Okay so now that I have calmed down I feel like I can post the details from my final placement review and what I know about my invitation. Last week I posted that I emailed my placement assistant and I also posted her response, so check my last few posts if you are interested in that. The following day I received a call at home from my placement and assessment specialist but unfortunately I was at work so he left a very vague message asking me to return his call. I wasn’t able to call him back until Thursday and the first few times I tried went straight to voicemail (as almost all calls to Peace Corps headquarters do). I left a voicemail and waited a few hours but didn’t hear back. Finally around noon I decided to try one more time and to my surprise and excitement he picked up!
I introduced myself and he found my application folder. He started by letting me know that my application had not fallen off of PC’s “radar screen” and that I was at the right place in the process as they were conducting my final suitability review. He proceeded to tell me that they like to call and check in to see how applicants are doing and let us know where they are in the process. I was a little disappointed because I had hoped this would be my final interview. He began asking me some simple questions, many of which I had already answered in my interview last October. Many of his questions were geared toward how I would handle things (no water or electricity, being isolated, etc.) and some of my concerns and my parents concerns.
All of a sudden, out of nowhere, he tells me he wants to discuss the position he is considering me for. He tells me it is a program leaving late August (later than my original nomination but will work perfectly for me), it is in Central/South America and I will use my Spanish, and it is a primary education teaching position. I said all of that sounded wonderful (and at this point I am beyond excited). He then continued to tell me that he gets the impression that I am very motivated and dedicated and also noted that I have great qualifications. He said that this position he thinks would be a good fit for me is going to be a bit of a challenge. It is a very rural site (he asked again about not having water or electricity). He asked if I would be able to walk up to 12 miles a day if needed (yikes!). Then he went on to explain that one of the nations top priorities is environmental education for their children. So that would be what I primarily teach in the elementary schools. There would be 3 rural schools that have very little resources where I would work with 6 teachers. Two of the main things they want to develop are a compost system and a garden. In addition I would be teaching English and helping to develop curriculum.
He wanted to talk it over with me and I really appreciated that so I didn’t feel rushed into saying it sounded great (even though it did). I said that I was so excited there was an opportunity to work with primary schools since that is where I have the most experience. I told him that I am very interested in environmental education but I have a little concern because I do not have much experience in that area and am not sure I am qualified. He explained that there would be training on the subject and went on to explain that it is better to bring in experienced teachers who can plan curriculum, know teaching methods, and can manage a classroom and teach them about the topic than it is to bring in an environment expert who can’t teach kids. I mentioned that I do have a little concern with the walking 12 miles a day. I love to walk but 12 miles is very far (how long would that even take?!). He explained that he thinks that would be the extreme (i.e. if I had to go from the farthest starting point to all three schools and back in one day). He mentioned that the schools are very rural which means there is likely no bus that goes near them or possibly no road. He said that was unlikely and he also mentioned that volunteers usually have a bike. I said that biking 12 miles seems like a much more manageable task.
He asked if I had any other questions or anything else I wanted to discuss. I had one final question relating to the possibility of being placed in Mexico or Colombia and what the safety concerns/precautions are in those countries. He gave me a lot of information about both places and then said, “but you’re not going to either of those countries.” I was super excited to hear that because it narrows down the list of possibilities where I might be going!
I assumed this was going to be the end of our conversation and he was going to tell me I would hear from him in a certain amount of weeks or much longer (which is the typical end of conversation/email from PC staff). Instead he said, “Ok well if you don’t have any other questions I will put your invitation in the mail today”. I could have just died right then and there.
If you are still reading this, congratulations, you have quite the attention span.
That is all of the information I have on my invitation right now. He mailed my invitation on Thursday and said it would take 5-10 days to arrive. I am considering hiring someone to stand outside my house and set off an alarm when the UPS man comes so I can get that package as fast as humanly possible. I don’t want to speculate too much about what country it will be because I don’t want to get my hopes up, but I have a gut feeling it will be Paraguay. Honestly, it doesn’t matter what country it is, I am just so happy there is an invitation on the way.
Naturally the second I got of the phone I jumped up and down and did a little happy dance before running to the phone to immediately call my Mom, Dad, sister, and best friend. When my parents got home from work they took me to Macayo’s to celebrate with margaritas and then we stopped at Costco and bought a suitecase I have been eyeing. Was it impulsive? Of course. But it feels absolutely wonderful to have something sitting in my den that will be a part of the two year adventure that will soon be my life.
Thats all for now, look for another rambling excitement filled post the second I see that UPS man and rip open the envelope!
Until next time….paz y amor.
P.S. I was browsing PCJ and came across another applicant who just got sent an invitation for literally the exact same program so it will be interesting to see if we are in the same country and I might have just found the first person from my group! Small world!