Archive for October, 2005

And Again…nothing

It’s been 14 days since those medical documents left our hands–that’s 2 weeks. According to the Australian Post, airmail takes 3-6 working days, so they should have arrived around the 14th. They have to have arrived already. I’m sure it’s just that we’re not a high priority being that we’re not leaving for another 50 million months (read: 7 months). I wonder how they sort these documents when they arrive at the office: by order of arrival at the office, by order of departure, by order of arrive at the office AND by order of departure. Who knows what system they use to update the online MyToolkit.

I remember when I was applying for a student visa to study in Spain, I was living in Massachusettes at the time and I was meant to apply for the visa at the office closest to my place of birth–good ole sunny Florida. So naturally I had to apply by the mail. I went to the website of the consulate, followed the written directions and sent my paperwork and my passport to Florida. Apparently they won’t return your passport to you if you live in a state that falls out of the central office’s jurisdiction, so I had to have it sent to my mother’s house in Miami. Some weeks pass and I recieved a voice message from my mother saying that something has arrived at the house for me and that I should call her. When I called her it turned out to be a letter from the consulate stating that I hadn’t sent them the correct amount of money! Apparently they had updated the visa fee and neglected to update the website–I tried to call them about what I needed to send with my application, but they told me to check out the website becuase “it was all there”. I was afraid that I wouldn’t get my visa in time by that point, so I FedExed my money order for 2nd day delivery to the consulate in Miami. I was meant to spent a week and half at my father’s house in Colombia right before heading for Spain so I needed my passport back a bit earlier.

Well, I got my visa in time and lived happily ever after.

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Still Nothing

We put our medical clearance documents in the post on October 7th. Today is October 22nd. I’m almost positive that the package should have arrive at the screening office this week. I don’t know how much time it usually takes for them to change the status in the toolkit after it arrives at the office. There are probably heaps of packages arriving at the screening office everyday and our is just one of those. Maybe next week…

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During on of my usual visits to peacecorps2 on Yahoo! I happend to come across the following message:

“I am a trainee in Honduras right now and just wanted to let you nominees know that there is a program coming in February and in June. I know for sure that the June 2006 program is for Youth Development, Municipal Development, and one other (that I don´t know). Hope this helps someone out there. Honduras used to be 3 cycles of training a year, but they´re moving back to 2 cycles.”

This came in an email to me yesterday:

“I left on June 6th for staging in Washington and arrived in El Salvador on June 8th. Everyone in my group arrived thinking they would be a Municipal Development volunteer. About two weeks before we left we recieved a letter that they were starting the youth development program…There is not enough time in the year to allow youth development volunteers to have their own training so they will be included in each of the groups that come in…We have a couple in my group who have split between youth and municipal development which I assume is what you and your partner will do. They live in a canton which is where all the youth development people live instead of in the pueblo where us municipal development volunteers live. The focus of the youth program is to teach english and computer technology.”

I’m not sure where I read this, must have been in another blog, but apparently teaching ESL is becoming an integral part of the Youth Development program in Honduras. If Honduras and El Salvador don’t sound like possible invitations then I don’t know what does! These two countries are the only ones I’ve been able to read about which have our exact nomination. I’m telling you, Peace Corps MUST already know where we’re going. I suppose keeping the secret to the very end is a way to avoid getting blamed for things in the event that a prospective volunteer makes major changes too soon before departure, like quitting their tenured job at a university, selling their house, giving away all of their furniture, ect.

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I’ve really been getting into reading Peace Corps blogs in depth, now that we know the specific region we’re going to. Before I pretty much just read anything that was interesting, but mostly about life in Eastern Europe because I was so sure we were going there. It’s begun to sink in that despite all of my years of having live in Latin America, those 27 months spent living in Central America will be unlike any two years I’ve ever lived. Why?

Well, when I lived in Latin America my father was in the military and I went to either DOD (Department of Defense) schools or international schools, we housekeepers, gardeners, nail ladies, etc. The people I associated with on a daily basis were mostly kids from other countries, although I was friends with a few of the local students. The relationship we had with some of the people who helped around the house such as our housekeeper and driver(s) was more of a friend type one rather than a strict employer-employee basis. We went over to their houses for birthdays and dinners and they came over to our house for the same. It was obvious that I lived in somewhat of a privelaged family because of plain differences in living conditions, as they mostly lived in rather rural areas with very simple houses and furnishings, much like the community I imagine Will and I will be living in next year. I didn’t know what their lives were like or what their children’s schools are like or anything like that and because I was a sort of expat child I didn’t have to abide by certain norms and conventions of the country I was living in. Well, that is all about the change in a few months time.

I found this interesting except from a volunteer in El Salvador where she speaks about cultural differences she was told about during training:

– women shouldn’t wear pants
– men can have more than one wife
– teachers should always answer the question and appear to be correct (authoritative) even if they don’t know the answer (Americans tend to get upset over this point)
– telling the absolute truth to someone’s face (Americans tend to think this is a good thing, some other cultures do not)
– Americans value the act of saving for a rainy day
– Americans always tend to be in a hurry and talk about time a lot(spending it, wasting it, etc)

These are all interesting things to think about. I really enjoy learning about cultural differnces, but I hope the majority of stuff I will “learn” in training is not redundant, as I’m not a TOTAL stranger to Latin American culture.

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Today was the last of our medical appointments required for medical clearance. After we left the clinic we got ourselves some chai and double checked the documents at least 50 times. Once we were sure everything was in order, I dashed to the Post, put our papers in a snazzy durable cotton-mix envelope and sent them off to DC for inspection.

How time is flying! In April-May we applied, we were interviewed in June, we were nominated in August, received our medical packet mid-September and now in October we begin the wait for the much anticipated MEDICAL CLEARANCE (read with big booming voice)!!!

Now, we guess that sometime around the end of December or early January we should be medically cleared–provided our paperwork is complete and our files are attended to in a timely fashion. We’ll be in Thailand from late December till March and we just HAVE to be invited by then. We just gotta. Apparently we have 10 days to either accept or decline an invitation…after all of those months spent waiting and the money spent there’s no way we’re declining. That’d be crazy.

Waiting is so fun! Weeee!

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I’m now the proud owner of some pretty darn expensive glasses. Apparently Peace Corps has the power to tell you to purchase two pairs: if you wear contacts you’re obligated to wear glasses because it’s very possible that you will not have access to clean water to wash your hands everytime you need to handle your contacts; they request that you bring two pairs in the event that you lose your first pair. They also advised against plastic frame glasses if you’re headed off to the tropics like we are because the frames could soften consequently allowing the lenses to fall out–I really wanted some plastic ones.

I bet I look pretty smart, huh?

I’ve been reading quite a few blogs from volunteers in the area we’re moving to next june and according to them, within the first few days of arriving in country they’re insides are crawling with parasites and strange bacterias like e. coli.

Lesson no.1: Don’t drink or touch the water without purifying it.

I really don’t need any parasites crawling around inside my eyeballs.

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