Before Peace Corps

The Application Process:

I thought I would start my first blog post off by talking a bit about the application process for me, in case anyone reading is interested in applying. Our group was originally scheduled to leave in August, but then it was pushed back until January due to programmatic changes and so many have been waiting to go for over a year. I knew that PC was something I wanted to do right after graduation and so I tried to apply a year in advance, the summer before my senior year. Although the old application was long and tedious and I started it twice, then never completed it within 30 days before it deleted itself. I ended up applying in October under the new application, which was about 10 times shorter and much easier to do. I could now view open positions and select my top three; mine were Guatemala, Colombia, and Anywhere in Latin America. I heard nothing until December when I was put under consideration (UC) for Colombia but then a month later, the program was delayed and I was told I would be put UC for a new country.

For the next two months I heard nothing until I was put UC for Nicaragua, although the deadline for the group was in a week and I didn’t think they would be able to interview me much less have a spot available before then. A week later, I got rejected and I was devastated. But looking back, I was obviously meant to be in Colombia. I talked to my local recruiter and was encouraged to re-apply if I wanted to be considered for the January Colombia group and that I could use all the same information. I re-submitted my application and was offered an interview a few weeks later. For the interview, I read the job description (Teaching English for Livelihoods) and made sure I could describe how my experience fit into each aspect they were looking for. I even offered to speak Spanish during the interview, which helped a lot I think. A week later, in May, I was invited to the Colombia group.

The new application process is different and it’s hard to understand how everything is working behind-the-scenes but I would encourage anyone that really wants to join PC to re-apply if rejected and also to make sure to really be prepared for the interview.

The Wait:

Before graduation, I hated to idea of having nothing to do until leaving in January although it turned out to be absolutely the best thing. You feel like your competing with everyone in your class to get the “real job” right away or just have a plan but taking a few months or more to find the right fit and just relax is so important. I was exhausted because of over-commitment my entire senior year. I was writing two theses, interning, working and in a leadership role at my on-campus job. I didn’t even have time to apply to many “real jobs” my last semester and had no clue what I would be doing. I moved back home to Fresno for the summer and mostly was able to just relax, while doing an unpaid internship several hours a week. It was amazing. I got to go camping with my family for a few weeks during the summer and no longer had to think about school or my plans for the future.

When August rolled around, I started substitute teaching in Fresno County and took two economics classes at the local community college for grad school prep. Substitute teaching allowed me to learn classroom management skills I hadn’t had before and I often got to practice my Spanish with ESL students.   Even more importantly, I got to spend much-needed time with my family. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of August and I can’t imagine how difficult that would’ve been to deal with if I was already in PC. Thankfully, this past week she successfully finished her treatment but I will always be grateful I got those few months to be with my family.

The California Grand Tour

Once school got out for winter break, I had three weeks before departure. Aside from packing and spending the holidays with family, I took quite a few road trips to pretty much all my favorite places in California all within a few hours drive from Fresno’s central location. Below are some of my favorite photos:

Monterey

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Los Angeles

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Yosemite (with snow finally!)

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Big Sur

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