So one night I was looking through my photos from me England trip last year. I could not believe that it was just over a year a go I spent my spring break in London and Sheffield with one of my best friends from high school. I remember at that point I was suffering from major RAS… Restless applicant syndrome. Peace Corps applicants are quite familiar with this term, as much of the application process is hurry up and wait.
At this point in my application process, It had been more than two months since I first heard from the placement office about my preliminary review. There was a big PC open house party at Illinois hosted by the Chicago recruiting office. I was quite anxious at this point to talk with other volunteers, and the recruiter because I never got a nomination date.
My second semester senior year was sort of a wacky time for me. I just got back from living at home and student teaching to go and finish up at Illinois. That last semester was tough because I had already spent time in the “real world” teaching and honestly I just wanted to graduate and start working. I had put in my application for a job in Fargo, ND, and also to work as a Shar Apprentice, a sales/field testing position for a spring shop in Ann Arbor. So far nothing. I was so lucky that I was also playing in a local theater production of “Into the Woods,” which gave me some purpose.
I remember staying with my friend Sara in Chicago right after coming back from England, and I was like…I have no idea what I am doing with my life, I still haven’t heard from Peace Corps, but I’m pretty sure that if they send me to a Francophone country that I will take the plunge.
I signed up for an online TEFL certification course to make myself a more competitive applicant and emailed my placement officer directly. She was on vacation and i got an out-of office reply. I sent an email to the Community Youth Development desk and didn’t get a response.
Until one day…
On April 7th I went to Schnucks to pick up groceries when I saw a number with a 202 area code…I was like…is this “THE CALL”? My placement officer called me, and I told him that i was in the middle of carrying groceries up the stairs, and that i would be free in 20 minutes. (The ironic part is that on part of the PC medical questionnaire they ask if you can do two flights of stairs carrying two bags without getting out of breath). This was the first time I had a formal interview since my formal interview the previous May. My PO asked me what had changed, asked me about safety and security, and asked me for updates on my teaching certification. After about 30 minutes he told me I was invited to serve!
I was excited and crying at the same time, and I was like… I guess this is what it must feel like to be proposed to (cheesy I know)
I remember I talked to my high school French teacher right after I got invited, as he is an RPCV who served in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. and i told him i didn’t know where I would be serving until I got my packet, but i was a little nervous about living without electricity (I have spent 9 months living without electricity and thrived).
For all you restless applicants out there. RAS will go away. It may take awhile, but it is self-resolving. My only advice: be timely and prompt when DC asks… and also it’s good practice when you live in village and your projects may get pushed back indefinitely or cancelled all together. Seriously, the number one thing is to be flexible…your sphere of control is quite limited, and you just have to roll with it.
It’s truly crazy to look back at the application process almost 12 months after, and after spending 9 months living abroad.