Peace Corps application submitted: December 15, 2007
Nomination by regional recruiter: February 27, 2008
Medical clearance obtained: June 2008
Peace Corps invitation: October 6, 2008
After probably the most arduous and bureacratic process of my life, I've finally been "invited" to serve in the Peace Corps (or Cuerpo de Paz in Spanish). Why do I tell you the translation? Because I had to figure out how to say it in Spanish because I will be serving in NICARAGUA!
Nicaragua is a very poor, largely rural and agricultural country inbetween Honduras and Costa Rica in Central America, 11 degrees north of the equator (I am going to have to make a serious adjustment to the heat).
I will be working as a Health Care Promoter in a rural area (yet to be determined), working with women's and children's groups using non-formal education methods in HIV/AIDS, STD awareness, educate in proper nutrition, pre-natal health, basic healthcare, etc. There will be about 30 other volunteers going over to Nicaragua in my group, but we'll all be in different towns/villages. There are currently about 170 Peace Corps volunteers in Nicaragua right now. The country itself has about 5.5 million people in it and a large portion of those are under the age of 18. The richer and more modern Costa Rica to the south views Nicaragua sort of how the U.S. views Mexico in many respects, I've heard. Nicaraguan immigrants come to Costa Rica, take the manual labor and low-paying jobs "away" from Costa Ricans, and are discriminated against.
Right now, there are still many more questions than answers, but I'm just busying myself learning as much as I can about Nicaragua-meeting with returned Peace Corps volunteers from that area and reading books. I also had to obtain a special government passport for my time there, and send my updated resume and an aspiration statement to my "country desk" at Peace Corps national headquarters.
I'll be going back to Sitka for Christmas, then to Portland, Oregon for a bit to visit family and friends, and I'll take off for Peace Corps January 20, 2009. All the volunteers in my group will meet in a U.S. city of departure (probably Miami, FL because of it's location), and from there we'll leave in one large group for Nicaragua for three months of training in-country, living with host families. I will officially be inducted as a volunteer in April and start my service. Most of my work will be in healthcare, but we also get the opportunity for "secondary projects"-and I can start a youth sports team, work in community development, teach English, etc.
It's a little hard to fathom all of this, especially when I'm in the throngs of the city here in D.C., and with all I have going on, I barely have time to let it all sink in. I know that I need to take a bit of a break right now in my life and build on my intercultural communication skills, patience, leadership, and define my future career, so I am ready to go!