Today I got back from class to find an e-mail from the Peace Corps Placement Office waiting in my inbox.  (About time!) 

It was essentially an update, letting me know that they’re starting to look at me for placement (so I guess I jumped the gun a little thinking that they might have been in this process already).  I was asked to send an updated resume, which I did within an hour of receiving the e-mail.  In the process of editing, tweaking, and obsessively triple-checking my resume and then triple-checking it again, I realized I’ve actually gained a lot of relevant experience since I first applied, so I’m glad they are taking that into account. 

I got an e-mail back a little bit after that saying that my application is moving on to the final stage of review (I thought I was already there?) and a “Placement Specialist” will likely be contacting me in 4-6 weeks with some follow-up questions. 

So I am still waiting. But I feel better now that I have a time frame and I know that my application is on track and not just floating out in a bureaucratic sea somewhere. 

In other news, apparently our caps and gowns have arrived and are available to be picked up any time between now and commencement. I guess this graduation thing is actually happening.

Because I don’t have enough other things to be doing….

Surprise!  Christina has started blogging again.  Senior year is in its final stages and my Peace Corps application is in some sort of stage, and the next few entries will probably revolve around these two things.  I’ve been debating beginning to write on here again for awhile now, but generally thought that my life was probably not interesting enough to warrant writing about it.  However, tonight I’ve decided to just go for it for the following reasons:

1) It’s an easy way to preemptively answer the questions that I am being asked all the time regarding Peace Corps

2) I’ve been doing research and have found that it’s trendy to blog about the Peace Corps application process

3) I actually think I might implode from impatience if I don’t have an outlet for it

Here is the updated situation in case I haven’t already told each of you about 8 million times:

I graduate from Tufts on May 22 (this day can’t come soon enough).  My friend Brittany is getting married on June 4, so I’ll be returning home for her wedding at the end of May (my bridesmaid dress is being shipped as I write, which is pretty exciting).  At some point after that, I expect to be leaving for 2 years of Peace Corps service.  I applied during the summer, which was the “deadline” for placements starting this summer.  In the fall, I had an interview at the Peace Corps branch in Boston, which went well.  I received a nomination to do public health work in one of a variety of programs leaving between mid-August and mid-September.  (Keep in mind that any of  this could change–nomination dates, locations, even my job assignment–when I am evaluated for actual placement.)  I completed Medical, Dental, and Legal screening, which was fairly painless except for the part where I had to get my wisdom teeth removed before I could get my dental clearance.  As of sometime in February or March (can’t remember at the moment), I am totally cleared for service.

The next official step in the process is to get an Invitation to serve in a specific country with a specific job assignment.  I’ve been told that I may receive this as little as 6-8 weeks before I leave, in which case I might not get it until June or so.  However, knowing that I told Peace Corps that I could leave as early as June 5 and also that they sometimes give you more notice, I’ve been hopeful that the process might progress around now.  I’ve been doing some research on the Peace Corps wiki (unofficial, but a collection of information provided by volunteers and applicants), and have seen that people are already receiving invitations for August and September.  As you can imagine, this makes me a little anxious and every time I open my e-mail, I hopefully scan the new messages, thinking that there might be a Peace Corps update there.  Alas, no news since I got my medical clearance.

I was under the impression that there wasn’t going to be any more discussion/interaction with me before the Invitation was sent, but some of the blogs I’ve been checking out and information that has filtered to me through friends and acquaintances who know other people who are applying have mentioned being contacted at some point to send a revised resume (luckily I just had to revise my resume for a class, so I’m prepared on that front) and possibly having an involved phone conversation with someone from the Placement office.  Since neither of these things have happened, it’s likely that my invitation won’t be arriving any time soon.  However, I’ve heard stories of people getting theirs without going through these steps.  So it seems that there are very few hard and fast rules about this stage of the process.  It’s a bit frustrating to be in a constant waiting game, but as my recruiter said when she warned me that this stage would come: “It’s a good chance to start practicing some of the most useful Peace Corps skills: patience and flexibility.”  All I really know is that my application is there and they will contact me when I move forward in the process.

Various people have asked me if I’ve been looking into other options in case this doesn’t work out and the answer is basically, “no.”  I’ve come to the decision that this is truly what I want to do after graduation, and I plan to do it, as long as I get the prized invitation.  I’ve been told that if I made it to the nomination phase, I will very likely get an invitation; it’s just a matter of time.  So I’ve thought about a few alternative plans, but I haven’t pursued any of them.  Yes, I’m sort of putting all my eggs in one basket, but I have a good feeling about this basket.

So, I’ll keep you updated.  Meanwhile, life speeds on.  Senior year turns out to be a pretty busy time, and I really shouldn’t have time to obsess over the status of my Peace Corps application, but you know how these things are.  I’m taking some pretty interesting classes, two of which have massive research papers attached to them, so I’ll be increasingly busy as the due dates for those papers approach.  I continue to work with the small non-profit that I’ve been with for two years now, and things there are busy and exciting.  And this semester, as one of the final requirements for my Community Health major, I started a new internship with a large HIV/AIDS organization in the Jamaica Plain area of Boston.  The commute is about 1 hour each way on the T (I have to take a bus and two subways), and I work about 12 hours a week, so it takes up a lot of my time, but it has definitely been worth it.  I’m gaining more knowledge about HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and support services, which was something that Peace Corps had encouraged me to do, since any public health work I do will likely involve some aspect of HIV/AIDS work, and I’m also gaining skills that I think will be useful for public health work that I might do in the U.S. later in life.  Not to mention that I’m cultivating connections that could land me a job post-Peace Corps.

All the same, I just feel like I am ready to be done with this chapter of my life.  I feel like I’ve gotten most of what I am going to get out of my Tufts education and I’m anxious to move on.  Though I never experienced this in high school, I’m definitely struggling with some senioritis.  Speaking of which, I guess it’s probably time to get back to my schoolwork, now that I’ve taken a lengthy detour.  Until next time…CK