Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Peace Corps Potluck Dinner - RPCVs, WPCVs and Hopefuls and Interested

Sunday, April 25th, we attended an "end of the year" potluck dinner at the home of John and Jill Paul, and their son and daughter-in-law Chris and Anna, in Chapel Hill.  Except for Jill, they are all Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs).  Nice sized crowd there, many of them students from the University.  Most of the guests were nominees (as are we) or invitees (have a definite departure date and destination).  That makes them Waiting Peace Corps Volunteers (you guessed it - WPCVs).  The remainder were people who had applied but not been nominated (Hopefuls) or those who wanted to learn more and spouses (Interested).

We learned SO much - from how much underwear we should take, how to deal with snakes, mosquitoes, and scorpions, what the PC will give us and what we're expected to provide. 

Let's see, what else?  How to ride a bike while wearing a skirt.  In most countries, the women are expected to wear a skirt - a long skirt - AND the a common way to get around is on a bicycle.  We will not be allowed to drive, so bikes, taxis, other people driving a car or bus, will be our way to get around.  Well, walking is OK, too.

The majority of the people had been somewhere in Africa.  Sounds like we need to be careful about the water if we're in a rural area.  Those who chose NOT to boil the water eventually got used to the critters in it, but went through some serious sickness. 

There were several couples who had gone over as married couples.  They admitted that it was really helpful to have someone with whom to share/vent/rely.  One couple admitted they didn't cook all the time, that it was fun to go out to roadside stands or little markets to get ready-made meals.  Just like Steve and I do now!  They did mention that there's no 1-800 DOMINOS.  :--(

Enough for now . . .

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Medical Forms

We got our packet of medical forms - about an INCH THICK!  'Course that's only one-half inch for each of us.

So we're busy making and keeping appointments with many doctors.  They've been so nice trying to accommodate our need for an early (rather than "Sorry, Dr. --- doesn't have an opening until August.") appointment. 

We're invited to a Peace Corps potluck  tomorrow night.  The parents of a returned PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer - a common acronym within the organization) are hosting the get-together for other RPCVs and new recruits. 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Just a little bit more about what we know

I'm still wondering why the PC people keep our destination a secret.  For some nominees, it may be because they (the PC people) need to keep options open to use the nominees' skills in the most effective way.

The procedure is to let the applicants know within a month or so after the initial interview if they are going to be nominated, at which time they start going through the medical checkup stuff.  We originally interviewed way back in December.  They weren't able to find a country that wanted a married couple with our combination of skills.  In our case, they found a country where they could reopen two separate programs that we matched.  Gosh, I'm assuming we'll be working in the same area/town!!  Also, they said they knew we needed to leave in January 2011 (so Steve could get his vested retirement income from his practice), but these programs needed to have the volunteers leave in October 2010.

All that being said, it sounds like these are specific jobs that start at specific times.  Back to my original question - why are they keeping our destination a secret??? 

The good news is - we are not in competition with anyone for the positions.  Typically the Peace Corps has about 12,000 applicants a year for 4,000 positions. Other volunteers must jump through the medical clearance hoops and they still have to compete with others after that.  We won't have to worry about someone else getting the job.  Yay!

Friday, April 16, 2010

It's the Gov'mint

Our status was updated this morning, April 16, 2010.  To see the change, we have to login to the PC website.  Here's what we found.

I guess they don't like to wait, even if we have to . . . .

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hurry Up and Wait

We've had time to tell our family about the exciting news, so now we're spreading the word wider.  Steve told the folks at his office and the hospital.  I sent notes to my work supervisors and started telling people in my classes.  Yes - let the good vibes wash right over us.

We had a neighborhood potluck last night where we had plenty of time to hear good stories about people's travels around the world.  Our good neighbor, Ed Hutton, travels a lot as a consultant.  He told a great story about some Japanese clients and his female translator.  She was assigned to him, apparently meant as an slight (the female translators are not as esteemed).  However, he was very pleased with her skills and told her so as they went through the meeting.  Because of his honesty and appreciation, she started helping him beyond the ordinary translation, giving him interpretation of body language and emotions, and tips on when to push in the negotiations.  Turned out to be a very successful day for him.

He shared several examples of culture differences he'd come across.  We will need to be soooo sensitive to every situation in Africa.  I should start practicing now, trying to count to 3 before speaking (not like me, I know), and considering how I phrase responses rather than blurting right out.

We have written the placement officer, Kirsten Albert, to try to get more information about our assignment.  No response yet.  We got an automated email from the Peace Corps indicating that our status has changed to "Nominees," and that we should look for a packet with medical forms that need to be completed ASAP.

Nothing else new going on.  The garden is beautiful . . . .

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Well, we're on our way! We found out Friday that we have a Peace Corps assignment in Africa somewhere. And we're slated to "embark" in October, 3 months before we anticipated!  Steve will be working in public health and I will be doing some kind of IT work. That's all we know so far, but may learn more next week. As for which country in Africa we'll be working, all we know is that there is no language requirement. Our Peace Corps recruiter, Chinyere Alu, said that narrows it down to about 11 countries.

We've been pretty much floating since Friday, but we'll have to dig in now to prepare. We still have all the medical and legal hoops to jump through, but I don't predict any snags along those lines. And we have to sell our house! It's been on the market almost 6 weeks and has shown many times (18 so far), but still no offers :--(