Sunday, March 18, 2012

Invited to Indonesia

I have accepted my invitation to become a Volunteer in Indonesia.  Staging is scheduled for a few weeks from today.  This first blog will provide an outline of the application process which began in March of last year.  Future posts will follow my journey in Indonesia as a Trainee and Volunteer for the next 27 months.  I hope you will join me for the adventure.  Warning:  I've never done a blog before so bear with me and my all-too-probable mistakes.

So.  Why did I decide to apply in the first place?  After my husband died, I waited for a number of months to see how I was settling in to being alone for the first time in my life.  As the months went by, I realized that I truly needed to reinvent my life.  I wanted to find joy and meaning in my daily life again.  Last spring the idea of the Peace Corps came up as I was exploring various volunteer opportunities (like being a camp host for the summer at a remote California state park, for example.)  I was a teenager when the Peace Corps was established and I had always admired Volunteers but never really thought I could ever manage to get away from my "real life" for such an extended period.  Suddenly I realized that, in fact, I COULD do the Peace Corps service now.  Throughout the long and sometimes frustrating application process, the idea of being a Volunteer.....anywhere, it didn't matter where.....was the right one for me at this stage of my life.  It just feels so right.  I'm energized and looking forward to living in a new culture, meeting new people, and using skills acquired during a long and diverse career as a businesswoman and English teacher to help others.  So here's the timeline so far:
March 9, 2011 submitted online application (took about a week to complete)
March 24 received confirmation of application receipt and login info for the PC Toolkit
April 1 applications all received and interview scheduled
April 7 interview with Regional Recruiter at PC Office
May 3 Nominated as an English Teacher Trainer in Central Asia with March 2012 departure
May 10 Medical Packet in the mail to me.
May 31 Sent completed Dental Examination to PC
July 12 Sent completed Medical Examination and Forms (Completing all the medical tests and evaluations, at least in my case.....I'm a healthy grandmother.....took a lot of time and appointments)
July 22 Dental clearance!  Hurrah!
August 25 Send medical & dental reimbursement requests to PC
September 6 PC cut reimbursement check and sent.
September 14 Supplemental medical information requested from PC
September 26 Supplemental medical information sent to PC
October 4 Medical Deferment letter sent (Deferred because I had just started a new medication...needed to wait until doctor evaluated its effectiveness.)
November 16 Sent my doctor's evaluation that medication was effective
November 21 Received MEDICAL CLEARANCE!!!!!  A BIG hurdle jumped!
December 21 PC informs me that my original departure of March 2012 is all filled.  I will probably be considered for an April or May departure.
January 13 Placement contacts me for a telephone interview
January 18 Toolkit update!  Congratulations!  You have been invited to serve.  Your invitation is in the mail.
January 23 My invitation arrives.  It's Indonesia as an English teacher leaving in April, 2012.  EXCITING!
March 2 Staging email arrives
April 1 Staging in Washington, DC
April 2 Departure for Indonesia

So.  Just as all the Peace Corps literature states, it took me about a year from application to departure.
I'm renting my house, so I am busy getting ready to leave.  I had a big party two weeks ago and cooked some Indonesian was delicious and fun!  It was also wonderful to see so many friends at once and say goodbye.  I'm studying bahasa Indonesian online with a Rosetta Stone program which is helping reduce my insecurity regarding learning a new language at my age.  I'll just do the best I can.  Well, that's all for now.  Next post will be from Indonesia.  Oh, a last thought.  The Peace Corps stresses flexibility and patience as key traits for a successful Volunteer experience.....they have already trained me in both those areas during the application process.  I know a lot about Central Asia now that I didn't know a year ago....but I'll probably never get there.  But thanks to the Peace Corps, I was motivated to immerse myself in that area of the world through my reading.  I was thrilled with the idea of serving there, but I'm equally thrilled with Indonesia!  I guess that's flexibility.  And the year thing.  That requires patience.