Life before PC
So as almost every Peace Corps volunteer who blogs their experience has most likely written, what you are about to read: The post that is dedicated to those who are interested in joining the Peace Corps, the process of applying and the life once you are. Now every volunteer has a unique experience with the application, the interview, and most definitely the 27-month commitment they make to their host country.
I have known about Peace Corps for several years, since the beginning of freshman year in high school, Peace Corps was an organization I dreamt of being a part of it, the idea of living in a third world country, working with people in hopefully an area that I am passionate about and above all traveling. Over the years as I progressed into college at UCSB, I targeted all of my volunteer work and job experiences to the requirements of the Environmental sector in the Peace Corps, if you’re interested you can check those out on the website.
Once it came to my senior year in UCSB it took me three months to complete my application which consisted of a resume, a long series of essay questions, references, and some medical questions. After submitting, my three references (work, volunteer, family/friend) were contacted to answer various questions of me. This all happened in the frame of August- October. In November or so I was asked to go to Los Angeles, for my interview in the So Cal office which lasted about three in half hours about my past experience, the ten characteristics/ peace core mission and how it fit well with my personality and what I want to do in Peace Corps. Shortly after in a week or two, my interviewer nominated me for a program in the Environmental Sector set to leave in September 2013 and also told me that I had to sign a contract saying that I would learn Spanish to the best of my ability. Between then and May, I spent a lot of time not knowing where I was going, going to the doctors office countless times for medical service, the obligatory background checks, a financial clearance and using Rosetta Stone to help refresh the high school days in clase de español. In May, I found out that I was going to Paraguay, this is when I accepted my service and knew the date of my departure and roughly what I would be doing as a part of the Medio Ambiental sector in Paraguay. Between that moment and up until September, I was so preoccupied with completing my degree at the University of California, Santa Barbara that what I knew of Paraguay was from what people had told me. My last 10 days in America was my chance to read up on Paraguay, prepare my bags and say my goodbyes. To anyone interested in applying I would highly suggest allowing more time to prepare your bags, there are things I wish I would have left behind and made room for, that I could have easily been avoided if I had the time. Also, Peace Corps does their best to prepare you by giving you papers on your country but the truth with every abroad program, no paper, no youtube video, or even talking to return volunteers, can fully prepare you for the experience you’re about to embark.
You set off for your host country and on the way you meet people in the airport, that either have chacos strapped to backpacking packs, way lindo ropa de REI or some other outdoor store, an instrument, or the occasional lost but excited look that someone has when the only thing they can do is to tell themselves don’t look back. These people are your family, the other 20-40 people that you will get to know so fast its almost terrifying how quickly you are comfortable sharing the terrible changes your body is going through, the love you left behind, or escaping from the fact that some people need a break, or aren’t quite sure where there life was going, so this seemed like the best idea. From that point on you spend your first ten weeks in a training community, living with a host family, learning the language, and preparing yourself for your site. As many of you have read in my previous post, I’m not going to go deeply into this.
To be continued… being a PCV