Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Peace Corps: application process

I've officially been in the Peace Corps for nine days, and it's been a whirlwind! Before I go into that, I want to put up a quick post about the application process. It's a cliché, I know, but since my journey was a little different that other people's, I thought it could be helpful.


September 30, 2012: Turned in my application.


November 2012: Interview (over Skype, on a night when the electricity was out. The sound of the generator made our conversation a bit difficult. On the plus side, the fact that I was wearing a chadar as we spoke probably gave me a bit of credibility when I said I thought I'd be able to handle the challenges of the Peace Corps!)


December 12, 2012: Received my nomination for the Health Sector.


December 13, 2012: Request for medical paperwork for pre-clearance. (In my case, they wanted documentation on the severity of my asthma. It's different for each person, obviously. My paperwork was slightly complicated by the fact that I wasn't in the States and didn't have an available doctor who knew my medical history. I ended up getting it filled out over email, giving electronic consent for the release of medical information.)


January 2013: Received medical pre-clearance.


February 15, 2013: Email saying that I was 15 days late in turning a legal kit, which I couldn't remember receiving. This took several weeks to sort, because I was in Afghanistan at the time. There is no reliable mailing service there, so although they had sent the kit to my address, it never arrived. I also didn't know to be looking for it, until I got this email. (I later realized that they had mentioned the legal kit in the original nomination, but I didn't notice the part that said it'd be coming by mail.)


March 14, 2013: Went to Japan to visit my friend and picked up the legal kit that the Peace Corps mailed to me through her. The kit required fingerprints, but unfortunately, the Japanese police weren't willing to do that for me.


March 30, 2013: After spending two weeks chasing every possible avenue, a friend in Afghanistan found a way for me to get fingerprinted at the Ministry of Justice. Afghanistan (and Japan) only use fingerprints for criminals and don't use them for background checks, so they didn't really understand my request.


April 2013: Dropped my legal kit in the mail (Meaning that I handed it to a friend who was traveling to the US and agreed to mail it for me.)


May 6, 2013: Submitted my updated resume.


May 6, 2013: Received an invitation to serve in the Peace Corps in Peru, starting in September, working in the Health sector.


May 13, 2013: After a LOT of thought and prayer (see my earlier post), I decided to decline the invitation, fully expecting that would be the end of my Peace Corps journey.


May 14, 2013: Received a second invitation! Morocco, starting in January 2014, working in Youth Development. I was so thrilled and relieved!


May 18, 2013: Accepted my invitation and received my Next Steps: Medical Clearance, Resume and Aspiration Statement, activities and forms, passport, legal eligibility, reading materials. I was in Afghanistan, with rather slow Internet, so I wasn't able to get started on most of it, but I did so as soon as I got home in June.


July 10, 2013: Submitted my updated resume and aspiration statement.


August-November 2013: Finished all the documents and trainings on the New Volunteer Portal (safety and security, living abroad, etc). Completed all medical tasks (Physical exam, lab work, immunizations, dental exam, dental x-rays). Got my official Peace Corps passport, student loan documents figured out, Morocco welcome book read. It was a lot of paperwork; I'm lucky I ended up with a January departure instead of a September one, because there's a good chance I wouldn't have gotten it done.


December 2013: Lots of packing, packing, packing! Also a trip to Afghanistan thrown in there, so it's a good thing I kept my personal passport while I was applying for the official Peace Corps one.


January 2014: Packing, saying goodbyes.


January 12, 2014: Off we go!

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