Thursday, December 23, 2010

Africa? Africa. AFRICA!!!!

In my last epic (and tipsy) e-mail, I wrote that I finally was invited to the Peace Corps. I think it speaks for itself, spelling errors and all.

I thought a bit of explanation might go a long way, however. On Monday night I received an e-mail from my placement officer finally requesting I fill out a questionnaire about the challenges of teaching in a developing country. And similar to when I get word from anyone or anything Peace Corps related, I had about 6 hernias, and then frantically completed the questionnaire in like an hour, refusing to take any breaks to eat dinner or talk to my parents. All so that I could e-mail the questionnaire back, completed, at like 9 pm at night. I'm a very reasonable human being. They asked some tough questions, like why I wanted to be a teacher in a developing country, how I felt about corporal punishment (something I was bound to encounter), and how I would deal with primarily being around rote memorization teaching methods. Tough questions.

The next day when on a break from making carmel latte macchiatos for angry middle-age women, I received an e-mail from my PO asking when I was available to talk to her, and I of course responded with the soonest time that she given an option for.

The actual phone interview was more difficult than I expected. It was almost as long as my initial interview back in July. We covered everything; why I wanted to join Peace Corps, what I'm doing currently, the different forms that teacher training could take, loneliness, geographic isolation, family support, alcohol, geographic flexibility...

My favorite questions were, "So, how do you feel about biking up to 20 miles a day on rough terrain to get to work?" Haha. Luckily, I feel really good about that.
When the questions were beginning to wind down, she asked me about my geographic flexibility. This was when I started feeling more positive. Earlier on in the interview she had prefaced one of her statements with, "IF and when you are invited..." and I remember thinking to myself, "all is lost," and seeing images of my future life, a hideous montage of me as an aging barista who lived with a pet ferret in my parent's guest room and reads romance novels for the rest of my life.
BUT when she asked me about possible locations, I told her that one of my original promises to myself upon joining the PC was that I would be a flexible applicant and go wherever they need me/wherever fits me best. Then she asked me how soon I could go. I interrupted the stream of silent "ohsweetjesuses" to tell her late January.
After a moment of hesitation, she told me that there looked to be a program that fit me in Africa, leaving in early February, and congratulations you have been invited. Because the only word that made sense to me in this sentence was "invitation", I told her thank you with gigantic eyes and trembling knees.

After we had both hung up, the word "africa" took on new significance. I almost immediately started crying, then laughing, then crying-laughing. Africa. It felt perfect. The next realization was the word "February", once coupled with the modifier "early." The math, like usual, took about 2 minutes longer than usual, but suddenly it became blindingly and terrifyingly evident to me that I would be leaving for Africa in 6 weeks. Holee shit.

Peace Corps is hilarious. I thought I was going to go to C/S America, and probably not for several months (based on my conversation with placement last week), and now I'm going to Africa in exactly 6 weeks. Awesome.

Did I mention how excited I am?

Hang in there if you are waiting to hear from the Peace Corps process. You can always be surprised. And, they really do want to place you as soon as possible. It's so worth it.

Now, I just need to wait for my invitation packet to arrive in the mail, to see where I'm going. I suspect it's Uganda, but I can't be sure ,and I don't want to get all excited about a country again (like Paraguay) only to discover it's somewhere else. I'm a little nervous about the prospect of being a teacher trainer; I think I'm probably one of the only ones who has never formally taught before and I definitely do not have a teaching degree/license, but I am comfortable and experienced in school settings and with mentoring and tutoring so...

3 comments:

  1. Just forced my parents to stop what they were doing so I could read this aloud to them:

    "Earlier on in the interview she had prefaced one of her statements with, "IF and when you are invited..." and I remember thinking to myself, "all is lost," and seeing images of my future life, a hideous montage of me as an aging barista who lived with a pet ferret in my parent's guest room and reads romance novels for the rest of my life."

    I love you. That is all :)

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  2. Congratulations!!! This restores my hope since all of the C/S America nominees seem to be hearing that February departures are out of the question. I've been assuming I'll be leaving later than originally planned but have been well aware that my country assignment could change and I could still leave on time. I applaud your flexibility and positive attitude. Congrats, again!

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