Monday, December 29, 2008

And so it goes...

"Your file is set to undergo a final assessment by an Assessment & Placement Specialist. S/he should contact you within the next 3 weeks."
-Peace Corps Response, Nov 3

"If we don't get back to you in 2 more weeks I'll give you the direct line to the Assessment and Placement person.
-PC Response, Nov 21

"This process will continue to take time. He informed me that he will contact you within the next few weeks to conduct your final assessment"
-PC Response, Dec 9th


October 15th, 2008 I finally, officially, cleared all of the medical paperwork and was allowed to move on to the next stage of paperwork.

Fortunately this consisted of only an updated resume/catalog of my work experience and a final transcript since graduating.

And now we wait for the final ruling.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


PC put another hold, or 'flag' as is evidently the proper name, on my account.

Monday, August 11, 2008


So, I spoke to my placement officer again today.

I will not be leaving until January 2009 at the earliest. February or March is more likely.

Evidently I've missed the major PC send out. Around this time, they send out about 500 invitations. In the winter they only send out only 50 or so. This means that my options as far as where I'm going and what I'm doing will be significantly limited.

I’m trying my hardest to get them to send me to a non-Spanish speaking country because I really want to pick up a third language. Perhaps they will have pity on me, or just be too tired of dealing with me, and send me where I want to go. I’m already trying to prepare my “You should send someone else to the Spanish speaking country who knows less Spanish than I do, because even though I speak Spanish pretty well, I’ll pick up the obscure language faster because I already have one new language under my belt” speech.

Until I get this all settled I'll be living in Austin and continuing my work with the Red Cross. Anyone need a roommate or a subleaser?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Quick Plan for Fixing the Peace Corps

1) Stop the use of participants’ social security numbers as their id numbers. This id number is place on every paper, and required on every phone call message, fax, etc. I’m pretty sure this is illegal. I am certain it is a threat to my personal information security.

I’ll be working on this one immediately.

2) Creating a more complete and useful online profile for the medical review process. Each step would be itemize so that nominees could see quickly and precisely which of their submissions had been accepted, which parts were deemed not complete, the source of the incompletion, an explanation of how to correct the problem, and the applicable form. PC could include a tool that requires the nominee to acknowledge they have received the information and/or waive the desire to have a paper copy sent to them.

3) Inform nominees about the location of their program, the deadline to complete their medical evaluation before their program closes, and their deployment date. If the PC doesn’t know this information yet, or only has tentative information, the nominee’s online profile could and should reflect the range of possibilities.

Plan C

Country Preferences:

1) My first choice for deployment continues to be China. I want to learn Mandarin and I’d like to gain intimate knowledge of one of the world’s foremost upcoming economies. However this is unlikely to happen because most of their programs are focused on teaching English. Other than personally having a strong handle on the English language, having a personal passion for learning, and having had several wonderful teachers who I could mimic, I have no official teaching qualifications.

2) My second preference is currently the Middle East/North Africa (Jordan or Morocco): Arabic is the 5th most common language in the world so these language skills would be the most useful. The Middle East is a very dynamic area culturally that would significantly challenge my thinking and cultural understanding.

3) East Europe & Central Asia (Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz republic, Turkmenistan): These countries have less readily transferable language skills, but they may be easier for me to pick up than Arabic or Mandarin. Also culturally I think I’d fit in better in some of these countries than in the Middle East. It would also be very easy to use my days off to leapfrog to China, Russia, and Western Europe. There’s a war going on in Georgia right now. That would certainly make for interesting work.

4) Asia (Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Mongolia): These countries are still in Asia, which would seem to be the cultural areas I am most interested in learning about. However the languages probably have low transferability to my post-PC life.

Places I do not want to go:
Africa: The languages here are not transferable to my post=PC life.
Pacific Islands: I just don’t want to be stuck on an island in the middle of the ocean.
Central or South America: Been there, have a good understanding of the culture and the language. I want to learn something new.

Pre-Deployment Plans:
· Work diligently to close up the medical process
· Communication clearly with my placement officer to find a new placement. When I recieve a new placement, get very specific country, job, and orientation date and location information
· Continue my employment with the Red Cross hopefully until I deploy
· Save more money for in-country travel
· Attend the Red Cross’ Leadership Development Retreat on September 5-7
· Living arrangements: couch surfing for the next week or two until I’m able to get more information about my placement. Find a sublease until I deploy.
· Travel around the country a bit. Atlanta here I come.
· Get through my reading list. I’m number 5 on the waitlist for one of my books, so I may have to wait a while. Good thing I’m not going to China anytime soon or I would missed it, and that would have been a tragedy.
· Fully transfer Alternative Spring Break and the American Red Cross Youth Services to the appropriate people.
· Complete personal projects
· Learn the appropriate language once I know where I’m deploying.
· Buy another gym membership. I’ll pay better attention to the cancelation policy this time.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Ongoing Saga

So as you probably know, getting through the Peace Corps review process has been messy to say the least.

Here has been the timeline so far:

October 2007- Completed initial online application, collected and submitted recommendation letters

November-December 2007: Complete background checks, basic medical reports

January 2008- Interview with recruiter. During the interview I told the recruiter I wanted to go to China to work if possible, which she thought was very possible. She asked if the job or the location was more important. I told her I wanted to go to China.

February 22, 2008: PC sends my ‘Congratulations on your nomination to the Peace Corps’ letter and medical evaluation packet. FedEx leaves a message on my and my roommate’s apartment door saying they have a package for us (they don't specify who) that requires a signature. They do not tell us what it is or who it is from. PC calls me asking why their package bounced back. Ooops. I give them my work address.

Early March 2008: Finally receive ‘Congratulations on your nomination to the Peace Corps’ letter and medical evaluation packet, just in time to go out of town for spring break. The delay was due FedEx issues. They placed a note on my apartment door that did not indicate who it was for, me or my roommate, who it was from, and it required a signature. The place to pick up the mystery package was too far to justify both of us going up there to figure out what was going on. So we left it and a few days later PC called me to ask why I didn't accept their package.
My nomination packet indicated that I will be helping NGO’s. It did not list a time or place

April-May 2008: Go to Arlington, where all of my doctors are located, and complete medical forms, and submit them to PC. Go around Austin to doctors to finish parts of the paperwork my Arlington doctors couldn’t/forgot to do.

May 22, 2008: PC receives all of my documents

June 5, 2008: PC reviews my paperwork and begins sending it back. Requests vary from not liking a doctor’s signature, asking for another personal statement regarding my knee, asking for expanded paperwork on other issues… All requests are made via snail mail. Op wait, one person asked me via email to describe.

June-July, 2008: Additional medical review paperwork goes back and forth between PC and me regarding my application. They snail mail me information, I fax it back. I call PC to make sure they are still planning on sending me to the NGO program in China; they confirm. They tell me the program leaves in mid-August.

July 29, 2008: I receive additional medical reviews paperwork PC sent to my parent’s house since I do not currently have an apartment. I take the paperwork to the doctor that day to have them review it.

August 6, 2008: I received the additional completed paperwork and submit it.

August 8, 2008: I call the PC to see try to get some details about my program because I can see via my limited online profile that PC is reviewing my medical records again.

I am told over the phone the China program I thought I was nominated for is leaving soon. I probably will not be able to attend, but I should contact the placement officer for that region just to make sure.

I feel a vague dizzy feeling and am grateful that I ate a light breakfast because I think I might lose it.

I sit down, email the appropriate placement person, indicate that I can leave tomorrow if that is what it takes, and watch some videos to focus on something else.

By the time I go to my hair appointment I’m in “Let’s fix this” mode. I decide to chop of my hair because that will be more manageable when I go to China.

Plan A:
· Leave in a few days for China.
· Tie up the loose ends pretty quickly, though it won’t be pretty.
· Try to push the placement officer into letting me in if the medical office doesn’t have any more problems with my application.

Plan B:
· Leave in a few months for China.
· Tie up the loose ends much more completely.
· Attend the Leadership Development Retreat J.
· Spend more time with family and friends.
· Actually learn Mandarin, since I totally failed to do it in the last few months.
· Maybe take the road trip I planned earlier in the year that got canceled due to lack of cool people who want to come with me.
· Stay with the Red Cross and save up some more money

After coming back refreshed from a little hair therapy with my new haircut, I received the following message:

"Hi Lyndsay:
The program you were nominated to is now closed. The deadline for invitation was over two months ago. We were not able to consider you for this assignment because you were not yet medically qualified.

At this time you are still not medically cleared. The Placement Office does not begin to consider possibilities for applicants until they are medically cleared. If all your medical documents are in, hopefully you will qualify soon.

I have checked your file in response to your comments and there is no mention of you going to China. I also spoke to the Placement Officer for China and he was not aware of you as being a candidate for this program. Furthermore, based on the experience you have listed on your resume, you do not have the right skills to be considered for the China program, which is focused on finding highly qualified, experienced, and certified teachers. For these reasons I am unsure as to why you may have felt you would be serving there.

Once you medically clear, our office will begin to process your file. At that time I will be able to assess where you might best be fit to serve.

I hope this answers your questions, and look forward to speaking with you soon."

I apologize if I am, or have been, a little snippy about the PC. Currently I do not know where I am going. I do not know what I am doing. I do not know when I am going.

You'll know when I do.

So I'm going to go watch some more videos, re-pot a poor plant that has been sitting and yellowing in my sister's room, and look forward to seeing Bree's new kitties tomorrow.

Plan C: Working on it