Invitation Kit arrived :)

18 05 2010

Today the invitation kit came!!! I came home and there it was just sitting there, waiting for me to rip it open and revel in it’s wonderfulness.

So here are the deets:

Country: Burkina Faso

Program: Small Enterprise Development

Job Title: Small Business Advisor

Orientation Dates: June 21, 2010

Pre-Service Training: June 23 – August 24, 2010

Dates of Service: August 25, 2010 – August 25, 2012

I will have to write more about Burkina next time as it’s very late and I still have work to do 😛

It feels so amazing to hold the invitation in my hands finally, after 10 months of waiting and waiting and waiting.  I hope I can sleep tonight haha.





The day has finally come!!!

12 05 2010

That’s right everyone, I had my final phone interview with my PO today! I knew that it was going to happen today because we scheduled it yesterday over e-mail.  Needless to say I didn’t sleep very well and was a wreck all morning until I had my call at 1:30 pm.

The interview was great, she asked some good questions that I had some great responses for (advice to all, being obsessed with Peace Corps journals and researching all there is to know about the organization is a good idea because it shows you’re interested and informed about the experience as a whole).  So after about twenty minutes of chatting and laughing, she said that she was through with her questions and that she was ready for the next step, she was going to send me my invite!!!!

Now some background info: I was originally nominated for July Business Advising Francophone Africa.  My invite that is on its way is similar, Business Development in Francophone Africa, except for one thing….I’M LEAVING JUNE 22!!!!!! That’s sooo soon!  I was asked on Monday over e-mail if I would be willing to leave earlier and I sent an e-mail back saying yes, so looks like that sealed the deal for me 🙂

So I should be getting the invitation in a few days and can say for sure where I will be going, staging dates, actual job assignment etc… But I am 98% sure that the country I’m going to is Burkina Faso!!! Based on PC Wiki’s staging dates.

Wow… this is the strangest feeling I think I’ve ever had…to have worked on something for so long, hearing the words you are invited just didn’t sink in really until now.  I have only 5 weeks and some change… so I slid right in under the 6 week deadline.  I could have asked to wait for the July program…but I didn’t want to risk losing my invitation because I wanted two extra weeks in Philadelphia – while I’m going to miss my family in friends, I lived there for 22 years, I think losing two weeks isn’t going to kill me 😛

So, until I receive my official invite arrives, I will leave you with all of this.  I’m GOING TO AFRICA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!





Sitting in the dark…waiting for the light to come

29 03 2010

What to say, what to say.  Well, no new news has come so far from the Peace Corps.  I was told on March 1st that my placement review would be complete within 4-6 weeks.  However I have also heard from a PO that they most likely won’t be getting around to July invites (for which I am still nominated!) until late April/early May.

There is a glimmer of hope though, the fact that some invites for July/August/September have gone out!!! This can only lead me to get all excited again and wake every day with the possibility that I will have a toolkit update soon.  I think this process has really forced me to be able to maintain hope in bleak situations, a skill that will most definitely come in handy if I enter the Peace Corps.

In non-toolkit news I have been reading Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn.  It is an amazing, amazing book and I suggest that all PC applicants read it.  It gives some great insight into development work, specifically on the importance of Women’s development in developing countries.  There are so many inspiring stories in this one book about various social entrepreneurs around the world who when faced with unsurmountable odds, threats, and sadness, are still able to break through and make sustainable, life altering change in their communities.  It’s incredible what some of these women have been able to do and I can only hope to be as strong, brave, and cunning as they have become while trying to make their communities better.

I really hope to get involved with some women’s groups while I’m abroad (IF…don’t want to jinx myself) and am really looking forward to being potentially involved in Business Advising, since the stories about the successes of micro-finance/ micro-lending were incredible.  I have already started thinking of some ideas that I hope to implement once there, not entirely sure if they would work, but they are creative I think.

I’ve also started thinking about what other secondary projects I could start while serving.  I know that I want to try and start a volleyball league/club.  Not sure how well that would work, but I absolutely love volleyball, and have confirmed this love since I started playing again last fall.  I think that the sport helps to build interpersonal skills as well as develop team dynamics.   Plus it would be a great way to get a work out in when I’m living somewhere without a gym membership 😛 .  I also don’t know how I’ll get a volleyball net/court set up.  But those details can be worked out once I’m there.

I would also love to perhaps work on starting a performing arts group at a local school.  I was heavily involved with performing arts while in College.  I was in a dance troupe called Strictly Funk, strictlyfunkdance.com, (I’m in the Alumni section :P) and it was one of the best experiences in my life.  It built confidence, taught me time management, team building skills, project management etc.  Probably because I was always involved with the board.  I was Social Chair once and Co-Creative Director once and a choreographer for all semesters I was involved.  I think it would be a really great way to instill some confidence into the youth there which can help them in school/work/life in general.   Not sure what kind of cultural faux-pas I might be breaking of there, so again that shall wait until I arrive.

Speaking of dancing, I saw the Broadway show, FELA this weekend.  It’s all about Fela Kuti, the father of Afro-beat as well as a key political player in Nigeria.  It was heavy at times, hilarious at times, and overall an amazing show.  It got me super excited about the potential of living in Africa.  They mentioned Benin at one point in the show and I got so excited, even though I have no idea if that will be where I’m invited to in the future.  I really really really want to learn African dance while I’m serving…again not sure if that’s culturally appropriate, but perhaps I can make a friend who thinks it’s OK and then I can learn behind closed doors haha.

Anyway, I guess that’s enough rambling here.  I’m still going crazy every day, and it takes all the will power I can muster to not call the Placement desk and beg for pity and an early invitiation hahaha.  But alas, we all must wait – no matter how hard it is!

Talk soon,

Keith





One more checkmark until it’s official!

4 03 2010

Hello fellow applicants and friends,

I woke up this morning with an e-mail saying I had a toolkit updated.  What a nice surprise especially since I wasn’t expecting any toolkit updates for a few weeks.  I checked on the toolkit this morning and it looks like I have legal clearance! Woo-hoo!!! That means I have all the necessary clearances before Placement Review.

I also received an e-mail on Monay morning from the Business Desk.  That was super exciting!!! I got all tingly when I saw it sitting in my inbox.  The general sense of the e-mail was that they wanted to congratulate me for making it through medical review, as they admitted it is one of the most rigorous processes involved in applying to the Peace Corps.  It mentioned how I should continue pursuing volunteer work or getting relevant experience in my field.  I am on track for that as I have finished one french course and am now in a Accelerated French 2/3 class at NYU which is going well.  I’m also trying to take a couple business courses through my company’s skill portal (free-online learning) so hopefully both of these will help me remain competitive.  Lastly, the e-mail mentioned that I should be hearing about placement review in the coming 4-6 weeks!!!! Hopefully that is true and I can find out about placement either late March or in early April 🙂

Until the next update, toodles!

PS – it looks so pretty with all those check marks!





It’s actually true!

27 02 2010

So as I wrote yesterday, the medical nurse and I had a wonderful phone call where she told me I was medically cleared.  And having been through so much in the past 16 weeks with thinking I would be through or thinking my review was all on track, just to find out I was nowhere near being finished, I didn’t quite believe.

But low and behold, I woke up this morning to an e-mail saying my toolkit was updated and then, EUREKA! I have a complete check next to my medical review.  YAAAAY!!! Feels so good today! It also may help that I was able to get new running shoes for a great price, found a gluten-free sugar free bakery in Manhattan that tastes amazing, and got my phone replaced since it was not charging properly.  So yea, so far today is great and later, Tim and I are going to try out this great new restaurant we found on Atlantic Ave (remember those cupcakes from the post below?) that has a nice pre-fix three course dinner for only $23!

Now it’s time to study some more French!!!

-Keith





Medically Cleared!!!!! Finally!

26 02 2010

Yes! It’s true!!! I just got off the phone with my Nurse and she said that I am medically cleared!!!! Eeeep! I just did a victory lap around the apartment (since I’m working from home, thank you snow storm!)

So hopefully I will wake up tomorrow and my toolkit will show that my medical review is complete, and then I can get that in writing I’m guessing next week.

Phew I feel so relieved…this took so long – 16 weeks long.  Now, guess what?!!??! I get to wait again! hahaha…. yes now I will be put in the waiting pool for placement which having read some other applicants blogs recently looks like wont be coming for a little bit. Currently they are still on June departures.  Who knows when I’ll get contacted.  I just hope that I know before my Birthday 4/21!!!

Feeling refreshed, happy, and ready for a wonderful weekend!

Maybe I should celebrate by getting one of these s’mores cupcakes I discovered last weekend. They look divine!





Latest Medical Review Update

25 02 2010

I know I had decided to just wait for an update and try to not pester the Medical Nurse, but it had been 12 days since I sent in my supplemental forms so I was over being passive.  I actually got right through to my nurse!!! That has never happened before.  Unfortunately, her news was that she had to send another form to me.  This is to cover a question about migraines and whether or not I suffer from neurological side effects. Answer = NO, does that count?   Ugh…now I need to trek back to the Upper East side and pay $15 dollars to get this piece of paper filled out.  I’m going to try my best to avoid paying for a full appointment since all I need him to do is just answer a few short questions and sign his name.  Otherwise, I guess I’ll just suck it up.

Hopefully, hopefully, please God, hopefully this will be the last thing I need to send in.  I wish I could have gotten this form with all the others three weeks ago then I could have been done by now!

Good news is at least the DC office isn’t getting hit by the latest snow storm so I don’t foresee them shutting down anytime soon 😛