Peace Corps update: Africa? Hopefully!
Around a year ago, I started the Peace Corps application process. Now that that year-long gap is finally closing, I’m closer each and every day to receiving an invitation to serve.
I was never worried about it not happening (a fortune teller told me I’d be living abroad for a while…she was right!), but I did have an idea of where I wanted to serve. I loved the idea of serving in Eastern Europe or South America.
Eastern Europe was appealing to me because I wanted to live in a post-Cold War city or village (straight out of the Soviet Union – the same Soviet apartments, trains, etc). It’s a weird dream of mine, but I’m so fascinated by the Cold War – it’s my favorite historical period for studying international relations. I took a lot of foreign policy classes for my international relations minor at USC and most of them focused on Cold War foreign policy and a bipolar world (I miss being intellectually challenged by such classes…)
My dad’s family is from Hungary, so I have a good amount of Eastern European blood in me. I thought it would be special to serve in a geographic that I had some connection to.
I wanted to serve in South America because I wanted to learn Spanish. I’ve tried to learn Spanish, but it’s so hard to if you’re not immersed in the culture and have to speak it daily. I thought it would be a helpful skill when I return to America, considering I live in a city that is practically half Spanish speakers.
However, after I received my worldwide nomination for secondary English teaching, I realized that this process became even more exciting because I could be going anywhere!
On Thursday, I talked with my placement specialist who is the last person to review my file and make a final decision on where to send me. She said that she is currently considering me for an English teaching program in Africa that departs mid-July. She asked me if I would be okay with serving as a primary education volunteer, even though my nomination is for secondary English teaching. I said yes because through City Year I’ve experienced working with elementary school students and and I’ve definitely loved those few experiences I’ve had. It would be an exciting and interesting change of pace because I’m so used to working with middle or high school students! According to Volunteers who have already received their invitations, the countries it could be are: South Africa, Zambia or Togo!!! I’ll know if I’m leaving in mid-July within the next two weeks and if I’m not it means placement is considering me for another program.
My placement specialist said that such online information from other applicants may not be correct. So, I’m trying not to speculate too much and just wait it out until I receive my invitation!
I’ve put all geographic preferences aside and am so thrilled that I may be serving in Africa. I have talked to two people who studied in abroad in West Africa, my partner English teacher at Markham who visited East Africa and another program manager at City Year who taught in Kenya. All of these sources had absolutely nothing bad to say about Africa and loved every second they were there. All of them told me I won’t want to leave.
I was talking to one of my teammates about the possibility of serving in Africa and we discussed how amazing the culture will be. People will be so welcoming and caring, which is a trait that not all Americans have. In America, people keep to themselves and are very individualistic. In Africa, everyone watches out for each other and genuinely care about each other. I hope I get to experience that type of culture!
More to come when I find out where I’m actually going,