All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don't. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.

Robert Kennedy

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Interview

It didn't take more than a few days before I was contacted by the recruiter. The first thing he did was send me a big old packet, the first of many, of paperwork. I had to get fingerprinted, I had to fill out legal forms, I had to fill out a credit check form and of course, attaining the dreaded transcripts. I went to two colleges in my day; Cazenovia College in upstate New York and Kutztown University in Southeast Pennsylvania. Lucky for me, there was a hold on both schools. First, Cazenovia. Turns out I had an unpaid loan that I had taken out many years ago. Amazing the papers you sign when you are 18 not thinking that they will haunt you when you are 36. I contacted the school and made payment arrangements and she was rather quick in releasing the transcript. It was an unusually pleasant experience with Financial Aid. It actually may have been my first ever pleasant experience with financial aid. With Kutztown, it wasn't so lucky...turns out i had a Perkins Loan taken out and they wouldn't release transcripts until the loan was paid in full. It was only $750.00 but it may well have been $20,000.00. I had no idea what to do. The irony was that the Peace Corps usually pays the Perkins Loan off upon completion of service...cruel twist of fate. With some creative 401K fanagaling (is that how you spell that word?), I was able to get enough money to pay the loan off. I went to the City of Irvine Police Department one day during my lunch break to get fingerprinted which turned out to be no big deal. Oh the things you don't know. Having all of this completed, after a month of phone calls to the East Coast and finishing paperwork, I finally had my packet completed and sent it in to my recruiter. By the next day, I had an email to set up an interview. The ball was really rolling now! I set it up for the following week and was nervous but excited. I pulled up all the information I could online from former volunteers to study the questions as best I could. I didn't want to look rehearsed, but I also didn't want to be blindsided. I left work early one day and headed up to Los Angeles. Going in to a government building is always interesting with the metal detectors and such. I was early, as I always am and headed in. The recruiter, Kevin, as incredibly nice. And for some reason, I was extremely comfortable. He wasn't asking the usual interview questions that always made me nervous, I knew the questions he was asking, I knew my answers were honest and I knew that he knew that I was a smart girl. Never once during the 2.5 hours that it took did I feel like I answered something badly. When I revealed that my father had just passed away he informed me that their policy was to wait a full calendar year before shipping someone out. And that was okay with me. I could certainly use the time to not only deal with Dad's death, but also to fully prepare my life for this. 3 days later a packet arrived on my doorstep formally nominating me for the job. Yay! Time to tell the fam...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Application

I have thought about the Peace Corps for many, many years. Ever since back in college but I never thought I would ever be able to be that selfless. I do like the comforts of home, not gonna lie. But I never wanted to get too comfortable. I knew for quite some time that I wasn't cut out for Corporate America, but I never had too much motivation to do something about it. Funny thing about losing 3 people in a year that really lights a fire under your ass. So I put my nose to the grindstone and started to figure out where to go next. At that point that I knew I wanted to work for a non-profit organization or do something better in the world that sit on my ass all day and crunch numbers for people I had no respect for. I began looking into volunteering and really got into the feel of it. I volunteered first by taking photographs at the MS walk in Pasadena. It was pretty cool. My next venture was signing up for free tutoring at the local library. This involved a 6 hour training, which was tedious, and a few random calls over a bunch of weeks with prospective students but nothing ever panned out. I stumbled across the Peace Corps and just became obsessed with learning everything about it. I read people's blogs, I read the entire website, learned what had to be done, learned what the application entailed, bought a book on one man's experience, just immersed myself into it. I was really intrigued. I'm in my mid-late 30's, i have no commitments, I'm not happy in my job, what the hell am I waiting for? I had a long talk with KT about it as she's one of the most pragmatic people I know, but being the philanthropist that she is, she probably was a little biased. But one of the best things about her is that she can be biased without swaying you one way or the other. Hard to explain but it's amazing. So I began the application. The application was LONG and it took so much effort to get through everything. It's very easy to see how they ween people out just in this process alone. The first thing was to get 3 people to write me great references; a friend, a colleague and a volunteer supervisor. Friend part was easy, KT was a fantastic writer. She was in. Volunteer supervisor, easy, Paul Larson. He had been in charge at the theatre for many years and always raved about my contributions there. He was in. A colleague...that one was tougher. I really didn't want to involve anyone at work since my employers were so damn suspicious of everything I did anyway, I didn't want to put anyone in a compromising position. So I thought of Sabrina. She didn't work there anymore but she did adore me and I knew she would know exactly what to say. The plan was in motion. Next road block...transcripts. I thought it would be as simple as filling out some forms and faxing them in, nope. Turns out I had some long overdue loans due to both of my colleges. Thankfully, I could submit the application without having transcripts in hand. After 6 weeks, yes 6, I finally hit the submit button and now the wait had begun.

Joining the Peace Corps

Hopefully here I can document this experience and keep family and friends informed of the adventure!