Hannah Goes Fishing

A Fishing (and more) Blog


This page is aimed at readers who, like me, are in the middle of a Peace Corps application process. I’ve seen others who have contributed to Peace Corps Wiki (which you should Google if you haven’t – lots of interesting info) and created timelines of their own to help inform potential volunteers. I’d like to contribute the same way by sharing my own process, thoughts, and ultimate decisions along the way. I’ll be updating this post from time to time as new developments arise in my process.

August 17th, 2012 – I click the final “submit” button on my online PC application. I immediately get an email inviting to fill out a medical evaluation on the PC Medical Portal page. I do it within 12 hours and submit.

Mid-September, 2012 – I receive an email encouraging me to get my references to hustle up in returning their reference forms. It takes about a week, but everyone finally gets them in.

November 5th, 2012 – I receive a call from Erin Erickson, my PC recruiter from the Seattle office. She informs me that they’ve been through my application and would like to interview me as a potential PC volunteer. We schedule an interview for November 21st, which is the next best time for both of us for a long phone interview (she travels frequently and I work during the day, combined with a 1-hour time difference).
During the interlude, she and I both have to reschedule on separate occasions because of different work-related things that arise. Finally, we reschedule and have our interview on:

December 5th, 2012 – Erin interviews me via phone for two hours (though most interviews take between one and one-and-a-half hours). Great interview, and she informs me immediately upon the conclusion of the formal interview process that she would like to nominate me to service. She says she will call me back by the end of the week with potential nominations to discuss them with me. She discusses with me what kind of jobs I qualify for within PC, and that I have a “rare skill set” due to my combination of experience and education. I’m not really sure what that means, but it sounds good to me. Erin, for the record, is an outstanding recruiter. Very responsive to my questions, needs, concerns, etc. Also, a past volunteer (Moldova).

December 7th, 2012 – Erin calls me late in the day and informs me that she has a nomination for me. Per new PC policy, she is unable to even give me a region of the world, but tells me that she would like to nominate me for health outreach and education. She also gives me a few other details of the nomination, but reminds me that this nomination could very easily change between now and when I receive an invitation. She asks me if I’m willing to accept this nomination and I say, “yes!” She then sends me an email confirming the nomination and tells me the medical office may or may not be in touch with me at this time, depending on how I answered my original medical questions. Erin also tells me that I will be receiving a packet in the mail within a few weeks with a fingerprint card and some other legal documents, and that I’ll need to fill them out and send them back within a specific amount of time.

I also immediately receive an email from the medical portal requesting scans of two documents related to my health survey.

December 10th, 2012 – I scan and attach the requested medical documents to my medical portal account. I submit them and receive an email saying they were received and will be reviewed sometime soon.

December 17th, 2012 – I receive my official nomination letter, my packet of fingerprint cards and other legal documents (for background checks, mostly) in the mail.

December 24th, 2012 – I make an appointment with a local policeman to have my fingerprints taken. The whole process takes about 20 minutes all said and done, and he didn’t even charge me (it would have been $30) due to his respect for PC service. What a wonderful Christmas present!

December 26th, 2012 – I send my fingerprints and signed background check documents by Certified Mail to Washington, D.C. The postal worker tells me that because of the holidays, they’ll probably arrive in one week. At this point, I’ve got Peace Corps fever!

December 31st, 2012 – From tracking my fingerprints package online, I know that they were delivered to Peace Corps on the 31st!

January 7th, 2013 – I email my recruiter to check on my application. She explains that none of my paperwork has yet been processed, and I may have a while to wait as my departure date is much later than folks still awaiting invitations for spring and summer dates.  She says I may wait as late as May before hearing anything, which would be four months before my departure.

February 7th, 2013 – I email my recruiter again to check on my application status.  Most returned volunteers have encouraged me to “stay on top of PC” by checking in every now and again. I don’t want to be irritating, but I also don’t want my application fall through any proverbial cracks. My recruiter sends back an email encouraging me to get my medical forms in if I haven’t already. I explain that I submitted them long ago, realizing that they just haven’t been processed yet and she can’t see them.  I know this because at the end of January I also messaged the medical portal folks, just to check in. They replied that my application is in the pile to be processed, but it will take a while since my departure date is still so far away.  So, more waiting for me.  Glimmer of hope: I read on the FB page for hopeful PC volunteers that someone received a notification that PC is finishing up this quarter’s invites, and will be moving on to the new quarter by the end of the month.  So, I’m hoping sometime in March I’ll start getting more details!

March 29th, 2013 – I message the medical office through my MAP portal, asking for a status update and to see if there is anything I can do to help them in moving my application along. No immediate response.

April 2nd, 2013 – I hear back from the MAP office with a message asking about my current birth control preferences.  I used to use Nuvaring, which Peace Corps won’t purchase for volunteers.  They ask about alternatives, and I respond.

Seconds later, I receive another email from the MAP office saying that I’ve been medically pre-cleared!  So exciting!  The email says that my application will now be forwarded for consideration and placement.  I’m hoping to hear from the placement office very soon.  You can read more about my medical pre-clearance process here.

April 3rd, 2013 – I log in to the Peace Corps application portal to check on my status, mostly out of curiosity.  I am greeted with a “legally cleared” status update!  Now I know that my application is in the final steps, and I am eagerly awaiting contact from the placement office.  You can read more about my legal clearance here.

May 1st, 2013 – I receive an email from the Health Placement Desk asking me to fill out a final questionnaire and submit my final transcripts, as well as respond to questions about my diet and relationship status.   The email says I have one week to return the forms and then my application will be available for placement!  I hustle up and get my question form filled out, submit an updated resume, and update my contact information. I also advise in my reply email that my transcripts will be available after May 12th – my graduation date.  You can read the emails and question form here.

May 2nd, 2013 – I receive an email from the PC Health Placement Desk that they have received all the requested documents, and that I may now expect to hear from placement within 6-8 weeks.  You can see a copy of that email here.

May 7th, 2013 – So close, and yet so far.  I receive an email from the Agriculture and Environmental placement desk informing me that I am not a competitive candidate for the health field, but am within the ag/environ field.  However, this change in field means that my departure date (originally for early September of 2013) would get pushed back to February of 2014.  The email asks me to confirm if A) I’d like to continue on with the Peace Corps process with this news, and B) if I am willing to serve in the agriculture and environment job sector.

I consider this very disappointing news for a few hours, and discuss it with my family.  After a few hours, I reply to the email and give my confirmation to continue with the process.  I am told that my profile will be reviewed in-depth within two weeks and, if all goes well, I will receive my invitation within a month.  You can read more about this here.

May 28th, 2013 – I email my placement specialist again just to check in. He and I have exchanged a few additional emails since my re-nomination keeping me up-to-date on his plans to review my application.  I don’t hear back for a couple of days.

May 30th, 2013 – I receive an email from my placement specialist saying that he has fully reviewed my application, but is missing the question survey specific to agriculture/environmental placements.  He sends it to me, and I fill it out immediately. It is very similar to the health survey, with some questions being written slightly different.  I send it back.

I receive another email saying he has received the survey and has finished his review of my application.  He says he will be sending me an invitation the next day(!), or as soon as possible due to a little technical glitch they are experiencing in their invite system.  Talk about anticipation!

June 4th, 2013 – I read on the Future Peace Corps Volunteers Facebook page that the PC invitation system is down until at least next week.  I’m looking at June 10th being the next realistic date to receive an invite (if that rumor is true).

I also am finally able to download my final transcripts from my masters degree, save them to a PDF, and post them to my PC portal profile. I email my placement specialist to notify him of this last piece being submitted. He emails back with confirmation that he can see it and open it.

June 7th, 2013 – I receive my invitation to Zambia, departing February 4th! More about my invitation and lots of documents here.

June 8th, 2013 – I officially accept my invitation to Zambia, and immediately receive email notifications congratulating me, pointing me toward the MAP portal to complete a long list of new tasks (mostly vaccinations at this point), and the New Volunteer Portal, also with many tasks to complete.

August 3rd, 2013 – I receive an email from the MAP office notifying me that all of my medical tasks are now available and that I am six months out from service.

August 14th, 2013 – I receive an email from the Peace Corps Zambia desk inviting me to join a Google group for my departure group.  They also send me another copy of the Welcome Handbook, and a few other details about my service.

I have also by this time joined Peace Corps Zambia Facebook page, which is a great resource for volunteering there.  Someone in my departure class also starts a Peace Corps Zambia: February 2014 group just for us.  By August 23rd there are 15 people in the group and I’m having a great time getting to know my fellow volunteers.

August 21st, 2013 – I go to my first medical appointments (my doctor is a RPCV herself, and is awesome to work with) and have my physical, my tetanus and diphtheria(Tdap) shot, my Tb test, my blood panel, and my health history form approved.  I also pick up my prescription papers from my ophthalmologist, and get my dental exam.  I have to wait another week to pick up my dental x-rays and results from the blood work. I also have to wait to get my yellow fever vaccine.

November 4th, 2013 – I upload the last of my medical tasks to the MAP page.  Receive an automatic email telling me my medical tasks are now under review.  This process took a while due to travel and waiting for my preferred provider to be available for some vaccinations.

The Facebook group for my departure group is now over 65 people, with many of them being country staff, current volunteers, and of course the trainee group.  Lots of great advice and experience to gain from current volunteers.

November 12th, 2013 – I receive my final medical and dental clearance via the following email message:

Dear Hannah,
Congratulations! You have received your final medical and dental clearance for Peace Corps service.
Your medical and dental clearance is based on the information you provided regarding your past medical and dental history and your current medical and dental status.  You must notify us immediately if there are or have been any changes in your medical or dental condition. This includes any illness or injury, any treatment by or advice from a health care provider or any updated laboratory or radiology tests. You must also notify us immediately if you change, stop or start any prescription or non-prescription medication.
If you have provided misleading, inaccurate or incomplete information, this could result in a disqualification from or termination of your Peace Corps service at any time.
I’m cleared and going to Zambia!
December, 2013 – I begin to receive emails from the Staging desk instructing me to go through several online orientations. I also receive suggested packing lists and other preparation materials.
January 5th, 2014 – I receive an email from Staging informing me of my staging date (February 3rd), and instructions to contact SATO (the Peace Corps travel agency) to arrange for my transportation to staging. I call, and in about five minutes I am booked on a flight leaving Homer, Alaska on February 1st for staging in Philadelphia. Packing begins in earnest.
January 9th, 2014 – I receive an email from my country desk informing me of a teleconference for all departing volunteers on January 16th at 6am (AK time).  Topics covered in the conference are to include:
  • The History of Peace Corps in Zambia
  • Peace Corps Programs in Zambia
  • Safety & Security as a Volunteer
  • Zambian Culture (food, dress, language)
  • Q&A

Comment here!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s