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.

Monday, April 11, 2011

And so a new process begins . . .

An e-mail message was received within minutes afetr I hit the 'SEND' button for my acceptance of the invitation. This e-mail congratulated me for becoming a PC Invitee and, in addition, contained two pages of instruction for things to do between now and departure for Staging. I was informed that from now on, I would need to also be coordinating plans with The Country Desk Unit for Macedonia. This was in addition to and somewhat redundant with the instructions received in the BBP. Never-the-less, time was of the essence for submitting two things; An Aspiration Statement and a re-formatted resume.

I spent this past weekend studying the contents of the BBP and searching the Internet for information on the history and culture of Macedonia, in addition to writing, editing and re-writing an aspiration statement, and thanks to the postings of previous applicants, I had already re-formatted my resume.

My Toolkit has been updated:

Today, I submitted my aspiration statement and re-formatted resume and now must move on to other files and activities outlined in my BBP to complete.

The good part about the long wait until Staging is that I can more carefully plan my packing.

I have a wonderful sense of calm at present, knowing that my files and planning are both being coordinated with The Country Desk Unit for Macedonia. No RAS, no IAA, no CAS; just a pervasive sense of calm, with an overall sense of purpose. So, fellow applicants, TAKE HEART! It get better.

At last, it is time to start the countown clock (!).

Friday, April 8, 2011

You are not done when you receive an invitation (!)

I reviewed, then re-read and finally truly studied all 20 pages of the VAD (Volunteer Assignment Description), all 104 pages of the Online Welcome Book and the 10 Core Expectations as directed to do so by one of the many instruction sheets that came in the BBP. I did so, because the instructions stated that I had to certify in writing that I had done that before I could formally accept my invitation.

Having done all of that, I wrote out the formal acceptance in an e-mail message and hit the 'SEND' button. Now, my CAS is well under control and I certainly feel better.

Then, I began to delve into other resources that just became available in my Toolkit for further information about the upcoming phases of training. Be forewarned, fellow applicants, there is a boatload of paperwork ahead after you get to this mile marker.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cel - e - bration time, c'mon!


BBP on my doorstep and only two days after I was told it would be put in the mail. *UBFL*!

PROGRAM: Community and Organizational Development
JOB TITLE: Youth Development Volunteer
DEPARTING: September 9, 2011
PRE-TRAINING: September 11th - November 24th, 2011
DATES OF SERVICE: September 11th, 2011 - November 23rd, 2013
("Dates subject to change")

Now, I have a sense of how the dog felt when he finally caught the car (!).

Well, unlike that dog, I have seven days to decide what I really want to do.

So, after 344 days filled with RAS, anxiety, RAS, anxiety, IAA, anxiety, IAA, (and, did I mention anxiety?) imagining (?hoping) for a few other countries of service, I no longer have RAS or IAA.
However, CAS (Commitment Apprehension Syndrome) has hit like a truck.
I have seven days to resolve this and resolve it I will before seven days have passed.

(Say . . . is that BBP Carolina Blue? No, not really, but in the photo it does seem that way)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A new level of anxious anticipation

OKAY(!).I have heard from a Placement Specialist at long last.
The call from area code 202 came through yesterday morning. We spoke for a bit more than an hour during which I was asked to explore my motivations, and concerns. After speaking about several concerns, I felt I was being judged for having any concerns at all. However, we got past that discomfort (on my part) and I was asked to describe my hoped for assignmant. Again, after describing some of my hopes and wishes, I felt as though I shouldn't have mentioned any and should have merely stated that I am totally open to any program assignment anywhere in the world. After explaining my perspective that I could have preferences while still being willing to accept any invitation/assignment, we moved into the Placement Specialist giving me an explanation for what I felt had been a long wait to get to this point in the process. I was given a long explanation of the challenges that the PC is having for matching applicants with the requests from all of the countries and I was essentially led toward agreeing with the conclusion that the best assignment for me (in the judgement of the Placement Specialist) would be an assignment in which the varied skills I had acquired throughout my career would be best utilized working with several NGOs in a country in eastern Europe. The departure for that service will be in early September. Throughout the entire conversation, I made an extra effort to sound calm and comfortably in control of my emotions. Perhaps this led The Placement Specialist to think that I wasn't too enthused about what he was about to offer and he asked me several times if I would accept such an assignment. I assured him I was accepting the offer and asked some clarifying questions after which I was cautioned to not try to guess the specific country, but rather to wait for the written invitation and the specifics included with it.

The final outcome? I was informed that I was being qualified to receive an invitation and I could expect to receive the written invitation in the mail within the next 5 to 10 days. It will contain other specific information and directions for follow-up steps that I must take. I was advised that I can take up to, but no more than 10 days to contemplate the specific invitation and decide whether I will accept it. I was also clearly informed that if I decline the invitaton, I should not expect to receive any other invitation.

So, with lots to ponder in the next several days, and with little information on which to focus, I will now wait for the delivery of the BBP (Big Blue Packet) which all applicants are so eager to receive. I awoke this morning to find my PC Toolkit had been updated with this message:

Finally! Another hurdle overcome and a new level of anticipatory anxiety achieved. Nothing to do at the moment but to maintain PMA and patiently await that BBP.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Murphy's Law applies to my phone

According to Murphy's Law, if anything can go wrong it will. In this case, and as it applies to my phone, my phone did not ring when I received that all important call from area code 202, nor did it even give me the reminder signals that I had a voicemail message.

To clarify what happened last Friday, it all started when I sent a carefully worded email to the (2nd & most recent) Placement Assessment Assistant I had heard from. I asked four questions about what was happening with my file, whether two Placement Officers were involved, would I be given a new tentative departure date now that I have passed my original one or would I have to wait until next year for my original target departure date. I received a prompt response that same morning. This P & A Assistant assured me that my file was intact and in the hands of only one Placement Specialist. Further, I was informed that the Placement Specialist would call me later that same day.

At last! Some solid/specific information and the promise of a direct call from Placement. What could go wrong at this point? All I had to do was cancell all plans for the day and wait for that call.

Enter Murphy's Law. There was one plan for the day that I did not cancel. I maintained my gym work since I am certain that I will need as much stamina as I can maintain at my age when I am in-country for the PC. After getting home from the gym, and because it was getting on in the afternoon, and I had still not heard from Placement, I just obsessively checked my phone for missed calls. What?! There was a call that I had missed? Yes, but it was from the OMS Review Nurse I had last spoken with four months ago. Why would she have been calling? Perhaps she was going to give me another inside tip as she had done back in December. I immediately attempted to return that call, but (Murphy again?) I received a message that "The number you have dialed is no longer in service." What?! How could I have received a call but the number that called me no longer be in service? I made repeated tries, all to no avail. I wondered what else could go wrong this day. I soon found out when I again obsessively checked my phone to see if I had missed any text or voice mail messages. How could this be? There was voice mail. I immediately played it and could barely focus on listening after hearing that it was from the Placement Specialist I was hoping to hear from. The next frustration for the day came when I returned the call to Placement and received a message that he was not available. Yes, I left a voice mail for him, but it was late in the afternoon by then and I waited out the remainder of the day without achieving the contact I had been waiting for since I had received Medical Clearance in the forst week of last December.

So, late Friday afternoon, there was nothing to do until next week except to again spend time reading PCJs and vicariously enjoying the progress of other applicants.