Posted by: pckatie | May 31, 2011

My Peace Corps journey has ended before it began…

I am going to get straight to the point…I am not going to Nicaragua.  I found this information out last Monday and it has taken me a full week to gather my thoughts and let the reality sink in enough to start spreading the news.  I am not going to go into all of the details, but the only two alternatives I was given would not work for me so to my dismay, my Peace Corps journey has come to an abrupt end.  My heart is broken.  Each morning when I wake up the reality hits me again..I am not going to Nicaragua.  My heart always went out to the applicants I read about who were medically unqualified for service or who did not meet the program requirements and found out after months in the application process that they would not be able to serve in the Peace Corps.  I imagined how painful that would be, knowing that your dreams could not become a reality and it was out of your control.  I don’t have to imagine this feeling anymore, as it has become a reality for me.  Only to add insult to injury, as I have already received an invitation (three months ago) I have already purchased many items in preparation to move abroad for two years.  For graduation I received books, clothing, supplies, and heartfelt cards from family and friends all geared toward Nicaragua.  I have piles of Peace Corps paperwork all over my house in the midst of being completed.  I am leaving on a trip to Alaska this Friday that I chose because I wanted to go somewhere cool to relax before I moved to Central America.  Last year for Christmas my parents received money from my grandparents to put away so they could come visit me in my country of service.  Everywhere I look there are things that remind me of the dream that had become reality, and now is a thing of the past, ended before it began. 

To say that I am heartbroken would be an understatement.  This was a dream many years in the making and I was three months away from setting foot on Nicaraguan soil.  I spent the last week going from store to store returning all of the items I will no longer need.  When the salespeople asked, “Is there anything wrong with the item?”  I found myself replying, “No, I just won’t be needing it afterall.”  It is hard to describe the pain of packing up all of your graduation gifts you received just weeks prior and sending them all back.  When printing graduation photos, I simply skipped over all of the shots of me opening my gifts like Nicaragua books, camping towels, and travel supplies or of my decorated car that read “Nicaragua Here I Come” and “Peace Corps or Bust”.  My parents offered that someday I might want to have those pictures as a memory, once it doesn’t hurt so bad to look at them, but it is hard for me to imagine.

I have had a week now to let the reality set in and to let the pain heal.  I would love to say that I have completely moved on, but in all honesty, I think it will be quite awhile before I can say that and really mean it.  It still hurts to read Peace Corps stories, see status updates from volunteers, look at the Nica 57 group I started, or think about the life I almost experienced in the heart of Nicaragua.  I have moved on to Plan B and started applying for jobs.  My plan (pre Peace Corps) had always been to move to California or New York after graduation to teach.  Unfortunately as it is already June, there just isn’t time to get to both states and find a job and a place to live.  I applied to graduate school and have put applications in to many districts in my area.  I hope to get a job teaching kindergarten and begin working on my masters in early childhood education at night. 

One of the main reasons I joined the Peace Corps is that I wanted to make a lasting difference in the lives of people in need.  I have thought long and hard about that and considered my options to still accomplish that goal even without Peace Corps.  I looked into many other volunteer abroad organizations as well as teaching English as a foreign language abroad.  I just feel that the program costs associated with participating in these programs could be put to much better use by being donated to non-profits established in these countries of need.  Many of them cost thousands of dollars and the majority of that goes to travel, housing, sight seeing, and care for the volunteer instead of to the country’s people in need.  So the other option I came up with was to apply to teach in some inner city schools.  I did my student teaching in a ELL (english language learner) kindergarten classroom at a Title I (low income) school.  I really enjoyed this placement and felt that I had the most opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the kids.  While it is nothing compared to the experience I would have had with the Peace Corps, I believe working in an inner city school would give me the opportunity to work with an at-risk high needs population where I can try to make a difference, and also allow me to interact with a diverse population where I will be exposed to and need to be sensitive to different languages and cultures.

This will likely be my last post on this blog.  I have decided to leave it up because when I was applying to the Peace Corps, blogs were a valuable source of information for me, and I hope that future applicants can use the information in my blog to learn about the application process and steps to becoming a volunteer.  I have met so many wonderful people along this journey and I will always remember the people who helped me along the way.  I wish everyone in my Nica 57 group, and all of the other applicants and volunteers, the absolute best of luck on this amazing journey.  I hope that the experience is everything that you hoped it would be and more.  I am not reading Peace Corps Journals right now as it is still hard for me, but I hope that sometime in the future I will have moved on enough to get back on and follow everyone’s wonderful adventures. 

This has been a good learning experience for me in that life is not always going to turn out the way that you planned.  Fortunately for me, I do believe that everything happens for a reason.  That doesn’t make it any easier or less painful, but I know that it means there are other great things in store for my future. 

So thank you to all who have been reading over this past year, and thank you from the bottom of my heart to my wonderful friends and family.  It is your continued support and love that allows me to pursue my dreams in the first place, and to get back up when everything comes crashing down. 

Follow your dreams, and if you fall always remember, “Every time you get up and get back in the race, one more small piece of you starts to fall into place.”

One last time, a very heartfelt paz y amor.

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Responses

  1. I feel for you. I was a volunteer for 3 years having extended my service at the behest of my country director. I was an older volunteer and 3 months short of my close of service I became ill. I was medevac’d to Washington and medically separated a week later. Admittedly I had a fanastic Peace Corps experience which I will never forget but the way in which my service was terminated left me feeling exactly like you do. It left me empty and abandoned and took me year to reconcile. There are many other NGO out there that do much more gutsy things than the Peace Corps does, I did one of those alternative experience years later and found it a great deal more rewarding and less paternalistic. Good luck!

  2. Hey, I just read your blog because I am a currently serving volunteer in Costa Rica. I wanted you to know a few things. One, its been a really bad day and while you may be super frustrated right now (I can only imagine what this would feel like it took me two years to get through the application process), I want you to know that today I was ready to throw in the towel and go home, my placement isn’t shaping up like I thought, the medical office can’t get their shit together and I have been hungry since I got here. This post reminded me of how much I wanted this. So I bet right now that feels really shitty, but you said you really wanted to help people in need, well you really helped me today. Not everyone can go overseas and in fact the Peace Corps also pays exorbitant amounts of money to house and feed PCV’s so look at it this way, better to know now that it won’t work out than once you get there. You will find a niche in the US and I am sure you will help plenty of people. Who knows, PC accepts volunteers of all ages, maybe its in your future! Best of Luck, and the best advice I got today comes from a Lame country song, “If you’re going through Hell, the best thing you can do is keep on going.”

  3. Hey hun, I’m so sorry about this :-/ it’s hard no matter what, but after months of knowing where you are going and having done so much preparation. In 2008 I had to decline my invitation to El Salvador literally at the VERY last second. I was heart broken. I am *convinced* it was for a reason (I’m a big believer of “everything happens for a reason” I just can’t see it at the time) they assured me I could reactivate my application within a year timeframe or reapply. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to reactivate it due to budget cuts and an influx of applicants. Again, I was devastated. I had just finished obtaining my TEFL certificate I had gotten for the PC, so I decided to go back to China (a country I LOVE) to teach for a year. Who knows, maybe that’s why PC didn’t work out?? My students there. I’m back now, but I miss it everyday but am currenty pursuing a “real” teaching degree rather than just my certificate.

    I will say that I was devastated for months, and then not being allowed to reactivate my application was like ripping off the bandaid, reliving the hurt all over again. I cant lie. At the time it was so hard. It has been 2.5 years. Naturally, with time it has gotten much easier, I am able to talk to PC friends, read PCJ, keep up with PC news from applicants and the organization, etc. There hasn’t been a day that’s gone by that I haven’t thought of the PC. I hadn’t even realized it has been 2.5 yrs til now. Wow.

    Sorry, not trying to be depressing. Basically, it will get easier in time. I am sure you will still think about it a lot, but it WILL get easier. You will find something you love, especially since you are already actively looking. You’ll find it, and in time you will see how everything works out for you.

    I really do wish you the best of luck. It’ll turn out ok, I know it. *hugs* I know you don’t know me, but feel free to email me anytime.

  4. I absolutely loved reading about your PC process. You are such a generous and expressive writer! I don’t understand why your assignment did not work out at the last minute. After being so immersed and compelled by your writings and your desire, am beyond curious. I am about to go to my first interview with my recruiter in NYC tomorrow morning. I am a 60 year old woman. This is something I’ve always wanted to do and now is the time – now or never (as they say). But I put all of this out there unconditionally. That is my little secret – no expectations. Just pure will and desire. What will be will be. All my best to you for a great adventure as you settle onto a new perch! I have no doubt that you will find ways to “serve” your whole life long.All best.


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