Applying to The Peace Corps

THE HORROR

THE HORROR– (pictured: Medical Paperwork)

So, for all of you guys and gals thinking about joining the Peace Corps, I thought I would outline the process and give you all some tips and tricks (pardon some of the vague dates). Here is my timeline so far (to be updated when I leave):

April 2012: Started the application process.
– This is perhaps the easiest portion of the process. if you have ever filled out a college application, you can fill out a Peace Corps application. I would compare it to a genetically modified-hybrid job, college, and health survey. There are a few parts to pay attention too, specifically.

Part one: The recommendations

rather easy and come from:

1) A friend: Seriously, unless you have NOOOOO friends in the entire world or your friends HATE you (maybe you stole their crayons), you should be able to get at least one to write a rec for you.
2) Someone who knows your mad, sweet skills in working: this is like a job recommendation or reference.
3) One other person who knows you. I chose my college adviser. Thanks Sr. Karen.

A tip: buy these people cookies… they do not deserve the pestering you will give them for not completing the recommendation the second you ask them too. Trust me, you will start to feel the Peace Corps induced mania at this point.

Part 2: The essays

There are two and involve talking about how great you are, how well you adapt (very key), your experiences and how well you can meet the core expectations

Part 3: The health and experience questions…

Like a job application… kinda self explanitory

May 2012: Got accepted into the Peace Corps Master’s Program at Wheelock College for Educational Studies with a certificate in Organizational Leadership. Also, graduated from Emmanuel College (literally next door to Wheelock).
– I seriously believe that I am not in a mental hospital at this point because of my masters program. My adviser for the program (a returned Peace Corps Volunteer herself), helped me along the way and the classes keep some of my mind at ease. Like Nike says, “JUST DO IT”. It will maintain your sanity. Also, you get some sort of incentive (I am getting 8 credits free, others offer more). Plus, you get to use your masters to do a project in country.

June 2012: Started a job at a daycare, started my masters, moved to a new place (Dorchester), had jury duty, and had my Peace Corps interview (June 4th, according to my email history).
– The Peace Corps interview was held in Rhode Island, despite the fact that they have an office 20 min away from me in Boston.
-Despite the cost and travel, it was actually a pleasurable experience. All of the interviewers are RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers), so it is pretty cool to have someone interview you who has gone through the whole shabang.
Here is how it went down….
We met in a convention center lobby and had a nice question and answer session that felt surprisingly un-interview like.  We joked about me getting lost on my way. After the interview, I ran out of there and texted EVERY PERSON I KNOW to let them know it went AWESOME. Last, I got a cookie (to celebrate).

A tip: unlike a job interview, it is best to be yourself. Do not over prepare, but do dress nice.

July: GOT NOMINATED, got legally cleared, started talking to family.
– AKA, got an email saying I was nominated… not to a country or sector (job), but was nominated.  I WAS THROUGH THE ROOF.
– I also got fingerprinted in this really shady bank vault by someone who had never heard of the Peace Corps (I know, I was just as confounded)
– After a week of waiting (and seeing as I have no criminal history), I was legally cleared.

-At this point, it is best to start getting your family to believe that your desire to join the Peace Corps is not a passing phase. I just kept talking about it with them and supplying them with the family brochure… recruiters are also very willing to give advice. I am pretty sure that my dad still has hopes that I wont go (threatens to be like Rambo if I get kidnapped), but he is just being a dad. Tip: they probably wont really believe you till acceptance and placement. 

August-october————————————————————–( I wait and wait)
– This is what Peace Corps is good at, making you wait. Although, I did fill out a health history form, which happens 5 or so more times.

November 25th:
-Got a suspicious looking email asking me questions about myself that I had already answered on my application and during my interview. I was later told that this meant I was to be placed soon….. little did I know……………………………………………

November 30th, 2012: Yipppppie Day
-I got invited to serve in Mongolia. That’s right, I was invited to the least densely populated country in the entire world. I will be a primary teacher trainer starting May 31st….
-At this point I was in the air, jumping, spinning, making small children think I was crazy….

A tip: enjoy this part, from here on, you will start pulling your hair

December: Got THE blue packet (it is beautiful, an I will take a pic when I clean out the black whole I call a room)… here is an image of one off of Google:


– First thought was “holy spaghetti monster, this sh_) just got real”, second though (after a cooling off period), “What the flip does all this mean”. In your blue folder-packet you will fin many pieces of paper, not the least of which informs you that within 10 days you must submit both an aspiration statement (essay about yourself) and updated resume to your country of service.

-Also during this month I went to visit my wonderful mother trucker, Nanna (Great Grandmother) and other crazy but awesome family members in Hermantown/ Duluth, Minnesota. I decided that, while on vacation I would be industrious and timely by doing more Peace corps thing. By doing so, I apparently confounded all of the people at the post office with my Peace Corps Passport application, which is 30 times more difficult to submit…. Total time spent in the Post office: 2 hours.

January 2013: Resumed work, got health insurance and started to procrastinate on dental clearance.

-Although I have not committed any major crime, I did commit a minor one. In the state of Massachusetts, one can get in trouble for not having health insurance. Because my job does not provide insurance and I did not want to deal with Masshealth, I was without it. Hence I was living on the edge. Peace Corps made me realize that medical could be rather expensive (I have seen volunteer blogs stating costs in the rage of 500 plus dollars), so I bought health insurance through my school (again, another reason to go with the whole Masters thing), and have not had to shell any out of pocket. BOOOYAA. We will get to the actual medical process later…

-The dental paperwork is a pain if you have teeth. I have teeth, and like most people with teeth, I have dental issues. So, I took January to not do dental work because A) I do not like the dentist, B) I do not own a money tree.

Feb: Started medical work, got an eye exam, went to the, da da da…. Dentist.

– The Peace Corps medical paperwork is long and thorough… I have been tested for every disease and ailment on the face of the planet (literally, look up a disease and I have probably had the test or the vaccine. Along with the basic, and not so basic, testing, i have had a pap smear, a visual skin exam and various other tests (found out I had Parvo). Hopefully my next post will say PASSED MY MEDICAL (it will be in all caps btw and there may be a pic of me smiling in a ridiculous fashion).

-I got an eye exam. There was nothing too strange. Tip: go to Foreyes optical; they are super nice and give no bull about the strange Peace Corps eye form.

– Went to Gentle Dental and found out I have a ridiculous number of cavities. I decided to go to a dental school (Tip: Go to a dental school in the first place, it is much cheaper. Seeing as the Peace Corps defines “sharing” as 69 dollars, cheap is good).

March: Went to the dentist a million more times (sorry for the hyperbole, it was more like 5). Got shots, shots, shots…

– I am still going to the dentist (in fact, as I type, I have three more appointments set up)… thankfully, Peace Corps said I could take more time to do dental. I came to the conclusion that they are like every other agency where deadlines are more like scare tactics.

-Got A TON of shots, titers (blood tests), and other blood tests for the following illnesses:

  • Polio
  • Chicken Pox (because, who can actually find a record showing they have had it?)
  • Flu
  • Rabies (in case an animal bites me I can take more time getting to the hospital)
  • MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella)
  • Typhoid
  • Some weird deficiency (I will give the name later)
  • Hepatitis A and B
  • HIV stage 1 and 2

So, I count myself lucky, other countries require more..

So this people, is where I end this post. If you would like to know more, please comment. I will be getting a travel email shortly for people to ask me specific questions. Also, I apologize for the messy and un-formed nature of this post, blogging while your roommate is singing, loudly, in the next room, makes it harder.

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