Saturday, June 18, 2011

And the Winner Is..


I receive a wonderful surprise at work in the mail today- my Big Blue Packet! My suspicions were correct- Macedonia. I will be a Primary School English Language Resource Teacher. So excited! One of my coworkers, Liz, took a video of me opening it up. Actually, she took two videos- the first was the real deal, however after the fact, Liz and my boss, Lance, decided I didn't act excited enough, so we staged an over-the-top-corny opening and it is incredibly fake and cheesy- like a bad sitcom.

I am happy its Friday, because that gives me all weekend to read through the information and formulate my acceptance email.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Skip the story for now, jump to the good stuff...

My invitation is in the mail! Eastern Europe leaving Early September for Primary Teacher Training. According to every anxious applicant's favourite website, Peace Corps Wiki, that means Macedonia leaving September 9th. Super excited! I had my PO change the address my invite is being mailed to my work address so I can get it sooner. Plus some of my biggest supporters have been a few of my coworkers (well besides my family of course!).

Now the longer story:

On Thursday morning I flew to California for my sister's graduation from Stanford Law (yeah, I'm pretty proud of her for that!) That morning, right after my plane left and I was without internet for the rest of the day, I received an email from my Placement Officer (PO) wanting to check in since we hadn't talked since February. He told me to call him back or email him with times he could call. I didn't get the message until Thursday night though, so I couldn't call until Friday and in negotiating the now three hour time change and not really knowing what time it was in San Francisco, I called, didn't get and answer, and left my PO an incredibly awkward message where I told him way the wrong time. Ooops! I didn't hear back from my PO on Friday. Sunday I had access to internet, so I sent him an email just letting him know that I would by flying all day Monday, so it probably wouldn't work to talk then, but Tuesday I would have my phone in hand all day.

Today, my PO called me around noon and we chatted for a few minutes. I was hesitant about placement at first because of my dietary restrictions. He was unaware until he pulled up my file and really looked at it. He wanted to check in with Office of Medical Services (OMS) and said he would get back to me when he heard from them. I was on the phone with my parents for literally under 5 minutes and he was calling me back. He said OMS didn't think it would be an issue and I have been in the Peace Corps "playpen" waiting too long, so he was going to mail out my invitation. (I really liked his phrasing of calling it a playpen because you do feel trapped many times, just waiting for someone to rescue you and let you move on with your life).

After the phone convo, he emailed me to reiterate the info we had talked about and double check the address he should mail the invite to. I had him switch it to my work address so that I can get the coveted Big Blue Packet (BBP) as soon as it arrives.

Now it is just waiting for the BBP to come in the mail and then I have one week to accept or decline.

For those of you who are waiting for the invite/contact from Placement, hang in there. I was always happy for those who posted saying they received an invitation, but still wished it was me.

For those who received the emails about placements being tough, I talked to my PO about that today and he said, yes, placements are tough right now and Peace Corps has become even more competitive than it was even a few months ago, but he said, things are still moving along. I know the process can be long and tiring, but I really do believe it will be worth it in the end.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

My newest obsession.... and the evil that is Sketchers

I don't really obsess over things ever. I maybe get excited about something, but very rarely does it reach what I would consider an obsessive level. However, I am proud to admit, I am obsessed with TOMS shoes. I have had one pair of TOMS for quite a while, but I just got a second pair and a TOMS shirt and I want to spend my entire paycheck on TOMS. I have already decided that TOMS are going to be a footwear staple wherever Peace Corps sends me. If I can't wear TOMS, I won't go!

Someone asked me what's so great about the shoes, I mean they are simple canvas shoes. I love the shoes themselves, they are very comfortable and I love the way they look, but its the mission of TOMS that I am obsessed with. I love the One for One concept. Paying $45 for a pair of shoes is no big deal for most Americans. Why not be able to help someone out while getting some retail therapy (as a side note, I really kind of hate shopping, so retail therapy isn't a big one for me). I love that there are companies out there who are so focused on social change. That is exactly the kind of company I would LOVE, and hope to someday, to work for.

So I started writing this post earlier and this past weekend my obsession has become even more clear. I was up in the cities with a friend and we went to Mall of America to look around. I was, of course, wearing my TOMS and even had one my TOMS shirt. As we are perusing the shoes, I come across a pair of Sketcher's BOBS. I look at the shoe for a moment, then drop it on the floor next to my TOMS to check it out. The shoe is identical in almost every way. The fabric is cut the same, there is the same style of tag on the side of the shoe, and even a blue and white striped label on the back of the shoe by the heal. I immediately become infuriated. Is Sketchers really that lame of a company that they can't come up with their own idea- they have to copy another company's work? My friend pulls me away trying to diffuse my anger. As we walk a littler further down the aisle, I can't get it off my mind. I keep commenting about it. I look back- stupid shoes. We walk a little further in the store and my eyes drift back to those shoes again. I give them the evil eye (for some reason I must have thought the people at Sketchers would know I was mad at them if I did that and that no one would ever buy a pair of BOBS). I see a lady approach them and is giving them serious consideration. I tell my friend that I want to go over there and tell her not to buy them. How can she even consider buying them- they are clearly a knock off? Lindsay grabs my arm and tells me we need to leave. I think she knew there would have been a fight and those shoes wouldn't have won.

There have been lots of articles about how Sketchers copied TOMS. One article sums it up nicely, saying that its great that more companies are considering the One for One model of business, but the only "why" behind this that I can think of is its a corporate gimmick; try and sucker people into believing its the real deal when really, BOBS are nothing but impostors. I doubt Sketchers has people as passionate as Blake Mycoskie and the rest of the TOMS family working for them. Look at the shoes and tell me BOBS isn't a fraud/copycat.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Peace Corps On My Mind

I find not a day goes by when Peace Corps doesn't enter my mind at least 20 times.
  • I check out PCJ daily to see what's new with other applicants and those serving. I still check up and read the blogs of those in Tonga which I started reading when that's where I thought I was going.
  • I debate daily if I am making the right choice. One day I know I am, the next day I question the decision. However, the reason I question is I am scared that something will go wrong. I know it is the right decision for me and I will have the experience of a lifetime, but right now, I am scared- which I know is normal.
  • I check up on PC Wiki to see if any new staging dates have been added and if so, check my Excel spreadsheet and see if that country listed has the right programs. (As neurotic as this sounds to anyone not considering PC service, I know I am not the only one!)
  • I question if I made the right choice in changing my earliest departure date from now to August. Maybe I gave up an amazing opportunity in Romania. I will never know and just have to trust I made the right choice.
  • I find myself checking my phone more frequently to see if I have service or if I missed a phone call from (202).
  • I go shopping and see something and think, I would consider get that if I knew where I was going to be in a few months.
  • I think about where I could be going and debate where would be my first choice, while not trying to get my hopes up. At this point, I would love SE Asia or the Pacific Islands (although I am glad I am not there right now). I can pretty much rule out Central/South America because I don't speak Spanish and parts of Africa since I don't speak French. But overall I tell myself, I know I will enjoy anywhere I am placed and I trust my Placement Officer's decision.
I know I will find out more information soon enough and I need to be patient. It would just be nice to know so I can start preparing (I am an over planner, so preparing for Peace Corps service will be no small, or quick, feat).

Sunday, February 13, 2011


I am a little behind on updating and announcing this- its been a busy weekend with my birthday and all, but on Thursday, I received notice that I have been medically cleared and....even bigger news- I received a call from Placement. They had a placement for me leaving in late April. soon!

The whole conversation and the rest of Thursday was quite a blur. I didn't expect to hear from Placement so soon and to have them want me to leave so soon. I told the PO I needed the night to think things over. I wasn't able, at that moment, to tell him if I could leave in April or not. I had been planning on August/September/October. April was a lot sooner than even August.

I immediately called my mom and tried to explain to her what was going on, but I was in kind of a fog. Everything had happened so quickly.

To make a long story short, after much deliberating with family and friends, including a friend currently serving in the region where I was going to be placed, I decided 1) the placement maybe wasn't the best fit for me, and 2) I am not ready to leave so soon. I have would like to finish out the school year with my kids and I really would like to spend my last summer in the US working at the Rec Dept- a place that is quite special to me for many reasons.

Anyway, I emailed my PO early Friday morning and said my preference would be to wait, however, I realize the importance of finding a good fitting placement for each volunteer and so, if a placement arose sooner than August that was a good fit for me, I would be ready to go.

While I still don't know location or departure time, or when I will find those things out, it was a wonderful birthday present to receive medical clearance and hear from the PO at the same time.

Next update will hopefully contain even more information, however, this update is huge for me!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mr. Mailman, Please Come Quick

Complete. A decision has been reached regarding your medical review. Please look for a letter in the mail.

I thought they would make me have one more doctor's appointment in March before I received this news. There is no reason it should be bad news, but I am very anxious for the mail.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

One step closer!

Lots of people on Peace Corps Journals talk about RAS (Restless Applicant Syndrome). I definitely have it- even more so now after getting through a medical hold up yesterday- one that has taken months to figure out- and from that, I can say, good doctors make all the difference! Anyway, hopefully I will be receiving medical clearance shortly. Because of this, I am becoming more and more restless.

At this point, I don't plan on leaving until the end of August at the earliest so that I can be at Heidi and Dale's wedding, however, I would love to have an invitation sooner rather than later so that I know what my future holds. I have decided though, I think if/when I hear from placement, if they tell me an invitation will be in the mail, I kinda don't want to know the region. I have concluded that I am fine with anywhere. Every location would be an adventure. I want to know approximate departure date, but if I know location too, I will be on Peace Corps Wiki immediately trying to figure out where. The more I have thought about it, the more I kind of want that element of surprise.

Hopefully next time I update, the title will be MEDICAL CLEARANCE!!