For anyone that is interested in applying to be a Peace Corps volunteer I thought it might be interesting and possibly helpful to write about my experience with the process. After having served two years as an Americorps member I was sure that I was ready to start my Peace Corps application. I went to an information session in June or July of last year and then got my application in by early August. The application itself is pretty standard, basic personal information, essays about why one wants to go, letters of recommendation, transcripts, background check, etc. I was called for an interview in September and went to Arlington, VA to meet my recruiter. The interview was like any job interview, with a focus on whether or not I was a match for the Peace Corps. My recruiter had sent me much information prior to our meeting and it was good that I had reviewed it. She had emphasized in her correspondence that this was a professional interview and to approach it accordingly. I think I had been on enough job interviews to have this understanding down, but if you have not, remember this is a job you are applying for so take it seriously. I was nominated immediately following my interview (apparently this is not standard) and my recruiter told me there was a country looking for a visual artist in North Africa, this is all she would tell me however, I still had to qualify. Having been nominated, I excitedly called my parents, who have since told all my relatives I am going to Africa, this is one thing about the application process, it is long and a nomination doesn't necessarily mean you are going to go (although 85% of applicants do get medical clearance). After the interview I was sent the medical review packet, which was full of forms and tests that I had to have completed by my doctors and dentist and a romantic involvement form. During the course of the interview I was asked if I had a boyfriend or girlfriend. I had just started seeing someone at that time, we had been dating about a month so I told her this. She said even though currently we had not been seeing each other long, that if we stayed together until my leave date, which was September 2010, that would be much more serious. So I went home that night and had an extremely intense conversation with the man I had been seeing about how significant our relationship was. It's funny, I think this conversation moved the relationship forward much more quickly than it would have otherwise and possibly brought it to its end a little faster. I have been honest with anyone I have dated at that time and since about my possible future. This is extremely important. If you are not honest with people in your life, the application process and leaving is going to be much more difficult, messy, and traumatic than it needs to be. It has been extremely helpful to have people in my life who are excited and supportive about my applying to the Peace Corps. Especially considering how long it has taken, having people who are interested and who ask about whether or not I have heard back has made even the waiting worthwhile. The medical review has been the longest section of my application process. In fact I just received word today that my medical file is being reviewed. Upon receipt of the packet, I called my doctors, made appointments, etc. I had one complication during my doctor's visits, I did have to have surgery in December, but all I needed to do was have my surgeon fill out an additional form after surgery. In February I got all the forms in. Make sure you make copies! It was an extremely satisfying moment when I finally got the packet in the mail. I e-mailed the medical office to tell them I was sending it off and they said it could take up to two weeks to get through the government's mailroom (something about security) and then 2-3 months before it is reviewed. My dental records were approved within a couple of weeks and I am hoping now that it will only be a couple more until I hear about my medical.

That is all for now, if I am qualified, next they will offer me a placement. I will write about that part of the process when (hopefully) it happens!