Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Moving Along in the Process

On Sunday evening I officially completed my Peace Corps application. The application process is done online. Since it is fairly lengthy and includes writing a couple essays, you don't have to complete the whole thing in one sitting. They give you a user ID and password and let you return to it as many times as you like until it is finished. I finally completed it all Sunday night.

I was then notified via an automated email that I should be receiving an information packet within the next 10 days. Surprisingly, today (two days later) I had a large envelop from the Peace Corps sitting in my mailbox. Along with some more paperwork to complete (including some cards I need to take to the local police station for fingerprinting) are some descriptions of potential assignment areas for which I qualify.

In my application I had expressed an interest in the areas of education, environment, and (worst case from my point of view) information technology. I received two descriptions of opportunities in my packet: one for secondary education math teaching and a second for a more general topic of "computer science", which could involve teaching computer science or doing more general computer-related work, such as installing networks, setting up computer labs, etc. I guess I didn't qualify for any of the "environment" related opportunities.

The math teaching opportunities are in southern Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, while the computer science opportunities are more widespread: Africa, Eastern/Central Europe, Asia, and the Pacific region. In my application I didn't express a preference for a specific geographic region; I figured I'd leave that up to chance.

The information packet also helped clarify for me the timing of the application process. From submitting an application (which I just did two days ago) to arriving in a country for pre-service training takes from 6 to 9 months. So, I could end up heading out to some foreign land as early as July. Yikes! That seems pretty soon.

One interesting item in the information packet was a brief mention of the competitiveness of the application process. It reads, "More than two candidates are identified for every one Volunteer request; thus, the selection process is very competitive." Hmmm.... less than 50% odds of success. I guess I'll have to see how it goes. It could turn out I'm not going anywhere.

The next step in the process (besides filling out more paperwork and getting fingerprinted) will be an interview. I should be contacted within the next few weeks by a Peace Corps recruiter.