Following protocol:

Obligatory DISCLAIMER: The contents of this Web Log are solely mine and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

My application time line - updated as of 04/11/2011

Okay, I have been as anxious as it appears everyone else is about this process. Perhaps I am even a little more anxious because I have not found much information from others in my age range (I retired at 66)  My own experience in applying, to date, does not seem much different from that of most of the blogs/journals I have looked at. However, just so the next person will have the advantage of one more applicant's experiences to look at, I am submitting my time line in this entry.

Here is my Time Line:

- 4/27/2010 On-Line Application submitted.

- Followed-up with references and transcripts during the next five weeks (One reference seemed to need a reminder and I had undergrad, grad and post-grad transcripts to get mailed).

- 6/16/2010 Interviewed with PC Recruiter. Received verbal nomination.

- 6/22/2010 Received written Nomination for Eastern Europe, but it was not what we had discussed upon during the interview. I e-mailed a question of clarification to the recruiter.

- 6/25/2010 Received a written (correct) Nomination for Youth Development Programs in Central / South America / Eastern Caribbean.

- Completed Medical/Dental/Vision appointments, including blood tests and several immunizations throughout month of July.

- 8/2/2010 Submitted all Medical/Dental/Vision paperwork.

- 8/6/2010 According to my PC Tool Kit, all medical/Dental/Vision paperwork was received in PC Headquarters in Washington, DC).

- 8/20/2010, my Dental review is completed and approved. I am still awaiting Medical & Vision review and approval. There is also a Legal HOLD(yep, in bold red capital letters) on my review status (!).

- I called the PC 800 # and sought the Legal Office and was given a very pleasant and reassuring explanation that everything was within standard procedure and there might be a few questions about how I am planning to take care of my financial obligation in the future (I have a mortgage on my house), but all I had to do was wait until contacted. I could not get any clarification on the expected wait time, but I was given acceptable reassurance that everything in my file appears in order and the process is moving along per protocol.

So, as of 8/20/2010, I now join the ranks of those of you who are somewhere in the same process.

I hope that this adds to whatever help someone might be gaining by scouring these blogs / journals and I will gladly accept any comments / suggestions / information anyone wishes to share in this endeavor. I will attempt to maintain this up-to-date as things progress,

- 11/1/2010 Phone call from Gayle (Nurse Reviewer) - asking for me to have my doctor's office fax a copy of a lab report to her to back up the doctor's written lab value on my medical summary. Additionally, she informed me that she will (snail) mail a document that must be completed regarding an audiology exam from last spring (2010).

- 11/11/2010 Have not received any Form from PC, so an e-mail was sent informing the nurse reviewer of this.

- 11/13/2010 (Late Saturday) Received a phone call from the local U.S.P.S. office informing me that they have just discovered a bin with considerable mail that had not been delivered to me. I went immediately to that office and found a stack of mail addressed to me, including the Form I have been waiting to complete.

- 11/15/2010 (Early Monday) Called and visited my audiologist's office to ask their help in completing the Form. Needed to make appointments for an updated eval & yet another test.

- 11/16/2010 Received an e-mail (posted at 5:09AM today) stating that my PC Toolkit has been updated. Opened my Toolkit to find a HOLD on my medical review pending further information necessary for a final determination. Well, this is obvious after the previous direct contacts from the nurse reviewer. I have appointments scheduled today and tomorrow to hopefully resolve this matter. The previous legal HOLD is still there and the nurse reviewer had told me three weeks ago that it was likely just a "routine" hold pending complete medical review and might be removed when the medical information was complete.

- 11/17/2010 Obtained audiology exam and mailed documentation to OMS (certified w/return receipt, of course).

- 11/29/2010 Checked the tracking number of the audiology report on the USPS web site and learned that it has arrived at the Washington, DC central post office this morning. WHAT? It isn't in the hands of the PC nurse reviewer yet, or even in the PC offices?

- 11/20/2010 Checked my email and there is a message from PC stating that my Application Status account (PC Toolkit) has been updated. Opened my PC Toolkit and see that the Medical Hold has been removed and that PC is currently reviewing my medical documentation. Progress! BUT, there is still the original Legal Hold right there in red letters. More waiting appears to be in order.

- 12/01/2010 PC Toolkit updated with "Medical review complete. Look for a letter in the mail." An email to my nurse reviewer was answered with confirmation that I am medically cleared.

- 12/02/2010 An unsolicited email message was received from my nurse reviewer informing me that she has learned that I am "up for next week review."

- 12/03/2010 Toolkit updated. The Legal HOLD has been removed and the Status header states that my "File is currently under consideration."
- Later that same day I received (USPS) mail from OMS stating I "have been medically qualified for service and the Office for Placement notiified."

- 12/06/2010 Received email from Placement & Assessment Assistanct. She just discovered that while two of my three referrals were "excellent", one was incomplete. It was the one from my most recent employer. Apparently, PC insists that EVERY section of their referral form have something in it. In this case, my former boss had not made a comment in every section available for comments. I sent an email immediately requesting that my former boss help by completing that referral.

- 12/08/2010 The P & A Assistant sent an email stating that she had received the completed referral form. Everything in my file is now complete and satisfactory. She is sending my file on to a Placement Officer. She informed me that I should expect to hear from a Placement Officer "within several weeks, if not sooner."

- 12/17/2010 email inquiry sent to P&A Assistant regarding clarification as to how long the process might take. Response same day reminding me that “this is a long process, and your patience during it is not only appreciated, but indicative of your future success as a volunteer. “ I was told that I will be contacted as soon as the Placement Officer is able to get to my file.

- 02/08/2011 & 02/09/2011 I met with my recruiter during and after PC information sessions being held on campus at a nearby university. I was assured that I am cleared for service and that I just have to wait to hear from a Placement Officer. I also received an email from my medical review nurse at about this same time reassuring me that my file is in process and I just have to wait until I hear from a Placement officer.

- 02/27/2011 As of this date, eleven (11 weeks!)weeks have passed without a word from the PC Placement Office.

- 03/04/2011 Found interesting statement in a PC catalog (refer to posting on 3/4/2011) and wrote to my recruiter about it. Received a response within an hour(refer to posting on 3/6/2011). Summary - PC didn't get my paperwork done in time to invite me in time for the target date for my program. Recruiter suggested I contact placement office for my program. Sent email to community & youth Development placement office on 3/4/2011 (Friday afternoon).

- 03/30/2011 No further contact from the PC as of this date.

- 03/31/2011 Sent email to (second) P & A Assistant inquiring into progress of my file and asking for clarification of what my tentative departure date might be at this point.

- 04/04/2011 Received phone call from a Placement Specialist for a final interview. At the end of the session which lasted a bit more than an hour, I was told that I would be qualified for service and an invitation would be mailed to me. The only information that was given over the phone was that departure will be in September and I will be assigned to NGOs for community and youth development in an eastern European country.

- 04/05/2011 PC Toolkit has been updated to state that I have been invited to serve.

- 04/06/2011 BBP arrives on my doorstep! Macedonia - September, 2011 to November, 2013

- 04/08/2011 I submit a formal (written) acceptance of my invitation and receive in return an e-mail message congratulating and welcoming me along with two pages of instructions to follow.

- 04/11/2011 I submit my Aspiration Statement and my Resume to the Macedonia Country Desk at PC per pre-staging instructions received on 4/8.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

How did I get here and why did it take so long?

During my freshman year at Penn State President Kennedy created the Peace Corps and I was immediately enthused about the possibility doing something positive for my country while living in another culture,  helping people in need and also helping fellow Americans learn more about the rest of the world. I became even more motivated to complete my undergraduate studies from that point on so that I could qualify to serve in the Peace Corps. Upon graduation, I sought employment in human services to begin to live my values as well as support myself while pursuing long-term goals. However, life began to get in the way. I got married, went on to graduate school, then post-graduate school, raised two children and pursued a varied and rewarding career as a state licensed and nationally certified social worker and behavior therapist with experiences in child welfare, hospital social work administration, community behavioral health services and staff development/training.
From its beginning, my life has been one of travel and constant exposure to people of differing cultures, classes and lifestyles. In addition to traveling throughout all of the continental United States, many Caribbean island nations, Senegal in Western Africa and most of the European Continent, I have lived at the summit of Mount Washington (NH) for six months and on a farm in the South of France also for six months. My mother had always encouraged me to understand the differences among people and to appreciate the good points of different religions and cultures. My father had frequently impressed upon me during my childhood that aviation was going to help solve a lot of the problems in the world by facilitating more direct contact of people from different cultures with each other. Through such experiences, he reasoned, people would become more understanding of each other, more accepting of differences and more appreciative of the positive aspects of each others' cultures. He believed that greater use of aviation by larger numbers of people would be more significant than even military strength as the greatest deterrent to future wars.
Now, my children have each completed graduate school and are into their own careers and I have recently retired. Shortly before and immediately upon retirement, I became anxious about what I will do if I am not working and I was filled with a feeling of emptiness. I realized that I do not wish to go quietly into a retirement of “nothing to do” and I am still compelled to work with marginalized individuals, their families and communities to enable them to improve their lives and assist them fulfill their wishes to improve the lives of their children. I sorely miss helping children with developmental delays. So what better time than now to follow-through on my long held desire to serve in the Peace Corps? When we got married, my wife and I initiated our application to join the Peace Corps together. However, our first child came along before we could complete that process and we decided to pursue raising our children and pursuing our chosen careers while doing so. We never gave up on our original desire to serve in the Peace Corps and would console each other over the years with our promises to each other with renewed pledges to apply to the Peace Corps "some day." My wife is a few years younger than me and not yet ready to retire, so she has encouraged me to enter on my own while she continued in her career for a few more years. After all, she reasoned, if I have a successful / rewarding experience, perhaps I can serve another term together with her when she retires. This logic seemed logical and sound to us partly because we had the experience of her transfer to one of her employer's offices in Europe for almost a year while I remained here in the States. That experience gave us great assurance that we will do well if I serve in the Peace Corps while she continued to pursue her career and we will be able to continue to work toward joint long-term goals.
Therefore, with the support and encouragement of my wife, I decided to retire at the age of 66 and begin the Peace Corps application process. I did both this past April (2010). Hopefully, there are some other applicants as well as some PCTs, PCVs and RPCVs in my age range with whom I can share information and from whom I can learn more about the application process and serving in the Peace Corps. I will begin an application time line in my next entry.