On December 5th, I finally had my official Peace Corps interview with my recruiter. We had originally planned to have it several weeks earlier, but both of us had to reschedule for various reasons (work for me, travel for her). I interviewed with Erin Erickson out of the Seattle PC office (they are the regional office for Alaska and the west coast). The whole thing took about two hours, though apparently most interviews only last an hour. I even tried to be succinct in my answers, but there were many things to talk about and I had a lot of questions for her.
The interview was, in short, really great. Erin asked a lot of thoughtful, realistic questions ranging from my skills sets to my comfort zones to my persona life, and all things in between. Really, more job interviews should be like that. At the end of the interview, Erin said that she planned to nominate me for service! I couldn’t believe how fast the whole thing happened; I thought for sure it would take at least a week or two for her to decide on my nomination. I excitedly said, “yes!”
On Friday (12/7/12), I received a call from Erin again. She informed me that she had been able to find one nomination for me that she thought would fit my skills, and the departure date was the first week of September, 2013. My heart was beating hard against my ribs and I had to catch my breath from all my excitement (also, I was at work and sprinted into an unoccupied meeting room so as not to distract my coworkers with personal business). Erin elaborated on the project, but just a little bit for reasons I’ll share in a moment. In its entirety, this is what I know about my potential assignment:
– The PC volunteer (that’s me) must be an adept swimmer;
– I am scheduled to leave the first week of September, 2013;
– I will be working in health education, which includes community and women’s health empowerment, community health outreach, maternal health, and disease and nutrition health;
– I will live with a local host family during my training (the first three months of any PC assignment are spent in intensive language/culture/job training), and then for an additional period of time once I move to my site;
– All of this could totally change between now and when I receive an invitation to serve, which will happen upon completion of medical exams and a few other paperwork steps (legal checks, etc.);
So, I know something about my potential assignment, but not much. PC used to tell volunteers upon their nomination which region of the world they were being nominated to serve within, but apparently they don’t do that anymore to avoid working someone up only to disappoint them later when something changes. Darn.
However, that doesn’t stop me from using the internet to fiendishly search out clues to where I may end up. I’ve searched a Peace Corps Wiki, put together by former and present volunteers, where I found information about sites that have traditionally started the first week of September, include extra time living with a host family, and might be near saltwater (it’s my best guess for why I would need to be a proficient swimmer, but not get crazy parasites). I’ve narrowed my likely options down to Morocco and Nicaragua, both of which would be incredible. However, I was reminded by my recruiter that sometimes PC opens up new sites, or even new countries, and I could be going somewhere no one else has yet served. Thus, I really know nothing about my placement, just that I am on the road to being placed. And in the long run, that’s enough for me.
As far as my job type goes, I’m thrilled at the idea that I might get to do some health education and outreach with a community. I’ve long supported the philosophy that one simply cannot be bothered to care about the environment or larger social issues when one’s own needs (health or otherwise) are not adequately met. I’m hoping that I could use health outreach to help people meet their needs, and then use environmental best practices as a secondary project. But, everything could change between now and March (when I’m hoping to get my official invite), so who knows!
In the meantime, I’ve already received some medical questionaires that I need to send back within 30 days, so lots to do.
Questions about PC? Let me know and I’ll do my best to answer them.