Thursday, September 27, 2012

Peace Corps Application Timeline

It seems like some of the most useful things for me to see on other people's blogs when I first applied for Peace Corps were "timelines." So with that in mind, here is a timeline of Zack's and my application process as a couple up until receiving an actual invitation:

  • July 20th, 2011 - I begin the application online and request additional Peace Corps information. In the meantime, I started contacting "recommenders" to fill out references for me online and begin writing my two essays.
  • August 21st, 2011 - I submit my application & instantly received the Health Status Review (questionnaire relating to our medical history) and a "couples questionnaire " designed to help us identify and discuss some of the challenges related to serving as a couple. (Zack sends in his application a couple of weeks later and received the same forms.)
  • September 19th, 2011 - We set up our interview with our regional recruiter via email and I receive a "vegetarian questionnaire" to fill out. We also receive a document containing "issues and challenges of service" containing questions and scenarios that we are supposed to consider and reflect upon for the interview.
  • September 21st, 2011 - Zack and I have back-to-back interviews with the regional recruiter for Denver/Southern Colorado, followed by a couples interview. Questions to consider include:
    • What obstacles, if any, might prevent you from accepting a Peace Corps assignment, if offered?
    • What career options are you considering?
    • On what criteria do you base your geographic or job preference?
    • What are some of the reactions from friends and family?
    • What are your concerns?  Do you feel that you have the motivation and commitment to live and work in the developing world for 27 months?
  • September 26th, 2011 - The recruiter emails both of us skills addenda (education for me and the same for Zack, plus skilled trades, youth development and agricultural and forestry). 
  • October 4th, 2011 - I send in my education addendum (Zack also sends his somewhere in this time period).
  • October 6th, 2011 - The recruiter responds, telling us that she will notify us as soon as a program nomination becomes available for us (most likely not until December). 
So we wait.....

  • February 1st (?), 2012 - Out of the blue, Zack receives a call from a Peace Corps representative out of Dallas (our recruiter was out of town) informing us that we have been nominated to go to Northern Africa/Middle East! The program departs October, 2012. I have been nominated for primary education teacher training and Zack has been nominated for Secondary English teaching. We are just SUPER excited to feel like things are underway again. We are informed that we should receive our Medical Kit in the mail shortly.
  • February 22, 2012 - We still haven't received our medical kit, so I begin to feel anxious about it and email the recruiter to inquire. She informs me that it can sometimes take longer than a few weeks and that all I can do is practice patience (my new most commonly used word since beginning the Peace Corps application process!). 
  • Beginning of March, 2012 - Zack and I finally receive something in the mail, but it's not our Medical Packets...I am discouraged to discover that I need to see a specialist due to my history of heart palpitations, arrhythmia and a possible heart aneurysm. At this point, I'm really disheartened that we don't have any sort of health insurance or coverage:( I end up going to see the specialist, and have to have an expensive procedure, an echo-cardiogram   Luckily everything is normal (I haven't had problems since I quite drinking caffeinated coffee over a year ago) and since I pay in full, I get a slight discount. When it is all said and done though, it ends up being a little over $2,000 in expenses for all of the work with the specialist. Thank goodness for the credit card! Since then, I've been able to pay it off slowly...such a bummer though!
  • Beginning of April, 2012 - Specialist faxes results to Peace Corps Medical Office
  • End of April, 2012 - Zack and I finally receive our Medical Packets and schedule our medical and dental appointments. Throughout May, we go to these appointments. After seeing the dentist, we discover that we have A LOT of fillings and such that need to be taken care of before we qualify for service. We had both been putting any sort of dental work off for financial reasons, but this gave us more of a motivation to just do it. Luckily we qualified for a local program for for community members without heath insurance and were able to receive 20% off of everything from our dentist. THANK YOU DR. MANN! He was super nice and extremely accommodating in helping us get everything taken care of. Again, thank goodness for the credit card...We find out that Zack needs to have his wisdom teeth out, but we need to take care of all of the other dental work first over the next couple of months.
  • May 21st, 2012 - We mail our completed medical packets to the medical office. I add a tracking number, just in case! The dental information can be sent separately, and we can be invited to a program without having the dental forms completed. They just have to be complete before we actually depart for service.
  • Beginning of June, 2012 - I find out that the woman who performed my physical exam was a PA-C (Certified Physician's Assistant) and that the forms need to be co-signed by a licensed M.D. I bring the paperwork back to the office and leave it to be co-signed. It is signed several days later, and I fax it back to the Peace Corps medical office.
  • June 15th, 2012 - I receive confirmation that the Peace Corps Medical Office received my fax.
  • June 16th, 2012 - My ToolKit (old system) indicates that our medical statuses have changed. Several days later, we receive letters informing us that we are medically cleared! Finally! Zack's letter indicates that he will be placed in a location where gluten restriction can be more easily accommodated (due to his  mild gluten intolerance).
  • June 18th, 2012 - Zack and I both receive emails from a Placement and Assessment Associate for the Education Skills Desk, requesting updated resumes. We send them right away.
  • June 19th, 2012 - Zack has his wisdom teeth removed. Poor guy! By the end of June, all of our dental work is complete. We just have to wait for our dentist and Zack's oral surgeon to fill out the paperwork.
  • July 26th, 2012 - My ToolKit is updated once again to reflect that our dental forms cleared! Whew! What a process...
  • July 30th, 2012 - We both receive emails informing us about the "new" application process and system that will be more streamlined and effective (good work Peace Corps!). We are told that we will hear from the Placement Office via email following August 15th, after some intensive work is done on the website. My ToolKit is no longer available.
  • September 11th, 2012 - Zack receives a response to an inquiry about whether we are still being considered for the Northern Africa/Middle East program. The answer is "no" but that we are currently being considered for other programs. I feel genuinely disappointed, but somewhat relieved that we have a little more time to prepare.
  • September 12th, 2012 - (Thank goodness I didn't have too much time to think about not being selected for the last program, or I may have lost it!) We are nominated to go to Asia in January! Zack is nominated for a youth leadership program and I am nominated for primary level English teaching. The email we receive is from the Volunteer Placement Specialist. Already it seems more likely that this could actually end up happening. The email contains a list of questions for us to consider, and we are instructed to contact her to set up a phone interview together.
  • September 20th, 2012 - Our interview with the Volunteer Placement Specialist seems to go really well. Zack and I had spent time over the past week going through the questions, talking about them together and creating an outline that summarized our thoughts/feelings. At the end of the interview, she asks us if we are both willing to bike 3-10 miles every day. We are REALLY enthusiastic about this! She also tells us that the country that she is considering us for actually requests couples. She let's us know that we will find out whether or not we are invited to the program in one-and-a-half to two weeks. Of course, after the interview is over I try to be a detective and figure out which country we could possibly be going to. Zack and I are both pretty sure that they would not expect us to bike every day in Mongolia or Nepal, so that limits us to southeastern Asia. The suspense is killing us!
  • September 25, 2012 - Once again, we are in luck! My heart races as I see the email in my inbox that says "Invitation to Serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer." Zack is right next to me, thank goodness, so we are both able to look at it together at that moment. IT'S THAILAND!!! We are ecstatic! Thanks to the brand new electronic system, we are able to view all of the available information about our assignment right then and there. I will be a part of the Teacher Collaboration and Community Service (TCCS) program. My job title is "Teacher Collaborator and Community Facilitator." How broad is that? The packet goes on to explain in more detail, which I will most definitely try to explain in a later post. Zack is invited to be part of the Youth in Development (YinD) program. His job title is "Youth in Development Worker." Again, really broad. I'll let you know if Zack decides to blog so that you can learn a little more about what he is/will be doing in the Peace Corps (although I'm sure I'll be talking about it a little bit too!).
  • September 26th, 2012 - If it wasn't already obvious that we were going to do it, we officially accepted our Thailand invitations! After over a year of the application process and still a ton of preparation to come, we finally have some (granted, small) idea of where we are going, when we are going and what we will be doing! After our ten weeks of in-country pre-service training (towards the end of March, 2013) we will be assigned to our permanent site. This is because where you end up going for the two years of service is primarily based on your performance in pre-service training (PST) which includes: technical skills, cross-cultural skills, Thai language, personal health care and safety and security. I'm not sure if there is possibly a somewhat predetermined site for us since it is more difficult to place couples. Again, only time will tell! 
Hopefully this timeline of events is helpful in understanding the process that we have gone through in order to receive an invitation. Now that the application process is more streamlined, future applicants will potentially spend less time and money on unnecessary appointments and procedures. I'm just grateful that the medical portion is behind us. It was definitely the most intense and challenging component of the application process for me personally. I'm open to any questions or comments along the way, so please feel free to contact me!

No comments:

Post a Comment