Saturday, September 29, 2007

Greetings from the Other Side

I made it through the week--not sure how well (or poorly) I performed on the prelims, but the paper came through just shining, so that's all right.

Yesterday was a wonderful day, because:

*It was Friday

*It was sunny, for part of the day, and rainy for another part (yay weather!)

*I had a really great Peace Corps interview
*to which I wore my own business casual clothing
*and to which I rode my bike wearing high heels (yeah, that's right)

*I fixed the brakes on my bicycle

*I went to the nice grocery store with my housemate named Kate
*and we got nice things with which

*We made four awesome pizzas and

*A lot of green (Ask Ding and Emily why) whipped cream with which we

*Ate Famous Tar Cake

*We then had a small singing party that was truncated by the fact that

*We had an awesome rough-housing / wrestling match all over the downstairs for about an hour (some of us are really sore, now).

*I talked to both of my parents on the phone

Peace Corps Interview went really well (as in, quite well), and here is where things stand, now:

My last recommender has to submit his letter, and I have to fill out two addendum forms (one for being in a relationship and one for being a vegetarian, that the first won't become problematic over the Peace Corps, and that the second can change based on where I serve) which I will receive via e-mail and return via e-mail to the recruiter here. Then, all of my papers will go to the NYS regional office, and we will wait for November.

November is when Nomination can start happening--for those of you who don't know (so basically, everyone but my parents) is when they assign you to a program. The rest of the process goes like this:

* Your recruiter looks at the programs you're eligible for (region, sector, and leave-date), and then gives you a single option.

* You either "take" or "leave" the option. In the case of "leave", the recruiter then picks a different one, and this loop continues until you either become such a thorn in their side that they put you on the back burner (that takes a lonnng time), or you find a program in which you'd like to serve.

* You accept your nomination ("taking" the option), they send your paperwork down to Washington D.C., and they send you a big packet of medical forms to fill out, dotting every "i" and crossing every "t". This is often the most delay-full part of the process.

* Once your medical stuff is in and processed, as far as I know, they then send you the Big Fat Envelope with the country of your assignment and the exact thing you'll be doing [if you're a teacher, which sciences you'll be teaching--Life (Bio, Geography, Basic-Geology-type stuff), or Physical (Chemistry, Physics, and Math)], and what level of education you'll be teaching, and you will also then know your leave date to within a couple days (they reserve the right to move it around on you within a few days).

After that, it's a matter of getting ready to go, and finishing up school.

So, some answers you might want:

Why November?
Because I'm applying so early, they don't actually know the availability and etc. of the programs they'll have in January, 2009--they will know these things in November, which is why it is very cool that I am applying so early--my application will be front-loaded (my term for being totally ready to be processed as soon as programs become available)--which ultimately means I'll have first choice of programs (or, rather, my recruiter will have first choice when he chooses the one he thinks is 'best' for me).

What's a Sector, and what's a Region?

A Sector is what I'll be doing. This is what the Peace Corps has to say about sectors on their website: "[Sectors are] education, youth outreach, and community development; business development; agriculture and environment; health and HIV/AIDS; and information technology. Within these areas, the specific duties and responsibilities of each Volunteer can vary widely." My possible sectors that I could work in are (in order): Education (ED), Agriculture (AG), and Environment (EN).

A Region is a general area of the world--on the application, it is possible to specify three preferences, in prioritized order. The options are: The Caribbean, Central America & Mexico, South America, The Pacific Islands, Eastern Europe & Central Asia, Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, and Africa. My preferences (in order) are

Africa (extremely likely):
Francophone: Benin (ED, EN), Mali (AG, EN), Mauritania (AG, ED), Burkina Faso (ED), Cameroon (ED, EN), Niger (AG, EN, ED), Senegal (AG, EN), Guinea (ED, EN), Togo (ED, EN), Madagascar (ED, EN)
English: Botswana, Namibia, Ghana, South Africa, Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia

North Africa (very unlikely):
Jordan, Morocco (Arabic)

The Pacific Islands (very unlikely):
Fiji, Samoa, Kiribati, Tonga, Micronesia and Palau, Vanuatu

Given what I know, I'm expecting to be sent to an African Francophone country (that's why I listed them) to teach science or to be an Agricultural or AgroForestry volunteer. I don't expect to be sent to a country without French as a language there, because why not make use of a language I speak? I'm expecting to be sent as a science teacher because there is a dire need for French-speaking science teachers in Africa (or so I hear). If I had to guess at which four countries I'm most likely to go to (based on French and Science backgrounds), I'd guess: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Guinea. I guess we'll see, hey?

In the meantime, there is homework.

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