Devin’s Peace Corps Experience

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Lots of stuff…

Posted by draycoxx on February 19, 2009

Well it has certainly been a long time since I’ve updated this blog. A lot has happened.

My last post was about how my interview had been scheduled. Well I went to the interview, and the actual interview went fine, about as well as could be expected. After the interview she asked if I had any questions. I told her my only question was about a general time line of when I could possibly expect to leave if I was nominated. She told me that because of the economy their budget had been cut, and when the economy goes does, applications go way up. Due to both of these factors every single program that I qualified for for 2009 was already full (keep in mind this was Jan. 06, 2009), and the soonest I could possibly leave would be January 2010. She said that they hadn’t even released the programs for 2010 yet, and I would need to call her on Jan. 26th when the programs were released to see if I could possible be nominated into something, but that I shouldn’t get my hopes up because the spots were very competitive.

Needless to say I left the interview extremely dissapointed. In fact I was probably more dissapointed than I had been in a very long time. I had absolutely had my heart set on the Peace Corps. I had read countless blogs from start to finish, had read several memoirs, had my mom and grandma read a peace corps book, and pretty much all of my Christmas gifts revolved around the Peace Corps.

Everything that I had read said to be prepared to wait 4-12 months from the day you apply until when you leave. But I also read that a lot of that delay can be attributed to people taking their time to get their health and dental clearances, so I thought if I did everything super fast I could leave within 4 months, or maybe prove everyone wrong, and leave even sooner. I submitted my application with all my recommendation letters on my birthday, November 1st. So I thought that I could leave by March 2009 if I wanted. Well after thinking about it a couple of days I decided that I didn’t want to just wait around not really doing anything until March so I decided to enroll full time at WSU through the internet. That way I could have school until May 8th. I knew that a lot of the programs started on May 15th, and that would be a full 7.5 months from when I applied so I figured I would have absolutely no problem getting into one of those programs. I was very wrong.

For a while I had almost entirely decided against joining the Peace Corps. I was probably 90% sure I was going to tell my recruiter I simply couldn’t wait that long. It wasn’t the waiting that was bothering me so much. It was the waiting while not doing anything else that bothered me. I currently am 22, live at home, and work at a pizza place as a delivery driver. The only way I can even justify this to myself right now is the fact that I also am enrolled in college full time. But from May-Jan (at the earliest) I wouldn’t be in school any longer. I looked at a bunch of options for things to do from May-Jan, but so far nothing has worked out.

I was leaning pretty firmly towards joining the Air Force. I even got two ASVAB study guides, and started studying for the ASVAB. But I never could stop thinking about the Peace Corps. I don’t really know how to explain it, but it just felt right to me. Aside from the fact that I wanted to do it more than anything, it just felt right. All the other options (Air Force, Grad School, Job, Start a Business, Americorps, and other volunteer work) didn’t feel 100% like what I should be doing, but the Peace Corps did.

Then the day rolled around when the programs opened up, and I called my recruiter. She said that there weren’t many openings, as she had warned me, but if I wanted her to she would still try to get me in one. I told her I did want her to, even though at this time I was still probably 80% sure I didn’t want to wait even though it felt right. A week later she called me again and said she was able to nominate me into a program, but it didn’t leave until MARCH 2010. She didn’t give any explanation on why I wasn’t able to get into a Jan. program. The only details she knew was that it was a small business development program, and it was in Eastern Europe. I told her that I did want to be nominated into the program, and thanked her. She then told me that since I do have an employer now I need to get a letter of recommendation from him. When I worked at Edward Jones I didn’t have a supervisor, so I was able to get an exception. I told her I would definitely ask him, but that I did work at a pizza place so it would be kinda weird.

Anyway despite being pushed back another three months I actually started to lean more and more towards the Peace Corps. I think maybe it was because it became more real once I was actually nominated into a program, and had an actual location, albeit vague. It took a while but I was finally able to get my boss to write and send in the recommendation letter. Peace Corps sent me a packet with a ton of health forms, but I assume I have a LONG time to get them done, so I’m in no hurry.

I’m still not 100% on the Peace Corps because of the wait, but I am definitely leaning that way. Its crazy to think that if I do decide to do it it will have been a full 17 months from the day I applied until I leave. Everything I read said 12 months MAXIMUM. That is really ridiculous actually. Hopefully I can find something to do from May-March because sitting at home working part time as a delivery driver when I am 22/23 with multiple college degrees sounds absolutely miserable.

Hopefully this isn’t my last post and someday other people will actually read this blog.

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Interview Scheduled

Posted by draycoxx on December 18, 2008

Well after waiting two weeks for them to call me I finally called the office again to see what was going on. They went ahead and just scheduled my interview right there on the spot on Jan. 6th.

It’s a little confusing why they don’t seem to do anything unless you call them first, but oh well. I guess the squeaky wheel gets the grease. So my advice for anyone in the process of applying would be to pester them constantly.

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Updates…

Posted by draycoxx on December 6, 2008

Well after the Peace Corps had what I thought to be all my paperwork for 10 days I called them and asked if everything was going fine. The guy I talked to said he would check on it, and someone would call me if they needed something, and if I didn’t hear from them then I should assume everything was fine. Well two days later my recruiter called me and said they actually needed three additional documents from me. I wonder how long it would have taken if I wouldn’t have called?

One of the documents they needed was my official transcript from WSU. It said submitting an unofficial transcript was fine, but I guess the one I submitted wasn’t quite official enough. So I had to request a transcript from WSU, and that took about a week for me to get it. I submitted everything on Tuesday of this week.  So as far as I know everything is in their court again.  I’ll call them sometime next week to see how everything is going.

Ive been reading several books about the Peace Corps. It’s still the same. The more I know about the Peace Corps the more I want to join it. The books I read are:

  • A Life Inspired – I picked up this book for free at the Peace Corps office, and I thought it was just promotional material. I later saw it on Amazon.com so I guess its an actual book. It is just a book with a bunch of really short stories (2-5 pages) about people’s experience in the Peace Corps. I enjoyed reading it, but it didn’t have much content.
  • So You Wanna Join The Peace Corps? – This was the most useful book I’ve read. The Peace Corps really should have something like this available on their website. I had so many questions, even after scouring the web, and piecing together information bit by bit. This answered pretty much every question I had. I would recommend anyone thinking about joining the Peace Corps to read this book.
  • Nine Hills to Nambonkah – This is a memoir of a woman who spent two years in a village called Nambonkah in the Ivory Coast. It was a very enjoyable read. It really showed what life is like in the peace corps, from the heartbreaking times, to the truley euphoric times.

I’ll probably read quite a few more memoirs before I leave, if I do.  I really do hope that I get accepted and am able to go. I’m kinda putting all my eggs in one basket right now. If I don’t get into to Peace Corps it will be a pretty big blow to me.

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Received First Packet From Peace Corps

Posted by draycoxx on November 11, 2008

Well I received my first packet from the Peace Corps today. I want to write an update something “significant” happens so I can have a time line on how long everything actually took. There were a couple of weird things about this though.

The first weird thing is that immediately after I sent my application on-line is said that the next thing I will be receiving is a letter in the mail which will tell me my user name and password so I can login to a part of their website that will tell me the status of my application. The packet didn’t contain my user name or password, nor did it contain any mention of them.

The second weird thing is that in the packet it told me to send back all the required forms in the large envelope required. The packet also did not contain an envelope. No big deal or anything, I just thought it was a little weird.

Well one of the required documents was a fingerprint form that you had to get done and submit to the peace corps. You can do these at most police stations for like $20 during certain times, or you can go to a regional peace corps office, and do it for free. There are only 11 regional peace corps offices in the country, but luckily one of them is in Seattle, so I went down there today so I could get my fingerprints done.

It was actually kinda funny, when we were about to start the process she asked me if I have ever had my fingerprints taken before, and I said I had, three times. She literally gasped and said, “Well I hope it was for working with children or something, and not the other kind” I told her it was for my job, but I’m not sure if she believed me. But it’s true, I had to have one set taken for Edward Jones, one for the SEC, one for the Washington State insurance commissioner, and now one for the peace corps. So if the police ever run my prints I’m gonna be popping up all over the place I guess.

When I was there I asked her about the user name and password, as well as the return envelope. She said I should have received them both, so she wrote down my user name and password, and gave me a return envelope. I actually had everything done besides my transcripts while I was there, so I just turned everything in in person besides the transcripts. As soon as I have those done, I’ll mail them in.

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs from start to finish or people’s peace corps experiences. It’s really starting to sink in what a huge commitment it is to give 27 months to the peace corps. I’m not having second thoughts or anything. If anything I’m even more convinced that this is what I want to do.

When something else significant happens in this process I’ll update again. I wish there was a way to speed all this up.

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Officially applied to the Peace Corps

Posted by draycoxx on November 1, 2008

I’ve always had a philosophy about giving to homeless people. I’ve felt that if you give them money you’re essentially paying them to be homeless. I’ve seen enough TV shows that show homeless people making several hundred dollars a day and then buying crack with it to make me a cynic.

When I was in Rome in May though I had a small epiphany. I was about to get on a train to go to Cinque Terre and I was absolutely starving so I went to the McDonalds that was next to the train station. I hadn’t eaten all day so I bought two Big Macs and some fries, and it turned out I couldn’t eat as much as I thought so I kept one of them in the box and I was planning on eating it on the train later since it cost like $10 with the ridiculous exchange rate.

But when I started walking back to the train a lady holding a baby walked up to me and started asking me something in Italian. I have no idea what she asked, but I assume she was asking me if I had any money. AT first I just shook my head like I had hundreds of times, but then I thought maybe I would give her the Big Mac.  So I looked towards her and pointed at the Big Mac, and she eagerly just starting shaking her head. I handed the burger to her and she said some real quick in Italian and ran away, but something about the raw genuine appreciation in her eyes just kinda got to me.

I’m not writing this to sounds like some hero or anything since giving a homeless woman a Big Mac really isn’t a big deal, but it was the first time I actually saw someone truly appreciate me giving something to them. This led me to realize a few things. The first being how I could actually help people who really needed help, and the second is how good it made me feel to do so. I know that isn’t a very altruistic reason to want to help people,  but it is what it is.

For some reason since I was 18 I had a strong desire to join the military. A problem with that is that the military would clash so bad with my personality that it would be horrible for everyone involved. I didn’t really know why I had such a strong desire to join the military but I think last year I started realizing why I had the desire. I wanted to serve something larger than myself and really do good in the world. I know how corny and BS that sounds, but it really is true. No matter what else I did with my life, you couldn’t say I didn’t devote myself to something great at my own sacrifice. I guess I just wanted to do something to be proud of.

Well I made a decision to do something with my life I can truly be proud of that will also help people.  I decided to join the peace corps. It’s actually something I kinda kicked around last year but then I decided I wanted to go the career route immediately post college. Well after 5 months of working for Edward Jones and HATING it I realized that it wasn’t the route that I should have taken.

I officially submitted my application to the Peace Corps today, it took a long time to finish since you need to have three recommendation letters and it took quite a while to get them all. I don’t know how long it will take to get everything done, or if I will even get accepted. But I wanted to have record of the whole process from the very beginning. So either this blog is going to crash and burn soon, or it will be pretty active for the next three years.

Well I’m not sure when i’m going to write next, but I probably wont write too much until i’m actually over seas.

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