The second reason for this blog is more selfish: to combat the endless frustration known as “placement pending”, a tedious waiting game that makes you put your life on hold, not knowing where I might be in year. To make it worse, this is an application process that starts a year out (see my peace corps application timeline below).
As I start this blog, I’m currently in the a 4 month lull, without any word or updates on my status. They say that the application process can take 6 to 12 months, and for some people even longer. I believe them. I’ve read anything I can find about the application process, and what I see over and over is, that while the volunteer slots are pretty competitive (16,000 apply each year for about 4,000 positions), the waiting prior to departure is when most people drop out (change in life plans, goals, relationships, etc.). Not me though, I’m in too deep to stop now.
Here’s a run down of my personal timeline:
3/25/2010: Went to an PC info session at REI. (My third info session in 2 years). With some great thought, I began my application online.
6/21/2010: Only two of my three references had submitted their letters (shout out to Liz and Lisa). Needed to call in the big guns, Jill and Jerry Keil.
6/23/2010: I receive this email from my employers at Keil Roofing: “Howdy Brice, I have completed the recommendation form. Not such a big deal. You make it easy to fill out by being such an outstanding fellow!” – Jill Keil.
6/29/2010: Go home to Missoula, MT to see friends and family for the summer.
7/8/2010: Phone interview with my Peace Corps recruiter based in Seattle, WA. A very nice and helpful lady, who was a volunteer in Zambia 2005 to 2007.
7/28/2010 AM: I take the Spanish CLEP test at the University of Montana. Score a 73, a score of 63 was needed. I guess I displayed Spanish language skills above that of a student who’s received a “C” four semesters of college Spanish. Yes, I’m near average!
Forwarded my results to the Peace Corps Recruiter in Seattle.
7/28/2010 PM: Receive my official nomination: Community and Youth Development in Central or South America (All subject to change prior to possible invitation).
7/28/2010 late PM: The following chat occurs with my Alaska roommate Liz.
8/16/2010: Start compiling the medical/dental exams. 4 trips to the doctor, 5 trips to dentist, and 1 trip to the optometrist later, I have completed physicals and dental examinations. Not cheap, just glad I had some health insurance.
9/13/2010: Peace Corps receives the results of my physical exam.
Early October, 2010: Peace Corps receives my dental work with X-rays and quickly clears my dental and medical file.
12/13/2010: Legal hold for “previous poor choices that ran me afoul of the law, and portray me as a criminal idiot” (The actual terms have been changed to minimize my rapsheet and stupidity). Need to fill out a questionnaire and write 3 personal statements about my record, my reflections, and my future concerning these matters. This was a lot more than me chalking it up as “just part of growing up”.
12/14/2010: My legal hold statement is received by Peace Corps and my legal hold is removed.
2/1/2010: I have my job evaluation with my supervisor (crushed it, as usual). He states that “a little birdy” told him that I have some plans in mind. I play coy until he comes out and verifies that I’m thinking about joining the Peace Corps. I confirm his suspicions and my ambitions. I state that everything is up in air, and that I’ll tell him as soon as I know more. Wishing I could firmly state that ‘I’m leaving on this date, for this country, to live for 27 months’, I begin checking my email on an hourly basis. I continually check for updates to “My Toolkit” (Peace Corps’ online application tracking system) any spare moment I get.
2/10/2010: Thumbing through my DSM-IV-TR (Spanish Text Edition) I find that I meet the diagnostic criteria for Restless Application Syndrome, NOS. The prognosis looks grim. See below for the exact criteria:
To meet the diagnostic criteria of Restless Application Syndrome, an individual must display all of the following criteria, for a period longer than 6 consecutive months in time, and currently be active in the Peace Corps application process:
1. The individual must display 4 of the following behaviors, a majority of the time, for no less than 6 months. These behaviors cannot have been displayed prior to completing the Peace Corps application online:
a. A manic, unfocused train of thought when thinking of any tasks, or items, not related to the Peace Corps or current application process.
b. Almost continual irrational checking and rechecking of one’s personal email account AND the “Mytool Kit” webpage at all hours of the day.
c. Repeatedly writing, but never actually sending, emails trying to express rational and irrational concerns to both the Peace Corps recruiter (who forewarned that the application process would be a long frustrating wait) and the Peace Corp placement specialist (who has never spoken to the individual, and is obviously swamped in different applications).
d. Displaying depressive and euphoric behaviors simultaneously (daydreaming about a possible invitation and assignment while still realizing you have not been invited).
e. Displaying bouts of jealously as the individual stalks complete strangers’ blogs sharing their joy of receiving an invitation.
f. Suffering from frequent and persistent paranoid delusions that one’s roommate is somehow sabotaging all methods of communication the Peace Corps may use to reach the applicant (email, “Mytool Kit” account, mail, AND cell phone).
2. Be a US resident, over the age of 18, with a college degree or 5 years of work related experience.
3. Have completed and submitted a Peace Corps application.
4. Symptoms must negatively impact one’s professional, personal, and/or social functioning.
5. Symptoms cannot be better explained by an alternative diagnosis.
3/14/2011: First Monday back after I return from a spring break (saw the Northern Lights for the first time) I send off an email pleading for the placement to update my application. I professionally beg, so I can have time to submit my letter of resignation prior to March 31st (if I got it in before the end of the month, I could keep my benefits through summer).
The placement officer emails me back saying they tried to call me last week, and left two messages. Oops. I promptly call them, and walk out to my car for an interview. The placement officer starts off grilling me in a somewhat hardball interview. After about 20 minutes, the interview changes tone, and he eventually informally invites me to serve in Central or South America as a Community and Youth Coordinator leaving early June. I get excited, he apologizes for the upfront nature of the conversation, and tells me that the invitation is in the mail.
3/21/2011: I go home at lunch during my office day to find my application waiting at the front door. I drive over to the middle school so Liz can film me opening up my invitation. When I arrive, its between 6th and 7th periods, and she tells me that I’ll have to wait until the end of the day (a whole 45 minutes) before she can film me.
I return at 2:45, and she records this gem:
Later that night, I go home and send off my acceptance email.
5/23/2011: I leave Alaska for South Dakota to visit Grandma Verda.
5/28/2011: I arrive at Seeley Lake, Montana for the shortest summer ever.
6/6/-6/7/2011: I run around Missoula, MT packing and readying myself for next 27 months.
6/8/2011: Depart Missoula at 6:20am for Washington D.C. for Staging.