namibia opportunity I was hoping for.
The email said that I’ll be prompted to answer some legal and medical things but so far I’ve heard nothing. My Unofficial Peace Corps Volunteer Handbook says that I will get this preliminary stuff pretty quickly unless my departure date is over 6 months away. Since it is 9 months away, I am assuming I will be waiting a while.
August 2, 2014
An email from the Placement and Assessment Specialist arrived today with instructions to update my resume and fill out more health questions. I completed all of that paperwork and uploaded it to her as soon as I could. She replied and said the Peace Corps application process was a very competitive one and to continue to strengthen my application by volunteering.
August 26, 2014
Was invited to the Peace Corps Fall Celebration in Raleigh. Decided to go and asked Abby to accompany me. The most difficult part of this process is the waiting….and waiting…and waiting. Sometimes you feel like you are lost in the shuffle and might not ever re-surface!
Abby and I went to the picnic and they had made a name tag for me that said “Allison, Nominee, Namibia, April 2015.” That was absolutely the first moment that I thought this might turn into something real. We met some lovely people and spoke at length with a woman who's daughter is finishing up in Namibia in Dec. The mom went to visit her daughter for a month this year. She fell in love with the country and its people. She was a great source of information and comfort. I've emailed her a few times to ask questions.
October 9, 2014
Heard from PC placement office with questions about my wanting to come home for Andrew’s wedding. The options are to postpone placement (and have to re-apply) or change my departure to an earlier one for a different country. I was unwilling to change the departure to earlier because I have students at school who are relying on me to help them with their college applications and I can't just up and leave before they have those done. So…she contacted the country director in Namibia to see if they would allow me an exception and guess what? They are!!! So, I am still "on go" for the nomination to Namibia!! YAY!
October 15, 2014
Today I received this email…
Congratulations! On behalf of the entire Peace Corps family, I'm delighted to invite you to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Namibia. You've been selected to serve as a/an Urban Youth Development Volunteer, departing April 13, 2015. By accepting this invitation, you will join hundreds of thousands of Americans who have answered the call to service and made a difference in communities around the world.
To accept this invitation, here's what you need to do:
Review your assignment description (link below), Namibia Welcome Book (link below) , Core Expectations for Peace Corps Volunteers and Safety and Security Information.
Within seven calendar days, complete the PCV Invitation Decision Form.
Understand that this invitation is contingent upon your final legal and medical clearance. We'll send more information to you in the next few days so you can get started right away. Please be aware that you'll need to be available to respond to additional requests in a timely manner.
f you have questions about your invitation, please contact your Placement Officer. To decline this invitation, we ask you to respond to this email with a brief explanation within seven days.
As a former Volunteer, I personally want to thank you for making this tremendous commitment to service. I know this is a major life decision for you, and I'm delighted that you've chosen the Peace Corps as your next journey.
Again, congratulations. We look forward to hearing from you soon!
Peace Corps Director
Returned Volunteer, Western Samoa”
Obviously, I accepted the nomination...so, I'm on my way!
October 19, 2014
Today the email arrived with all the instructions for what I have to accomplish in a timely manner. All that waiting has me ready for high gear. There are tons of medical tests to schedule, upload and get approved. Luckily my yearly oncology appointment is already scheduled for later this month. A legal kit will be mailed to me soon so I can get my fingerprints taken for the legal clearance. I also have to apply for a new passport because I will be given a Peace Corps Passport. There are also a few courses I have to take on LearningSpace. And, last but not least there is a “New Volunteer Portal” with a number of things to submit. Whew! Lots to do.
November and December, 2014
One of the hardest things I have had to do was let the senior class know that I would be leaving before they graduate. I went into their homeroom and explained about my departure. They were surprised and excited for me. What a great group of kids. I will miss them and the rest of the students at RMA.
These two months have been filled with Dr’s visits, shots, uploading medical information, getting copies of forms and submitting all of that to the medical portal. I submitted my last form on Dec. 23rd and begin waiting to find out if I will get medical clearance. Apparently PC is very picky about the medical piece (and that’s a good thing in my opinion) so getting through this portion of the process is difficult for many people. I uploaded my very last medical test results on Dec. 23rd. Now it's time to wait...again.
January 7, 2015
I GOT MY MEDICAL CLEARANCE!! Yipee!
I've spent this month getting to know other returned volunteers, current volunteers, and nominees. Most of this has been through Facebook and after I spoke with a RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer) from Namibia I started a fb page for my group (group 41). I sent the link to PC and they are sending the link out to those of us staging on April 13, 2015, for Namibia. I've gotten a new will, new power of attorney, started making lists of all the things I have to accomplish in the days and weeks ahead. I'm leaving my full time job on Jan. 30th and will work one day a week in Feb. and March. This will give me the opportunity to pack, visit with friends and clean out my house for Andrew and Amber to rent.
The only contact from PC this month was to make sure that all of the tasks in my new volunteer portal have been completed. Mine are all done but it was nice to hear something!
This month, I've received a number of emails from PC Namibia. The first one informed my group that we had to complete an online course titled "HIV Basic Biology, Epidemiology, and Prevention" through the Global Health Learning Center. It was a VERY detailed course on HIV/AIDS and I was out of my element with the Biology and Epidemiology portions of it!
A few days later I received an email saying we would all be given a PC tee-shirt so we had to fill out a form for that.
And FINALLY, on March 18th my travel information arrived via email. Here's the schedule:
Apr 13 -Monday Delta Air Lines 5905 LV 7:15 am RDU, Flight time 1HR, 31Min, Arrive 8:46 Philadelphia, PA
Meeting in Philadelphia at Hampton Inn, Center City from 12:00-7:00 pm
Leave Hampton Inn on 14 April at 2:00 am (sigh)
14 April, Tuesday Air United Flight 7226, LV 11:15 New York, JFK, Flight time 14HR, 50Min. Arrive 8:05, Non-stop
15 April, Wednesday Air South African Flight 76, LV 1:15, Flight time 2HR, 5Min., Arrive Windhoek 2:20, Non-stop