We have just been invited to join Peace Corps Paraguay in February 2017 as a couple! Pending final clearances, I will be a Health Extension Volunteer and Nick will be an NGO Advising Volunteer.
Here is our Peace Corps Timeline:
- Feb 9, 2016 – Application Submission
- Mar 2 – Under Consideration
- Mar 14 – Interview Request
- Mar 23 – Nick’s Interview
- Mar 28 – Angela’s Interview
- Mar 29 – Couple’s Interview
- Apr 8 – All References Submitted
- May 16 – Invitations Received for Paraguay, February 2017 😀
- May 17 – Invitations Accepted
- Aug 1 – Angela is Legally Cleared
- Sep 8 – Nick is Legally Cleared
- Oct 5 – Nick is Medically Cleared
- Oct 11 – Angela is Medically Cleared
- Feb 21-22, 2017 – Staging,
MiamiWashington, D.C. to Paraguay
- Feb 23 – May 9 – Pre-service Training
- Apr 18 – Site Assignment
- May 9 – Swearing In
So, how did we get here?
The seed of the idea started with a 13-day trip to New Zealand in December 2013. On our hike through Milford Sound, we met travelers from Israel, Australia, and Europe. When they found out how long we were traveling for, all of them replied on how brief it was. They said we didn’t have enough time to get to know the place. Other bloggers (here, here, & here) have commented on why it is not common for Americans to travel abroad.
So, Nick and I thought about it. Travel is an opportunity to learn and we wanted to make it a priority. Nick could leave the Navy in 2016. We had both been in the workforce for about 10 years. Our goal was to take a gap year after Nick finished his service obligation.
But, what do you do on a gap year? Do you just sight-see everyday? Well, you can. But given the huge opportunity costs for us, we wanted to make professional goals to make the most of our time abroad. Our goal was to learn Spanish and volunteer.
As we thought and planned for the next two years, we looked into the Peace Corps. It was an opportunity to learn another language, volunteer, integrate with another culture, and achieve something meaningful. It was the perfect fit! So we applied and got invited! (Happy dance!)
Currently, we are in Bolivia learning Spanish to prepare for our Peace Corps service.
Nick’s Peace Corps Personal Statement:
Peace Corps service would let me use my skills and experience to do good work that benefits others. The environment is challenging, but the focus on long-term goals is inspiring. I hope to make a meaningful contribution to a community that could use my skills and experience. I want to learn from the people I serve. I aspire to return with a deep understanding of another culture that I can share with others. Going forward, I hope to realize a career in urban planning and international development.
As a navy officer with ten years of experience, I have worked on many difficult projects. Often I have been in isolated environments. I enjoy operating in tough conditions on long-term issues. Collaborating with teammates and stakeholders in the service of worthwhile goals energizes me.
But I realize that I am applying for my hardest job yet.
I am lucky to have enjoyed a unique career that will help me meet the challenges of the Peace Corps. My work taught me that skills and competence are critical. But I have learned that hard work, humor, humility, and realistic goals help get things done. The ability to work with others is key.
My first military assignment was a non-military graduate international affairs program. I was able to collaborate with people from varied national and professional backgrounds. I learned to negotiate. I learned that diverse viewpoints yield better results. During aviation training, I volunteered for peer-leadership roles. This required tact and humor as much as organization and perseverance. My job then took me around the world and allowed me to work with international colleagues. I learned how to build relationships with respect and rapport. Most recently, I served as an educator and practiced facilitative teaching for international officials. My background allows me to succeed in the complex environments that volunteers encounter.
Finally, it is important to me to serve with my wife of nine years, Angela. She is an advanced practice registered nurse who wants to use her skills to help others. Peace Corps is an opportunity for us to serve together using our complementary skills. We know it will be hard. We will have to separate for extended periods. But during my military service, we spent a cumulative total of two and half years apart. We have learned resilient coping skills and can thrive in challenging environments.
Peace Corps is the challenge we are looking for.
Angela’s Peace Corps Personal Statement:
I want to join the Peace Corps to serve others, learn from a developing country, and grow. I have always wanted to volunteer abroad but knew I needed to increase my knowledge and skills first. Now I have worked as a registered nurse for six years and I want to share my experience with others abroad. I hope that the Peace Corps will teach me new skills that I can take home to improve my community.
My job is rewarding, but I feel the need to use my skills in a new environment. I have trained students and new nurses. I have facilitated evidence-based projects. I earned my master’s degree and advanced practice registered nurse certification. I zeroed-in on improving health outcomes through care, collaboration, and education. I want to focus my healthcare skills towards public health to excel as a Peace Corps Health Volunteer.
I enjoy my work in the hospital, but there are limits to what we can do. Our patients are acutely ill but often have chronic illnesses. The goal in the hospital is to treat the most immediate conditions. But this leaves prevention of chronic issues a lower priority. I do a lot of patient education. But most patients I see are not ready for extensive education since they are incredibly sick. When patients leave the hospital, they continue their care elsewhere. With luck, they do not get worse.
I know what we do is critical, but I dream of reducing or preventing sickness in the first place. Working in public health excites me. I want to reach people before they get ill and educate people to make changes that prevent disease. I love that in the Peace Corps I would integrate with the community I am working with. I could develop strong relationships with people and work towards long-term goals.
I understand the Peace Corps is challenging. I feel I have coped with past challenges in healthy, productive, and creative ways. In the hospital, sometimes we do not have enough staff. Sometimes we lack supplies. Often demand exceeds our resources and we have to just “handle it.” I work twelve-hour day shifts only to switch to night shifts and back. In these chaotic times, I get into the zone, prioritize, and finish one task at a time until I am finished. I have found that I cope by joking with colleagues and swapping a good story when we can. When able, I keep my body healthy with rest and physical activity. When I cannot, I keep a positive attitude and know that tough times pass with patience. I plan to deal with challenges in a similar way if I am accepted in the Peace Corps. I know I cannot predict specific challenges I will face. But resiliency, flexibility, and a smile always go a long way.
Thanks for tuning in! If you are thinking about PC, I hope this info was helpful.
Edited 01 May 2017 to update timeline.