Dreaming of Botswana

I got my invite!

When my placement officer called me last week to inform me about my invite, it was almost bad timing.  He called me at the beginning of a shift a work, the next two days I had my HIV Instructor training from 8-5, then work from 5:30- 11.  And then on saturday night after the class I flew to denver to spend the night at my brother’s and then flew out the next day for a conference in Chicago.  I had to/got to spend all of my mental energy on preparing for my presentation with my colleagues.  I will say I had a great time catching up with all the people I went to Nepal with, an amazing group of people.  And this conference was legit.  It was called the Comparative International Education Society and I must have been the youngest person there and perhaps the least educated.  During my stay in Chicago, my invite was sent to the hotel.  And there I am with the information packet on Botswana.  My official title Community Capacity Builder in the HIV/AIDS Capacity Building Project.  When I finally got a hold of the placement office to accept my invitation (the Peace Corps NEVER answers their phone… ever), she told me she was jealous, she wishes she could back and work on a project like this one.

As soon as I finished my presentation and the conference (for those who want to know it was titled 21st Technology in Nepal:  How Youth Technology Leaders are Communicating and Collaborating in  Rural Himalayan Villages), it hit me that I was going to Botswana in less than five weeks.  I started reading the welcome book and the my assignment book.  In the welcome book, it says not to have any expectations, but I fully expect to love the country and people of Botswana.

My parent’s neighbors, and therefore mine, are from South Africa.  Yesterday they gave me the TV series The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. This is an HBO series based on a book about a Matswana woman detective.  It is charming and cute, and I ws watching with my eyes wide open, trying to figure out what clothes the women are wearing to work.  That seems to be something that I am really worried about… bringing the wrong clothing.  That is silly… isn’t it?

Invite in the Mail… WHAT!?

It happened.  I got a call from DC during work and I decided that this was more important.  I chatted with the placement officer about being Mormon and the struggle that that might be and about my decision to abstain from alchohol.  And then … all of the sudden he said, “great, well we mentioned about leaving in April and we are sending an invite in the mail for an HIV program leaving April 7th.”  I freaking flipped out.  That is sooo soon, so soon.  I mean, I am prepared to leave, my job ends on March 31st, but I was going to visit my siblings, my friend’s new baby and finish my quilt.  But I am not going to complain.

I know I am jumping the gun a bit, but according to some blogs and the peace corps wiki that would mean Botswana!  So that is what i am claiming.  I could try to illustrate the joy and ectasy of nine months of suspense, but I can’t.  My words get twisted and I can seem to concentrate. 

So here is to less than six weeks.

Finally, a word

I got a call from the Placement Office!  Finally! Crazy, last night I had resigned myself to not hearing anything for another month.  I thought “I will know by April, for sure.”  The officer was asking me about my application and interview.  In my application I specified that I would only go to Africa or Asia.  And when my recruiter interviewed me I said this was because I had invested interest because of my field of study and my undergraduate research and internship.  When my placement officer saw this in my application it was a red flag.  He says, in his mind if there are things that an applicant is unwilling to do, like go to other regions, then it may mean that they are unwilling to do some other things in the field.  He has a lot of applicants, about three times the amount he needs, and something like this could throw me out of the pool.  I was shocked.  After stuttering and saying um a bunch of times, I finally explained to him that this was a career move, that I want to spend the rest of my career in Asia or Africa and the peace corps could push me forward.  And he understood but he wanted to see that I was willing and I consented.

Then he asked some resume specific questions, blah blah blah.  He said that the program I have been nominated for has a bunch of applicants and it is a relatively small program and then he asked if I would be willing to leave in early April, and I was like ‘heck yes.’ He said he would call me again in the next couple of days.

I feel like I have been waiting for this call for nine months, ever since I got my nomination.  It feels so good to finally have the ball rolling!

My Timeline

So I applied for the Peace Corps. As an applicant myself, I was eager to know about other applicant’s process and their waiting period.  As you can see by the timeline, there was a lot of waiting…

March 08, 2009- submit application

April 15ish- interview with Recruiter

May 26- Informed me that he was not able to nominate me for a program, will try again in a few months

June 5- Positions opened up and Recruiter nominated me for a Comumunity Development program leaving May 2010 in Sub saharan Africa.   Encouraged to gain HIV/AIDS awareness experience

October-ish- dentally cleared after resubmitting tests and what not

December 1st- medically cleared after more extensive medically paperwork on some medical issues and moved on to placement.

Here I am, it is the end of January and I have been waiting for a word, a blink, a prod from the placement office but… alas.