Hannah Goes Fishing

A Fishing (and more) Blog

Peace Corps Update: Final Questions!

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Prepare, this post is a long one!  Yesterday I received this email from the Health Placement Desk (the letter is printed as it was received with original bolds, thought I have italicized it in full):

Dear Hannah,

I hope this email finds you well. I am writing from the Peace Corps Placement Office where I have recently completed a preliminary review of your file. At this time I would like to request some additional information from you. This information is listed below along with instructions for how to complete it. After you provide this information, an Assessment and Placement Specialist will conduct a final skills and suitability review of your application and consider you for an invitation.

1.       Updated Résumé.  Please log on to your online account and upload a copy of your updated résumé to the “Attachments” section. Your new résumé should include the details of all new professional and/or volunteer experiences you have gained since your assessment interview. For all relevant experience, please state:

·        The name of the organization you worked with

·        Your activities, duties, and accomplishments

·        Dates you worked there, including year and month (e.g., “May 2003 – April 2004”)

·        Number of hours worked per week (approximations are acceptable)


2.  Please submit a copy of your final transcript showing your degree completed in full.  Do not send this information until after you have actually graduated. Please be sure that your transcript contains the following:

1)      Your name

2)      Name of college or university

3)      Date of completion and degree conferred (the date of graduation must be included). 

We will accept an unofficial transcript as long as it contains the information bulleted above. Please upload this to your profile as a PDF document with the title “Name_Final Transcript”. You may also fax this document to my attention at the number listed below. If you intend to email your transcript, please scan it and send it as a PDF. We cannot accept transcripts that have been pasted into an email or a Microsoft Word document. We will continue with the placement process without your final transcript, but will ultimately need it before you could depart for a potential Peace Corps assignment.

Please do not try to mail the transcript via US postal service since it may take several weeks or more to get through the screening in a federal facility.

3. Contact Information. If there has been any change to your contact information since you applied, including email or phone, please log on to your account and update your information accordingly.

4. You mentioned to your recruiter that you are currently in a relationship, and filled out a romantic involvement form accordingly. Peace Corps is an incredibly fascinating, exciting and life-changing time. It’s also a very trying time, and often overseas romantic involvements are a compelling reason for people to want to leave service. Because it can be difficult as a Peace Corps Volunteer and being away for 27 months, it is important for us to be sure that you are prepared for these challenges. If you are still in a relationship, please take some time to read the attached FAQ sheet and discuss the impact of Peace Corps service on the two of you and your relationship. You do not need to return anything to me regarding this particular matter, but please be prepared to discuss some of the questions and scenarios from the FAQ sheet with your Placement Specialist in the weeks ahead. If you are no longer in a romantic relationship, it would be helpful to let us know your updated status

5. In your interview you identified yourself as a vegan/vegetarian. As you may know, dietary norms vary greatly in different cultures. Because it can be difficult to impossible to maintain a dietary preference overseas, it is important for us to be sure that you are prepared for some of the challenges you may face. Please take the time to read the attached FAQ sheet. You do not need to return anything to me regarding this particular matter, but please be prepared to discuss some of the questions and scenarios from the FAQ sheet with your Placement Specialist in the weeks ahead.

6. Finally, please complete the attached questions regarding your Peace Corps placement. Your responses will assist your Placement Specialist in completing your final placement assessment and hopefully moving you on to the next stage of the process, an invitation to serve. Please upload your responses to your profile with the title “Name_Health Placement Questions”

To keep the placement process on track, it would be very helpful if you could provide us with all of the above requested information within one week at the latest. Please respond to this email to let me know when all of the above materials have been uploaded.

Once you have uploaded all of the above materials, a Placement Specialist will review your information and be in touch in the weeks to come. However, it may take some time before you hear from your Placement Specialist regarding the final evaluation of your application. We encourage you to use this waiting time to continue to gain additional experience relevant to the program to which you were nominated. This additional experience will make you a more competitive applicant as well as a valuable resource to your future host community overseas.

Thank you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

I’ve not listed the name of the person who sent it for fear that they will receive a barrage of unsolicited emails.  However, the email came from a “placement associate” at the health desk, and they were a past PCV (twice, it looks like)!  I am, as you might imagine, totally tickled about this email.  The attachment contained a set of questions not unlike those I answered in my original interview with my recruiter.  They are printed below in full:

Health Sector Placement Questions

When complete, please save this file as: “<Your Last Name> HealthQ3Questions” and attach it to your email reply or upload it to your online profile.

The purposes of these questions are to update important placement-related information, to learn more about your expectations for Peace Corps service and to give you an opportunity to communicate how you have been preparing yourself for Peace Corps service since your nomination. If at all possible, please complete this using MS Word software that preserves the Table formatting.

Your Name:
*Phone Number(s):
*Current Street Address (including City & State):
*Email Address(es):
*NOTE: If you applied after August 15, 2012, it is your responsibility to keep your latest contact information updated in both your applicant portal and your medical portal. Changing information in one portal does not change it in the other.
You are expected to be available for the departure timing as reflected on your nomination letter from your Recruiter. You may make yourself available for an earlier departure, but not later than the departure date as nominated. If you are available and interested in being considered for an earlier departure, please reflect that in the availability date below.  You are not required to depart earlier than your nomination, and being unavailable to depart early does not reflect poorly on you.
What is the earliest date you are available to depart for Peace Corps service:
Geographic Flexibility
A Core Expectation for Volunteers is that they serve where Peace Corps asks them to go. While preferences may be considered, they cannot be the sole determinant of placement decisions. A nomination to a geographic region is not a guarantee that the nominee, if qualified, will be invited to serve there. In fact, more than half of Peace Corps Volunteers serve in a program other than the one into which they were nominated. How geographically flexible are you for worldwide placement? Please answer in the space below.
Since you applied, have there been any changes to your Legal Status not previously reported to Peace Corps? (For example, name change?, lawsuit?, marriage/divorce?, traffic citation?, other charges?, new/additional financial obligations? Other?) Please answer in the space below.
Since you were interviewed have you become involved in a romantic relationship OR has there been any change in a previously reported romantic involvement? Please answer in the space below.
Are you currently gaining experience and/or completing language study requirements assigned by your recruiter? Please answer in the space below including experience or language study details and your progress toward completion.
Other than recruiter assignments, please indicate experience gained and/or efforts to build language skill (if any) since your nomination. Please answer in the space below.
Expectations for Your Service
Part of preparing for Peace Corps service is developing realistic expectations of what life is like as a Volunteer, with specific attention to the common challenges Volunteers are likely to face. From what sources and/or experiences have you learned about the realities of life as a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV)? If your sources include past or currently serving Peace Corps Volunteers, please indicate so. Please answer in the space below.
What are the key lessons you have learned from these sources that will help you succeed as a PCV?
Please answer in the space below.
List the top 5 challenges that you expect to encounter as a PCV and discuss how you plan to deal with each.
Please answer in the space below.
What is the single greatest concern you have about serving in Peace Corps and why does it concern you? Please answer in the space below.
Your Family & Friends
Since you first told your friends and family of your plans to apply for Peace Corps, has their level of support for your decision changed? As the time for a possible departure gets closer, how are they feeling about it? Please answer in the space below.
Homestay – Living with a Host Family
Living with a host family is required during Pre-Service Training (PST) and at least for the first 3 months at permanent site. In some sites, staying with a host family is required for the full term of service. Please acknowledge that this is understood by and is acceptable to you in the space below.
Site Placement
“Sites” (the specific locations where PCVs live and work after Swearing-In) are determined by in-country staff during PST. The nature of sites varies widely both from one country to another and within the each country. In your application you acknowledged and accepted responsibility for meeting the “Core Expectations for Peace Corps Volunteers.” By the nature of where Peace Corps serves, most sites are in more rural, isolated areas. When considering potential site placement, keep in mind Expectation #3: “Serve where Peace Corps asks you to go, under conditions of hardship if necessary, and with the flexibility needed for effective service.”
Regarding sites where you may be asked to serve:
·       Are you prepared to serve in a site with limited or no “amenities” such as electricity, running water or indoor toilet? Please enter “Yes” or “No” in the space on the right.
·       Are you prepared to serve in a site that is isolated and/or a significant distance from other PCVs? Please enter “Yes” or “No” in the space on the right.
·       Are you prepared to serve in a site where access to means of communication such as internet or cell phone service is limited or non-existent? Please enter “Yes” or “No” in the space on the right.
·       Are you open and willing to be placed in any type of site that meets Peace Corps criteria? Please enter “Yes” or “No” in the space on the right and provide specifics in the comments section below.
·       Many sites require physical challenges including: carrying a bucket of water for up to ten minutes; walking up to five miles per day; bicycling ten miles per day on rough terrain. Do you believe that you are able to meet all such physical challenges? Please enter “Yes” or “No” in the space on the right and comment below as appropriate.
Please add comments or explanation of your answers to the above site placement questions in the space below.
General Comments
In the space below, please provide any information you would like us to consider, feedback or other comments.
Lots to answer! I worked through this page last night, and sent my answers in immediately.  For the record, my relationship has ended and I noted that I would happily eat whatever is locally and culturally appropriate wherever I am placed.  Clearly, my choice to be a pescetarian when I’m at home (Alaska, for me) does not necessarily translate to vegetarianism or other dietary restrictions when I’m abroad. However, that’s my personal choice and I know other volunteers struggle with this issue.  Yet another experience in PC flexibility!
I submitted my documents last night, noting that my transcripts would not be available until I graduate on May 12th.  I have already received a response, which I’ll talk more about in a new post.

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