Friday, May 2, 2008

Application Process – First of the Forms

The application process for entering the Peace Corps is kind of like pealing an onion - - in reverse! As you continue on, the forms and requests get more detailed, and more is asked.

Sometimes I wondered if they were really just trying to sneak-up and catch you. For example, the first application form on the web site just asks some very simple things – name, address, email, etc. Wow - - this is easy! Then you are given an account to check, and that is when things get interesting. You will find pages of forms, and directions for completing all of them. In addition to resumes, you will be asked to write three separate essays with specific word count limitations. Then there are the references – work, volunteer, and friend – along with the specific limited-space form. The medical form, work history, volunteer resume, etc. etc. etc are also all included.

What hit Lynn and I during this process was that it was very much like trying to get accepted to a well-known university. And it was geared toward younger applicants. For example, they wanted a reference from a supervisor from a volunteer organization you were part of. But for Lynn and I our volunteer efforts were developed and run by us.

At first, we felt integrating our 40 years of professional and personal experience into the questions and format which was geared toward 20+ year olds was confining and frustrating. However, once we accepted the rules, and looked at them from a slightly different (less rigid) perspective, we found that it was fun - - well almost!

What we found was that it was interesting for us to “stroll down memory lane” and remember things we had done that we had forgotten. Documenting these small things (like planting and canning most of our vegetables, or having the primary source of heat be a wood stove, or helping to “raise barns”, or ….) was almost fun. At the very least, it generated lots of discussion between Lynn and I as we recalled things, and then had to figure out what was the best way to incorporate items into the Peace Corps application forms.

We started working on the application early in March 2008. By the time we had gotten all of the references done, and completed the forms, it was mid-May. The next step was to submit the application, and see if we could get an interview with the Peace Corps staff in Minneapolis.

We got feedback very quickly, that the application had been accepted, and that we were scheduled for interviews (individually and as a couple) the afternoon of June 21, 2008. Although our application and forms work decreased for a time during the summer of 2008, all that changed with the Medical approvals and forms we got in August 2008.

But that will be a story for a future blog.


Saturday, February 2, 2008

In the Beginning - - Feb 2008


Sometimes things are meant to happen. Some call it Karma. Others call it divine intervention, and a few just call it plain luck. But what ever you call it, our journey so far has been filled with little things that appear to be telling us - - "this is suppose to happen". We just have to keep working very hard, look for all the "open doors" we can find, and keep moving forward. The way this all started is just one of those "little things" along the way.

After 37 years of marriage (yes we are that old), "hot Friday night dates" are pretty tame. We will visit the local Menards hardware, or a Barnes and Noble bookstore. In early February, we were at a local bookstore. We don't buy much - except for hot chocolate, but we will wonder around browsing for an hour. That is what we had done this Friday evening.

We were on our way out the door when Lynn saw an aisle she had not visited. "Wait - let me check this out" she said, and went over to an end-cap display of one new book. In that display there was one paperback book out of place. It was called "Retirement on the Cheap". She picked up that book. At the back of the book - not the front - there was one chapter called "Peace Corp". That is where she opened up to. She called me over, and showed me the Chapter title page. "Have you ever thought of this" she asked? I told her "Yes - but I think of lots of things." Lynn put the book back on the display (still out of place), and we left the store.

During the next few days each of us started doing intensive research on the Peace Corp - - without telling the other what we were doing. Finally one of us saw the other checking out Peace Corps, and we started telling each other what we had found, and what we felt about this. We had both decided we wanted to find out more, and move forward. There was a Peace Corps informational meeting in St. Paul a few days later on February 18, 2008.

One year (minus one day) from our first meeting, on February 17, 2009 Lynn and I received the official Peace Corps invitation package in the mail.

The application process was not easy! Nor should it be easy.

But it is strange how things happen.

Mike and Lynn