Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Deep breath. "Patience is a virtue." Sigh.

I have been noticing what seems to be an increasing number of invitations being sent out to my fellow Peace Corps applicants. This is an exciting time and I am so so happy for each and every one of you. That being said, I am also a little bit sad for me (and for Kati) because we are still stuck in this waiting game. And I think that sadness feels a little stronger because I am genuinely thrilled for everyone when they get their invitation and then I realize I am no closer to getting mine. Then I get a frown face.

So I decided to email my Placement Specialist to find out the timeline for this phase and to find out if my program was still open, all under the guise that I have continued to take certificate courses and need to update my resume. Well, she emailed me back and I think I am more depressed for having emailed her. (Note to self, it is better to be patient and let the process happen as it may and stop being nosey because you might not like what you hear.) What I know now is that I need to fax copies of documentation related to additional experience to the Peace Corps office, that there are a lot of people with programs departing sooner than me and they take precedence, that I need to be flexible to worldwide placement, and that it will be AT LEAST ANOTHER MONTH before she will be ready to review my file. Sigh, tear, and frown face all rolled into one.

What does this mean to me you ask? It means that I will do my best to sit back, practice patience, and continue to be as excited as possible for everyone, knowing that sooner or later it will be my turn. *Deep breath*

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Your file is now complete and with your Placement Officer for determination for service"

I received an email this morning from my Placement Assistant letting me know that my file is complete and that it is now with my Placement Specialist for final review. I am beyond ecstatic! It is so comforting to know that everything is in and that I am in the last stage of this whole process. I know it's only been a few months since I applied but it has felt like an eternity...

Of course, the email reminded me (in a standard form way) that I may not receive an invitation for my program of nomination and to be open to working with the Placement Specialist in the case I am invited to serve in another location. This is cause for consideration and some deep thought. So that is exactly what I have been doing. This is what I have surmised:

I am open to whatever happens. I didn't have a place in mind when I applied and I said that I would be willing to serve wherever my help was needed most. Yes, I am pretty excited about the idea of serving in Botswana (thank you Peace Corps Wiki and the Mobleys for your inside information) but am also pretty confident that wherever I end up will be the right place for me. Also, I did some research on my Placement Specialist and she has done everything, literally, and is a highly educated and accomplished individual. I have confidence in her and believe she will place me somewhere I am well suited. That being said, I obviously prefer my Sub-Saharan Africa nomination because I have mentally committed myself to going (and my family has started their "Africa funds" and would probably opt to visit Africa instead of me if my location changed).

In the end, it will be a worthwhile and amazing adventure wherever I end up. I am just excited to be rounding out this process and finding out where I will be serving.

"The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure."

Monday, December 13, 2010

We have contact!

It seems as though the Peace Corps Placement Office has, in fact, been reading my blog. I say this because the day after I posted about my RAS and pleaded with Placement to contact me and calm my restless heart, I received an email from the Business Placement and Assessment Assistant! Hallelujah! She requested my updated resume, documentation of my TEFL certification, and additional information on my fellowship experience in Israel. As of 9:00 this morning, everything has been sent in! And, courtesy of my wonderful recruiter, I have direct contact information for my Placement Specialist so she is not a mystery anymore! Could it be that this waiting-for-an-invite may finally come to an end? Until then, I am a happy girl to be at this point!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Human Rights Day: A Challenge For The Future

The promotion and protection of human rights became a primary concern for the United Nations following the atrocities of WWII. The global community weeped at the loss of so many lives and resolved that they would never let hatred and death reign again. Three years later, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it was written that respect for human rights and human dignity "is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world."

On this day, December 10th, we observe Human Rights Day in commemoration and respect for the Assembly's adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and for their dedication to protect the rights of people the world over. Over the years, nations, agencies, and individuals have joined forces to ensure the primacy of human rights and to confront human rights violations wherever they occur.

Sadly, people continue to suffer from gross misconduct. People in our own backyards are being bullied for their sexuality, communities across the ocean are needlessly being slaughtered, and women and children are victims of sex trafficking at home and abroad.

I believe in the power of a unified group to make a difference and to bring great change. Therefore, it is not enough to declare any one day to be Human Rights Day. We need to take a stand every day to protect the rights and freedoms of our friends, neighbors, and more. I challenge everyone who reads this blog to speak up against discrimination, to not sit idly by when you see someone suffering, and to educate yourself and others about what human rights are and how you can help protect them. For me, today is a day to regroup and prepare myself for the fight to protect human rights in the year ahead. Let Human Rights Day be a celebration of how far we have come but, more so, a reminder of all the work still left to do.

Monday, December 6, 2010

RAS - Restless Applicant Syndrome

I am 126 days into the Peace Corps application process. I have passed all of my clearances and am waiting to hear from the placement office. As I have finished each stage in the application process, the fact that I am fulfilling this dream of joining the Peace Corps has become more of a reality. I am excited and I can't wait to have my invitation in hand. This excitement, however, has made way for a plague that most Peace Corps applicants know very well - Restless Applicant Syndrome.

Restless Applicant Syndrome (RAS) is very real and extremely debilitating. RAS occurs in Peace Corps applicants who are engaging in the long and arduous waiting game associated with the application process. Symptoms include: anxiety, emotional outbursts, nervous twitching, irrational thoughts, self-doubt, and lack of focus. Work becomes increasingly difficult as the applicant tries to calculate ways to contact Peace Corps to find out about their application status. Obsessive reading of Peace Corps Journals is commonplace. Compulsive taking of certification courses has been known to occur in some applicants. Obscurity in the application process only exacerbates RAS. And, although the Peace Corps office tells applicants to be patient as this waiting game teaches skills needed for service, this will not comfort an applicant with RAS. The only known cure for RAS is an invitation.

If you or someone you know suffers from RAS, rest assured that you are not alone. I am with you.

P.s. Peace Corps Placement Office, if you are reading this, please help alleviate my RAS by getting in touch with me. Even a standard form letter would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.