And the answer I and everyone else I have talked to about the Peace Corps have been waiting for since I filled out my application in October 2011 has finally arrived, courtesy of the UPS truck and a very thick blue folder. I have been invited to – and accepted – an invitation from the Peace Corps to serve as a primary/secondary English education volunteer in Tunisia!
Tuesday at lunch I walked home as I usually do and saw the mailman driving his truck away from my apartment. I managed to resist the urge to sprint the rest of the way down the street, and it’s a good thing I did, because my mailbox was empty. Disappointedly resigning myself to wait yet another 24 hours for the invitation I knew was coming, I sat down to eat lunch.
Then I heard another large-sounding vehicle pull up to the front of my building. Someone came in, walked through the hallway and then left again. I snuck a look out the window and saw the UPS truck backed up to the front door. Trying hard to not hope for too much, I peeked out of the peep hole in my door and saw something sitting on the ground outside. I wrenched to door open and found a thick white shipping envelope sitting at my feet with the Peace Corps logo staring back up at me.
I had an inkling that would be my country after my placement specialist asked if I would be interested in a new program, and as soon as she said it, I knew that was the country I wanted. Knowing she could still change her mind and place me in another country – Morocco and Jordan are also in the North Africa/Middle East region – I tried to not rush off and do a bunch of research on the one I was hoping for. No expectations are the best kind to have. My group of volunteers will be the first since the Tunisia program was closed in the mid-1990s. It was originally started in the 1960s if I remember correctly. Although the information I got said the volunteers serving in Tunisia will be focusing on Youth Development and the teaching of English in a variety of settings, it also said because we will be helping to establish a new program and that will take a lot of creating relationships and building good will with our host country.
I think that’s one thing that really interested me in Tunisia. Of course I want to give back and help share a skill (speaking English) that I have kind of by default because of where I was born, but I also like the idea that what I do and the work I put in will make it easier for the volunteers that come after me.
My orientation/departure date is tentatively set for October 29, 2012, so in the meantime I have to apply for a special Peace Corps passport and get together an updated resume and aspiration statement for the staff in country to match me with a school or organization. Those are all due pronto, which means this weekend I’ll be scrambling around trying to get all the required forms filled out and submitted. I put a good hour into the process last night, but I didn’t manage to finish.
So for the moment, I’m working on:
- Passport application
- Updated resume
- Aspiration statement
- Reading, reading and more reading through the paperwork that accompanied my invitation, the volunteer handbook and the cultural adjustment handbook
It was a long nine months worth of waiting and I’m so happy I stuck with it!