“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
The following shows the breakdown of my application process as well as the major highlights of my 27-month journey.
May 1, 2013 – Started my Peace Corps application online.
May 7, 2013 – Submitted completed application (with school transcripts, resume, cover letter, and essays) and initial health history forms.
May 31, 2013 – Asked to redo my application essays! Kind of embarrassing. Apparently my essays were too vague and I needed to be much more specific. No problem! Completed and submitted.
June 10, 2013 – All follow-up and recommendation forms completed and submitted. Recommendations are accepted.
July 11, 2013 – Interview at the Peace Corps Headquarters in Washington D.C. Nailed it (fist pump)!
August 6, 2013 – NOMINATED for service in the Environment sector! They give me a tentative departure date of March.
August 22, 2013 – PC Placement office receives my completed legal kit.
August 27, 2013 – PC asks for more information regarding an isolated legal incident in 2007. I had no skeletons in my closet! All clears, a-okay.
September 6, 2013 – PC asks for more information regarding my agriculture/environment skills to find the best program match for my skill set. Submitted reply.
September 13, 2013 – INVITATION! “Congratulations! It is with great pleasure that we invite you to begin training in Malawi for Peace Corps service. You will be joining thousands of Americans who are building stronger communities around the world. This call to action gives you the opportunity to learn new skills and to find the best in yourself.”
September 16, 2013 – After talking it over with my family, I officially accept the invitation. I receive access to the New Volunteer Portal (separate than the Application portal and medical portal). I submit all the various forms on the New Portal and download and start all the forms needed for medical clearance.
October 9, 2013 – Health Department appointment for immunizations and vaccinations.
October 14, 2013 – Dentist appointment (cleaning and x-rays). Had to get two small cavities filled.
October 15, 2013 – Physical appointment. Blood taken for various tests.
October 17, 2013 – Follow-up Health Department appointment.
October 24, 2013 – Mail passport application to SATO Travel. I had to get the passport pictures taken and get the packaged notarized. It was a very meticulous process.
October 28, 2013 – Follow-up doctor appointment to get lab results and finish paperwork. Huzzah, I’m healthy!
November 19, 2013 – Dentist appointment to fill small cavities. Paperwork completed.
November 21, 2013 – All loose ends tied up. All medical forms uploaded to MAP. I’m finished and in tip-tip shape!
December 24, 2013 – Receive my first email from the Country Desk Organizer. Peace Corps is very much hurry up and wait! Or perhaps I should treat patience more like a virtue. . .
January 28, 2014 – Received final medical and dental clearance. Words of advice: make sure you upload your yellow World Health Organization card for your immunizations, not just the papers that PC gives you. Also, make sure you get the tuberculin skin test or blood work done and not just the screening (the screening is useless and will not satisfy PC).
February 4, 2014 – Received staging information and itinerary. Staging will be in Philadelphia on March 4, 2014. I will fly out of Alpena Regional Airport (APN) with a Detroit (DTW) connection to Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). I will arrive in Philly at 5:09 p.m. on March 3, 2014.
February 5, 2014 – Asked to and finally submitted an Aspiration Statement and resume for my future Malawian counterparts.
March 4, 2014 – PC/Malawi staging in Philadelphia. All day presentations on the Peace Corps and what to expect.
March 5-6, 2014 – Shuttle bus to JFK International Airport. An 18-hour non-stop international flight, first to Johannesburg, South Africa and finally Lilongwe, Malawi.
March 7 – April 30, 2014 – Pre-Service Training, complete with cultural, linguistic, and technical formal classes.
April – May 8, 2014 – Spent time in South Africa on a medivac (sepsis infection of hand/arm — almost died).
May 16, 2014 – After a remedial week of finishing up Pre-Service Training (due to my medical leave), I swear in and become an official PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER! I travel to site and spend my first night in my house as a PCV.
June 17, 2014 – First site visit from APCD and PA.
September 7-20, 2014 – In-Service Training (IST)
September 26-28, 2014 – Lake of Stars Festival